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Reminiscences of the Royal Burgh of Haddington
The High Street


THE High Street of Haddington is wide and capacious, and, being the principal thoroughfare of the burgh, it contains many good houses and shops. Situated on the lowest level of the valley in which Haddington is built, it is much exposed to inundations from the Tyne river. Frequently in its furious spates, the water has reached up as far as the George Inn; and in the great flood of 4th October 1775, the street was filled to a considerable depth, as far up as the Tolbooth. It is a curious circumstance to note that on the south side of the street the tenements, with the exception of one or two, have no underground cellars attached to them, while on the north side the cellars are numerous and of considerable depth. A geological reason may perhaps be stated, viz., that on the south side the houses are built on a stratum of stiff boulder-clay which would have the effect of making the houses damp, while on the north side the stratum is dry gravel and sand. Within the last sixty years, every property in the High Street, except nine or ten, has changed owners. Like many other old burgh towns, there were a good many outside stairs which encroached on the rough causeway of the side-paths. These paid a small yearly feu to the burgh for the privilege. They have long ago been removed in the course of improvements, as well as the old-fashioned bow windows of shops, of which there were many in the High Street. The rough causewayed side-paths were relaid with pavement in 1826.

Most of the principal merchants shops were in the High Street, and being the place where the two yearly fairs, butter, egg, vegetable, and shoe markets were held, as also the highroad from Edinburgh to London, where the Mail, Union, and other coaches, as well as numerous posting-carriages, changed horses at the George and Bell Inns, the High Street was one of no little importance.

Not to speak of the Cross at present, where runlets of claret have been drunk, and glasses of wine have been quaffed on kings birthdays in olden times, let us begin at the Custom Stone, and in going up the south side, thence down the north side, something interesting of old times’ may be noted of almost every tenement in the street. Hume’s tenement, lately rebuilt in a handsome style by the town, was bequeathed to the magistrates by John Hume, carrier in Haddington, in 1774, for the purpose of binding a Haddington boy as an apprentice, at the rate of £8 a year, the surplus rent to be applied to pious and charitable purposes. Next to Hume’s tenement are premises long occupied by Alex. Aitchison, hardware merchant, and latterly by his son, William Aitchison, and his successor, Alexander More, baker. William was a well-known man, and long known for accumulating and “haining" gear. At his death he left a deal of money and property. Schoolboys used to say that he had a loft full of penny pieces and bawbees; certain it is that he once paid a farmer, yet living, upwards of £11 in copper money, in part payment of a purchase of wheat. It was the custom, long ago, to have on shop boards the symbols of the shopkeeper’s trade. On Willie Aitchison’s sign was a wheat sheaf, winged rolls (which were peculiar to the time), Dollar biscuits, and quartern bricks, and oven peels. He died in 1837. He went by the name of “Dull an’ doutie.” The next tenement belonged to David Smith, candlemaker, Provost of Haddington in 1785, and a person of considerable importance in the burgh in his day. It was afterwards acquired by James Watson, shoemaker (the “Roman”), and afterwards became the property of John Watson, tobacconist and candlemaker. James Miller, the poet and historian, occupied the premises long as a printing office and stationer’s shop, where he composed St Baldred of the Bass, the histories of Haddington and Dunbar, and other books of local interest.

The next house was long occupied by George Mabon, cutler and armourer, a well-known person in his day. On his signboard were guns, swords, scimitars, scissors, knives, and razors. The trade of armourer is now extinct in almost all burgh towns, but it was a large business in days of yore, when the burgesses of Haddington and other Border towns had to stand up for their rights, and mount guard in the troublesome times when the French and English alternately occupied Haddington. George Mabon sharpened knives, scissors, razors, &c., every Thursday. He employed an old pensioner of the name of John Thomson to drive his big wheel. John had fought at the battle of Alexandria, where Sir Ralph Abercromby, the general in command, a Scotch hero, was killed in 1801. He lost his sight, like many more of our gallant soldiers, to a certain extent, from the blinding sands of Egypt. He went by the name of Blind John, and died as far back as 1828 or 1829. He was a tall grenadier, and wore always a long blue coat. Punctually every Thursday morning at ten o’clock he was seen wending his way from the Nungate, where he lived, to Mabon’s shop, to turn the wheel. When driving it he used to amuse the boys waiting for their knives being ground, by telling them how the British landed from boats in Aboukir Bay up to the knees in the sea, and charged the French with the cold steel, and made them fly like a flock of sheep. His old fire used to get up, and he made the wheel go round in double quick time. Robert Mabon, a nephew of George Mabon’s, was an excellent engraver in his day. He engraved the sketch of James Livingston, the town’s piper, Andrew Simpson, drummer, and daft Harry Barrie, now a very scarce relic of former times in the burgh. John Nelson, painter, a good man and an excellent tradesman, long occupied the next house and shop.

