Boar's head

Sculptured Stones of Old Edinburgh
John Geddie

Boar's head

Geddie, John: Sculptured Stones of Old Edinburgh: The Dean Group. First Volume of the Book of the Old Edinburgh Club. Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable, 1908. pp. 77-135.


The Dean Group

Old Edinburgh was at one time crusted over with mottoed lintels, ornamental dormers, and panels bearing heraldic devices and the insignia of trade. They were the testimony of the faith and philosophy, the record of the family pride and the industrial importance of dead and gone generations, graven in stone. The city is still rich in these memorials. But they no longer challenge the eye, even in the oldest streets and closes. They have to be hunted for; and they grow scarcer. Time and our northern weather are constantly at work rubbing out the lettering and carving of the past. But the sculptured stones of Old Edinburgh and of its environs have other enemies. Accident, or vandalism, chipped a handbreadth out of one of the inscriptions noted in this article while it was being written. Account has also to be taken of the wear and tear of traffic, of the march of improvement, of careless or ignorant attempts at restoration, of the damaging effects of transplacement, even of misdirected antiquarian zeal in the acquisitiveness of archaeological collectors.

Many of our historic stones have been covered over from public sight; many more have disappeared into private possession; many have gone astray and all trace of them has been lost. It becomes yearly more difficult to answer the question, 'What mean these stones?' or even 'Where are they hid?' Some of them are preserved and in the Municipal and other museums. But, as a rule, is not desirable that these mural records should be gathered into either public or private collections - except as a means of rescuing them from the 'wallet of Oblivion'. They lose half their value and interest when removed from the walls from the site with which they are associated; they may continue to be city antiquities; they cease to be city adornments and landmarks. The energies of the Old Edinburgh Club would not be ill employed in the work of systematically seeking out these historic and artistic treasures, and in cataloguing and depicting them for the information of our own and future generations.

As a modest beginning of this pious labour, which I must leave to others with more skill and time for research to continue, I have attempted to furnish a kind of catalogue raisonn of the armorial and other carved and inscribed stones within or in immediate contact with the Barony of the Dean, on the north-western outskirts of Edinburgh, and especially of the remarkable series that form the relics of the House of Dean, and chronicle and illustrate the history and marriage alliances of the family of Nisbet, who built it and were its possessors for nearly two and a half centuries. The Dean House was one of the many half-castellated mansions that rose in the neighbourhood of the Scottish capital after the close of the Marian troubles and the Union of the Crowns, when with the dying down of family feuds and civil and religious warfare, and the stanching of the quarrel between the Kingdoms, trade and art began to revive, and a Scotsman's house ceased to be in so literal a sense, his castle. A number of them still exist within or adjoining the city's bounds, more or less altered to meet modern tastes and requirements, such as the Grange, Dalry, Coates, Bruntsfield, Merchiston, Craighouse, Roseburn, Saughton House and Hall, Craingentinnie, the Inch, Upper Liberton; others, like Peffermill and Stenhope or Stenhousemill, survive in a state of dilapidation. The house of Dean disappeared some sixty years ago, to make way for the formation of the beautiful Dean Cemetery. But this did not happen until after certain of its features, characteristic of a Scottish manor-house, had been immortalized in the pages of Waverley; and at its dissolution it had the good fortune to have what may be considered the choicest of its mural ornaments preserved in neighbouring walls, where they can be viewed and, with a little trouble, understood by the citizen of today.

They will be found to open an interesting chapter or series of chapters not only in the family history of the Nisbets, but of the municipal, the industrial, the political, and the ecclesiastical history of the city in which the owners of the old house and their connections, whose arms and honours are recorded on these stones, were eminent citizens and merchants, luminaries of the law, leaders in civic affairs, pioneers of foreign commerce, ambassadors of the King and emissaries of the Convention of Burghs in arranging tariffs and establishing trade relations with the States of the Continent. There are also revealed, along with curious glimpses of character and old customs, problems in heraldry, in genealogy, and in architecture, which the writer cannot flatter himself that he has successfully unravelled. It would have been impossible for him to follow the maze of Nisbet family history - for into a chronicle of the descendants of Provost Henry Nisbet of 1597 the decipherment of the Dean stones resolves itself - without the previous labours on the pedigree by Mr. Andrew Ross, who, in conjunction with Mr. Francis Grant, has edited the Plates of Nisbet the Heraldist's System, now in the library at Cleghorn. It is not easy to glean much that is new in the steps of these authorities, to whose courteous help acknowledgement is thankfully made. Thanks are likewise due to Mr. Alan Reid, Mr. James Moffat, and Mr. John Kay for exploiting the ground, and taking and preparing the photographs for illustration.

The association of the Dean mansion with the seat of the Baron of Bradwardine - the typical 'Scottish Manor-house Sixty Years Since' - rests upon Sir Walter's own testimony. After mentioning, in the notes to Waverley, that 'the house of Warrender upon Bruntsfield Links and old Ravelston both contributed hints', he adds, that ' the house of Dean, near Edinburgh, has also some points of resemblance to Tully-Veolan,' and then proceeds to say that he has been informed that the House of Grandtully is still more like the description in the text than any of these. The chief point of resemblance in the case of the Dean house, which Scott must often have passed on his way to Ravelston and on other country walks, is probably the multiplicity of heraldic ornaments, in the shape of 'ravenous beasts', which were 'carved over the windows and upon the ends of the gables, terminated the spouts, and supported the turrets at Tully-Veolan.' 'The dry-stone walls' fencing the gardens agree not ill with the 'Ravelston Dykes' that intersect the Dean; the 'tun-bellied pigeon house of great size and rotundity' of the Bradwardines might have been drawn from the old ruined doocot - or is it a dilapidated windmill? - standing behind John Watson's Institution on the former Barony lands; while the 'sundial of large circumference' may have its counterpart in the gnomen-stone, now built into the terrace-wall of the Dean Cemetery, which once kept time for the old Nisbets.

A family of Nisbet first appears in the records, in connection with the lands of that name in the Merse, in the twelfth century. In 1139, Cospatrick, earl of Dunbar, granted Nisbet, which had a chapel attached to the principal church of Edre-ham (Edrom), to the priory of Coldingham. William de Nesebite is found in possession of East and West Nisbet before the end of the century. East Nisbet was acquired by the Chirnsides; but Adam Nisbet held the lands of West Nisbet in 1442, and the family remained Nisbet de eodem, through eight later generations, until it terminated with Alexander Nisbet, the author of The System of Heraldry, who died in 1722, 'the last of his race.' Adam, it may be observed, was a common baptismal name among the Nisbets of Nisbet; it occurs four times in the direct line of descent from the Laird of 1442 to the Heraldist. This has a bearing upon a claim, put forward on behalf of what may be called the Edinburgh branch of the stock, mentioned by Mr. George Crawfurd, in his Historical and Critical Remarks on Ragman's Roll, on the authority of Sir John Nisbet of the Dean, and reaffirmed by Mr. John Riddell, the well-known writer on feudal law and antiquities, who was himself descended, on the mother's side, from the Dean Nisbets. The claim was 'that the Dean family, and consequently those of Craigentinnie and Dirleton, were descended from Adam Nisbet, a son of the Baron of Dalzell, who came to Edinburgh in the time of James IV. It will be seen shortly that the testimony of Sir John Nisbet upon a matter of ancestry and tradition is not above suspicion; and the investigations of Mr. Andrew Ross have failed to discover the exact connecting links between the old House of Nisbet and the 'Adam Nisbet, a burgess in Edinburgh early in the sixteenth century, who was the common ancestor of the Craigentinnie, Dean and Dirleton families.'

That there was a bond of blood relationship between the landed families in the Merse and in Clydesdale and the race of Edinburgh merchants and burgesses, seems, however, to be beyond reasonable doubt. In 1513, George, brother of Adam of Nisbet, purchased Dalzell from John Nisbet his kinsman (consanguineus), and the barony remained in the family for at least four generations, one of the grants (1574) being witnessed by 'James Nisbet, burgess in Edinburgh.' It has been remarked that a striking feature in the history of the Edinburgh family, as of the main Border stock, from whom it is believed to have sprung, was 'its undeviating loyalty to the sovereign.' The Adam Nisbet who crops up in the annals of the capital during the Reformation troubles was, like most of his country kin, a staunch supporter of the old Catholic party and the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise; and it is a not insignificant fact bearing on the claim of old descent that a grandson, Edward, was concerned along with the son of the Laird of Nisbet, 'in the slaughter of the son of the guidman of Edrom.' Blood in those days was evidently thicker than water, even after it had flowed for several generations in the channels of trade; and we are reminded of Bailie Nicol Jarvie's escapade in the Highlands, when we discover the Edinburgh burgess leaving his house in Gray's Close to mix himself up in a dubious feud on the Whitadder.

The loyalty of the Nisbets of Nisbet ultimately proved the ruin of this ancient family. Sir Alexander Nisbet, the builder of the old 'Place' of Nisbet, forfeited his property in 1650, in consequence of his staunch adherence to the Royalist cause; and the house and lands passed into the possession of John Ker, burgess in Edinburgh, a scion of the family of Cavers, although not until after a long and determined struggle. By his wife, Katherine Swinton, daughter of Sir Robert Swinton of that Ilk, Sir Alexander had five sons, all of whom were engaged in the quarrel of the King against the Commonwealth. The eldest, Philip, made a brilliant defence of Newark, but was captured at Philiphaugh, and was executed in 1645 at Glasgow, where a tombstone in the Cathedral churchyard, no longer discoverable, is said to have borne his name and arms. Two of his brothers were slain on the date of Montrose's discomfiture, 'Nisbet, the Heraldist', was the son of Adam, the fifth of the five gallant brethren who took up arms for the Royal race that made so poor a recompense for the devotion when the tables were turned in favour of the Stuarts.

A stone formerly above the doorway at Nisbet bears the initials of the builder and his wife - 'S.A.N.', 'D.K.S.' - and a shield with the family arms, three boars' heads erased. All the stones of the Edinburgh series bear the chevron, as a mark of cadency accompanying a claim of descent from the same original stock. And hereby hangs a tale of one of the most remarkable forgeries in the history of heraldry. In the second volume of the folio edition of Nisbet's System of Heraldry, published in 1742 - seventeen years after the author's death - occurs the following passage which has often been quoted, and, on the assumption that it is authentic, subjected to scathing comment by heraldic authorities: -

'Sir John Nisbet of Dean, Baronet, his family has been in Use for a long time, by Allowance of Authority, to carry supporters, viz., on the right Side of the Shield, a Savage wreathed about the Head and Middle, holding a Baton in his Right Hand all proper, and on the left Side a Grayhound proper; which two Supporters uphold the principal Arms of the Family of Nisbet of That Ilk, viz., Argent, three Boars Heads erased Sable, armed and langued Gules, with the crest of the Family, laying aside the Cheveron, a mark of Cadency, used formerly by the House of Dean: In Regard that the Family of Dean has Right, by Consent, to represent the old original Family of the Name of Nisbet, since the only lineal Male Representer (the Author of this System) is like to go soon off the World, being an old Man, and without Issue, Male or Female.'

