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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Leith] ST. NINIAN?S CHAPEL 251 the eighty-seventh year of his age, and was able to transact business until a very short time before his death. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son, Sir Thomas Gladstone, of Fasque and Balfour, M.P. for Queenborough and other places successively in England. Gladstone Place, near the Links, has been so named in honour of this family. From the top of the Sheriff Brae and Mill Lane, Great Junction Street, a broad and spacious thoroughfare, extends eastward for the distance of two thousand feet to the foot of Leith Walk. Here, on the south side, are the United Presbyterian church, the neat Methodist chapel, and a large and handsome edifice erected in 1839 as a school, and liberally endowed by Dr. Bell, founder of the Madras system of education, at a cost of f;IO,OOO. C H A P T E R X X V I I I , NORTH LEITH. The Chapel and Church of St. NiniaPParish Created-Its Records-Rev. George Wishart-Rev. John Knox-Rev. Dr. Johnston-The Burial- Ground-New North Leith ChurchlFree Church-Old Grammar SchoolXobourg Street-St. Nicholas Church-The Citadel-Its Remains-Houses within k--Beach and Sands of North Leith-New Custom How-Shipping Inwards and Outwards. ON crossing the river we find ourselves in North Leith, which is thus described by Kincaid in ?787 :- ? With regard to North Leith, very little alteration has taken place here for a century past. It consists of one street running north-east from the bridge, six hundred feet long, and about forty in breadth where broadest. On each side are many narrow lanesand closes, those on the south side leading down to the carpenters? yards by the side of the river, and those on the north to the gardens belonging to the inhabitants. From the bridge a road leads to the citadel, in length 520 feet ; then IOO feet west, and we enter the remains of the old fortification, on the top of which a dwelling-house is now erected. The buiIdings in this place are in general very mean in their appearance, and inhabited by peopIe who let rooms during the summer season to persons who bathe in the salt water.? One of the leading features of North Leith, when viewed from any point of view, is the quaint spire of its.old church, on the west bank of the river, near the end of the upper drawbridge, abandoned now to secular purposes, separated from its ancient burying-ground (which still remains, With its many tombstones, half sunk amid the long rank grass of ages), and lifting its withered and storm-worn outline, as if in deprecation of the squalor by which it is surrounded, and the neglect and contumely heaped on its venerable history. North Leith, which contains the first, or original docks, and anciently comprehended the citadel and the chief seat of traffic, was long a congeries of low, quaint-looking old houses, huddled into groups or irregular lines, and straddling their way amid nuisances in back and front, very much the style of a Spanish or Portuguese town of the present day; but since 1818 it has undergone great and renovating changes, and, besides being disenambered of the citadel and masses of crumbling houses, it has some streets that may vie with the second or third thoroughfares of Edinburgh. As stated in our general history of Leith, Robert Ballantyne, Abbot of Holyrood, towards the close of the fifteenth century, built a handsome bridge of three stone arches over the Water of Leith, to connect the southern with the northern quarter of the rising seaport, and so011 after its completion he erected and endowed near its northern end a chapel, dedicated to the honour of God, the Virgin Mary, and St. Ninian, the apostle of Galloway, Having considerable possessions in Leith, ?he abbot a p pointed two. chaplains to officiate in this chapel, who were ta receive all the profits accruing from a house which he had built at the southern end of this bridge, with A4 yearly out of other tenements he possessed in South Leith. In addition to the offerings made in the chapel, the tolls or duties accruing from this new bridge were to be employed in its repair and that of the chapel, but all surplus the charitable abbot ordained was to be given to the poor; and this charter of foundation was confirmed by James IV., of gallant memory, on the 1st of January, 1493. (Maitland.) This chapel was built with the full consent of the Chapter of Holyrood, and with the approbation of William, Archbishop of St Andrews ; and-as a. dependency of the church of the Holy Crossthe land whereon it stood is termed the Rudest& in a charter of Queen Mary, dated 1569.
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$52 ? OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith. remainder of the structure cannot be earlier than the close of the sixteenth century, and the date on the steeple, which closely resembles that of the old Tron church, destroyed in the great fire of 1824, 4?St. Ninian?s chapel still occupies its ancient site on the bank of the Water of Leith, but very little of the original structure of the good abbot remains : probably no more than a small portion of the basement wall on the north side, where a small doorway appears with an elliptical arch, now built up and .partly sunk in the ground. The There is a more modem addition to the new church, erected apparently in the reign of Queen Anne, and into it has beeeuilt a sculptured lintel, bearing in large Roman letters the legend :- present edifice on the old one, erected a parsonage, and in i 606 obtained an Act of Parliament erecting the district into a parish, named North Leith, which, even after the Reformation was achieved, had nu pastor in place of the old chaplain till 1599, when a Mr. James Muirhead was appointed to the ministry. is 1675.?? After the Reformation, when the chaplain?s house, the tithes, and other pertinents of the chaDei, - - ?BISSSED. AR. THEY. YAT. HEIR. YE. VORD. OF. GOD, AND. KEEP. 1600. were ?acquired by purchase- from John Bothieli the Protestant commendator of Holyrood, the new proprietors immediately rebuilt, or engrafted, the When erected into a parish Ehurch, it was endowed with sundry grants, including the neighbouring chapel and hospital of St. Nicholas.
Volume 6 Page 252
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