The next property and the one next it to the west was long in possession of Alexander Hislop, draper, and Provost of Haddington in 1795, and again in 1824. He was one of the principal cloth-merchants in the town; black and blue cloths were mostly in fashion in his time, and costly in price, but excellent in quality. He had a large family trade. As provost he was a very stern man, and would not allow any advantage to be taken with the town’s property or privileges. It was an old practice in the burgh for the Dean of Guild and Bailies to visit the shops of meal-dealers, bakers, &c., to test the meal, weight of bread, &c. To defaulters Provost Hislop showed no mercy when their articles were found wrong in quality or weight, and they were frequently fined, and their goods confiscated. Fleshers, also, who made a practice of blowing up veal and lamb, and selling unsound meat, were fined, and the meat given to the poor. Previous to his reign in 1795, swine ran openly about the streets; he ordered them off, and “pounded” them when caught. A good story used to be told by Bailie George Neill He got mounted on Provost Burton’s sow, and the late Hugh Fraser on Bailie Wright’s in the Back Street As it is the nature of the animals to run home when annoyed, they both ran down the Fishmarket Close, and made for their respective abodes. George Neill fell off at the bottom of the close occupied by Provost Burton, who administered a good licking to him, while Hugh Fraser received a cut face and some bruises by falling off Bailie Wright's sow. Such were the customs of the times. Provost Hislop also, in 1823, ordered all fowls off the street, and the town officers had orders to seize all stragglers, to the great wrath of the owners. A good story is told of Provost Hislop and Mrs Hunter, who lived opposite his house. The sun was shining strongly one day on Mrs Hunter's side of the street, while Provost Hislop’s side was in the shade. The provost said, “Oh! Mrs Hunter, yours is the sunny side of the street;” to which Mrs Hunter replied, “Very true, provost, but yours is the siller side,” which remark was pretty true. Provost Hislop died about 1828, at an old age.

A large tenement (now Mr Allan’s) also belonged to Mr Hislop. In it was the shop of George Tait, bookseller, who from 1822 to 1828 published and conducted The East Lothian Magazine, published monthly. It was supported by a number of the young literati of the locality, who contributed articles of great ability in historical, agricultural, and general literature. It had a considerable circulation. Mr Tait himself wrote well, and published a memoir of Sir James Stanfield, and his murder, and various songs and poems. Mr Peter Dods, provost in 1821, had his seed-shop for many years in the next tenement, now occupied by Mr Smith, confectioner. In Cairns's Close, adjoining, there is a curious old vaulted cellar which in former days was used, it is said, for concealing contraband gin and brandy. Miss Mysie Hamilton, a well-known, much respected Haddington person, lived in the first flat west of Cairns’s Close for many years, and died well on to eighty-five years of age. In her younger days she kept a meal shop, and sold the famous Samuelston Meal made by Johnnie Begbie, and in doing so she had to enter as a burgess and guild sister. It was the practice, when new burgesses were made, for the Dean of Guild and other magistrates to give the new batch a supper in one of the hotels. Miss Hamilton duly attended on the occasion and enjoyed the supper, and claimed a right to “ spice and wine ” as much as her new guild brothers. Below Miss Hamilton’s house was the shop of William Aitkin, watchmaker. He kept the same shop over fifty years. Mr Aitkin was town treasurer in 1845, and died in 1876, aged eighty-nine. He had a great store of stories of olden time, which he used to tell with much vigour. His shop was long a favourite resort for an evening chat.

Alexander Nisbet, senior and junior, for many years kept a cloth shop in the next land, long occupied afterwards by Matthew Dawson, trades bailie in 1832, as watchmaker. A good story was often told by Mr Dawson. A woman brought an old silver coin to him, which she had found at St Martin’s Church, and which she wanted to sell. Mr Dawson offered her a shilling for it. “A shilling only!” she exclaimed, “man, it’s worth five shillings, at least, for the very iniquity of the thing! ” Mr Nisbet, junior, was the first person in Haddington who made gas, somewhere about 1821, when he got his shop and house lighted with it. It was thought at that time “a world’s wonder.” The gas-work in Haddington was not erected until 1836. The next shop was during the middle and end of last century occupied by Robert Burton, one of the principal grocers and merchants in the town. He was provost in 1773, and afterwards in 1778. Messrs Thomas and George Pringle were long in the same shop as candle-makers and tobacconists. James Vetch and his son Robert were Robert Burton’s next neighbours in the same line of business. He was proprietor of Capon-flat, which still continues in the same family. Mr Hay Walker was their successor in the shop, which is now tenanted by Mr John Smiles.

Bailie Wright, baxter and brewer, was proprietor of the next tenement, now rebuilt. The bailie was well known in his day. It was the custom, in many instances in Haddington, for the-trades of baxter and brewer to be conjoined, and they supplied “baps and yill” to their customers. It was not the uniform practice of those days for the brewers to make their beer in malt alone, but treacle was often used. A good story is told of Bailie Wright going to Johnnie Fife’s shop on a brewing day for twenty pounds of treacle for a customer in the country! The brewers also were not slack in stealing the worts (there was a heavy duty on beer in those days) and cheating the gaugers. The bailie was three times married, and had in all ten sons and three daughters. He used to say that he would require to keep a shoemaker for his own use. David Gourlay, distiller, lived in the next house but one to Bailie Wright. He was a well-known and eccentric man. His distillery, the remains of which existed until lately, was up the close. By all accounts he made excellent small still whisky, for which there was a great demand. He was silly in keeping lots of cats, and had mounds and avenues of flowers and shrubs in his garden for their playing among and around. Menie Coach was his maid, and had to feed and attend them regularly. In one of his rooms he had twelve tables all of a different pattern, and as many chairs, not one alike. He used to give frequent supper parties, and make very strong toddy in a large bowl. On his guests complaining of its strength, he said he would soon remedy that, but the more liquor he ran from the kettle, the drink was always the stronger (he had put whisky in the kettle). His delight was in making his company very happy. He was of the family of the Gourlays of Kincraig in Forfarshire, an old respectable family. He died in 1801, and bequeathed the interest of £1290 and the rent of the field of Gourlay Bank, in aid of the industrious poor of Haddington, and under charge of the parochial ministers of the parish, and at their own disposal, without count or reckoning. On a tombstone in the west end of Haddington churchyard, erected to the memory of Miss Gourlay, his sister, is the following inscription :—

"Here lies one, there is not room to say what;
Think what a woman should be; she was that.”

Regarding which, the Rev. Robert Scott, minister of the second charge of Haddington, impromptu wrote :—

“Every woman should be both wife and mother,
But Miss Gourlay was neither one nor t'other.”

