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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


12 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. the politics of the day, or more intimately acquainted with the affairs of the Lawnmarket. His widow carried on business till her demise in 1804, and was succeeded by her son Henry, who died about 1832. He died suddenly one Sabbath morning in 1784. MR. MALCOLM WRIGHT, the next of the centre pair, was born about the year 1750, at Dolphinton, in Lanarkshire, on the borders of Tweeddale, where his father occupied a farm. He was originally bred to the profession of a writer in Edinburgh, and employed his leisure hours in keeping the books of a widow,’ who had a haberdashery shop in the Lawnmarket, betwixt Liberton and Forrester’s Wynds. In the course of time, having formed a matrimonial alliance with his employer, he took the management of the business into his own hands, and continued it for a considerable number of years-latterly under the firm of Wright and Henderson, having assumed a gentleman of that name into partnership with him. Mr. Wright was a member of the Town Council during a great part of the period he was in business, and frequently held office as a Magistrate. After retiring from the shop he obtained the office of agent for the French prisoners of war confined in Edinburgh Castle ; and, being unacquainted with the language, carried on the necessary intercourse with his constituents by means of an interpreter, who always attended him on his visits to the Castle. The duties of this office brought him into frequent contact with official persons. Upon one of these occasions the Lord President and Lord’Advocate had appointed to meet him in the Council Chamber, in order that they might accompany him to the Castle on some business relating to the prisoners. Mr. Wright, being unavoidably prevented from attending, desired his clerk hlr. Alexander Fraser, who usually officiated in his absence, to wait upon their lordships. This gentleman appears to have entertained no small opinion of his own consequence ; for, not only did he detain their lordships considerably beyond the time specified, but after apologising for his absence, had the effrontery to thrust an arm under that of each of these high legal dignitaries, and actually swaggered up between them in this fashion to the Castle. After the peace of 1815, his office being rendered no longer necessary, Mr. Wright got the appointment of Bulker at the Port of Leith, which he continued to hold till the period of his death in November 1825. His second wife, who survived, was a daughter of the late Convener Rankine, tailor to his Majesty for Scotland, Mr. Wright was twice married. 1 This lady was at that time among the most extensive and spirited haberdashers in Edinburgh ; as a proof of which, she went regularly every season to London to make purchases-a journey then attended with much diculty and delay. She always went by sea ; but in those days the only conveyance was by what were called the Berwick traders--arclass of vessels much inferior to the “Leith Smacks,” afterwards established ; and it is worthy of remark, in contrast with the remarkable improvements of our own times, that when any of the “ traders” were about to sail from Leith, the circurnstanwf was always announced throughout the streets of Edinburgh by the betlman, at least a fortnight previous to the day of sailing.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 13 By his first wife he had no children ; and those of the second marriage all died before they reached maturity. The first of the two wheelers, MR HENRY WATSON, was a hardware merchant, and had his shop at the head of Paterson’s Court, and afterwards on the South Bridge. Unless much belied by common fame, he was in no way remarkable for the brilliancy of his talents. Like his friend Mr. Hardie, he possessed an invaluable helpmate, who used to superintend his shop, by which means he found ample leisure to pursue his own amusements. The other wheeler, MR. WILLTAM HALL, merchant, was born at Summerhall, in the suburbs of Edinburgh, on the 19th May 1749. He was the youngest son of Mr. William Hall, of that place, by his wife Marion Robertson, a lady of good family, and a relative of the historian, Principal Robertson. At an early age he began his mercantile career in the banking-house of Messrs. Mansfield, Hunter, and Ramsay, in which establishment his eldest brother, Robert, held an office of trust and responsibility. From his enterprising disposition he very soon received an appointment as manager of the White Herring Fishing Company, in which capacity he made several voyages. Shortly afterwards he commenced business in Edinburgh as a general merchant, in which he became very successful, having been the founder of the mercantile house of William Hall and Company. Mr. Hall was an active and intelligent citizen; and took a lively interest in local matters, particularly such as were connected with useful and charitable objects. He was for several years a member of the Town Council, and elected one of the Magistrates in 1797. He was much esteemed by his friends and acquaintances. His person was graceful, and his manners peculiarly pleasing and captivating. From the cheerfulness of hk disposition, and his great personal activity, he was fond of all the national games of recreation. He was a good archer, and remarkably partial to the game of golf, in which latter game he was a great proficient, and was long a member of the Burgess Golfing Society. His attitude, technically called ‘‘ address,” in striking off the ball was exceedingly graceful, and was so much admired that the members of the Club prevailed upon him to allow his portrait to be taken in that attitude ; but his death prevented its completion. In 1770, at the early age of twenty, Mr, Hall married a daughter of Mr. John Mitchell, of Burnfoot, East Lothian. This gentleman was a zealous supporter of the cause of Prince Charles Edward ; and in 1745, in addition to his personal services, rendered very efficient assistance by furnishing horses and carts for the use of the army. The daughter above alluded to was named Charlotte, in compliment to the Prince. By this union Mr. Hall had eight children, five of whom attained majority, namely, a son and four daughters, He died on the 5th April 1808. Mr. Hall had a sister who married Mr. Bustard, an eminent merchant in
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