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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


222 OLD ?AND NEW EDINBURGH. [West Port. prehending the main street of the West Port (the link between Fountainbridge and the Grassmarket), the whole of Lauriston from the Corn-market and foot of the Vennel to the Main Point, including Portland Place on the west, and to Bruntsfield Links on the east, including Home and Leven Streets. In IIGO John AbbotofKelso grantedtoLawrence, the son of Edmund of Edinburgh, a toft situated between the West Port and the Castle, on the left of the entrance into the city. In this little burgh there were of old eight incorporated trades, deriving their rights from John Touris of Inverleitk Many of the houses here were roofed with thatch in the sixteenth century, and the barriergate by which the whole of the district was cut off from the city was milt in 1513, as a port in the ?,F?lodden wall. Some gate may, however, have existed previously, as Balfour in his ?Annales,? tells that the head of Robert Graham, oneof the assassins of James I., in 1437, ?was sett ouer the West Port of Edinburgh ;? and in I 5 I 5 the head of Peter Moffat, ?ane greit swerer and thief,? was spiked in the same place, after the reins of government were that every man in the city ?be reddy boddin for weir,? in his best armour at ?? the jow of the common bell? for its defence if necessary. Nearly similar orders were issued concerning the gates in 1547, and the warders were to be well armed with jack, steel helmet, and halberd or Jedmood axe, finding surety to be never absent from their In 1538 Mary of Guise made her first entry by the West Port on St. Margaret?s day, ? with greit trivmphe,? attended by all the nobility (Diurnal of OCC.). There James VI. was received by ? King Solomon ? on his first state entry in 1579 ; and by it Anne of Denmark entcred in 1590, when she was posts. (Ibid.) HIGHRIGGS HOUSE, 1854. (Afler P Drawing by Ihr Aidkor.) assumed by John Duke of Albany. (? Diurnal of Occurrents.?) In the same year it was ordained by the magistrates and council that only three of the city gates were to be open daily, viz., ?the West Port, Nether Bow, and the Kirk-of-Field-and na ma. -4nd ilk port to haif twa porteris daylie quhill my Lord Govemoure?s hame coming. [Albany was then on the Borders, putting down Lord Home?s rebellion.] And thir porteris suffer na maner of person on hors nor fute, to enter within this toune without the President or one of the bailies knaw of their cuming and gif thame licence. And the said personis to be convayit to thair lugings be one of the said porteris, swa that gif ony inconvenient happenis, that thair hoste niycht answer for thame as efferis.? (Burgh Records.) It was also ordained that a fourth part of the citizens should form a watch every night till the return of Albany, and received by a long Latin oration, while the garrison in the Castle ?gave her thence a great volley of shot, with their banners and ancient displays upon the walls ? (?( Marriage of James VI.,? Bann. Club). Here also in 1633, Charles I. at his grand entrance was received by the nymph Edina, and again at the Overbow by the Lady Caledonia, both of whom welcomed him in copious verse from the pen, it is said, of the loyal cavalier and poet, Drummond of Hawthornden. Fifteen years before this period the Common Council had purchased the elevated ridge of ground lying south of the West Port and Grassmarket, denominated the Highriggs, on a part of which Heriot?s Hospital was afterwards built, and the most recent extension of the city wall then took place for the purpose of enclosing it. A portion of this wall still fomis the boundary of the hospital grounds, terminating at the head of the Vennel, in the only tower of the ancient fortifications now remaining. In 1648 the superiority of the Portsburgh was bought by the city from Sir Adam Hepburn for the sum of 27,500 merks Scots; and in 1661 the king?s stables were likewise purchased for EI,OOO Scots, and the admission of James Baisland to the freedom of Edinburgh. In 1653 the West Port witnessed a curious , scene, when Lieutenant-Colonel Cotterel, by order