Numerous closes or lanes run up alongside and divide the tenements in the High Street, such as Cairns’s, Affleck’s, Cunningham’s, &c., in which a large population, with workshops, are located. From their narrowness and dampness, fevers and other diseases were often engendered. The covering of the nasty Lothburn, which issues from the swampy ground of M‘Call’s Park, and runs across the closes and below houses, has improved them in respect of health. The scheme, now accomplished, of cutting a deep drain in the middle of the High Street, from the West Port to the Custom Stone, was long a favourite idea of the late Bailie Dorward. He more than once brought it before the Town Council, but it was never gone into. His scheme was to divert Lothburn into the drain from its source, also the water-runs which come down from the West Port, and to have drains from the houses along its course into it. So the present drain was not a new idea. Many excellent gardens run from the top of the closes up to Myles Burn and Mylne’s Park. A great taste has always existed among the owners of the gardens in raising beautiful flowers and fine fruits, the best of their kinds, which is proved by the superior specimens exhibited at the different horticultural shows of the burgh. A cart road from the High Street at one time* existed through the property of the late Miss Clapperton (now Mr Brook’s), and through Mylne’s Park to the West Mills. Up to about the year 1736, when Andrew Dickson was provost, it was used by the public. No such road now exists. Perhaps Clark’s Entry was at that time substituted for it, a point which could be cleared up by reference to the Town Council records of the time. It is perhaps worth noticing that no houses have been rebuilt in the High Street, with the exception of perhaps five, within almost the last sixty years—verifying the remark of a decent man from the town of Lesmahagow, who, when he came to see Edinburgh, said,

“Dear me, Lesmahagow is a finished town, but this town of Edinburgh is just beginning.” There is not much energy for extension in Haddington.

The shop and house now occupied by Mr Watt, druggist, was rebuilt by Provost Lea (who, with Mrs Lea, occupied it as a draper’s shop), somewhere about 1822. It was very substantially built, and finished by Messrs Dorward and Swinton. The foundation was dug out of a stratum of stiff blue clay, and many large whin-stone boulders were excavated. This clay stratum, as formerly noted, runs along the south side of the High Street, and through the low land to the west, on to the Pencaitland road. In Goodale’s Land (now Mr Thomas Kemp’s) there lived, up to 1822, Convener John Thomson, a well-known mason in his day. He, in conjunction with the late Alexander Wilson, built the distillery in 1816, and did many other large jobs in the burgh. Several times Deacon of the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons, and convener of the trades, he was much engaged in town politics. He was a man of uncommon flow of language, and used many high-flown and “lang-nebbit” words. On one occasion a Haddington lady said to him, “How does it happen, Deacon Thomson, that you are always so correct, and the bailie gets so far on at your meetings?” “Why, madam,” he replied, “the bailie is always so volatile and facetious, whereas my mind is always alienated on other subjects.” “And what kind of meeting had you?” inquired the lady. “Why, madam,” answered the Deacon, “we had a very happy, exhilarating, and jollifactory meeting, although the prima moboley (the provost, Thomas Pringle, senior) was rather lax in his duties.”

The large property of the Bell Inn (Mr Ferme’s), in olden times, was long known as a first-class commercial hotel and posting-house, having extensive and excellent stabling, which are still kept up by Mr Magnus Badger. The “North Briton,” and afterwards the “Union” four-horse coaches, from Edinburgh to Newcastle, changed horses at the Bell, while the old-fashioned two-horse coach, “The Good Intent,” owned by Mr Blackwell, started from and arrived at the Bell. It took about three hours and more sometimes to perform the journey to and from Edinburgh with the same pair of horses. The following advertisement, as to the Musselburgh stage coach, inserted in the Caledonian Mercury, of date 6th April 1765, may be interesting, as showing the difference now in transit from Haddington to the old “Good Intent,” or the Musselburgh stage; the “Good Intent” also, before the Regent Bridge was opened, going by the Watergate, and up the Canongate, and stopping in the High Street, opposite the Tron Church. “The Musselburgh stage coach sets out every lawful day, except Thursday, from William Tweedie’s, west end of Musselburgh, and sets down at John Duncan’s, merchant in Canongate foot. She goes off from Musselburgh to Edinburgh at nine o’clock in the morning, and sets out from Edinburgh at ten; from Musselburgh by five; and from Edinburgh at six evening. The coach is a neat, light machine, will hold with ease six passengers, without boards or stools, and is hung on steel springs. Tickets to be had at the above places at 10d. each, and 4 lb. of baggage allowed every passenger, all above paid for. If passengers incline, he will drive them (although not fond of it), near the Canongate head, upon the company’s paying sixpence.”

A farming club was for long held in the Bell on Fridays, patronised by many of the first farmers in the county. William Badger, when tenant of the Bell Inn Stables, used to tell a good story of an encounter he once had with a sergeant of a dragoon regiment—the Queen’s Bays, it is said. A number of the dragoons’ horses had been put up in the stables on their march through the town. The sergeant, at the nightly inspection, found fault with the accommodation, and spoke angrily to William Badger on the subject, who heard him quietly until his wrath was out, when he said to him, “Sergeant, when you was marching up Birsley Brae, did you take a look of Prestonpans?” “What about Prestonpans. I know nothing about the place,” said the sergeant. “Oh, I was just going to say,” said Badger, “that folk say that your regiment was at the battle of Prestonpans, and ran away as fast as their horses could carry them over Soutra Hill, for fear of the Highlanders.” The sergeant was cowed and went off, muttering strong words of wrath and indignation. Next morning, he was as calm as pussie.