Nisbet's original MS. is in the possession of the Lyon Office, and it proves that the passage on account of which he has been denounced as a 'trafficker', who retailed for a pittance the ancient honours of his family, has been interpolated, by those who prepared the posthumously-issued folio, between entries of the arms of Dalmahoy of that Ilk and of Edgar of Widderlie. In the volume published by Messrs. Ross and Grant a facsimile is given of the page containing these entries, and they show that this is only one of a long series of garblings and falsifications, foisted in Nisbet's name and to the injury of his reputation. These heraldic and genealogical frauds, which remained undiscovered for a hundred and fifty years, have been set down to the account of Roderick Chalmers, 'herald and herald-painter,' to whom the preparation of the folio was committed. The quotation given above must be pronounced the most flagrant of the series, since Nisbet is made to come forward in his own person, with an appeal to our sympathies, while practically confessing an offense against the canons of the science of which he was an ardent student. The editors of the Nisbet Plates pronounce that 'the deed was perpetrated in the interests of the Dean branch of the Nisbet family, whose influence throughout Volume 2 of the folio, in which they more than once claim to be the principal family of the name, is quite apparent.' 'There can be no doubt,' it is said, 'that it was effected between 1723 and 1728, and the irony of the situation consists in the fact that Sir John Nisbet of Dean, for whose family glorification the fraud was concocted, died fourteen years before the world became acquainted with the ambitious claim made by him on behalf of his family.' As Sir John, like Alexander Nisbet and Roderick Chalmers, is no longer here to answer for himself, it seems only fair to say that the allegation that this bold heraldic 'fake' was made on his prompting and with his collusion is, after all, a suspicion founded on assumed motive, and falls considerably short of proof. It has not been shown that he ever made use of the 'principal Family Arms'; and the fact that the claim of a right to do so did not appear in print until so many years after his death should tell in his favour.

Adam Nisbet, 'merchant to James V.,' was by no means the first of the name to take a prominent part in local trade and town affairs. There was an Alexander de Nesbet, a councillor of Edinburgh in 1368; and during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries numerous individuals of the same name, if not of the same stock, appear on the burgess role. An 'Alexander Niesebet (Nisbet) from Edinburgh,' who came to Elbing, in Prussia, towards the close of the sixteenth century, and married the daughter of a town councillor of the place, and after her death the daughter of another town dignitary, and whose own daughter became the wife of the Mayor of Elbing, may well have been a member of a group of citizens who seem to have had a genius for municipal work and for marrying well. In the holograph Notes of Sir John Lauder, Lord Fountainhall, in the charter-chest of Sir Thomas Dick Lauder (printed in an appendix to Mrs. Stewart Smith's Grange of St. Giles) it is stated that the merchant to the 'Commons King' married 'Madame Beatrix Ambrosia, one of Queen Maria of Lorraine's Maids of Honor' and 'daughter to Monsieur Ambroise, an Italian,' who was secretary to the queen in her widowhood. 'The said Adam Nisbet, of whom the Lairds of Dean, Craigentinnie, Dirleton, etc., are all descended, had by Dame Ambrosia, besides other children, Margaret Nisbet,' who was married to John Seton, son of the Laird of Parbroath, whose daughter Isobel (Fountainhall's great-grandmother) became the wife of Patrick Eleis, a wealthy Edinburgh bailie, who acquired the lands of Stenhopemill, Plewlands, Southside and Mortonhall, and whose arms and initials, with the date 1623, are to be found carved above the lintel of the doorway of old Stenhopemill House. Isobel's son, Alexander Eleis, married Elizabeth, daughter of Nicol Edward, Dean of Guild, whose daughter Isobel was wife of 'John Lauder, merchant in Edinburgh, afterwards designed Sir John Lauder of Fountainhall, lineally descended from the Lairds of Lauder of that Ilk.'

The author of the Historical Observes, the son of this union, in his attempts to blazon his maternal coat-of-arms, in which he includes 'Nisbet of Dean', sets us on the trail of more than one of the lost sculptured stones of Old Edinburgh. For he says of his grandfather, the Dean of Guild, that he was 'grandchild of another Nicol Edward, Provost of Edinburgh in 1592, being of a most antient descent in that Burgh, who built those great lodgings in the middle of Niddrie's Wynd, where I have seen the said Nicol Edward's name and arms on the lintell of a Chimney with this Anagram on his name in french, "Va d'un vol Christ" "goe with one flyght to Christ."' Provost Edward's house was that afterwards known as 'Lockhart's Lodging,' in which James VI. and his queen lived in January 1591, when frightened out of Holyrood by the plots of Francis, earl Bothwell, and from whence, in the following month, Lord Huntly set forth to take part in the murder of the 'Bonnie Earl of Moray.' The Chancellor at the same time lived 'at the same wynd-head,' in the house of Provost Alexander Clark, the door-lintel of which, bearing the words 'The Lord is my Protector: Alexandrus Clark,' found a place for a time in the walls of Walter Ross's mansion of St. Bernard's, in the Barony of Dean. The arms of Adam Nisbet's spouse, Madame Beatrix Ambrosia - this euphonious baptismal name is still perpetuated in the Dick Lauder family - Fountainhall is unable to supply, for 'the coat armorial of Monsieur Ambroise, the Italian Secretary, we cannot well know without consulting the books published in France and Italy containing the bearings of these nations and what were the gentilian arms of the Ambrosian Sirname.'

According to the editors of Nisbet's Plates, an Adam Nisbet, whom we take to be the son of James V.'s 'merchant,' married Elizabeth Hay. His half Italian blood and his connection with the Court through his mother would sufficiently account for his strong support of the Old Religion and of the Queen Regent. Besides three daughters, Christian, Marion, and Elizabeth, he had two sons, the second of whom, William, 'ane honest and discreit man,' was made a freeman and burgess of the city in 1567, and 'died of the pest' in September 1585. 'William Nisbet, merchant,' is one of the councillors whose names are appended to the King's 'Decret Arbitral' fixing the constitution of the town in 1583, and he was second bailie in the following year. He married Isobel Mauchane (probably descended from John Mauchan, a bailie in 1523 and name-father of Mauchan's Close), who afterwards took as her second husband, George Ballenden, or Ballantyne, or Bannatyne, - the names are interchangeable - merchant burgess in Edinburgh. This is none other than the collector and preserver of Scottish ballads, after whom the Bannatyne Club is named, who, on his wife's death in 1603, enters in his 'Family Record' his high appreciation of her worth as 'ane godly, honest, wyiss, vertewous, and trew matrone, who was first mareit to uqml willia nisbet, baillie.'

The elder son, Henry Nisbet, calls for fuller notice. His arms and initials, - the familiar chevron and three boars' heads erased, with the letters 'H.N.' - are on one of the stones taken from the old Dean House, evidently placed there in his honour by his son William, builder of the mansion. They are enclosed in a wreath of oak leaves.

Built into the terrace wall near it is a smaller stone, containing a cross between four mullets and bearing a crescent - the Bannatyne or Ballantyne family arms - together with the initials 'I.B.'

It is evidently a memorial of 'Jonet Ballenden, eldest daughter of James Ballenden, writer,' of Kirkton of Newtyle, the sister of George Bannatyne, the antiquary, the wife of Henry Nisbet, Provost of Edinburgh, and the mother of Sir William Nisbet, the purchaser of Dean.

Henry Nisbet who is thus recorded was a man of mark and influence in his day, in the affairs of the Kingdom as well as in the civic life of the town. He was made a free burgess and guild brother in January 1561, 'be reason of his wife. ' In 1569, a time of trouble, when Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange was Captain of the Castle, and Provost, he was chosen a bailie; he was frequently re-elected to the office, and nearly twenty years later - from December 1597 to November 1598 - he was himself Provost of the city. He was a zealous supporter of the Earl of Arran, and of King James's ecclesiastical polity, and through escheat and purchase became the owner of much property in the town and neighborhood. 'Hendry Nisbett's Close,' concerning which the Dean of Guild Court had to pass an order, forbidding the occupants to empty filth into it from their 'schottis' or openings, is probably called after him. On 21st May 1578, the magistrates sent Henry Nisbet and two other townsmen as a deputation to Regent Mar, then captain of Stirling Castle and in charge of the young King James, to assure him that they had neither sent nor paid any men of war to fight against him, and that they continued mindful of 'the benefites and gude will quhilk we have resavit of your nobill parents now with God'. His name comes most prominently forward, however, in connection with the important and delicate missions he was charged to undertake in foreign countries in the interests of Scottish trade and shipping.

The 'tariff question' was a burning one in those days, and preference, reciprocity, and retaliation were practiced in forms that are no longer familiar. The records of the burgh of Edinburgh show that, on 25th October 1570, Henry Nisbet was ordained to pass into England with the Abbot of Dunfermline 'for lowsing of the arrestmentis of the schippis in France'; and two or three weeks later he was directed, this time with the authority of 'the maist part of the haill burrois of this realme,' to wait upon the King of France, 'quhaireuir he may be found within his hienes dominounis,' to crave the observance of the ancient liberty granted to the ships of the Scottish nation. In the following January, the Convention of Burghs, in consideration that their 'weil-beluvitt nychtbour, Henry Nesbett,' was engaged in obtaining the discharge of the edict forbidding the resort of Scottish vessels to any of the sea towns of France, engaged to bear part of his expenses, limited to 3000 merks. On 25th October 1574 he received the thanks of the Convention for his services in the matter of the 'furthsetting of ane schip and bark for resisting of Inglis pyrattis vpoun the sea.'