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West PGrt.1 THE LAWSONS. 22; of Cromwell, expelled the General Assembly from Edinburgh, literally drumming the members out at that gate, under a guard of soldiers, after a severe reprimand, and ordering that never more than three of them should meet together. Marion Purdy, a miserable old creature, ? once a milkwife and now a beggar,? in the West Port, was apprehended in 1684 on a charge of witchcraft, for ?laying frenzies and diseases on her neighbours,? says Fountainhall ; but the King?s Advocate failed to bring her to the stake, and she was permitted to perish of cold and starvation in prison about the Christmas of the same year. Five years subsequently saw the right hand of Chieslie, the assassin of Lockhart, placed above the gate, probably on a spike ; and in the street close by, on the 5th September, 1695, Patrick Falconar, a soldier of Lord Lindsay?s regiment, was murdered by George Cumming, a writer in Edinburgh, who deliberately ran him through the body with his sword, for which he was sentenced to be hanged and have his estates forfeited. From the trial, it appears that Cumming was much to blame, and had previously provoked the unoffending soldier by abusive language. The tolls collected at the West Port barrier in 1690 amounted to A105 11s. Iid. sterling. (Council Register.) In the year of the Union the Quakers would seem to have had a meeting-house somewhere in the West Port, as would appear from a dispute recorded by Fountainhall-? Poor Barbara Hodge ? against Bartholoniew Gibson, the king?s farrier, and William Millar, the hereditary gardener of Holyrood. On the south side of this ancient burgh, in an opening of somewhat recent formation, leading to Lauriston, the Jesuits have now a very large church, dedicated to ?The Sacred Heart,? and Capable of holding more than 1,000 hearers. It is in the form of a great lecture hall rather than a church, and was erected in 1860, by permission of the Catholic Bishop Gillis, in such a form, that if ever the order was suppressed in Scotland the edifice might be used for educational purposes. Herein is preserved a famous image that once belonged to Holyrood, but was lately discovered by E. Waterton, F.S.A., in a shop at Peterborough. Almost opposite to it, and at the northern corner of the street, stood for ages the then mansion house of the Lawsons of the Highriggs, which was demolished in 1877, and was undoubtedly one of the oldest, if not the very oldest, houses in the city. When built in the fifteenth century it must have (Crim. Trials.) been quite isolated. It had crowstepped gables, dormers on the roofs, and remarkably small windows. . It was the residence of an old baronial family, long and intimately connected with the city. ?? Mr. Richard Lawson,? says Scott of Scotstarvet, ?Justice Clerk, conquest a good estate about Edinburgh, near the Burrow Loch, and the barony of Boighall, which his grandson, Sir William Lawson of Boighall, dilapidated, and went to Holland to the wars.? He was Justice Clerk in the time oi James IV., from 1491 to 1505. In 1482 his name first appears in the burgh records as common clerk or recorder, when Sir John Murray of Tulchad was Provost, a post which the former obtained on the 2nd May, 1492. He was a bailie of the city in the year 1501, and Provost again in 1504. Whether he was the Richard Lawson who, according to Pitscottie, heard the infernal summons of Pluto at the Market Cross before the army marched to Flodden we know not, but among those who perished on that fatal field with King James was Richard Lawson of the Highriggs ; and it was his daughter whose beauty led to the rivalry and fierce combat in Leith Loan between Squire Meldrum of the Binns and Sir Lewis Stirling, in 1516, In 1555 we find John Lawson of the Highriggs complaining to the magistrates that the water ot the burgh loch had overflowed and (? drownit ane greit pairt of his land,? and that he could get no remedy therefor. Lady Lawson?s Wynd, now almost entirely demolished, takes its name from this family. The City Improvement Trustees determined to form it into a wide thoroughfare, running into Spittal Street. In one of the last remaining houses there died, in his 95th year, in June, 1879, a naval veteran named M?Hardy, supposed to be the last survivor of the actual crew of the Victory at Trafalgar. He was on the main-deck when Nelson received his fatal wound. One of the oldest houses here was the abode of John Lowrie, a substantial citizen, above whose door was the legend-SoLr DEO. H.G. 1565, and a shield charged with a pot of lilies, the emblems of the Virgin Mary. ?John. Lowrie?s initials,? says Wilson, ? are repeated in ornamental characters on the eastern crowstep, separated by what appears to be designed for a baker?s peel, and probably indicating that its owner belonged to the ancient fraternity of Baxters.? The West Port has long been degraded by the character of its inhabitants, usually Irish of the lowest class, and by the association of its name with
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