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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Volume 6 Page 205
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206 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith. home. He not only took a deep interest in thes matters, but he studied them with his usual enthu siasm, and personally superintended every detail. James IV., one of the most splendid monarch of his race and time, not only conversed free! with his mariners at Leith, but he nobly rewardec the most skilful and assiduous, and visited fami liarly the houses of his merchants and sea officers He practised with his artillerymen, often loading pointing, and discharging the guns, and delightec in having short voyages with old Andrew Wood o the Bartons, and others. ?The consequences o such conduct were highly favourable to him; hc became as popular with his sailors as he was be loved by the nobility; his fame was caqied bj them to foreign countries : thus shipwrights, cannon founders, and foreign artisans of every description flocked to his court from France, Italy, and thc Low Countries.? In 1512, when James was preparing for hi: struggle with England to revenge the fall of AndreB Barton, the retention of his queen?s dowry, and other insults by Henry-when all Scotland resounded with. the din of warlike preparation, and, as the ? Treasurer?s Accounts ? show, ?he castles in the interiqr were deprived of their guns to arm the shipping-James, on the 6th of August, held a naval review of his whole fleet at Leith, an event which caused no small excitement in England. Just three months before this De la Mothe, the French Ambassador (who afterwards fell at Flodden), coming to Scotland with a squadron, on his own responsibility, and before war was declared, attacked a fleet of English merchantmen, sunk three and captured seven, which he brought into Leith. Lord Dacre, who was on a mission at the Scottish court, promised Henry to get these ships restored, and to prevent reprisals ; the Bartons, Sir Alexander Matheson, Sir David Falconer, and other commanders, were sent to sea to look out for English ships. In 1513 La Mothe came again with another squadron, containing much munition of war for the Scottish fleet, and arriving off Leith in a furious storm, he fired a salute of cannon, the object of which seems to have been mistaken, as it made every man rush to arms in Edinburgh, where the common bell was rung for three hours.? James V. strove to follow in the footsteps of his father, as the ?Treasurer?s Accounts ? show. In 1539, ? ane silver quhissel,? with a long chain, was given by his command ?? to the Patroune of the ships.? It weighed eleven ounces and three-quarters, and was then the badge of an admiral, as it is now that of a boatswain. In 1540 payments were made fur wood cut at Hawthornden for building the king?s ships, and also for sixteen ells of red and yellow taffeta (the royal colours) for naval ensigns, delivered to Captain John Barton of Leith j while :L sum was paid to Murdoch Stirling for making ovens for the royal shipping. In 1511 Florence Carntoune was keeper of them and their ?gear,? Among them were the Salamander, the Unicorn, and the LittZe Bark-to such as these had the armaments of James IV. dwindled away. John Keir, captain of the first named, had yearly fifteen pounds. John Brown, captain of the Great Lyonne, while at Bordeaux on the king?s service, was paid eighty pounds ; and the ?fee? of Archibald Penicoke, captain of the Unicorn, was ten pounds one shilling. During the wars with Continental countries subsequent to the union of the crowns, Scotland had vessels of war, called generally frigates, which are referred to in the Register of the Privy Council, Qc., and which seem to have been chiefly named zfter the royal palaces and castles; and during these wars Leith furnished many gallant privateers. But in those far-away times when Scotland was yet a separate kingdom and the Union undreamt 3f, Leith presented a brisk and busy aspect-an ispect which, on its commercial side, has been irigorously maintained up to the present day, and which is well worthy of its deeply intercsting his. orical past.
Volume 6 Page 206
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