The next house to the Bell Inn, with an outside stair, was long the domicile of James (“Bub”) and Joe Erskine, shoemakers. It was taken down and rebuilt by Mr Ferme, along with his own The site now forms the large and handsome tenement occupied by him J oe Erskine was long one of the “characters of the town.” When he got “fou,” a frequent occurrence, he was a great divert to the boys of the day, and used to recount his pranks while a soldier in his youth. It was ludicrous and laughable to see his sister Meg trying to push him up the outside stair when fou, crying out, “Row, dow, dow, Lord Binney for ever!” Joe often became stubborn and obstinate, and Meg’s efforts were in vain. He used to tell that when he was lying in barracks in London, he was sent along with other soldiers to a theatre, to make a display on the stage, and that he was put up a tree and made to represent a goddess in a wood. On one occasion he gave an itinerant organ-grinder a penny to play to him the “Garb of old Gaul.” The organ man ground away, but Joe said, “Thats not it and he changed tune after tune, until Joe became quite savage, and tried to give him a box on the ear, but Joe was too unsteady to effect his fell purpose. Mr Roughead’s late spacious tenement had been long in his family, and long and well known as a famous seed establishment, built by James Burns, architect, Haddington, in 1806. It cost the late Mr Roughead a deal of money. The next tenement presents a good specimen of architectural taste, its front having fluted columns and capitals. It was once the office of the Bank of Scotland, under the agency of Hay Smith, a well-known Haddingtonian in his day. Up the close is a house, once the residence of Dr John Welsh, father of Jane Welsh, the late wife of Thomas Carlyle. She was the favourite pupil and friend of Edward Irving. Dr Welsh was a skilful and eminent surgeon and physician in his day, and died, much lamented by all classes of the community, in i8y. He was buried within the walls of the Collegiate Church of Haddington. Mrs Carlyle is also interred beside him.

The lodge room of the Haddington St John's Kilwinning Lodge of Freemasons, N0.57, is in a lane at the top of the High Street. The lodge is of some antiquity—having a charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, dated 28th December 1599. It has had several respectable office-bearers, and the walls of the lodge are decorated with the portraits of three of them, viz :— Sir John Sinclair of Stevenson, Bart., painted by Deans in 1777 ; Francis, fifth Lord Elcho, painted by Jameson in 1807 ; and the late William Ferme, Esq., painted by Watson in 1823, which is a very striking likeness. The late Lord Melbourne, in his younger days, when the Hon. William Lamb, was initiated into the craft in St John’s Lodge; also many more of the county aristocracy. A good story is told of old Mr Robin Roughead in his early life, landlord and owner at one time of the Star Hotel. Mr Roughead, although not a brother of the craft, rented a part of the lodge’s property, and had gone up to the room one night to pay his rent, and sat down on the end of a long form or bench—one or two of the brethren being seated on the other end. Mr Roughead was a heavy, stout man, and, on the two brethren rising up, the form “ kilted up,” and Robin fell on the floor. He got hastily up, and in great wrath cried out, “Ye’ll play nane o’ yer de’il’s tricks on me,” and hurried out of the room as fast as he could. Mr Roughead was provost of the burgh in 1799, and long a respected elder of the Established Church in Dr Barclay’s, Mr Scott's, Dr Lorimer’s, and Dr Sibbald’s incumbencies. After a long interval of non-occupancy as a hotel, the Star was reopened and resuscitated by Stephen Murray, and after him John Smith. The Star was long known as a respectable hostelry, but was taken down and rebuilt for a banking-house and solicitor's office.

The Mid Row extends from the late City of Glasgow Bank at the top of the High Street on both sides up to Mr Deans’s property in Court Street. Yarmouth Roads (the old name) is on the south side. It got its name from being difficult to get through in a dark night, more especially when old burghers were a little fresh, and there being no lights in it, except a solitary peeping oil lamp. It is now called Lodge Street. In this narrow street there lived for many years, in a self-contained house, Mr Thomas Fairbairn, sheriff-substitute from 1803 to 1827, under Sheriffs Burnet, Macconochie, and Horne. He was one of the old respectable natives of Haddington, and filled the office with credit during troublesome times. Opposite Mr Fairbairn’s house was a well-known smithy, long occupied by George Young, the principal horse-shoer and farrier at that time in the burgh, and who reared a large family of sons. He was a member of the Corporation of Hammermen, and was a hard-working, respectable man. Above his was the smith's shop of John Millar, also an old Haddington man. His smithy is now part of Mr Deans’s coach-work. A horse-shoe still remains on the door of John Millar’s smithy.

John Briggs, wright, and a member of the Mason and Wrights’ Incorporation, was a well-known man in his day. His workshop was in the court now occupied by Mr Brown. It was the custom long ago for carts to stand on the street during night. A good story is told of John. When going home one dark night from a meeting of his incorporation, he fell over the trams of a cart belonging to James M'Watt, builder. His wrath being kindled, he cried to his wife Nellie to bring him his saw and a lantern. She obeyed his order, and held the light to him until he sawed off the trams of the cart, exclaiming that he would be hanged if James M'Watt’s cart-trams would ever trip him again—Nellie, at the same time, praising his determination and crying out,

“Well done, John Briggs, you are the man that can do it.” Next morning, however, brought further reflections, and John, who was an honourable man, repaired his nights work by putting two new trams to the cart. John was a keen protector of the town's rights. It is recorded of him that when he was one of the company proceeding to ride the town’s marches at Aberlady, he dismounted and pulled some stones out of the wall of the road bounding Caponflat property, exclaiming that the burgh was entitled to a road forty feet wide all the way from Haddington to the port of Aberlady, and taking “yevidence” by word and deed there-anent, that the narrowness of the road at that part was an encroachment on the town’s rights. The old burghers long ago were keen upholders of all the town rights and privileges.

