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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


282 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Lord PmYoss. tion of five new professorships. A few years after his death a bust of him by Nollekens was erected in their public hall by the managers of the Royal Infirmary. In 1754 the Lord Provost, dean of guild, bailies, and city treasurer, appeared in November, for the first time, with gold chains and medals, in lieu of the black velvet coats, which were laid aside by all save the provost, and which had been first ordered to be worn by an Act of the Council in I 7 I 8. In 1753, on the 17th February, died Patrick Lindsay, Esq., late Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and Governor of the Isle of Man. In 1768 the Lord Provost was James Stuart. In the following year, during spring, the great Benjamin Franklin and his son spent six weeks in Scotland, and the University of St. Andrews conferred upon him the honorary title of Doctor, by which he has since been generally known. On his coming to Edinburgh, Provost Stuart and the Corporation bestowed upon him the freedom of the city, when every house was thrown open to him, and the most distinguished men of letters crowded round him. Hume, Robertson, and Lord Kames, became his intimate friends ; but Franklin was not unduly elated, ?? On the whole,? he wrote, U I must say the time I spent there (in Scotland) was six weeks of the dearest happiness I have met with in any part of my life.? Stuart?s successor in ofice was John Dalrymple, whose eldest son succeeded to the baronetcy of Hailes (which is now extinct) on the death of Lord Hailes, the distinguished judge and writer. In the year 1774 there was considerable political strife in the city, originating in the general parliamentary election, when exertions were made to wrest the representation from Sir Lawrence Dundas, who unexpectedly found as opponents Loch of Carnbie, and Captain James Francis Erskine of Forrest. A charge of bribery being preferred against Sir Lawrence, some delay occurred in the election, and the then Lord Provost Stoddart came forward as a candidate. The votes of the Council were-for Sir Lawrence, twenty-three ; for Provost Stoddart, six; and for Captain Erskine, three. One of the Council, Gilbert Laurie (who had been provost in 1766) was absent. Messrs. Stoddart and Loch protested that the election had been brought about by undue influence. The opposition to Sir Lawrence became still greater, and a keen trial of strength took place when the election of deacons and councillors came in 1776, and many bitter letters appeared in the public prints ; but the friends of the Dundas family proved again triumphant, and united in the choice of Alexander Kincaid, as Lord Provost, His Majesty?s Printer for Scotland. He died in office in 1777, in a house situated in the Cowgate, in a small court westward of the Horse Wynd, and known as Kincaid?s Land, and was succeeded by Provost Dalrymple. Two years afterwards the city was assessed in the sum of iC;1,500 to repay damage done by a mob to the Roman Catholic place of worship, fo; the destruction of furniture, ornaments, books, and altar vessels. In this year, I 779, there were 188 hackney sedan chairs in the city, but very few hackney coaches; and the umbrella first appeared in the streets. By 1783 there were 1,268 four-wheeled carriages entered to pay duty, and 338 two-wheeled. At Michaelmas, 1784, Sir James Hunter Blair, Bart., was elected Lord Provost, in succession to David Stuart, who resided in Queen Street, and who was a younger son of Stuart of Dalguise. The second son of Mr. John Hunter of Ayr, Sir James, commenced life as an apprentice with Coutts and Co., the Edinburgh bankers, in 1756, when Sir William Forbes was then a clerk, and both became ultimately the principal partners. He married the eldest daughter of Blair of Dunskey, who left no less than six sons at the time of this event, all of whom died, and on her succession to the estates, Sir James assumed the name and arms .of Blair. As Lord Provost he was indefatigable in the activity of his public spirit, and set afoot the great operations for the improvement of Edinburgh, and one object he had specially in view when founding the South Bridge was the rebuilding of the University. Sir James lived only to see the commencement of the great works he had projected in Edinburgh, as he died of fever at Harrogate in July, 1787, and was honoured with a public funeral in the Greyfriars? churchyard. In private life he was affable and cheerful, attached to his friends and anxious for their success. In business and in his public exertions he was upright, liberal, and, as a Scotsman, patriotic; he possessed in no small degree those talents which are requisite for rendering benevolence effectual, uniting great knowledge of the world with sagacity and sound understanding. Sir James Stirling, Bart., elected Lord Provost, after Elder of Forneth, had a stormy time when in office. He was the son of a fishmonger at the head of Marlin?s Wynd, where his sign was a wooden Black BUZZ, now in the Antiquarian Museum. Stirling, after being secretary to Sir Charles Dalling, Governor of Jamaica, became a partner in the bank of Mansfield, Ramsay, and Co. in Cantore?s Close, Luckenbooths, and manied the
