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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Leith.) THE BOURSE. 231 U Throughout these troublesome days, a little episcopal congregation was kept together in Leith, their place of worship being the first floor of an old dull-looking house in Queen?s Street (dated 1516), the lower floor of which was, in my recollection, a police office.? The congregation about the year 1744 is said to have numbered only a hundred and seventy-two ; and concerning what are called episcopal chapels in Leith, confusion has arisen from the circumstance that one used the Scottish communion office, while another adopted the liturgy of the Church of England. The one in Queen Street was occupied in 1865 as a temperance hall. According to Robertson?s U Antiquities,? the earliest of these episcopal chapels was situated in Chapel Lane (at the foot of Quality Street), and was demolished several years ago, and an ancient tablet which stood above the door-lintel was built into a house near the spot where the chapel stood. It bears the following inscription :- T. F. THAY. AR. WELCOY. HEIR. THA?I?. A. M. G6D. DOIS. LOVE. AND. FEIR. 1590. In 1788 this building was converted into a dancing-school, said to be the first that wa? opened in Leith. On Sunday, April 27, 1745, divine service was performed in a fey of the then obscure episcopal chapels in Edinburgh and Leith, but in the following week they were closed by order of the sheriff. That at Leith, wherein the Rev. Robert Forbes and Rev. Mr. Law officiated, shared the same fate, and the nonjuring ministers of their communion had to perform their duties by stealth, being liable to fines, imprisonment, and banishment. It was enacted that after the 1st of September, 1746, every episcopal pastor in Scotland who failed to register his letters of orders, to take all the oaths required by law, and to pray for the House of Hanover, should for the first offence suffer six months? imprisonment ; for the second be transported to the plantations ; and for the third suffer penal servitude for life ! Hence, says Mr. Parker Lawson, in his ?I History of the Scottish Episcopal Church,? since the Revolution in 1688, ?the sacrament of baptism was often administered in woods and sequestered places, and the holy communion with the utmost privacy. Confirmations were held with closed doors in private houses, and divine service often performed in the open air in the northern counties, amid the maintains or in the recesses of forests. The chapels were all shut up, and the doors made fast with iron bars, under the authority of the sheriffs.? The Rev. Robert Forbes became Bishop of Caithness and Orkney in 1762, but still continued to reside in Leith, making occasional visits to the north, for the purpose of confirming and baptising, till the year of his death, 1776; and twelve years subsequently, the death of Prince Charles Edward put an end to much of the jealousy with which the members of the episcopal communion in Scotland were viewed by the House of Hanover. ?On Sunday, the 25th of May last,? says The GentZeman?s Magazine for I 7 88, ? the king, queen, and Prince of Wales were prayed for by name, and the rest of the royal family, in the usual manner, in all the nonjuring chapels in this city (Edinburgh) and Leith. The same manner of testifying the loyalty of the Scotch Episcopalians will also be observed in every part of the country, in consequence of the resolution come to by the bishops and clergy of that persuasion. Thus, an effectual end is put to the most distant idea of disaffection in any part of His Majesty?s dominions to his royal person and government.? The old chapel in Queen Street adjoined a building which, in the days when Maitland wrote, had its lower storey in the form of an open piazza, which modem alterations have completely concealed or obliterated. This was the exchange, or meeting-place of the Leith merchants and traders for the transaction of business, and was known as the Rourse till a very recent period, being adopted at a time when the old alliance with France was an institution in the land, and the intimate relations between that country and Scotland introduced many phrases, customs, and words which still linger in the latter. The name of the Bourse still remains in Leith under the corrupted title of the Timber Bush, occasionally called the How( at some distance north of Queen Street. It occupied more than the piazzas referred to-a large piece of ground originally enclosed by a wooden fence, and devoted to the sale of timber, but having been plobably reclaimed from the sea, it was subject to inundations during spring tides. Thus Calderwood records that on the IGth of September, 1616, ?there arose such a swelling in the sea at Leith, that the like was not seen for a hundred years, for the water came in with violence in a place called the Timber H~lc where the timber lay, and carried away some of the timber, and rnanie lasts of herrings lying there, to the sea; brak into sundrie low houses and cellars, and filled them with water. The people,? he adds, of course, ?tooke this extraordinarie
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232 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith. tyde to be a forewarning of some evil to come.? In 1644 the Leith timber trade was 90 greatly increased, that the magistrates of Edinburgh ordered the area of the Bourse to be enclosed by a strong 1573. ?One may have some idea of the pettiness of the external trade carried on by Edinburgh in the early part of the sixteenth century from what we know of the condition of Leith at that time,? says Robert Chambers, in one of his ? Edinburgh QUEEN STREET. wall, from which time it became more permanent and important. A little way north of Queen Street, the Burgess Close opens eastward at a right angle from the shore, and extends to Water Lane. Here one of the earliest dates that could be found on any of the buildings in Leith was noted by TVilson on a house, the lintel inscribed in Roman letters, NISI DNS FRUSTRA, with the date Papers.? ? It was but a village, without quay or pier, and with no approach to the harbour except by an alley-the still existing Burgess Closewhich in some parts is not above four feet wide. We must imagine any merchandise then brought to Leith as carried in vessels of the size of small yachts, and borne off to the Edinburgh warehouse, slung on horseback, through the narrow defiles of the Burgess Close.?
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