James M‘Watt, a famous builder in his day, lived in the same court as John Briggs. He built the new spire of the townhouse in 1830, from a design by Gillespie Graham, architect, Edinburgh. The spire is an ornament to the town, and a great improvement over the old low Dutch-fashioned steeple of the old Tolbooth.

On the north side of the Mid Row there was an old established inn, known by the name of the Fox, and tenanted long by George Dawson, father of George Dawson, the old respectable trainer of race-horses at Gullane, and of Matthew Dawson, long watchmaker in the High Street, and trades bailie in 1832, and of John Dawson, saddler. The house was long occupied by Mrs Hamilton, under the sign of the Bay Horse. In it are good specimens of the low ceilings, laid with square Norway logs, in fashion one and two hundred years ago. There is also in it an antique oak door, elaborately carved, which is said to have been one of the doors of the old Collegiate Church of Haddington. It is well worth inspection by antiquaries. In this house, after George Dawson and Henry Laidlaw’s time, there lived in a private way for many years, Mr Simon Sawers, a well-known respectable Haddingtonian, as were his forbears before him, who were extensive manufacturers of pewter dishes, at one time an old Scotch trade, long ago rendered extinct by the introduction of Staffordshire, Prestonpans, and other famous china and clay ware. Simon Sawers was quite a character in his day. In his younger days he was a candlemaker. At the time of newspaper clubs, and during the great continental wars and naval actions in which the public took much interest, his back shop was a well-known place where old Haddington worthies met of an evening, and one of the company read the Courant, or Edinburgh Weekly Journal\ or Donaldson’s Edinburgh Advertiser, for the edification of the rest. John Jameson, a well-known excise officer, was often the reader. It is recorded of him, that on one occasion, as he was reading an account of a battle betwixt the Turks and Russians, and called them “The Trunks and the Ruffians,” Simon checked him as reading wrong.

He farmed also the lands of Hermand’s Flat, and kept carts and horses, an extensive traffic going on when the military barracks were in Haddington. An easy, quiet-tempered, contented man, he had many quaint remarks about men and manners, which an old generation may still remember. He had a mortal antipathy to lawyers, and called them, like Deacon Cox of Gorgie, “evil-disposed persons and blackguards.” He said, “there should only be one writer in Haddington, and nobody should employ him, and starve him out.” When one met him and asked him how he did, he used to reply, “Oh, fine man; sober yet.” One day a person came and told him that some boys were stealing his beans in Hermanns Flat. "Oh, man,” said he, "what o’ that; they are a fine crop.” He had a ploughman of the name of Johnnie Harrison, whose wages were in winter eight shillings per week. In the dear years, when bread and meal were extremely high in price, Johnnie applied for a rise in his wages, for he said he could not live, bread being 1s. 6d. the quartern loaf, and meal 5s. per peck. Simon replied, “Oh, man, do ye no ken that a penny bap is still a penny?”

Simon was one of a club that met every Saturday night for forty years and more, and drank a bottle of strong ale each. They stinted themselves to this allowance, except perhaps when some friends joined them, when the allowance was exceeded. There was John Winton (“Earl of Winton”), Andrew Cathie, slater (“Lazarus”), Jack Dawson, saddler (“Foxey”), Willie Cockburn (“Daillie anger’,). It was a great treat to hear the old characters (for they were all characters) relate stories and incidents of former days, especially when their memories were jogged on by such a lively and social conversationist as Mr Alexander Matthew and others. The club was called the Scurvy—how it was called so is not exactly known. Mr Sawers was for a long series of years appointed by the Town Council Baron Bailie of Gladsmuir. He died about the year 1835 at an advanced age. The class of men like Simon Sawers, the Earl of Winton, and others, are now quite extinct in the burgh.

The house and shop next the Tolbooth Wynd in the High Street was long occupied by Andrew Matthew, dealer in chamois leather goods, and maker of buckskin breeches, in which he had an extensive trade, for such breeches with top-boots were much in vogue in old times, and worn not only by huntsmen but by the swell farmers and bucks of the day. This trade is now also extinct in Haddington. Mr Matthew was a bailie of the burgh at one time. The next shop and house, belonging to Mr John Brook, has been a grocer's establishment since 1792 at least, when Mr James Grieve was owner and occupant. It is thus now the oldest grocery establishment in the burgh.

The late John Fife’s large tenement comes next. Long grocer and general merchant, he was well known in town and country, and much esteemed as a kind and good man. He filled the office of bailie several times. He sold almost all articles, from Hollands and brandy (sometimes contraband) to lint and tow, articles now out of use since domestic spinning-wheels have gone out of fashion. He was an elder and member of the late Mr Benoni Black’s congregation, and an able and zealous supporter of it. An anecdote is told in Dean Ramsay’s Reminiscences, which may be inserted here, and which was contributed by the late Mr William Dods:—“John Brown, Burgher minister at Whitburn, a worthy man, in the early part of the century was travelling on a small sheltie, to assist at the summer sacrament at Haddington. Between Musselburgh and Tranent he overtook one of his own people. ‘What are ye daein’ here, Janet, and whaur are ye gaun in this warm weather?’ ‘Deed sir,’ quo' Janet, ‘I’m gaun to Haddington for the occasion, and expeck to hear ye preach this afternoon.’ ‘Very weel, Janet, but where are ye gaun to sleep?’ ‘I dinna ken, sir, but Providence is aye kind, an’ll provide a bed.' On Mr Brown jogged, but kindly thought of his humble follower. Accordingly, after service in the afternoon, before pronouncing the blessing, he said from the pulpit, ‘Whaur’s the auld wifie that followed me frae Whitburn?’ ‘Here I am, sir,’ uttered a shrill voice from a back seat. ‘Aweel,’ said Mr Brown, ‘I have found ye a bed. Ye’re to sleep wi’ Johnnie’s Fife’s lass.’” This anecdote of the good and worthy John Brown of Whitburn exemplifies in the highest degree the kindness of his heart.

