Boar's head

Register of Interments in the Greyfriars Burying-Ground
Henry Paton, ed.

Boar's head

Paton, Henry, ed.: Register of Interments in the Greyfriars Burying-Ground, Edinburgh, 1658-1700. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society, 1902. pp. 493-5.

When I first set out to investigate my Nisbet roots, the relative rarity of the name today, especially in Canada where the influence of the Scots on the development of the country was great, caused me to assume that the name of Nisbet occured equally infrequently in the years gone by, even in the Borders region of Scotland and the vicinity of Edinburgh, where the family's origins and greatest influence lay. I accordingly believed that the pursuit of my family's history would be a relatively simple matter, provided that the requisite records of births, marriages and deaths could be located - surely I wouldn't encounter that many extraneous Nisbet entries to cloud the issue. The intimidating volume of entries pertaining to Nisbets that I have subsequently encountered, however, caused me to forsake my original assumption and believe that the Nisbet family had been notably prolific, with branches of the family spreading first throughout Britain, and then around the world.

This Register of Interments, published by the Scottish Record Society in 1902, lists the burials that occured in Greyfriars burying-ground between 1658 and 1700. Considering that it was under the presidence of James Nisbet, the founder of Craigentinny, that the Town Council of Edinburgh, in 1612,  "resolved to go forward with the building of Old Greyfriars Church", I had hoped that there would be a high proportion of Nisbet interments. Indeed, over the 43-year period to which this book pertains, 138 Nisbets were interred at Greyfriars. My original belief that the family name was relatively uncommon, however, appears to have been well-founded, for over the same period Greyfriars accommodated somewhere in the number of 39,435 interments (this pseudo-statistic was arrived at by multiplying the number of entries per page - averaging around 55 - by the total number of pages, 717). The members of Nisbet families buried at Greyfriars, therefore, would appear to represent only 0.35 percent of the total interments for the period. An equally unscientific calculation, based on the fact that Nisbet entries form 2� of the total 717 pages, generates the same representation. I have come to the conclusion that despite the overwhelming number of possibly pertinent records one is presented with in the pursuit of genealogy, and regardless of one's biased perception of the importance of one's own ancestors, the actual number of direct ancestors and their relative importance to the development of mankind both pale when considered in respect to the billions of individuals who have been born, have wed, and have died over the course of human history.

The number of interments that Greyfriars accomodated over 43 years is astonishing. Henry Paton, the editor of the Registry, states that "from a calculation of the twelve years before 1700 it appears that between 1100 and 1200 interments took place in the burying-ground on an average yearly. Twice the interments reach not quite 1000, but in 1690 they rise to as high a figure as 1445. The highest rate of mortality appears in the months of December 1696 and January and February 1697, when the interments number 180, 208, and 213 respectively, or together 601 for the three months." Mr. Paton also comments that "the Register is for the most part written in a wretched hand and is most illiterate, but as it was kept by the gravediggers themselves nothing else could well be expected."

The entries below identify first the Nisbets from the landed gentry - the Nisbet's of Craigentinny, of Dean ("Din", "Dine", "Dien"), of Dirleton ("Dirlentown", "Dirlton"), of Letrie, and of Nisbet, followed by the trades-people and members of their families.