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Lord Provost?.] THE DUNDAS RIOTS. 281 daughter of the head of the firm. When he took ofice politics ran high, The much-needed reform of the royal burghs had been keenly agitated for some time previous, and a motion on the subject, negatived in the House of Commons by a majority of 26, incensed the Scottish public to a great degree, while Lord Melville, Secretary of State, by his opposition to the question, rendered himself so obnoxious, that in many parts of Scotland he was burned in effigy. In this state of excitement Provost Stirling and others in authority at Edinburgh looked forward to the King?s birthdaythe 4th of June, 1792-with considerable uneasiness, and provoked mischief by inaugurating the festival by sending strong patrols of cavalry through the streets at a quick pace with swords drawn. Instead of having the desired effect, the people became furious at this display, and hissed and hooted the cavalry with mocking cries of ?Johnnie Cope.? In the afternoon, when the provost and magistrates were assembled in the Parliament House to drink the usual loyal toasts, a mob mustered in the square, and amused themselves after a custom long peculiar to Edinburgh on this day, of throwing dead cats at each other, and at the City Guard who were under arms to fire volleys after every toast. Some cavalry officers incautiously appeared at this time, and, on being insulted, brought up their men to clear the streets, and, after considerable stonethrowing, the mob dispersed. Next evening it re-assembled before the house of Mr. Dundas in George Square, with a figure of straw hung from a pole. When about to burn the effigy they were attacked by some of Mr. Dundas?s friends-among others, it is said, by his neighbours, the naval hero of Camperdown, and Sir Patrick Murray of Ochtertyre. These gentlemen retired to Dundas?s house, the windows of which were smashed by the mob, which next attacked the residence of the Lord Advocate, Dundas of Amiston. On this it became necessary to bring down the 53rd Re$- ment from the Castle ; the Riot Act was read, the people were fired on, and many fell wounded, some mortally, who were found dead next day in the Meadows and elsewhere. This put an end to the disturbances for that night ; but on Wednesday evening the mob assembled in the New Town with the intention of destroying the house of Provost Stirling at the south-east corner of St. Andrew Square, where they broke the City Guards? sentry boxes to pieces. But, as an appointed signal, the ancient beacon-fire, was set aflame in the Castle, the Bind frigate sent ashore her marines at Leith, and the cavalry came galloping ih from the eastward, an which the mob separated finally. By this time Provost Stirling had sought shelter In the Castle from the mob, who were on the point Jf throwing Dr. Alexander Wood (known as Lang Sandy) over the North Bridge in mistake for him. For his zeal, however, he was made a baronet of Great Britain. The year 1795 was one of great listress in the city ; Lord Cockbum tells us that 16,000 persons (about an eighth of the population) were fed by charity, and the exact quantity of food each family should consume was specified by public proclamation. In 1793 a penny post was established in Edinburgh, extending to Leith, Musselburgh, Dalkeith, and Prestonpans. Sir James Stirling latterly resided at the west end of Queen Street, and died in February, 1805. Sir William Fettes, Lord Provost in 1800 and 1804, we have elsewhere referred to ; but William Coulter, a wealthy hosier in the High Street, who succeeded to the civic chair in 1808, was chiefly remarkable for dying in office, like Alexander Kina i d thirty years before, and for the magnificence with which his funeral obsequies were celebrated. He died at Morningside Lodge, and the cortkge was preceded by the First R E. Volunteers, and the officers of the three Regiments of Edinburgh local militia, and the body was in a canopied hearse, drawn by six horses, each led by a groom in deep mourning. On it lay the chain of office, and his sword and sash as colonel of the volunteers. A man of great stature, in a peculiar costume, bore the banner of the City. When the body was lowered into the grave, the senior herald broke and threw therein the rod of office, while the volunteers, drawn up in a line near the Greyfriars? Church, fired three funeral volleys. Sir John Marjoribanks, Bart., Lord Provost in 1813, was the son of Marjoribanks of Lees, an eminent wine merchant in Bordeaux, and his mother was the daughter of Archibald Stewart, Lord Provost of the city in the memorable ?45. Sir John was a partner in the banking-house of Mansfield, Ranisay, and Co., and while in the civic chair was the chief promoter of the Regent Bridge and Calton Gaol, though the former had been projected by Sir James Hunter Blair in 1784 When the freedom of thedty was given to Lord Lynedoch, ?the gallant Graham,? Sir John gave h k a magnificent dinner, on the 12th of August, I815-two months after Waterloo. There were present the Earl of Morton, Lord Audley, Sir David Dundas, the Lord Chief Baron, the Lord Chief Commissioner, Sir James Douglas, Sir Howard Elphinstone, and about a hundred of the most notable men in Edinburgh, the freedom of which was presented to Lord Lynedoch in a box of gold ; and at the conclusion
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