An anecdote of Mr Fife may be here told. Two respectable gentlemen of the burgh having had some dispute, engaged in angry strife opposite his shop door, and gripped one another, which Mr Fife observing, he ran out to try and separate them. “Terrible thing,” he said, “to see two respectable gentlemen abusing one another.” In the strife he got his waistcoat tom up, and he cried out, “My waistcoat is a’ torn, a! torn, and it’ll no mend, it’ll no mend,” which passed into an old Haddington saying when anything was destroyed, “It is just like Johnnie Fife’s waistcoat, it’ll no mend.” After Mr Fife's death, somewhere about 1818, his property was purchased by Mr Samuel Smiles, father of our distinguished townsman, Dr Samuel Smiles. It now belongs to Mr Thomas Cowan, printer and bookseller.

The next large property, rebuilt by Mr Peter Martine in 1827-28, long belonged to John Banks, one of the largest Haddington merchants in his day. It was a curious old-fashioned house, with a terrace or balcony above the shop and a railing in front of it. After Mr Banks’s death, the shop was occupied by Neddie Barrie, the principal druggist in the town at the time. Somewhat paralysed, his head went backward and forward like a pendulum. Very concise and particular with his customers asking for medicines for their complaints, he used .to say—“Oh, yes, my dear, I will give you something to quicken your ‘ momentum.'”

Mr Neilson’s large new tenement stands on the site of the old Heather Inn and a shop next Pirie’s Wynd. The inn, although long a ruinous tenement, was well frequented by the hill farmers and their men on Fridays. Hence it got its name. The wynd here, long called Pirie’s Wynd, runs up to Market Street. The house on the east side of it was long occupied by David Pirie, a famous wig-maker, barber, and hair-dresser in his day. He had the reputation of making the best wigs, which were much worn by old gentlemen long ago. The venerable Mr Innes of Gifford, who died in 1821, after having been sixty-one years minister there, wore a grey, three-storied one, made by David Pirie. Mr Innes’s wig, as well as his chariot (a vehicle hung with leather straps, and which swung backward and forward), were long known in town and county as quite original and antique. David Pirie’s house was rebuilt by Mr John Dawson, saddler, about 1822.

The Commercial Inn of the present day was long known by the name of the Britannia, and was kept by Deacon-Convener Thomas Muat, of the Shoemakers Incorporation, a well-known character in his day, and keen politician. The Muats were a numerous race in Haddington at one time, and all shoemakers. Six of the name have been known to have voted at an election of the craft. Now, no shoemaker of the name is in Haddington. As was the fashion in these times, they had all nicknames. There was Bloody Tom, Gullane Point, Diff, Crift, The Babber, The Ricket, &c.

At the head of the Britannia Wynd, in an old tenement now rebuilt and occupied as the Post Office, there lived more than fifty years ago William Cleghorn, by occupation a well-sinker, smoke-doctor, and orra mason-jobber. A good story is told of him and the late Dr John Welsh. The doctor had attended his family when unwell, and in due course rendered his account to the amount of five pounds. Dr Welsh’s kitchen chimney was an inveterate smoker, and had baffled the endeavours of many professionals to cure it. At last William Cleghorn was called in, and soon cured it by taking a stone out of it. “Wull” rendered his account for the job, and charged .£5, 10s. The doctor was amazed at such a charge, and expostulated with Wull about it, as being far too much. Wull said very coolly, “Ye see, doctor, baith you and me are professional men—you a doctor of medicine, and me a doctor and curer of smoke, so I am as well entitled to charge professionally as you are.” The doctor had to square accounts with Wull.

A respected friend has sent the writer a reminiscence of his time, which is inserted here. “I can well remember a classic spot near the old Heather Inn, a spot pregnant with memories of fun and mischief in the days of Rector Gunn, and in the latter days of Hardie and Graham. I allude to a humble tenement, abutting on the Post Office of those times, in the occupancy of George Haimes. If Haimes is still in the land of the living, I hope he will excuse my saying that what with the cares of a young, and at that time rapidly increasing family living in a house at the back of the Heather Inn, with an entrance from the Wynd, and requiring his frequent attention, and also certain visits paid to a house a little further down the High Street, from which he used to come with a suspicious glance, a lengthy stride, and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, his shop did not have that close personal supervision so essential to the success of all establishments like his that combined hair-cutting and shaving with the breeding of canaries and poultry. And what was the consequence? His basin, or tamborine as it was called by the boyhood of the period, was dimpled by many a whack, and not unfrequently have I seen it in the gutter; his three wig blocks at an early date had their noses pared off, and were often ranged on the pavement, and have I not seen bantam cocks squeezed into canary breeding cages, very much to the astonishment of all parties and to the wrath of *Shadey ’? Was it not from that shop door that ‘Shadey' prappit a bit of coal that fell from a cart in the middle of the street, when a maiden, innocent of the prappin, was putting it below her apron to carry to her mother, and when, besides seizing it, Shadey had the audacity to call her ‘a dasht cat'. These stories will no doubt recall to many of your readers the names of more than one old grey-ded man still alive, and of many who have long ago gone to their last home, and most of whom were, I am afraid, engaged in these tricks upon George Haimes. Among those I can personally vouch for were Deanses, Dodses, Youngers, a Logan, Sherriff, Ker, Harley, Gibson, Davidson, &c., and I may add, in the words of Haimes himself, ‘thae Richardsons and Martines wus bad yins tae.’”