Nisbet (Neisbeit, Nisbat, Nisbeit, Nisbit)
of Craigentinny, Alexander; Nisbet tomb; a truf 6 Sept. 1694
Sir Harry, his son John 24 Jan. 1664
Sir Harry (at Blackfriars Wynd) 5 Jan. 1667
Sir Harry, his widow, Dame Elizabeth Nicolson 9 Dec. 1669
of Din, Sir Harry, a child 18 Nov. 1688
of Din, Sir Harry, a child; Nisbet tomb 9 Oct. 1689
of Dine, Sir Harry, a child 28 Oct. 1690
of Dien, John, his daughter Agnes 3 Feb. 1695
of the Dean, Sir Patrick, his daughter Agnes 17 Nov. 1670
Sir Patrick, his daughter Anna 1 May 1689
of Dine, Sir Patrick, his son John; buried west kirk 14 July 1693
of Dean, Sir William, his daughter Janet 11 Apr. 1665
of the Dean, Sir William, his son Thomas 14 July 1670
Sir John, his child 28 Nov. 1663
of Dirleton, Sir John 13 Apr. 1688
of Dirlentown, William, a child; Nisbet tomb; coch; a truf 25 May 1694
of Dirlton, William, a child; Nisbet tomb; a truf 28 Apr. 1697
of Dirleton, William, a child; Nisbet tomb; a truf 21 Dec. 1697
of Dirleton, William, a child; a truf 19 Jan. 1698
of Dirleton, . . . , his daughter Margaret; Nisbet tomb; a truf 26 Aug. 1697
of Letrie, Alexander, his daughter Susanna; Tod tomb 14 Feb. 1687
of Nisbet, William (? Bertran of Nisbet), his widow, Margaret Menzies 24 Feb. 1665
Adam, cordiner, his child 27 June 1663
Adam, merchant, his child 24 June 1663
Adam, merchant, a child 6 Apr. 1668
Adam, merchant, a child 20 Apr. 1671
Adam, writer, his child 4 Apr. 1661
Adam, writer, his child 4 Feb. 1663
Adam, writer 6 Feb. 1674
Adam, writer, deceased, a child 8 Feb. 1674
Adam, writer, deceased, his daughter Janet 21 Mar. 1674
Adam, clerk, a child; brae head 9 Dec. 1696
Adam, a child 9 Mar. 1671
Adam, indweller, a child; Nisbet tomb 12 Mar. 1688
Agnes, wife of Mr. Robert Livingstone 12 Apr. 1661
Agnes, wife of John Home of Nynhols 1 June 1687
Alexander, mason, his child 30 Dec. 1663
Alexander, mason, a child 27 Mar. 1668
Alexander, mason, his wife, Mary M`Gill 6 Feb. 1692
Alexander, in Lestarik, a child 12 Nov. 1673
Alexander, deceased, his daughter Grizel; Doctor Nisbet for her 20 Dec. 1675
Andrew, candlemaker; brae head; a truf 15 June 1693
Mr. Archibald, writer, his child 10 Aug. 1666
Mr. Archibald, writer, his child 1 Nov. 1667
Mr. Archibald, writer, his child 29 Dec. 1667
Mr. Archibald, writer, his son James 2 Apr. 1675
Mr. Archibald, a child 23 Oct. 1660
Mr. Archibald, his child 30 Jan. 1663
Mr. Archibald, his child 4 Mar. 1663
Catherine, wife of William Christie, veier 19 Feb. 1659
Katherine, wife of George Marshall, tailor (at head of Canongate) 23 Mar. 1666
Catherine, wife of Walter Liddell, writer (above head of Liberton's Wynd) 7 Oct. 1666
Catherine, widow of George Watson, writer, above the Weighhouse 28 Jan. 1677
Christian, wife of Patrick Clark; west side causeway 5 July 1690
Edward, writer, a child 8 May 1660
Edward, writer, his child 29 Dec. 1662
Edward, writer, his widow, Margaret Williamson 19 Sept. 1687
Elizabeth, widow of John Riddoch, merchant 22 July 1686
Elizabeth, widow of William Bruce, skinner; Kiloch tomb 3 Jan. 1694
Gavin, bookbinder, a child 9 Apr. 1671
Gavin, cordiner 28 Oct. 1683
Gavin, cordiner, his widow, Grizel Hedderwick 22 Apr. 1689
Gavin, indweller (at head of Cowgate) 8 Aug. 1664
Captain George, his widow, Elizabeth Home 14 Jan. 1674
Gilbert, surgeon, a child; Nisbet tomb; a truf 10 Oct. 1693
Gilbert, apothecary; Nisbet tomb; a truf 29 Apr. 1695