Later, in July 1578, Henry Nisbet, 'merchant, comburgess and indweller in Edinr,' was ordained by the Convention to proceed to Campvere, on the important duty of establishing the Staple, or trade monopoly, for the Scottish nation, and in the part of 'factor, actor, and special errand-bearer,' to confer with the magistrate and council of the town, and conclude with them 'vpon sic thingis as he sall think gude for the weill of the merchant estait, and seik the counsall and assistance of my Lord Conservatour (George Hakket) and Alexander Segait to this effect.' His charges were to be repaid to the extent of 'twenty four pundis, greit,' to be taken from 'every sek of gudes that sall come in Flanderis, the soume of ten stures' (stivers). The objects include the appointment of a prison or place of punishment, and 'ane honorabill and commodious place for preching and prayeris.' The business of the Staple was successfully concluded before the end of the year, and so well satisfied were the Commissioners of Burghs with their ambassador that, in October 1582, 'Efter lang resouming vpoun the qualificatiounis of dyveris and sindry merchantis quhome they micht have thochtt maist meitt' for executing their commission in France for the 'doungetting' of intolerable new customs burdens placed on certain sorts of wares, whereby the 'haill merchantt estaitt of this realme is gretumlie dampnefeit,' with 'ane voce, bot variance, they elected and nominat Henry Nesbit, burgess in Edinburgh' as their representative in the matter, who 'notwithstanding thatt the burrowis of this realme hes bene very vnmyndfull of his guid service done to them in the pairtis of France and Flanderis at dyveris tymes of befoir,' accepted the duty, it being understood that his expenses should not exceed 'two thousand franks.' It may be remarked that the commissioner for Glasgow on this occasion, Robert Adam, was unable to sign his own name. A fresh commission came in February 1587. In view of the new imposts at the Dieppe and other French Ports, the Burghs directed their 'weil-beluvit Henry Nesbett, merchant in Edinburgh, ofttymes of befoir employitt in the lyke advis as maistt skilfull and diligentt,' to proceed with a letter of recommendation to James Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow, the King's ambassador in Paris, for remede. At the desire of the Convention and of 'Jhone Arnott, Provost of the burgh of Edinburgh' (whose daughter was married to Henry Nisbet's son James), he accepted the charge and undertook to accomplish it in the space of seven weeks after his arrival in Paris, the sum of five hundred pounds being set aside for his expenses.

Evidently a hitch occurred, through no failure of skill and pains on the part of the commissioner. For on the 4th July 1588, there is an entry in the Convention records finding that Henry Nisbet had done his exact diligence in the matter, according to a letter received by his hands from the Archbishop, who (on the eve of the sailing of the Armada) wrote, 'We had littil hoip, be the moyne of sic as favouris our natioun, to hev brocht the mater to sum guid pointt schortlie, war nocht the inconvenientt that is laitlie intervenit heir, quhairof the said berar will and can inform zow sufficientlie, and thairfoir we haif thocht it meitest, in respect of the mallure of tyme, he should return hamewartt quhill better occasioun be offerit.' On the following day he acted as Procurator for the King, when the question of trade with Campvere was again under consideration. In July 1601 he was elected moderator of the Convention of Burghs, one of the commissioners for Edinburgh sitting with him being 'George Hereott, zounger.' He died in 1607, two years before his son William became owner of the Dean. On June 11 of the following year (1608) the Town Council, 'for the guid offices done to the good towne by umquhile Henry Nesbett, sumtyme Provost of this burgh, and for guid services done be James and William Nesbett his sones,' grant and give 'license to his bayrnis to big and rayse unto him ane tombe in their buriall-place' in the Greyfriars, 'quhar the said umquhile Henry is buryit.' Nisbet the Heraldist is stated to be buried beside 'the Nisbet tomb.' No doubt it was one of the array of the 'fair tombs and monuments erected in memory and honour of divers merchants and others' noted in Sir William Bereton's journal of 1635. Those to some of Provost Nisbet's old comrades and fellow-counsellors - the Heriots, the Foulises, and others - still exist; but the panel at the Dean is his only memorial in the 'guid towne' to which he did so many 'guid offices.'

The portrait of this energetic and able public servant hangs in Archerfield House, one of the possessions of his descendants. The portrait, which Ross and Grant speak of as one of the earliest, if not the very earliest in existence of a Provost of Edinburgh, is described as that of 'an aged man of dignified appearance and resolute countenance, seated in a chair of State, attired in a garb of black velvet, a skull cap of the same material, and deep ruffles round the neck and wrists. A ruddy complexion, keen black eyes, grey moustaches, a beard pointed after the fashion of the time, complete the picture. In a corner appears the Provost's arms - argent, on a chevron gules, between three boars' heads erased sable, a cinquefoil of the field.'

The sharply cut lettering of the stone with the Bannatyne arms may suggest that it is of later date than the beginning of the seventeenth century. There was another 'Jonet Bannatyne,' neice and namesake of Henry Nisbet's wife - daughter of her sister Katherine and of James Bannatyne, writer in Edinburgh - who married in the next generation 'John Nisbet, servitor to Mr. Alexander Guthrie, Common Clerk of Edinburgh.'

But there can be no reasonable doubt that the stone commemorates the mother of the original builder of Dean House. She was one of the twenty-three children of James Bannatyne and Katherine Taillefeir, the 'tymes of the nativities' of whom are duly set down in the record written by her brother George Bannatyne. (Bannatyne Club publications, and Foulis of Ravelston's Account Book, Scottish History Society.) It may be of interest to those who take note of the declining birth-rate that the mother of this large family, 'ane woman of godly conversation, with whom her husband led ane godly, charetable, and plesand lyfe' - died in 1570 at the age of 47. Her husband survived her thirteen years, and left behind him six sons and three daughters 'all weill and sufficientlie provyded for be him under God.' Janet, the eldest daughter, was born in 1541. Ample proof of the close ties of friendship, relationship, and business existing between the families of Nisbet and of Bannatyne, and through the latter with that of George Heriot, are to be found in George Bannatyne's genealogical entries. It has been seen that his wife was married in the first place to Adam Nisbet's son William; she was the mother of that Edward Nisbet who got into a scrape through meddling in the family quarrels in the Merse, and who is found selling his house in Gray's Close to his cousin, James Nisbet of Craigentinnie. Her only son by George Bannatyne, James, born in 1589, had this James Nisbet - 'my sister's sone' he is described by the keeper of the 'Family Record' - as one of his godfathers, and as godmother 'Katherine Dick, ye relict of umqle Wm Bissett, chirurgaine,' who was probably related to the Dicks of Braid and to the 'Dame Katherine Dick,' wife of Sir William Nisbet of Dean, whose arms and initials appear on three of the Dean stones. Janet, the daughter and heiress of George Bannatyne, married George Foulis, goldsmith in Edinburgh, Master of the King's Mint, and purchaser of Ravelston, whose mother, Anna Heriot of Lumphoy, was a relative of 'Jingling Geordie.' 'George Heriot, the elder,' ' Henrie Nisbett,' 'Mr Patrick Nisbett,' and 'Sir Wm Nisbett of the Dein, Kngt, Proveist of Edn,' are among the godfathers of her children; she was grandmother of Sir John Foulis, the writer of the Ravelston Account Book.

There were three sons by the marriage of Henry Nisbet and Jonet Bannatyne - James, William and Patrick, the founders of the families of Craigentinnie, Dean and Dirleton respectively. James, the eldest son, was, like his father before him, a great and successful Edinburgh merchant. He was admitted a Guild brother in 1601. In 1612-13 he was commissioner for Edinburgh at the Convention of Burghs, and was four times chosen moderator of that representative body. A few years before, he had been appointed, along with the commissioners for Edinburgh, to confer with 'the Lord McAngzie' anent 'pecebell fisching in the Lews.' He was also chosen in 1611 as a deputy to proceed to London and remonstrate with the King against the raising of the charges on goods passing between England and Scotland. It was under his presidence that the Council, on 23rd December 1612, resolved to go forward with the building of Old Greyfriars Church.

He had numerous connections, through his own family and that of his wife, with the leading public personages of the day, especially in the Town Council and on the Bench. He married Marion, second daughter of Sir John Arnot of Birswick, Provost of Edinburgh from 1587 to 1589, and for some years Treasurer Depute and a Privy Councillor of the Kingdom, and, according to his descendant, Bishop Burnet, a man in great favour with James VI. None of the stones preserved at the Dean records the name and arms of James Nisbet; his memorial may have been lost. But the panel with the letters 'M.A.' and the chevron between three mullets of the Arnots, was evidently placed in honour of this wife, Marion Arnot. A notable feature of this stone is the zoomorphic enclosing scroll, suggestive of ancient Celtic or Anglo-Saxon ornamentation.

Through this lady, the Nisbets, who for the most part gave staunch, and in one case at least, unscrupulous support to the policy of the Court in Kirk and State, were brought into contact with a zealous Presbyterian and Covenanting stock, and in those days, when not to be a persecutor meant to be persecuted, a great strain must often have been placed on family affections by the political events and ecclesiastical issues of the times. Marion Arnot, with her amazingly complicated links of connection with the Bench, the Government, and the political parties of her own and succeeding generations, might be taken as illustration of Edinburgh's right to the title of 'the Metropolis of the Law.' The brother of her first husband, James Nisbet, was Sir Patrick Nisbet, Lord Eastbank, the father of a more famous lawyer and Lord of Session, Sir John Nisbet of Dirleton, the author of the 'Doubts' and the 'Decisions', Lord Advocate in the 'Killing Time.' She married, as her second husband, Sir Lewis Stewart of Kirkhill, the eminent pleader and Royal Commissioner at the momentous General Assembly of 1638, who, along with her nephew, Dirleton, was counsel for Montrose at his trial. Her mother was Margaret Craig, sister of Sir Thomas Craig of Riccarton, the great writer on feudal law. Her sister Rachel married Archibald Johnston, a leading Edinburgh merchant and citizen, and as a rich woman (Sciennes and also Dunglass, in Berwickshire, belonged to her ) full of zeal in the cause, was 'much engaged to and courted by the Presbyterian party.' Her nephew, James Johnston, merchant-burgess, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Craig, and became father of the celebrated Johnston of Warriston, the most prominent Covenanting leader of his day, who, during the Cromwellian period., had a chief hand in the government of Scotland, and suffered at the Cross for his opinions after the Restoration. Warriston's wife was a daughter of another Lord of Session, Sir Alexander Hay, Lord Foresterseat, and granddaughter of Sir John Skene of Curriehill, Lord Clerk Register. Another nephew of Marion Arnot, Samuel Johnston of the Sciennes, married a sister of Lord Prestongrange and granddaughter of Preston of Fentonbarns, Lord President of the Court from 1609 to 1616. Her niece, Jonet Johnston, was wife of Sir James Skene of Curriehill, Lord President of the Court of Session, who refused, on Easter Day 1619, to receive the Communion kneeling, according to the Articles of Perth, being moved thereto, as surmised in Calderwood's History, by 'the dissuasions of his mother-in-law (Rachel Arnot) and her daughter, his wife, a religious gentlewoman.' Another Rachel of the same breed and spirit - the sister of Lord Warriston - married Robert Burnet, the friend of the 'Saintly Leighton,' and a judge of Session under the name of Lord Crimond; and their son, Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, relates in his History of his Own Times, that his father, by marrying this eldest grandchild and namesake of the lady who was reckoned 'the chief support of the party,' saw 'a great way into all the methods of the Puritans,' and that his mother could never be moved from the principles in which he was bred, and hid in her house James Guthrie, the chief of the Remonstrant preachers.