The shop on the west side of the Fishmarket Wynd was, about 1790 or 1800, the dispensary and drug shop of Dr Richard Somner, the principal surgeon in Haddington at that time. He was provost in 1789, and afterwards in 1793. His son, Dr George Somner, once laird of Hopes, succeeded him, and assumed Dr John Welsh, father of the late Mrs Carlyle, as partner (a young man at that time from Dumfriesshire), under the firm of Somner & Welsh. He died in 1815, aged fifty-five. After Dr Somner’s death, Dr Welsh assumed the late Dr Howden as his partner, who afterwards had Dr Benjamin Welsh and Dr Fyfe as his partners. So in the able hands of the present Dr Howden and his partner, the business has been a very old established one. Captain Thornton, who was one of the officers of a regiment which was quartered in the barracks, bought the house, and built a new front to it. He had a number of sons who served their king and country as soldiers and sailors. His oldest son, Lieutenant John Thornton, of the 94th Regiment of Foot, deserves here to be specially mentioned as a hero and brave soldier, having fought in all the great battles of the Peninsula under the Duke of Wellington. He was dangerously wounded at the battle of Nivelle. Born at Wooler in 1789, but brought up in Haddington, and educated at the grammar school, he entered the army in 1807, and remained in it until 1817, when, on account of his wounds, he was obliged to retire from active service. During the remainder of his life, he resided at Nivelle Cottage, Liberton, much respected. He died in 1870, and was buried in Liberton churchyard, where a handsome tombstone, with an inscription, keeps his name in remembrance. John Muat (“ King of Prussia”) for many years afterwards occupied the house and shop as grocer and spirit dealer. Steele’s Edinburgh and Dunbar coaches started from his door alternately with Bailie Neill’s for a long period, until the opening of the North British Railway finished them in 1845. John Muat’s back-shop was a good specimen of what these places were before the days of the Forbes Mackenzie Act, and the alteration of grocers’ and spirit-dealers’ licenses became law. It is perhaps singular to note that three pair of “Billies,” old Haddington folk, all very strong, stalwart men, and well known, used to indulge in their Friday night’s “choppins’, there, but such things are now all past and gone.

The shop and house on the east side of the Fish-market Wynd belonged to and were occupied for over fifty-three years by Mr James Forrest, saddler, as worthy and respectable a man as ever lived in the burgh. His forbears were tenants in the farm of West Fenton from 1650 to 1745, and afterwards at Stevenson Mains. He was an elder and session-clerk of the Established Church for fifty years. He died in 1822, aged seventy-nine, much regretted by all who knew him.

A handsome range of houses, from the late Bailie Neill’s house to the late Mr George Harley’s property, was designed and built by James Bum, architect in Haddington, from 1803 to 1807. The houses are built of stone which came from Amisfield Mains or the Abbey quarry, a sort of grey porphyry, which is not now much used.

The old-established bookselling shop and printing establishment of the late Bailie George Neill, now carried on by his successors, Messrs Neill & Son, comes next in the row. His father, Archibald Neill, was long in the same line of business. The bailie’s shop was for a long period a well-known rendezvous for loungers, as mostly all bookseller's shops are, both in town and country. He was no ordinary man in his day. Of affable temper, full of wit and humour, and great flow of conversational powers, a chat alongside his counter, among the old worthies and respectable gentlemen of both town and country, was always an agreeable one. He was a learned antiquary, and was the owner of a great collection of curious articles—coins, pictures, books, &c. Having a wonderful memory, he was a first-rate narrator of old burgh stories and events. He was publisher, along with his son, Mr Adam Neill, of the East Lothian Register (after James Miller gave it up), and enriched it yearly with many curious extracts from the burgh records from the fifteenth century downwards, which are extremely interesting. The Register was always well got up, as it is yet, and used to be frontispieced with fine wood engravings of local buildings and views from the pencil of Adam Neill. Precisely at twelve o'clock, Rector Graham used to dismiss his school by calling out, “Boys, you may go,” and marched up to Neill's shop to hear the news of the day. In those days newspapers were scarce and dear. The bailie was known among his cronies, of whom not one is now left, by the name of the “Commodore,” or, for the sake of shortness, the “Dore,” from the following adventure, which, as it shows the adventurous spirit and “smeddum” of Haddington youths of these days, may be noted. A number of young fellows, among whom, besides George Neill, were John and William Haldane, Peter Martine, Benjie Hunter, John Davie (“Lettie”), and others, hired a boat at Prestonpans, and rowed across to Kirkcaldy, and chose Neill to be “ Commodore.” Bent on a frolic, they sent the town drummer through the lang town of Kirkcaldy to announce that at the harbour mouth at three o'clock a celebrated diver and swimmer (Lettie) would exhibit his powers in long dives and fast swimming, and high and lofty vaulting from a boat. A great crowd collected, which, as the performance was long in commencing, got angry, and threatened violent measures against the “ Dore’s " crew for having gulled them. The crowd having begun to stone them, they thought it time to shove off, when a boat filled with the wrathful Kirkcaldians gave chase, but which they escaped by hard pulling. After having been all night at sea in a fog, they landed at Prestonpans next morning “sair worn out and forfeuchin.”

Bailie Neill, in his judicial capacity (he was a bailie several times), was always for peace in cases brought before him. An anecdote is told that when a case betwixt angry disputants was before him to adjudicate on, he said, “ Now, friends, see and agree. I advise you to halve the difference betwixt you.” His advice was taken, and the litigants parted friends. The bailie was extremely popular among the schoolboys of the day when anything particular was going on in the town, and they wished a holiday. They stuck up for “ the play,” and marched up in a body to the bailie's shop, who always gave them a line to the master to get the play, on obtaining which they would run down to the school with flying colours. Bailie Neill was a happy man at magistrates’ convivial'meetings, etc., and used to sing in great style the following old song about the Highland-man and the Turnpike Road Act for Scotland, which was passed in 1769 :—

Scotland be tum’t a Ningland now,
Me never saw te like, man,
They make a lang road on te crund,
And ca’ him Tuminspike, man.
And vow, she pe a ponny road,
Like London corn-rigs, man,
Where twa carts may gang on her,
And no preak ither’s legs, man.
They scharge a penny for ilka horse,
In troth shell no pe sheaper,
For nought put gaen upo' the crund,
And they gie me a paper.
But I’ll awa to the Hieland hills,
Where te’il a ane dare turn her,
And no come near her Turninspike,
Unless it pe to purn her.

