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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Roslin.1 THE sr. CLAIRS. 349 Lords Sinclair of Herdmanston. The second son, also called William, continued the line of the Earls of Caithness ; while the thud son, Oliver, founded the more modern family, and connected it with the ancient one of St. Clair of Roslin. In 1583, Thomas Vans and Archibald Hoppringall, burgesses of Edinburgh, became caution for Edward Sinclair, eldest son of Sir William of Roslin, that his spouse, Christian Douglas, should have peaceable access to him in his father?s Place of Roslin, and that he should duly appear before the Lords of Council to underlie the law with reference to a family dispute. (? Reg. of Council.?) Their descendant, William, last heir in the direct male line, died in 17;s. A collateral branch was his cupbearer, Lord Fleming his carver, and these had as deputies, in their absence, the Lairds of Drummelzier, Sandilands, and Calder. His halls and apartments were richly adorned with embroidered hanging, and to the state adopted by his ? princess Elizabeth ? we have already referred. The three sons of William, the third earl, conveyed the concentrated honours of the house in their respective lines. William, the eldest, inherited the title of Bpron Sinclair, and was ancestor of the Roslin, which was founded in the j-ear 1446 by the then lord, and dedicated to St. Matthew. Only the chancel of the edifice was completed, but a cruciform structure must have been contemplated. Though certainly squat in outline, all the rare beauties of the chapel are concentrated in the design and wonderfully varied character of its mouldings, buttresses, and incrustations. It bids defiance to all the theories of Gothic architecture. Britton calls it ? curious, elaborate, and singularly interesting; ? and, in comparing it with other edifices of the same period, he adds, ?These styles display a gradual advancement in lightness and profusion of ornament, but the chapel of Roslin combines the solidity of the Norman with the - raised in the year 1801 to the title of Earls of Rosslyn, in the peerage of the United Kingdom. James, second earl, succeeded in the year 1837, and now the Scottish seat of the family is at Dysart House, Fifeshire. The St. Clairs of Roslin, from the time of James 11. till they resigned the office in the last century, were the Grand Masters of Masonry in Scotland. It may seem almost superfluous to describe an edifice so well known as the exquisite chapel of ROSLIN CHAPEL :- NORTH FRONT.
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350 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Roslin minute decorations of the latest species of the Tudor age. It is impossible to designate the architecture of this building by any given or familiar term, for the variety and eccentricity of its parts are not to be defined by any words of common acceptation.? Though generally spoken of as if it were the chapel of the adjacent castle, this most costly edifice was erected as a collegiate church, to be ministered to by a provost, six prebendaries, and two choristers. Captain Slezer states that ? there goes a tradition that, before the death of any of the family of Roslin this chapel appears to be all on fire ; ? and it was this brief line of that most prosaic writer which suggested the noble ballad of Scott: The legend is supposed to be of Norse origin, imported by the Earls of Orkney to Roslin, as the tomb-fires of the North are mentioned in most of the Sagas. The chapel was desecrated by a mob in I 688, anQ though partially repaired by General St. Clair about 1720, for more than a century and a half it remained windowless and mouldy. On Easter Tuesday, 1862, it was repaired, and opened for service by the clergy of the Scottish Episcopal communion. In this building we have the common stock legend of one of the finest pieces of workmanship beingcompletedbyanapprentice duringtheabsence of the master, who in rage and mortification puts him to death. The famous Apprentice?s Pillar is called by Slezer the ? Prince?s Pillar,? as the founder had the title of Prince of Orkney, This pillar is the wreathed one, so markedly distinct from all the others, and was most probably the ?? Master?s Pillar ; ? but among the grotesque heads, it was not difficult for old Annie Wilson, the guide, who figures in the Gentleman?s Magazi?zc for 1817, to find those of the irate master, the terrified apprentice, and his sorrowing mother. It was from the MSS. of Father Hay, in the Advocates? Library, that the striking legend of the Sinclairs being buried in their armour was taken by Sir Walter. Scott. He wrote at the commencement of the eighteenth century, and was present at the opening of the tomb, wherein lay Sir Wdliam Sinclair, who, he says, was interred in 1650, on the day the battle of Dunbar was fought ; and he thus describes the body :- ? He was lying in his armour, with a red velvet cap on his head, on a flat stone. Nothing was spoiIed except a piece of the white furring that uyent round the cap, and answered to the hinder part of the head. All his predecessors were buried in the same manner in their armour. Late Roslin, my gud father, was the first that was buried in a coffin, against the sentiments of King James VII., who was then in Scotland, and several other persons well versed in antiquity, to whom my mother would not hearken, thinking it beggarly to be buried after that manner, The great expense she was at in burying her husband occasioned the sumptuary Acts which were made in the next Parliament.? This refers to the Act ? restraining the exorbitant expense of marriages, baptisms, and burials,? passed in 1681 at Edinburgh. In a vault near the north wall, there lie, under a flag-stone, ten barons of Roslin, buried before 1690, according to the ? New Statistical Account.? In the west wall of the north aisle is the tomb of George, fourth Earl of Caithness, one of the peers who sat on the trial of Bothwell, and who died at an advanced age. It bears the following inscription :- ? H I ~ JACET NOBILE AC POTIS DOMINUS GEORGIUS, QUONDAM COMES CATHANENSIS, DOMINUS SINCLAR, OBIIT EDINBURCI g DIE MENSIS SEPTEMBRIS, ANNO DOMINI 1582.? It is supposed that an authentic history of th;s family-one of the most remarkable in the three Lothians-might throw much light on the history of masonry in Scotland. Among the MSS. in Father Hay?s collection there is one which acknowledges in remarkable terms the prerogatives of the Roslm family in reference to the Maso& craft. ?The deacons, masters, and freemen of the masons and hammermen within the Kingdom of Scotland ? assert ?? that for as mickle as from adage to adage it has been observed amongst us and our predecessors that the Lauds of Roslin have ever bein patrons and protectors of us and our privileges, like as our predecessors has obeyed, reverenced, and acknowledged them as patrons and protectors, whereof they had letters of protection and other rights granted by his majesty?s most noble progenitors.? The MS. then proceeds to record that the documents referred to had perished with the family muniments in some conflagration ; but that they acknowledge the continuance of the Masonic Patronage in the House of Sinclair. The MS. is dated 1630, and signed thus :-? The Lodge of Dundee - Robert Strachane, master - Andrew Wast and DaI-id Whit, masters in Dundee; with our hands att the pen, led be the Notar, undersubscrivand at our commands, because we cannot writ.? At least twenty-two special masons? marks are visible on the stones at Roslin. The edifice has attached to it what is said to have been an under chapel, although it is on the JUSTICIARIUS HEREDITORIUS DIOCESIS CATHANENSIS QUI
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