James Nisbet died in 1621. His son by Marion Arnot, Henry Nisbet, married Isobel Nicolson, daughter of Sir Thomas Nicolson of Cockburnspath, Lord Advocate, and died in 1667 in his house in Blackfriars Wynd, and was buried in Greyfriars Churchyard. He acquired part of the lands of Restalrig by tack along with John, second Lord Balmerino, and on his death his son Patrick became infeft in Craigentinnie, and in 1667 was made a baronet by Charles II. Three years later, Sir Patrick Nisbet, 'for certain large sums of money paid and other good causes,' exchanged 'the twelve oxengangs of Restalrig, feued by Sir Robert Logan' with Alexander Nisbet for the lands of Dean. By this excambion, the Nisbets of Craigentinnie became Nisbets of the Dean, and the Nisbets of the Dean, descendants of Sir William Nisbet, became for a short time Nisbets of Craigentinnie; the eldest branch were put in possession of the manor-house on the banks of the Water of Leith, on which the family honours and alliances were recorded in stone.

The builder of the House of Dean, Sir William Nisbet, was born in 1569, and, like his father, Provost Henry Nisbet, and his elder brother, he had a long and successful career as an Edinburgh merchant. Credit has been given to him as being, along with his friend and father-in-law, Sir William Dick of Braid, one of the pioneers in opening up trade between Leith and the Baltic ports. Commercial intercourse between Scotland and the Hanse towns in the Baltic had been established long before his day. But his enterprise and his diplomatic talents were exercised profitably, both for himself and for his country, in that development of trade relations with the Continent which marked the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century. We find, from the records of the Convention of Burghs, that a qualified person being required for obtaining from King James a letter of recommendation to the King of France and his Council in the matter of ratifying the ancient league between the countries, and 'keipping of thair customes in the awld estaitt vnhechtet and rayset,' the burghs in March 1612 made choice of 'William Nesbet, merchant burges of Edinburgh,' to be their 'doer' and commissioner, as they had chosen his father the Provost before him for a like errand, his expenses to the amount of a thousand franks, at the exchange of twenty shillings Scots per frank, to be reimbursed by an impost on goods entering Scotland from Normandy. At the same time he was directed to lay before James a proposal adopted after 'lang resoning and mature deliberatioun' at the previous Convention, to remove 'the Staipill of the Scotis natione' from Campvere to Middleburg, which henceforth should become the place for landing, weighing, and distributing goods entering the Low countries from Scotland, and report to Edinburgh and other burghs. The will and pleasure of His Majesty being otherwise, the Convention, meeting in the following July with James Nisbet in the chair, consented to the Staple remaining at Campvere, but on certain conditions, in the drawing of which the Nisbets had no doubt a hand. These included, in addition to maintenance of the former privileges by which the Scottish community lived under their own Conservator and their own laws, the deepening of the approaches and the improvement of the facilities for trade at Campvere, and, as a final item, that the 'nation' should have liberty to hunt with dogs, and shoot with 'hakbuts, croce bowis and hand bowis any matter of fowlis or foure futted wyld beists' within the territory without trouble or impediment. One can imagine William Nisbet, on these missions to London and the Continent, making use of the services and the interest at Court of the old friend of the family, George Heriot.

In 1609 William Nisbet bought the Barony of the Dean, including 'the town, waulking-mylne and mure, called the hieland mure,' from John, Lord Lindsay of the Byres; and in the following year he purchased from John Napier of Merchiston, for 1700 marks, and annexed to his property, the 'Putrie' or Poultry Lands of Dean, which carried with them the hereditary office of 'Poulterer to the King.' In 1621 he added 'six oxengates of land running runrig through the town and lands of Dean,' which were bought from John Johnston; and the estate was then described as 'the lands of Dean, with the corn and waulkmills, commonly called Bells mills, the piece of ground called highland muir, belonging in commonty to the heritors of Ravelston and Dean, and the lands called Poultry Lands lying next to and below the village of Dean.' This latter ground - the 'Pultrie' - seems, from the description, to have occupied the slope on the left bank of the Water of Leith from the site of the old village of Dean - introduced in R. L. Stevenson's story of Catriona - to the Deanhaugh at the Stockbridge, where it adjoined the lands of Inverleith; and subsequently became the most valuable part of the Dean property. Craigleith, originally part of the Dean, was disposed of to the Rocheids of Inverleith in 1646.

The date at which the original Dean House was built does not appear to be accurately ascertained. Wilson speaks of it, in his Memorials, as one of 'those fine old aristocratic dwellings that once abounded in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, but which are now rapidly disappearing,' and as 'a monument of the Nisbets of the Dean, a proud race now extinct.' His statement that the mansion-house 'had on a sculptured stone over the east doorway the date 1614, but other parts of the building bore evident traces of an earlier date' has been repeated by later writers. The stone referred to is apparently that inscribed with the Nisbet arms and with the initials - 'S.P.N.' - of the builder's brother, Sir Patrick Nisbet, a Senator of the College of Justice under the title of Lord Eastbank. It bears the year 1614; and the shield is flanked by classical figures.

It is not likely that any part of the Dean mansion was much older than this date, which is also the year carved on a stone, bearing the initials of the first owner himself - 'W.N.' - along with the chevron and three boars' heads, now encased in a half demolished structure of substantial ashlar interposing between Arbuckle's Mill and mill-lade at Coltbridge, at what was formerly Dean lands.

In the drawing by R. Gibb of the Dean House made in 1832, the view is much obscured by interposing walls and trees, and is not particularly impressive. The cottage in the foreground indicates the close neighborhood of the Dean village, which was itself swept away in 1881. It stood not far within what is now the east gate of the Dean Cemetery, and adjacent to the high river-bank. The chief approach was from the north, through a gateway, and an avenue of find old beeches, the last of which have not long disappeared. Mr. Black, the custodier of the cemetery, informs me that the circular plot, facing the principal public gate, is placed immediately in front of the site of the east doorway, and has remained practically unaltered in shape. Two old yew trees may ante-date the house itself. Wilson says that the large gallery had an arched ceiling painted in the same style as one that formerly existed in the building known as the Guise Palace, in Blyth's Close, from which parts of it had evidently been copied. 'The subjects were chiefly sacred, and though rudely executed in distemper, had a bold and pleasing effect.' One of the panels, afterwards in the possession of the late C. Kirkpatrick Sharpe, bore the date 1627, and has found a place in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries. A number of the carved stones of the original gateway appear to be built into the north wall of the cemetery.

It is probable that repeated additions were made to the structure and ornaments of Dean House during the lifetime of its first owner. He was three times in office as Lord Provost of his native town - from January to October 1616, from September 1617 to October 1619, and from October 1622 to September 1623. In 1637 he was made Sheriff Principal of Edinburgh. He was knighted in 1617 on the occasion of King James's visit, after an absence of fourteen years, to his ancient capital. The King was received by the magistrates, in their official robes, at the West Port, and the Town Clerk read an address in praise and welcome of a Monarch 'in heart as upright as David, wise as Solomon, and Godlie as Josias,' to whose royal ears adulation was sweet. The 'true Phoenix, the bright star of the northern firmament,' was assured that by his removal from their hemisphere the magisterial souls had been darkened; 'deep sorrow possessed our hearts, the very hills and groves, accustomed before to be refreshed with the dew of your Majesty's presence, not putting on their wonted apparel, but with pale looks representing their misery for the departure of their Royal King.' These complements were not presented with empty hands, for the city at a banquet made humble offering to the King of 'ten thousand marks in double golden angels,' in a basin of silver-gilt. At the gate of the Inner Court of Holyrood, the Royal Phoenix was presented with a copy of 'curious and learned verses in Greek and Latin' containing the congratulations of Edinburgh University, and a speech made in name of the University by Mr. Patrick Nisbet, the Provost's younger brother. It must have been a great day at the Dean when the Provost returned, after service in St. Giles', Sir William Nisbet. He made use of his house to record his municipal as well as his family honours. There are three stones in the Dean Cemetery that contain his initials and armorial bearings. On one of these his arms are impaled with those of his first wife, Janet Williamson - a saltire, between a boar's head erased in chief, and three mullets in flank and base - with the letters 'S.W.N.' and 'D.J.W.'.

Sir William Nisbet was married to this lady before 1596. Her descent has not been ascertained; but the arms are identical with those recorded for the family of Williamson of Balgray, as borne by David Williamson, Lord Balgray, whose portrait is in the Parliament House. She may have been related to David Williamson who sat in the Council along with Henry and William Nisbet, and who was Dean of Guild in 1598 and 1599. She is said to have died before 1622, although confirmation of her estate was not obtained until 1624. The owner of the Dean could not have married his second wife, Katherine Dick, daughter of Sir William Dick of Braid, long before the latter year. The Dick arms - a fess between two mullets in chief and a crescent in base - appear impaled with those of her husband on two fine stones preserved at the Dean, which bear also the initials of the spouses, 'S.W.N.' and 'D.K.D.'.

The first of these, and probably the older in date, is mutilated. But the letters and the shield of arms, enclosed by a ribbon, can be readily made out. The other stone is more elaborately carved and is in excellent preservation. The style is strongly reminiscent of the sculptured decorations on 'Heriot's Wark'; it belongs to about the same date, and may possibly be from the same hand. A triple-towered castle, emblematic of Edinburgh, is upheld by a hand, by way of crest, and surmounting a helmet and mantling; and the scroll surrounding the arms bears the words 'Hic mihi partus Honos,' - 'This honour is obtained for me' - which may also be thought to contain an allusion to Sir William's municipal dignity. The summit of the stone bears a fracture, and it may have been completed by the finial with four sides, each bearing the Castle and having a boar's head at the bottom, which now lies in the rockery. It may be noted that for the first and only time in the stones of the Dean group the Nisbet chevron bears three cinquefoils, a 'difference' perpetuated on the coat of the Nisbet Hamiltons of Dirleton.

A third initialled stone, bearing the arms of Sir William impaled with those of his second wife, is to be found in the wall of the old structure at Coltbridge, alongside of the stone, with the date 1614, already described and figured. It appears to have formed a dormer or tympanum, and in addition to helm and mantling, both in good preservation, the shield is surmounted by the crest of the Nisbets - a boar - which does not occur on any of the stones at the Dean, although, as will be found, it appears on a large piece of mural sculpture at Bells Mills and over the family vault at St. Cuthbert's.

The presence of the two Coltbridge stones, on a site so far removed from the Dean House, and on ground which ceased to be Dean property long before the demolition of the family mansion, is not a little puzzling. Notwithstanding the low position, close to the stream, the building has more the appearance of a dwelling-house than of a mill; on the side next the river a moulded doorway has been built up, and embedded in the wall, within a few feet of the lade, is what seems to be half of a quatrefoil window of ecclesiastical aspect.