Gilbert, a stillborn child; wall side 29 May 1699
Gilbert, a stillborn child; wall side 25 Mar. 1700
Mr. Henry, indweller 13 Oct. 1658
Mr. Henry, his widow, Grissell Riddell 8 Jan. 1659
Henry, merchant, his widow, Janet Masterton 26 May 1664
Henry, merchant, deceased, his daughter, Catherine 12 Aug. 1674
Harry, turner, a child 12 May 1684
Henry, wheelwright 7 Dec. 1686
Mr. Hugh, late minister; Henderson tomb 6 Feb. 1696
Hugh, a halflin; road foot 18 Mar. 1695
Isobella, indweller 14 May 1658
Mr. James, doctor, his daughter Sarah; Nisbet tomb; a truf 29 Aug. 1696
James, candlemaker 3 Oct. 1663
James, candlemaker, his widow, Elizabeth Young 10 Mar. 1669
James, messenger, a child 4 July 1660
James, writer; south alow; a truf 8 Mar. 1692
Jane, widow of John Sinclair (indweller) 7 Mar. 1669
Jean, widow of John Brown, mason; west laigh 19 Apr. 1686
Mr. John, advocate, his wife, Helen Hay 11 June 1659
Mr. John, advocate, a child 8 Aug. 1660
Mr. John, advocate, a child 6 Sep. 1660
Mr. John, writer; a child; Nisbet tomb 22 Aug. 1688
Mr. John, writer, a child; Nisbet tomb 1 Feb. 1692
Mr. John, writer, a child; Nisbet tomb 11 Feb. 1697
Mr. John, writer, a child; Nisbet's tomb 28 Jan. 1699
Mr. John, a child 17 Feb. 1660
John, bookbinder, his child 8 Dec. 1661
John, bookbinder, his child 4 Mar. 1663
John, bookbinder, his child 27 Oct. 1666
John, stationer, his child 21 Nov. 1666
John, stationer, his wife, Jane Glen 10 June 1668
John, bookbinder, a child 14 Sept. 1673
John, bookbinder, a child 18 Jan. 1676
John, merchant, a child 18 Oct. 1660
John, merchant; Dobie tomb 26 Mar. 1687
John, tailor, a child; east end bernsknow 5 Nov. 1696
John, vintner, his wife, Feilleis Hope 22 Aug. 1672
John, workman; Kelloch tomb 6 June 1688
John, his child 6 Mar. 1665
John; killed at West Port; east end kirk 30 Mar. 1689
John, a child; kered himself; bernsknow 21 Dec. 1689
John, a child; west Liberton tomb 31 Aug. 1695
Margaret, wife of Thomas Thomson, merchant 4 Mar. 1659
Margaret 23 Dec. 1668
Margaret, poor; warrant; Mill tomb 20 Mar. 1690
Margaret, widow of William Paterson, writer; Cheislie tomb 4 Dec. 1694
Mary, wife of William Ord, shergen; Tod tomb 5 June 1692
Patrick, merchant, a child 6 June 1658
Patrick, merchant, a child 29 Apr. 1684
Philip, poor 21 May 1665
Robert, cordiner, his wife, Margaret Pringle 7 Sept. 1658
Robert, cordiner, his child 10 June 1661
Robert, cordiner, his child 10 Dec. 1662
Robert, cordiner, his child 11 May 1666
Robert, cordiner, his daughter 20 Mar. 1672
Robert, cordiner, his daughter 30 Aug. 1676
Robert, gravedigger (to the good toun) his child 26 July 1663
Robert, gravedigger, his child 13 Dec. 1663
Robert, gremaker, a child 7 Apr. 1668
Robert, grifmaker, a child 18 Nov. 1668
Robert, writer, a child 8 Mar. 1660
Robert, poor; warrant; alow 12 June 1684
Robert, poor, schoolmaster; old thorn 15 May 1697
William, stabler 14 Feb. 1664
William, tailor; Morison tomb 20 Nov. 1686
William, his widow, Helen Leitch 1 Nov. 1663
William, his wife, Isobel Rutherford 27 Apr. 1664
William, indweller, his wife, Elizabeth Shaw 16 Oct. 1666
William, indweller, a trouf; in Borthwick's Close 25 Feb. 1673
William, in Restalrig, a child 16 June 1676
William, poor; warrant; road foot 10 May 1689
William, bak ra; warrant; Brae head 4 June 1689

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