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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


375 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Moultray?s Hill. country where pedigree is the best ascertained of any in the world, the national record of armorial bearings, and memoirs concerning the respective families inserted along with them, are far from being the pure repositary of truth. Indeed, there have of late been instances of genealogies inrolled in the books of the Lyon Court, and coats of arms with supporters and other marks of distinction being bestowed in such a manner as to throw ridicule upon the whole science of heraldry.? For a time tlie office was held by John Hooke Campbell, Esq., with a salary of A300 yearly. Robert ninth Earl of Kinnoul, and Thomas tenth Earl, held it as a sinecure in succession, with a salary Of A555 yearly ; for each herald yearly, and for each pursuivant A16 13s. 4d. yearly were paid ; and on the death of the last-named earl, in 1866, the office of Lord Lyon was reduced to a mere Lyon Ring, while the heralds and pursuivants were respectively reduced to four each in number, who, clad in tabards, proclaim by sound of trumpet and under a guard of honour, at the market cross, as of old, war or peace with foreign nations, the proroguing and assembly of Parliament, the election of peers, and so forth. The new Register House stands partly behind the old one, with an open frontage in West Register Street, towards Princes Street. It was built between 1857 and 1860, at a cost of &27,000, from designs by Kobert Matheson. It is in a species of Palladian style, with Greek details. It serves chiefly as the General Registry Ofice for births, deaths, and marriages, with the statistical and index departments allotted thereto. A supplemental building in connection with both houses was built in 1871, from designs by the same architect. It is a circular edifice, fifty-five feet in diameter, and sixty in height, relieved by eight massive piers and a dado course, surmounted by a glazed dome, that rises within a cornice and balustrade. It serves for the reception of record volumes in continuation of those in the old Register House. In the new buildings are various departments connected with the law courts-such as the Great Seal Office, the Keeper of the Seal being the Earl of Selkirk; and the office of the Privy Seal, the keeper of which is the Marquis of Lothian. The latter was first established by James I., upon his return to Scotland in 1423. In ancient times, in the attestation of writings, seals were commonly affixed in lieu of signatures, and this took place with documents concerning debt as well as with writs of more importance. In writs granted by the king, the affixing of his seal alone gave them . sufficient authority without a signature. This seal was kept by the Lord High Chancellor; but as public business increased, a keeper of the Privy or King?s Seal was created by James I., who wished to model the officials of his court after what he had seen in England ; and the first Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, in 1424 was Walter Footte, Provost of Bothwell. The affixing of this seal to sny document became preparatory to obtaining the great seal to it. It was, however, in some cases, a sufficient sanction of itself to several writs which were not to pass the great seal; and it came at length to be an established rule, which holds good to this day, that the rights of such things as might be conveyed among private persons by assignations were to pass as grants from the king under his privy seal alone ; but those of lands and heritages, which among subjects are transmitted by disilositions, were to pass by grants from the king under the great seal. ?Accordingly, the writs in use to pass under the privy seal alone were gifts of offices, pensions, presentation to benefices, gifts of escheat, ward, marriage and relief, z r l t i m r s hares, and such like ; but as most of tlie writs which were to pass under the great seal were first to pass the privy seal, that afforded great opportunity to examine the king?s writs, and to prevent His Majesty or his subjects from being hurt by deception or fraud.? In the new Register House are also the Chancery Office, and the Record of Entails, for which an Act was first passed by the Parliament of Scotland in 1685, the bill chamber and extractor?s chamber, the accountant in bankruptcy, and the tiend office, Src. In front of the flights of steps which lead to the entrance of the original Register House stands the bronze equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington, executed bySir John Steell, RS.A.,a native sculptor. The bust taken for this figure so pleased the old duke that he ordered two to be executed for him, one for Apsley House, and the other for Eton. It was erected in 1852, amid considerable ceremony, when there were present at the unveiling a vast number of pensioners drawn up in the street, many minus legs and arms, while a crowd of retired officers, all wearing the newly-given war-medd, occupied the steps of the Register House, and were cheered by their old comrades to the echo. Many met on that day who had not seen each other since the peace that followed Waterloo ; and when the bands struck up 5uch airs as ?The garb of old Gaul,? and ?The British Grenadiers,? many a withered face was seen to brighten, and many an eye grew moist; staffs and crutches were brandished, and the cheering broke forth again and again.
Volume 2 Page 372
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. ._ .. 373 ,South Bridge.1 PROPOSAL FOR A SOUTH BRIDGE. . . SO early as 1775 the idea of erecting such a bridge was contemplated, at the cost of A8,600 steriing, to raise which it was proposed to have a port at the southern end at which tolls were to be levied, in consequence of which, according to Kinaid, , the idea was abandoned. No steps were taken in the matter till 1784, when Sir James Hunter Blair was elected Lord Provost, and he caused the site to be examined and a report made to the Council of the manner in which it THE WELLINGTON STATUE, REGISTER HOUSE, Citizen," appeared, addressed to the public, containing proposals for the erection of a bridge across the Cowgate, and establishing a permanent fund for the support of the city poor, and this gave a peat impetus to the undertaking. All parties concerned having met, the design was approved of, and an Act of Parliament obtained for carrying it on ; and the necessary demolitions were forthwith made. In the course of these mere swept away the old poultry Market, which appears in Edgar's plan
Volume 2 Page 373
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