Katherine Dick died in May 1630, and confirmation of her estate was obtained in September of the following year, when three children of the marriage are mentioned, William, Jonet, and Elizabeth, the last born July 1626. She must have been considerably younger than her husband, who was, indeed, eleven years older than her father, his friend and contemporary Dick of Braid, that merchant of unstable fortunes who, once reputed the wealthiest in Scotland, and credited by popular superstition with possession of the secret of transmuting baser metals into gold, died miserably in a poor lodging in Westminster. Dick's father, an Orkney man, is said to have won favour at Court while accompanying James VI. on his voyage from Denmark. The son farmed the customs and excise dues on tobacco, wine, and strong waters for the Kingdom, and was tacksman under the Crown of the islands of Orkney and Shetland. He did much to develop the fishings round the Scottish coasts, and engaged in a profitable trade with the Baltic and the Mediterranean, - we find him shipping herring and salmon from Yarmouth to Leghorn and Venice. When, in 1631, sasine of Saint Giles' Grange was given to him and to his wife (Elizabeth, daughter of John Morrison of Prestongrange and Saughton Hall, the name-father of Morrison's-haven) among the witnesses were his son-in-law Sir William Nisbet of Deane, knight, and Master Ludowick Stewart, advocate. At the date of Nisbet's death, in 1639, Dick was Provost of Edinburgh, which he also represented in Parliament. In 1641 he was knighted, and it is alleged, although no proof is forthcoming beyond the fact that a great-grandson was served heir to the honour, that he was made a Baronet of Nova Scotia. At this time he is reported to have been worth 200,000 sterling; - in Scots he was a 'multi-millionaire.' He advanced vast sums for the cause of the King and of the Covenant; the father of 'Douce Davie Deans' saw the sacks of dollars 'toomed, as if they had been as muckle sclate stanes, out o' Provost Dick's window intill the carts that carried them to the army at Dunse Law; and if ye winna believe his testimony, there is the window itsell still standing in the Luckenbooths - at the airn staneshells, five doors abune Advocates' Close.'

It has been credibly suggested that Ben Jonson was entertained by Provost Nisbet at the Dean House on the occasion of his visit to Edinburgh in 1619, and the compliments he sends through his friend Drummond of Hawthornden to 'the Nisbets' are supposed to be directed to Sir William and his family. This was in the time of Dame Jonet; Dame Katherine did not live long enough to see the great pageant on the entry of Charles I. to the Scottish capital in 1631. She is probably the elder girl in the portrait-group at the Grange of Sir William Dick surrounded by his family. Her sister married Sir John Nicolson of Lasswade, and four of her brothers were the progenitors of the families of Dick of Fracafield, Dick of Craighouse, Dick Lauder of Grange, and Dick Cunyngham of Prestonfield respectively.

Sir William Nisbet's portrait is at Archerfield. It represents him 'in a black velvet dress, with gold belt and clasps, the skull-cap ornamented with white lace, which also adorns the collar of his habit. A large and expressive eye, a prominent nose and a fine mouth, with grey eyebrows, pointed beard and moustaches, go to the formation of a countenance which does not convey to the spectator the keen determination so conspicuous in Provost Henry Nisbet's portrait. The arms in the picture' - continues Mr. Ross, in Nisbet's Heraldic Plates - 'are identical with those on the stone in the Dean Cemetery, viz. argent, on a chevron gules between three boars' heads erased sable three cinquefoils of the field: crest, a hand sinister, holding the Castle of Edinburgh: motto, Hic mihi partus Honos.'

His son William was served heir in 1639, and married Margaret Murray, daughter of John Murray of Polmaise, who survived him, and afterwards became the wife of Alexander Persone of Balmadies. The second William Nisbet of the Dean died in October 1655. The minutes of the kirk-session of St. Cuthbert's, in which parish the lands lay, shows that in March 1645, the year of the pest, the owner of Dean 'desired the heritors and sessioners to grant him ane place to burie his deid, to the effect that he might build the same, seeing his predecessors had no buriell-place within the churchyeard' - the old Nisbet burial-ground was, as has been seen, in Greyfriars. His demand was 'thocht reasonable,' and the session 'grantit him ane place at the north churche door eistward, five elnes of length, and thrie elnes of bredth.' Here, no doubt, he was laid when his son Alexander succeeded him ten years later. Alexander it was who exchanged with Sir Patrick Nisbet, his second cousin, the lands of Dean for those of Craigentinnie and Restalrig. He married Katherine, daughter of Walter Porterfield of Comiston, of a family whose name frequently occurs in the city records, and with her consent, in 1683, he reconveyed four of the 12 oxengates of the Restalrig property to Henry Nisbet, younger of the Dean, in whose hands they did not remain long. For in 1693 he sold them to Andrew Massie, a Regent of Edinburgh College, whose daughter Ann, in 1735, disposed of them to 'William Miller, younger, seed merchant, near the Abbey of Holyrood House.' The sale of 1683 may have been dictated by the public and private difficulties which Alexander Nisbet had in plenty. He was a man of fiery temper and high courage, and John Erskine of Carnock relates in his Journal how, having been placed on the assize for the trial of Sir Hugh Campbell of Cesnock in 1684 for conventicle-holding, 'Craigentinnie' boldly protested against the brow-beating of the witnesses by the Lord Advocate, the 'Bluidy Mackenyie,' for which he had to answer before the Secret Council. Having gone abroad to fight a duel with Macdougall of Mackerston, he was imprisoned in the Tolbooth with the other parties in the affair, but was released on bond, and was slain in the battle of Tournay in 1696.

To follow briefly and to the end the connection of this branch of the Nisbet family with the Craigentinnie lands, it may be mentioned that Alexander Nisbet's granddaughter, Jean, Lady Banff, was succeeded in the possession of the remaining eight oxengates by her nephew, John Scott Nisbet, the son of another daughter of William Nisbet, who had married Sir John Scott of Ancrum. He died in 1764, the last Nisbet of Craigentinnie, and the lands were acquired by William Miller, the old Quaker seedsman of the South Back of Canongate; and in the hands of his descendants, the Christie Millers, they still remain. The gaunt and plain old four-story mansion of Craigentinnie House, reared by the Nisbets, was furnished with turrets and corbelling, after the fashion of a French chteau or Jacobian castle, at the close of the eighteenth century. It is garnished without with many ornaments of stone, but none of them can lay probable claim to belong to the period of Nisbet occupancy, unless it be the weatherworn shield over the old moulded entrance door - it is no longer decipherable.

To the period of the close of the sixteenth or beginning of the seventeenth century should also probably be assigned two inscriptions, in black-letter, painted above the chimney-piece on the wall of a chamber, now a bedroom, in the second story of the earliest part of the house, to which access is had through the old doorway and up a spiral stone stair. They were revealed on taking down the modern plaster-work, and have been renewed in black letters on a white ground. They read -

'Remember how I gave the wracht
Of feltchie, erth and daye,
And how from heill I have the brocht
Quhst thou was damd for ey.'


'Thou had all thou wald
Of reachis and of gold
If zow have nocht, the lord in thocht
That for thy sins was sauld
All is in waine I mak zow plain
As Paull the treuth has tauld.'

The first couplet reads like nonsense in the restored text; a somewhat obvious emendation would make the lines run -

'Remember how I have th wrocht
Of filthie erth and claye.'

In this cheerful fireside sentiment, which is in the style and taste of the panels in the barrel-vaulted room in the 'Palace' at Culross, and of other interior decorations of the period, one may possibly see a reflection of the uncompromising Calvinistic training of Marian Arnot, the wife of the first Nisbet of Craigentinnie.

The descendants of Sir William of the Dean were, however, by no means left landless. William Nisbet, who succeeded to Craigentinnie in 1696, when his father fell in the French wars, had the good fortune to marry, as his first wife, the niece of the third wife of Sir John Nisbet of Dirleton, and to this fact, as much perhaps as his cousinship, he owed it that he was nominated heir of entail to the Dirleton estates, under a deed which the famous Lord Advocate had executed in 1687. It has already been mentioned that Sir John was a son of Sir Patrick Nisbet, Lord Eastbank, the third of the sons of Provost Henry Nisbet, and that a shield with his initials and arms and the date 1614 is among the Dean Stones. It must have been placed there at a later date than that borne on the stone; for Sir Patrick - who like others of his kin was a strong supporter of the policy of the Stuart's in Church and State - was not knighted until 1638. Two years before, in 1636, on the death of Lord Newhall, he had been made Lord of Session, but his seat was taken from him when the political wind shifted, and was conferred in November 1641 upon Johnston of Warriston. He died in 1648, leaving, by his wife, a daughter of John Arthur of Newtown-Arthur, advocate, besides his eldest son Henry, who did not long survive him, and Sir John, who is designed in the will, 'Commissary of Edinburgh,' two daughters, one of whom, Katherine, marrying Walter Riddell of Minto, became the mother of the wife of Sir Robert Lawrie of Maxweltoun and the grandmother of 'Bonnie Annie Lawrie.' In the marriage-contract of Lord Eastbank's other daughter, Jonet, married to Patrick Blackburn, he earnestly recommends his 'twa sons, and also my dearest friend, Sir Lues Stewart, and also my much beloved and honoured nephews,' Henry Nisbet (of Craigentinnie) and William Nisbet (of Dean) to see that the conditions are fulfilled.

His more distinguished son, Sir John Nisbet, was born in 1610, and became advocate in 1633, and Sheriff-depute of Edinburgh in 1639. He purchased the estate of Dirleton - 'the pleasantest dwelling place in Scotland,' said Logan of Restalrig, who is alleged to have been bribed with it to take a share in the Gowrie Conspiracy - in 1663. After its forfeiture by the Gowrie family, it had belonged and given titles to Erskines and Maxwells. The town residence of the Dirleton branch of the Nisbet's was the house with the arched understory and corbelled turret at the head of Reid's Close in the Canongate. John Nisbet was Lord Advocate and a Judge of Session in the troublous years 1664-7, and was the last who combined these offices. His name is of constant occurrence in the judicial records of the time, and his character has been severely handled by some contemporary writers and later historians. He has been described as 'a tool of the Bishops'; 'too corrupt even for the Restoration period,' is one harsh recent judgement. (Erskine's Journal.) There can be no question of his ability and his erudition. 'A man of great learning, both in law and in many other things, chiefly in Greek,' writes Gilbert Burnet, whose testimony, that he was 'a person of great integrity, who always stood firm to the law,' must always be taken into account as that of one who had good opportunities of forming an opinion. On points of law 'Dirleton's Doubts,' it was said, were worth more than other men's certainties. 'Discite justiciam' was the motto he adopted, along with the crest of a hand holding a balance, in his arms (the Nisbet coat with the Dirleton difference), matriculated in 1672. His portrait, at Archerfield, shows him in his judge's robes - a man of 'noble and intellectual countenance, and keen and searching eye.' He was three times married, first to a daughter of Monypenny of Pitmilly, second to Helen Hay, and third to Jean, daughter of Alexander Morrison of Prestongrange, a Lord of Session. Only by his second wife was there issue, and his only child, Jean, married, in 1673, Sir William Scott, younger of Harden, head of the house from which Walter Scott descended.

