Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


writing of the siege, he says, ? upon the twentieth day, the principal block-house of Leith, called St. Anthony?s Kirk, was battered down.? And we have already referred to the Act of Council in 1560, by which it was ordered that this block house and the curtain-wall facing Edinburgh should be levelled to the sound. . Immediately opposite St;. Mary?s Church stands the Trinity House of Leith, erected on the site of the original edifice bearing that name, This Seaman?s Hospital was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and the insctiption which adorned the ancient building is now built into the south wall of the new one, facing St. Giles?s Street, and . ters :- ?IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, YE MASTERIS AND MARINERIS BYLIS THIS HOVS TO YE POVR. ANNO DOMINI, ~555.? In the east wing of the present edifice there is preserved a stone, on which is carved a cross-staff and other nautical instruments of the sixteenth century, an anchor, and two globes, with the motto :- apply those dues in the maintenance of a hospital for the keeping of ?poor, old, infirm, and weak matiners.? Long previous to 1797, the association, though calling itself ?? The Corporation of .Shipmasters of the Trinity House of Leith,? was?. A corporation only by the courtesy of popular language, and posseised merely the powers of a charitable body ; but in that year it was erected by charter into a corporate body, whose office-bearers were to be a master, assistant and deputy-=aster, a manager, treasurer, and clerk, and was vested with powersreserving, however, those of the Corporation of the city of Edinburgh-to examine, and under its ? Zmtituted 1380. Buiit rj55. RebuiZt 1816.? ?The date of this foundation,? says Daniel Wilson is curious, Its dedication implies that it originated with the adherents of the ancient faith, while the date of the old inscription indicates the very period when the Queen Regent assumed the reins of government. That same year John Knox landed at Leith on his return from exile ; and only three years later, the last convocation of the Roman Catholic clergy that ever assembled in Scotland hnder the sanction of its laws was held in the Blackfriars Church at Edinburgh, and signalised its final session by proscribing Sir David Lindsay?s writings, and enacting that his buik should be abolished and burnt.? ? From time immemorial the shipmasters and mariners of Leith received from all vessels of the port, and all Scottish vessels visiting it, certain duties, called ? prirno gilt,? which were expended in aiding poor seamen ; and about the middle of the sixteenth century they acquired a legal right to tained, but they were then ( I 7 7 9) all out-pensioners. In the inventory of deeds belonging to this institution is enumerated :-? Ane charter granted by Mathew Forrester, in favour of the foresaide mariners of Leith, of thesaid land of ye hospital bankes, and for undercallit ye grounds lying in Leith. . . also saide yeird. . . dated 26 July, 1567, sealit and subscnbit be the saide Mat. Forrester, Prebender of St. Antoine, near Leith.? (?< M o n s ticon Scotz.?) During the Protectorate the ample vaults under the old Trinity House (now or latterly used as wine stores) were filled with the munition of Monk?s troops, for which they paid a rent. ? By his Highness? council1 in Scotland, for the governing theirof: these are to require z,ooo forthwith out of such moneys dew or schal come to the hands of the Customes, out of the third part of the profits arysing from the Excyse in Scotland, to pay \Villiam Robertson (collector for the poore of Trinitie House in Leyth) the sornme of A3 15s.
Volume 6 Page 223
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
224 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith. sterling, for a yeir?s rent of a vault under the said Trinitie House, imployed to lay in stores for the m y , determining the 8th of March last. . . . Given at Edinburgh the last day of Apryl, 1657. Sic subm-ibifur, GEORGE MONK, F. SCROPE, Quathetham? i.e. Wetham. ((( Trinity House Records.?) In 1800 the master and assistants of the Trinity House recommended, as the best means of rendering safer the navigation on the east coast of Scotland, of the old one, in a Grecian style of architecture, in 1817, at the modest expense of Az,soo. In the large hall for the meeting of the masters are a portrait of Mary of Lorraine, by Mytens, and a model of the ship in which she came to Scotland. Among other portraits, there is one of Admiral Lord Duncan; and among other pictures of interest, the late David Scott?s huge painting of ?? Vasco de Gama passing the Cape of Good Hope.? A building mysteriously named the Kantore THE TRINITY HOUSE. the establishment of a lighthouse, or floating light, on the Inchcape, or Bell Rock, off the mouth of the Tay; and, adds the Edinburgh ChronicZe for that year, ?they have also recommended all the towns and burghs of the east coast to consider what sort of light would be best, in what manner it should be erected, and what duties should be levied on the shipping, and what shipping) for its erection and support ; ? and there, six years afterwards, was begun that famous feat of engineering, the Bell Rock Lighthouse, on the reef which had proved so fatal to many a mariner in past times, and which forms the subject of one of Southey?s fine ballads. - The present Trinity House was built on the site (probabIy a corruption of the Flemish word kanfoor, a place of business) stood of old in the Kirkgate, in the immediate vicinity of St., Mary?s Church, and was intimately associated with the ecclesiastical history of Leith. It was latterly a species of prison-house. When an appearance of religion was necessary to all men in Scotland, the Kantore was used as a place of temporary durance for those who incurred in any way the censure of the Kirk Session. ?Offences of the most trivial nature were most severely punished,? says a writer, (? and a system of espionage was maintained, from which there was hardly any possibility of escape. Either Leith must, in former times, have exceeded in wickedness the other parts of Scotland, or the
Volume 6 Page 224
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures