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Edinburgh Past and Present


QUEENSFERRY TO MUSSELBURGH, ACONG THE SHORE, WITH HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE ~ NOTES OF THE DIFFERENT TOWNS AND VILLAGES. BY THE REV. JAMES S. MILL; SOUTH QUEENSFERRY, In the north-east of the county of Linlithgow, is a parish of small extent, and lies on the shore of the Forth. Generally, it is supposed to have taken its name from Margaret, the Queen of Malcolm Canmore, in Consequence of her crossing here;ia her frequent excursions to and from Edinburgh and Dunfermline. It is certainly a place of great antiquity, evidences of which are abundant. enough, both in and around the town, in the structures and relics still extant, No houses of any style or importance are found in it; while its streets, narrow and short, with a number of lanes and alleys of a somewhat dark and dingy character, but, on the whole; clean and tidy, with a fresh healthy air about them, do not add to its importance. How it may have looked in the days when Margaret ' wa wont to pass.througb it on her many benevolent and political embassies, we cannot say: not just as it does now indeed; and yet, after all, not any very great change since then may have passed over it. There is a sort of old-world look about it, a kind of air of eld, that reminds one very strongly of far-back times; and although none of the present structures could, by any possibility, have witnessed the ,queenly splendour and royal pomp of the kind-hearted and well-beloved wife of Canmore in her journeyings through it to and from the city, still not a few of them cannot, from their appearance, be many generations later than that period. Queensferry, it would seeqformed part of the parish of Dalmeny until The town itself is small and of rather mean appearance.
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84 QUEENSFERRY TO MUSSELBURGH. the year 1636, when it was disjoined and erected into a parish and royal burgh. The reasons which led to this we have not been able to learn ; but no doubt they were quite satisfactory to the movers in the matter of that day. As a regality its magistracy consists of a provost, a land bailie, two sea bailies, a dean of guild, and a towncouncil. How these worthies demeaned themselves in their ‘sage devisings for the public weal’ in days long gone by is very amusing, as the burgh records relate ; but hardly less so than their more distant successors, especially on the occasion of the election of a parishminister or parliamentary representative. It is but a year or two since this little sea-side town bulked very largely in the‘ public eye in these respects ; and really, the way in which ‘those then in authority’ conducted themselves on both occasions was ludicrously picturesque. We remember reading the reports of their sayings and doings at the period, as given in the journals, with the intensest zest-the Scotsman and the Dati‘y Revkw, for the time being, actually taking the place of Punch and Fun, and affording almost as great an amount of real hearty, laughable enjoyment. Not that we thought meanly of the little burgh then, 01‘ wouId speak depreciatingly of it now : we merely felt how absurdly funny it was that ‘honest folks,’ as a douce towncouncil, should so entirely lose their heads, and break with common sense, as to make themselves the 4pl dif of the nation in that very unenviable sense of the phrase. - The surroundings of this breezy little seaside town are very interesting. A little to the west is a place called the Binks, rendered historical by the landing of Edgar Atheling,. with his mother Agatha, and his sisters Margaret and Christina, when driven forth by Norman conquest from home and country ; Port Edgar, farther westward still, is hardly less memorable from the twofold circumstance, of being the rock on which the same Saxon prince landed a year after,-when again driven to seek safety in flight from the highhandedness of dynastic usurpation, and the place selected, a few centuries later, for the embarkation of his Majesty George IY., on his return, from his visit to Scotland, into England ; then on the right again, and nearly half-way to the other ferry, stands ‘ old Garvey’s castled cliff,’ abruptly lifting its huge black back from the waters of the Firth, and threatening ‘ with its teethed embrasures every daring foe,’ a bold and picturesque object; while on the opposite shore, and within tidal mark, as sung by Cririe- - Rosyth Lifts high her towering head, in ruins now, Of noble Stuarts once the fortress strong,’
Volume 11 Page 135
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