Sir John Nisbet of Dirleton died in 1687, after having in the same year executed a deed of entail, by which, as we have seen, the estate passed to his nephew-in-law and distant cousin - William Nisbet of Craigentinnie, great-grandson of his uncle, Sir William of the Dean - a succession which gave rise to prolonged lawsuits between him and the heir of line, Lady Scott. William Nisbet, heir of entail, sat in Parliament after the Union as representative of Midlothian. He was married a second time, to Jean Bennett, and by his two wives was the father of a numerous family. His daughter Wilhelmina, who married Lord Leven and Melville, and who was one of the first dwellers in Nicolson Street, is said to have been his nineteenth child. His son William, by his first wife, was served heir in 1725, and married Christian, daughter of Sir William Bennett of Grubbet - the 'Sir William Worthy' of The Gentle Shepherd. Their son William, Grand-Master of the Freemasons of Scotland, married Mary, the heiress of Alexander Hamilton of Pencaitland and Dechmont, heiress of entail to James, fifth Lord Belhaven, and owner of the Biel. Dirleton and the Biel descended, through their eldest son, William Nisbet Hamilton, to their granddaughter Mary (Mrs. Ferguson of Raith) whose daughter, also Mary, by her first marriage, to Thomas, seventh Earl of Elgin, became the wife of Robert Adam Dundas, a grandson of Lord President Dundas, who took the name of Christopher in addition to Nisbet Hamilton on succeeding to estates in Lincolnshire. His daughter, Mary Georgiana Constance Nisbet Hamilton Ogilvy, married to Henry Ogilvy, succeeded to the Pencaitland estates on the death, at a great age, of her cousin Mary, Lady Ruthven, granddaughter, through her mother, of William Hamilton Nisbet. Mrs. Nisbet Hamilton Ogilvy is now the repository of the honours, while her house of Archerfield holds some of the chief relics of the Nisbets of Dirleton, Craigentinnie, and the Dean.

Harking back to the date - 1672 - when, in the person of Sir Patrick, grandson of James, the Craigentinnie branch of the Nisbets became owners of the Dean, we are brought to what may be termed the second group of the sculptured stones that commemorate the family. Unless the phrase, 'for certain large sums of money,' in part consideration of which Sir Patrick Nisbet is stated to have made the exchange, be a mere legal formula, Craigentinnie may be supposed to have been at the time the more valuable estate of the two. The Craigentinnie family had a pew in the Tron Kirk, and it is entered in the name of 'Sir Hary Nisbet,' Sir Patrick's father, in 1650, and seems to have been still in possession of their descendants forty or fifty years later. But they were now parishioners of St. Cuthbert's, and Sir Patrick of the Dean has come down to us in history chiefly in connection with a long dispute he had with the West Kirk heritors. In his Buik of the West Kirk, Mr. Lorimer says that 'a volume by no means small' could be filled with a history of the relations between the members of the family of the Dean and the Kirk-session, of the perpetual warfare, on one subject or another, waged with Sir Patrick, the father; the alternate vainglory and shabbiness of Henry, the eldest son; the repeated tribulations of that sad scapegrace, Patrick junior, his younger brother.' In the pages of Woodrow and Sime Sir Patrick appears as a stout champion of that much-married minister of St. Cuthbert's, the Rev. David Williamson - known to the profane as 'Dainty Davie' - and as a sufferer, if not a martyr, in the cause of Presbyterianism in its quarrel with Prelacy. But the records present him in another and less flattering light.

The case of 'Sir Patrick and Harie Nisbet and ye West Kirk Poore' dragged its way through the courts for ten years, and, so far as the parish history is concerned, was 'the most interesting episode of the period' immediately preceding and following the Revolution. It arose out of the perplexed affairs of Alexander Shed, maltster in the Water of Leith, who for seven years previous to 1680 had been entrusted, as treasurer, with the charge of the funds of the poor. During that period he had rendered no account of his intromissions, and a new treasurer, Mr. James Eleis, of Stenhopemills, having been appointed, against the strenuous opposition of the Laird of the Dean and of the minister, Mr. Gordon, it was found that he had lent to Nisbet from the poor stock the sum of 2000 merks Scots. Shed was still more deeply indebted to Sir Patrick Nisbet, to whom he owed 4600 Scots; and by a dubious transaction he granted his powerful neighbour a quittance of the debt to the poor-box, and at the same time assigned a heritable bond over his property at Water of Leith to Sir Patrick's son Henry for the balance of his own debt. The new treasurer raised actions, first for reduction of the discharge, and secondly, to prove that the Kirk-session's claim against Shed had preference over the Nisbet bond. The first case was probably decided in favour of 'the Poor,' whose counsel on the occasion was the Lord Advocate, Sir James Dalrymple, afterwards the first Lord Stair. The second, out of which arose counter accusations of fraud and perjury, was not so easily disposed of. The irate Baronet stopped Eleis in the public highway and threatened to 'nail his lugs and those of his witnesses to the Trone,' an outbreak for which he was summoned to appear before the Kirk-session. The Treasurer's accounts of the period show that the precaution was taken to 'water the peats' of the judges hearing the case, by payments of 2, 18s. to the servant of Sir David Falconer, afterwards Lord Newton and Lord President of the Court, and of 1, 9s. to the son of Sir John Foulis of Ravelston. But notwithstanding, the decision was more favourable to Sir Patrick than might have been expected; he was found to be right in point of law, but 'indiscreet' in the means employed to get himself preferred to the Poor, and it was ordained that he should come in equally with them as creditors on Shed's estate. Dissatisfied with this, Sir Patrick raised an action in 1687 for reduction of the claims of the Poor, and he would seem to have ultimately had his way, for henceforth Shed's lands at Water of Leith remained part of the Dean property, and were rated forty years afterwards at 110.

In the same year, 1687, Sir Patrick left the West Kirk congregation, and joined that which Williamson had formed, under the Indulgence of King James, 'at the meeting-place near the Dean,' which appears to have been the Tolbooth of the Baxters Incorporation, still standing in Water of Leith. The vicinity of Dean House had been a refuge of the 'intercommuned' long before this date; and we hear of a gathering of the sympathisers with the 'Westland Whigs' taking place in the secluded haugh above Bells Mills on the eve of Rullion Green, and of the Blue Banner being raised at the 'Covenanter's Thorn,' which continues to bud in one of the gardens of Belford Terrace. Mr. Cumberland Hill relates a traditionary story told by some of the old inhabitants of the Water of Leith, of an adventure of 'Dainty Davie's' in which Sir Patrick Nisbet and his family took part:- 'During the time he was persecuted, Mr. Williamson, being hotly and closely pursued, took refuge in the Dean House. Sir Patrick concealed him in the bedchamber where his daughters were in bed. After searching the house, Sir Patrick opened the bedroom door; but Mr. Williamson's pursuers, when they perceived the ladies, gallantly drew back, declining to search the room, believing he could not be concealed there.'

Mushet, the 'reider' of the West Kirk, an old enemy of Williamson's, accused Sir Patrick of speaking slightingly of Acts of Parliament, alleging, among other things, that the Presbyterians 'had as many Johnston's as the Prelates had Jardines'; and in July 1688 he was fined by the Court 5000 Scots for his contumacy. About the same time, a member of the congregation was fined for allowing him and another parishioner to remain drinking in his premises during the hours of divine service. The Revolution, which restored Williamson to his charge, did not bring surcease of trouble to the Laird of the Dean, now a man of advanced age. Nemesis was waiting for him in the comfortable form of Lucky Byers, the wife of the landlord of the hostelry near the old West Kirk. One afternoon in August 1695, he entered the changehouse of William Byers for refreshments. The landlady and Sir Patrick 'grew gracious'; they began talking of old times and the Laird of Dean stole 'two kisses for auld lang syne,' a liberty which Mrs. Byers told him would cost him 'holland to make her toys (caps) with.' Unhappily there were ears and eyes glued to the keyhole during this tender colloquy. Sir Patrick was cited to appear before the session to answer for his indiscretion. He came up once, behaved stormily, and withdrew. The case was adjourned from meeting to meeting, and at length referred to the Presbytery, and we hear no more of it. It is a curious coincidence that, in May 1696, Sir Patrick Nisbet made offer to the session of 2000 merks of debt due by the late Shed to the poorbox, and also to hand over the titles of Shed's lands. After a reference to Sir John Fowlis and Mr. James Lewis of Merchiston, it was determined that he should pay 2500 merks in full satisfaction. In spite of all that had happened we find him on the Committee for clearing the Treasurer's accounts in 1708.

He married Agnes Broun, daughter of James Broun of Stevenson, East Lothian, a scion of the ancient family of Coalston, the possessors of the magic 'pear.' This lady is said to have died at the age of a hundred, surviving long into the eighteenth century. Her arms, a chevron between three fleurs-de-lys, accompanied by the letters 'D.A.B.,' are on a shield at the Dean.

Sir Patrick himself appears to have adopted as his crest 'an eagle, with wings displayed, proper, with the motto Non obest virtuti Sors.' His eldest son David, 'the fiar of Dean,' predeceased him, and he was succeeded by his second son Henry, who long before his father's death took a share in managing the property. Henry married, in 1681, Christian Riddell, daughter of Sir John Riddell of that Ilk, and secondly Margaret Sinclair. He is said to have built a second mansion-house on the estate, called the Western Place of Dean. His monogram and that of his second wife appear to be inscribed on a dormer stone now in the rockery.

Like his father, Henry Nisbet had the care of the money of the Kirk committed to his hands, for a season. It was, says Mr. Lorimer, like giving the charge of the flock to 'the wolf and the wolf's cub.' During his year of office as Treasurer Henry lent out 666 - the Number of the Beast - half of which sum, or 500 merks, he borrowed himself, and had to pay on the debt 9 per cent interest. After the Revolution we find him protesting along with his father, at a public meeting, that the Nisbets of the Dean were entitled to take precedence of all other heritors. In November 1691 he applied to the Kirk-session for confirmation of the grant of the vault beside the north door of the West Kirk, which had been made wellnigh half a century before to his predecessor, William Nisbet. He also asked for leave to open a quarry in the churchyard for its construction, and this he received on condition of paying a gratuity to the poor. The story of how Henry Nisbet built his own sepulchre and fulfilled his promises is a sad revelation of 'a mean man's meanness,' and a vain man's vanity. With much difficulty he was induced to pay the gratuity of 39, 10s. Work being suspended on the tomb, he was brought to book for not filling up the quarry. In November 1692 be obtained the key of the church, in order to have the Nisbet arms carved in stone over the vault. But the masons remained unpaid; the rubbish was not even cleared away. The session had at length to discharge the claims themselves, and not until April 1700, after bringing an action for repayment of 60, were they able to recover the debt. In the previous April they had to deal with Henry Nisbet for 'drinking during divine service,' along with his brother Patrick, junior - an old offender. All these years, it has been suggested, he had the gratification of looking across, on the Sundays when he attended divine service, from the Nisbet loft to his stately monument, bearing the high-sounding Latin inscription in which he exalted Fame above Riches and enjoined the study of Virtue - but for the carving of which he refused to pay. In spite of neglect - Mr. Cumberland Hill, who remembered the old Dean House, remembered also when 'the old oak door of the vault was broken in and the stair that led down to the chamber of the dead was choked up with rank nettles and hemlock' - the Nisbet tomb is still in wonderful preservation.

The Latin inscription above the door leading down to the vault reads:-

Henricus Nisbet, a Dean junior,
Famam pluris quam opes,
Virtutem pluris quam famam habens;
Terrena despiciens, clestia spirans;
Lethi memor; Anastasin expectans;
Vivus ipse videnque;
Hoc sibi suisq: Monumentum sepulchrale construxit,
Anno Domini MDCXCII.
qua lege, vocant Regem cum paupere Fata;
Cuncta fluunt, virtus unica fixa manet,
Huic ergo dones vitam, super Astra Vehendus,
Mortis et addiscas jura severa pati.

It has been thus translated by Maitland:-

Death equally does call the Rich and Poor -
All things are fleeting; Virtue does endure;
Then study Virtue as you would incline
Maulgre sharp Death, in Heaven high to shine.

The irony of the inscription would have been complete if there had been added the text, carved in Latin on another seventeenth century Nisbet monument, that of the Reverend Gavin Nisbet at Liberton - possibly a kinsman - 'He that giveth to the Poor lendeth to the Lord.' Below the words, and over the moulded doorway of the West Kirk vault are the initials of the builder of the tomb, with the emblems of mortality - the skull and cross-bones. On scrolled panels on either side are his arms and those of his first wife, Christian Riddell - the latter a chevron between three ears of rye, slipped and bladed. Built into the wall of the church above is Sir Henry's escutcheon, with shield, helm, mantling, crest and supporters, and with monograms of his own and his wife's initials and the date 1692 repeated.

He had apparently discarded the spread-eagle crest of his father, and adopted the crest of the Nisbet's of Nisbet - a boar - which along with the supporters, a wreathed savage and a greyhound, the Dean family, according to the bogus passage already quoted from the 1742 edition of Alexander Nisbet's System, had been 'in use for a long time by Allowance of Authority' to carry on their arms. Shield, crest, and supporters, although badly mutilated, are repeated on the fragment of heraldic sculpture which is built into the walls of the present flour-mill at Bells Mills - from time immemorial an appurtenance of the Dean estate.

As in the monument in the West Kirk, also, the Nisbet shield at Bells Mills bears the chevron 'ensigned' with the saltire and lion rampant of the Baronets of Nova Scotia. It seems pretty safe therefore to assign it to about the same date, and to Sir Henry Nisbet, and also to assume that when these escutcheons were erected, the Dean family did not claim the right to drop the 'mark of cadency.' The date of the existing Bells Mills structure, according to the large panel bearing a boldly carved sheaf of wheat on its front, is 1808. If the armorial stone, which is in three pieces, was built in at that time, its removal from its original site long antedates the demolition of the Dean House. This, and its detached position, might favour the surmise that it may have formed an ornament of that 'Western Place of Dean' reared by Sir Henry, of which all other trace has disappeared.

Sir John Nisbet of the Dean was served heir to Sir Henry in 1713, the year preceding the Hanoverian succession, and in 1717 he married Anna Morton or Myrtoun, daughter of Sir Andrew Myrtoun of Gogar and of Dame Jean Murray. Her tocher, it is stated, was 16,000 merks. The death of this lady is recorded to have taken place in 1769 in Gosford's Close, so that she survived her marriage more than fifty years, and the death of her husband (who died in 1730) nearly forty years. This is the Sir John Nisbet who has been reproached first for purchasing an addition to his family honours from his remote kinsman the Heraldist, and, more recently, for prompting the vitiation of the text of Nisbet's book. It is somewhat curious that his father-in-law, Sir Andrew Myrtoun was concerned in a dubious heraldic transaction of a somewhat similar character. On being created a baronet in 1701, he changed the coat which he had registered in 1688, bearing three tortoises, to 'argent., a chevron, sable, between three roundels, gules,' with the self-complacent motto 'Virtutis Prmium.' Dissatisfied with this he entered into a bargain with his kinsman, Sir Robert Morton or Myrtoun, son of Sir Patrick Myrtoun of Cambo, 'by which the Myrtoun's of that Ilk (whose family had fallen upon evil times), for "certain weighty considerations and motives," renounced, in favour of Sir Andrew of Gogar, their ancient coat of arms. The arms thus conveyed are, argent, three roundels, gules.' The Myrtoun of Gogar arms, as recorded in 1775, are, 'argent, a chevron sable between three pellets.' A stone lying in the Dean rockery bears the initials 'A.M.' and the chevron, with three roundels - or pellets, or bezants, as the device as otherwise been described.

There need not be hesitation in assigning it to Anna Myrtoun, Sir John Nisbet's wife. It appears to have formed the base of a roundheaded dormer, and Wilson and Grant have described it as surmounted by a sculptured group representing a judge seated in his throne of justice, holding in his hands the sword and scales, with a lamb in his arms which he is apparently defending from two lions, which ramp on either side. This curious piece of symbolism, or of sacred history, is no longer attached to its base or to be found at the Dean Cemetery. It has, however, been set into a place above a window in an upper story of the Dean Bridge Tollhouse, looking towards Bells Brae, and can be conveniently studied from the level of Lynedoch Place.

Mr. Black states that the two parts of this memorial of the old Dean House were taken down from the terrace-wall when a new monument was erected, and that while the late Mr. Stewart obtained leave to remove the pediment to the reconstructed tollhouse, the base, with its bold armorial carving, was thrown aside. The companion group in relief is still in position in the wall. It has been described as showing 'a man armed with a thick pole with a hook at the and, by which he grasps it; a goat is running towards him, as if in the act of butting, while a bear seizes it by the waist with his teeth, and another is lying dead beyond.

The episode is obviously that of David rescuing his father's lamb from the lion and the bear. The two groups, as suggested by the rescue of the lamb, may be intended to illustrate parallel and symbolic passages in the life of the Shepherd King. The scales on one of the panels are somewhat reminiscent of the crest and motto adopted by Sir John of Dirleton. In the other sculptured group the form and attitude of the lion are strangely frog- like, and the treatment is rude and archaic. The stone below is blank, and, as in the other case, its appearance suggests that it is of later date than the pediment to which it had been fitted.

Sir John Nisbet of the Dean died in 1730, leaving his son Sir Henry a minor under the guardianship of his brother Alexander, a merchant who afterwards settled at Charleston, South Carolina. During Henry's minority, in 1734, his uncle sold the Nisbet Parks - part of the district now known as Murrayfield - to Alexander Murray for 40,000 Scots. In 1739 the lands of Dean Park and Blinkbonny, forming part of the Dean property, were sold to Trinity College Hospital. Sir Henry's sister Ann, Mrs. Glassford, became the grandmother of John Riddell, the well-known antiquary and genealogist. Sir Henry died in 1746, and was succeeded by his uncle Alexander, who married Mallie, daughter of Sir John Rutherford, and who held the property and baronetcy for only six years. The son of Sir Alexander, another Sir Henry, served heir in 1754, died unmarried in 1762, and was followed by his brother, another Sir John, who was already settled in America, where he is said to have married a Creole lady, Claudine Favre, a question over which a long lawsuit arose. He was drowned at sea in 1776, and it was not until 1781 that his son, Sir John, made good his claim as the legitimate heir.

The last of the Nisbet's of Dean married, in November 1797, Maria, daughter of William Alston, South Carolina; they separated in 1810, having no surviving issue. Sir John was owner of the Deanhall estate, in St. John's Parish, Berkeley County, S.C.; and in many ways his interests had become detached from the old family house on the banks of the Water of Leith. It passed into the hands of tenants. In 1784 it was occupied by Robert Burns's early patron, Sir Thomas Miller, Lord Barskimming, Lord Justice-Clerk.

One of the last, if not the very last, of the tenants of the House of Dean was Principal James David Forbes, the great alpinist and man of science, who came to live in it with his sisters in 1835, and occupied it until 1841, when they removed to Ainslie Place, the old mansion being then marked for destruction 'to make way for some large changes in the neighbourhood.' Here was another link with Sir Walter Scott. For Forbes was the youngest of the children of Scott's friend and successful rival in love, Sir William Forbes, and of the 'lady of the green mantle,' the great-great-grandson also of that old Lord Pitsligo who was 'out' in the '15 and the '45, and who was the original of the kindly Baron of Bradwardine of whose ubiquitous family cognisance (and of the bears borne on the coat armorial of the Forbeses of Pitsligo) the multiplied boars' heads of the Nisbets must often have reminded the new tenant. He records his last visit to the place in December 1846, when the change had already come: 'The old Dean is now a green grass-plot. I looked in the other day - the gateway bell and all as it was. The avenue and holly hedges are there; but instead of terminating in the tall pile of masonry, it opens in a flat turf soon to be full of graves. Nothing more, surely, was wanted to point a moral.' His own grave was dug in it twenty-two years later - in January 1869 - 'in a lovely spot chosen by himself the last time he was in Edinburgh, shadowed by the yew tree which overhung his window, when his home was in the old House of Dean.'

The New Town had begun to creep down the hill towards the river; and by and by the districts of the Dean and St. Bernard's were being feued off for suburban streets and residences.

Strict rules were laid down in the feu charters for the preservation of the amenity of the district as well of the rights of the superior. Noisome trades, such as tanning, tallow-chandling, soap-boiling, brewing and distilling were forbidden; at the same time the feuars were bound to take their ale or beer from any brewer within the Barony of Dean that Sir John Nisbet and his successors should nominate. Tenants of land that grew oats were obliged to have their grain ground at 'Dean's Mill, called Bell's Mill.'

Two years before Sir John's death in 1827, a portion of the Dean lands was feued to John Paton, builder. In 1837 the greater part of what remained was sold to John Learmonth, builder, Edinburgh, afterwards Lord Provost, who later, in 1842 and 1847, acquired what was left of the lands and barony. In 1845, as has already been said, the house was pulled down to make way for the Dean Cemetery. Nearly twenty years before, the family of Nisbet of Dean, the eldest branch of the descendants of Provost Henry Nisbet, became, so far as is known, extinct in the male line.

It may be counted fortunate that so many relics of the old race and of the old house have been preserved. Some of them have no doubt perished or been dispersed - have become 'lost, stolen, or strayed' - of late years. Five of the stone waterspouts - three of them spirally twisted - 'are now projecting ornaments of the wall supporting the "Red Walk" at St. Bernard's Well.' Grant and others note 'an elaborately carved fragment of a fireplace,' bearing the dubious Latin motto 'Beet Otia Dator,' along with the monogram of Nisbet. Such a monogram , we have seen, is inscribed on one of the stones in the rockery. But it has been part of a window, not of a fireplace, and contains no motto.

Lodged alongside of these Nisbet memorials is an armorial stone which, although it does not belong originally to the Dean group, or even to the Edinburgh series of sculptured stones, may claim notice on account not only of its antiquity but of its age and history. It is inserted into the northern flank of the flight of steps descending from the east end of the terrace wall, which it faces at a distance of a few feet, in a position where, especially when screened by the ivy, it is hard to find and difficult to photograph. It was built into its present site at the instance of the late Mr. Alexander Ogilvy Spence (died 1895), whose tomb immediately adjoins it. I learn from the Curator (who is himself a native of Alves) that it formerly had a place in the wall of a granary, adjacent to the churchyard and overlooking the school playground at Alves, in Morayshire, and had evidently been a heraldic ornament of the old House of Kirkton.

The arms - a rampant lion of archaic shape 'debruised' by a bend-sinister, bearing three buckles - are those of the Spence family who owned Kirkton and neighbouring properties during several generations. The initials 'J. S.' may possibly be those of Heironymus or Jerome Spence of Over Manbeen, who, in 1567, obtained from the Precentor of Moray, with the consent of the Bishop (the notorious Patrick Hepburn), a grant of the Kirklands and glebe of Alves, or of another Jerome Spence who got leave, in 1650, to build a 'dask' beside the Ernsyde tomb 'at the east end of the Quere.' But they are more likely to stand for James Spence, James being the prevailing baptismal name of the lairds of Kirkton for two centuries. 'Sir James Spence, vicar of Alves,' was a witness to the charter of 1567. In 1645 James Spence of Alves was taken out of his own house by a party of 'bloodie persones' and carried to Forres, where, as he alleged, he was forced to subscribe a paper presented to him by the Marquis of Huntly, for which and other acts of 'compliance' he had to plead penitence to the session. In 1719, the Presbytery agreed to excamb half of the cornyard intervening between the east end of the manse and the west end of the House of Kirkton on the complaint of James Spence that his walls were being 'damnified'; and this heritor furnished for pious uses within the parish a velvet mortcloth, the fees from which were employed in building the schoolhouse and in providing two silver communion cups. In the 'Description of Duffus' (circa 1720), in MacFarlane's Geographical Collections, it is mentioned that at the village of Standing Stone and Kirkhill there is 'an old cross which, as we have by credible tradition, was erected of old by the Spenses,' where began the service to their dead on being carried from The Coltfield to their burial-place at Alves, half a mile distant. Under 'Alves' is described 'Kirkton's pincipall lodging,' close to the manse and having 'an old towr on the east end built by the Spenses' - 'James Spense, proprietor thereof,' who also owns 'Earnside, a large mile from the Kirk,' having 'a strong old towr built by the Cumings.' At the date of Shaw's History of Moray (1775) Kirkton and Earnside belonged to 'Harry Spens D.D.'

The Water of Leith, flowing at the bottom of its deep 'Dean', seems always to have been a boundary of land and of milling-rights in this part of its course. It divided the Dean estate from the Coates, Drumsheuch, and other properties on its right bank, and the Nisbets exercised no authority over the group of tall dust-powdered buildings belonging to the Baxters' Incorporation of Edinburgh grouped beside the bridge and cauld of Water of Leith village upon which their trees looked down. The mills specially belonging to the barony were, as has been seen, further up stream at Bells Mills, and the only piece of sculpture preserved there of earlier date than the nineteenth century has no reference to the milling craft. The like may be said of the Water of Leith buildings, some of them of considerable age, that are still standing on the left bank of the river, including the West Mills, the gable of which bears on one of its circular panels a large sheaf of wheat and the dates 1805 and 1806, with the names of its owners a hundred years ago. 'F. McLagan, A. Newton, H. Logan, W. Nimmo.' The buildings across the stream, although they have been rifled of many of the stones that attested their age, ownership, and purpose, still retain some of the evidences, in the shape of sculptured lintels and panels, of the antiquity, importance, and piety of the Baker's Craft and the milling industry, as they existed two or three centuries ago in this suburb of Edinburgh.

Mills for the grinding of corn had probably occupied this site since the first half of the twelfth century, as we gather from a grant of profits from 'one of his mills at the Dean' made by David I. to the Canons of Holyrood. The Baxters of Edinburgh may have had their quarters here from the unknown date of their first incorporation. A Seal of Cause from the Town Council, dated 1522, sets forth that by their negligence in times of public trouble, the original charter had been lost. The new document mentions that like the other Crafts, the Baxters had their altar in St. Giles', dedicated to their tutelary Saint, and their officiating priest, 'who was provided with victuals, by going about from house to house among the members.' They exercised much power and influence in the village, where, in addition to their mills, granaries, and maltbarns, the Craft had a Tolbooth, to which, as we learn from the Council Records, the Magistrates of the neighbouring city were want to come to keep order and to hold head courts which 'the Taxmen of the Myles, the gristers, and the millers' were bidden to attend, and also paid visits to the 'damheads' to see whether they were in proper order and repair.

A pleasant picture is drawn, in Miss Alison Dunlop's Anent Old Edinburgh, of the Deacon and members of the Incorporation of Baxters marching out of the town by the Grassmarket and the West Port and descending to the village mills on their 'Gaud day' in the spring weather of 1716, to be present at the 'Feeing of the Millers': 'Arrived at the mills, and having transacted their business, and settled generally and specially what moiety of wages should be in money and what in meal - and we have the authority of an ancient miller that these engagements were better than under a single master, "the Incorporation being furthy and rowthy and no at a' scrimpit" - the Deacon and the Council adjoined to the hostelry of William Gordon to dine.' Then, having dined well on 'beef and veall and broth and breid' followed by 'pypes and tobacko,' and washed down by brandy and home-brewed ale, these worthy Baxters would set forth homeward by the Ferry Road. 'With their three-cornered hats just a thought awry, and their Sunday kirk-wigs just a trifle a-jee - a sma' thing to speak o' in thae days at that time o' the night; as Dame Jean Bethune would have said - they climb up the steep Bells Brae, now spanned by the Dean Bridge; they turn in the clear evening light, not to view the far Firth with its softened shores and sleeping islands, but each and all pause and look down for a parting glance on their property and prosperity, their great granary, with its legend "God Bless the Baxters of Edinburgh, vho Bult this House" - their people, with the certainty of work and the sureness of bread before them - then turning their faces comfortably citywards, past Meldrumsheuch, past the West Kirk, past the now darkening Castle rock - to quote the owerword of one of their own old songs - they gang toddlin' hame.

As round as a neep,
Or as lang as a leek,
They gang toddlin' hame.'

These old Baxters did not omit to mingle charity as well as conviviality with the business of milling. Sometimes their alms were bestowed in the teeth of prejudices in high places. Among their papers, as quoted by Mr. Cumberland Hill, is a petition addressed 'to the Deacon and remanent Members of the Ancient and Worthy Incorporation,' dated January 1707, bringing under their Christian consideration the sad condition of 'a great number of ministers of the Episcopal perswasion and their families, at present in great wants and necessities that instantly crave the boweles and compassion of all good Christians,' through being outed from their charges through the restoration of Presbyterianism as the established faith of Scotland. This appeal was responded to, to the amount of 'twentie-four pounds Scots.' Eight or nine years later, immediately after the '15, there was another call upon the liberality of the Baxters, arising out of the fact that 'of Eightie nyne Gentleman Prisoners that are goeing up from Scotland to Carlyle to be tryed' nearly sixty had 'neither money nor necessaries for their journey and subsistence.' The Incorporation sent five pounds sterling. Right of way was not free in those days by the road crossing the Water, as we learn from a receipt for 'ane rix dollor' paid by the Baxters in May 1709 to James Dalrymple in the Water of Leith for 'locking the turnpyke and sooping the Lumbs.' An item disbursed in the Union Year for 'morning drynk and four hours' to a couple of masons engaged for seven days 'at Lindsay's Mylne water wall' refers doubtless to work still in place on the waterside.

The oldest of the sculptured stones appertaining to the mills of the Baxters that is still extant is that which is built into the front of the Tollhouse facing the Dean Bridge, and therefore in a position to be easily seen and studied by the passers by.

Its date is 1619, and it bears the insignia of the Bakers' Craft, whose 'armorial ensigns' are thus heraldically described: 'Azure, three Garbs (or wheat sheaves) Or, from the Chief waved, a Hand issuing holding a pair of balances extending to the base.' There are here two hands, one holding a sheaf and the other the scales, and in addition two crossed baker's 'peels,' and above a sun between two cherubs with outspread wings, and below the text: 'In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. Gen. iii. verse 19.'

Next in antiquity is the panel with two crossed 'peels,' bearing loaves or cakes of the period, and the date 1643, built into the gable of Lindsay's Mill, at the foot of Bells Brae, and overlooking the bridge and the 'damhead.' Beneath it is a window lintel, inscribed with the words, 'Blesit be God for al his Giftis'.

Opposite, over the moulded doorway, now built up, of the old Tollbooth, are carved the words - some of them mutilated and barely decipherable, from the handling of recent vandalism - 'God bless the Baxters of Edinburgh uho bult this Hous, 1675.' In a panel overhead, the scales and crossed peels are enclosed in a wreath, surmounted by a sheaf of corn and winged cherub-heads and accompanied by the legend: 'Gods Prouedenc is our Inheritens'.

A seventeenth-century date, 1675, is inscribed above another of the Tollbooth doors. A dated stone of the same period is built into the wall that skirts a portion of the old Queensferry Road that runs at a lower level than the present highway. And, to gather into a final sentence a few of the other carven memorials which the Baxters have left behind them in this secluded hollow, the emblematic sheaves are among the ornaments flanking an empty panel on one of the old granaries; and, together with a finial sundial, they crown the gables of several of the gaunt and grey buildings by the water-side.

John Geddie. 

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