The much-respected name of George Banks, provost in 1805, comes next. He was for a long period one of the principal seed, iron, and wine merchants in the town. He was agent for the East Lothian Bank, which existed from 1810 to 1822, when it was dissolved in consequence of the absconding of Borthwick, the cashier, from the head office at Dunbar, with the most of the funds.

Next Mr Banks' house was the large tenement of Robert Hislop, senior and junior, coppersmiths, who at one time had an extensive trade in copper and tin utensils. Bailie John Hislop's grocery was next. The family is now extinct. Bailie Hislop had almost a daily visitor at his shop in the person of Mr James Howden, long tenant of the farm of East Fortune. He was an odd character, not particularly gifted with powers of rational conversation. He frequently remarked to the bailie—“John, strong thing fire, but John, water is stronger.” “John, an arch is a strong thing,” and such like commonplace remarks. Mr Howden was a crack whist-player, and regularly attended the meetings of the Oronock Whist Club. He was easily imposed on and gulled by cleverer people than himself. A story is told of him which maybe noted here. A late Haddington surgeon one day told him, on his asking for news, that Mr Hugh Fraser, his friend, had got a grand government appointment—viz., a captaincy in the Horse Marines. He said he was glad for Hughie’s sake, but was very sorry that they would lose him at a “handie.” He marched off to congratulate Mr Fraser on his appointment, and was laughed at heartily for his gullibility and want of “gumption.”

The Oronock Whist Club was an old established one, and numbered among its members most of the older respectable folk who were fond of a “handie.” The meetings were always held in the George Inn, and a bit of supper always ended the night’s enjoyment of friendly social intercourse. It is now quite extinct, owing to the death of most of the members. Mr John Henderson, of Byres, is believed to be one of the last presidents living. The origin of the Oronock Whist Club is the following : Mr Stuart Donaldson, brother of Messrs George and Alexander Donaldson, late town-clerks of Haddington, had come home from South America, and brought home with him some Orinoco tobacco of fine quality. Supping one night in Provost Martinet house, along with some friends, among whom was Rector Graham, his brother George Donaldson, at that time town-clerk and others, he presented the tobacco, and the company having partaken of the fragrant weed, they resolved to form a whist club, and called it the Oronock. The club existed from 1806 to a late date. A perusal of its minutes, if such still exist, would be very amusing and interesting.

A man of the name of. George Anderson, who lived in an old house before Mr Hislop’s new tenement was built, was a character in his day. He went by the name of “Geordie Jute,” and kept an eating-house which was much frequented on Fridays by soldiers. He was a very heavy, fat man, weighing upwards of twenty stones. He so disliked warm weather, which made him perspire copiously, that he used to say he would not give a day of winter for two of summer. It came to be a remark by Haddingtonians that when a very warm, sunny day occurred, it was one of “ Geordie Jute’s days.” He was often played upon and gulled by his neighbours. One of them told him one day that he should have plenty of “ kail and flesh” ready, for a regiment of soldiers called the “ Pompadoors ” was expected to march into the town, and they would need a deal of victuals. George set to, and prepared plenty of broth, &c.; but the Pompadoors did not arrive that day. He was told that they had been detained on their march, but would certainly appear in a day or two. Such tricks on simple-minded characters, although not strictly correct, were the fashion of these days.

Next Hislop’s tenement, now that of Mr Dunlop, saddler, was an old property which ran back to Kilpair Street. It was long owned and occupied by Andrew Hunter, baxter and brewer. Andrew was a Haddington man, and died in 1807 at the age of eighty-five. Kind and active, he had an extensive trade as well as a wide acquaintance in town and country. His quaint old-fashioned remarks were much relished both by friends and customers. The frailties of old age in his latter days, however, impaired his intellect a good deal. On neighbours and acquaintances going to his shop to ask for him, when sitting at the fireside, his usual remark was, alike in summer and winter—“This is sair hairst weather, my dawtie.” One of his sons had emigrated to Nova Scotia, and on any one asking him where he had gone to, he always said, “Oh, he's in Oshie Scoshie;” whereupon he was generally reminded by Mrs Hunter—“Now, Andrew, did I no tell ye it's no Oshie Scoshie, but Noshie Scoshie," and then the two old folk usually had a wrangle over the matter. It was alleged that ill-contrived young people, such as Wull Haldane, &c., liked to set up the old folk against each other. Another son, Benjie, a well-known character, was his brewer, and kept customers supplied with “tippeny" and “groatum,” which were the standard brewers' drinks in those days. “Tippeny,” so called from being sold at twopence the pint, was often drunk with whisky, which, with a little oatmeal mixed in a tankard, was called a “pauper,” a drink now quite extinct. “Groatum,” so called from being sold at a groat per pint, was heavy and sweet, and was in general use.

After Andrew Hunter's death, his son William rebuilt the premises, and carried on the business of baker. William Hunter all his life was a truly worthy man, benevolent and happy in spirit and disposition, and of strict Christian principle; without the least sectarianism, he sought to advance every good object, both by his counsel and writings. His name was generally found in the committee lists of Bible and missionary societies of the town. For many years he took a deep interest in the abolition of negro slavery, and many a petition he was the means of getting sent from Haddington to Parliament against the system. He lived long enough to see his fondest wishes in this respect realised. He undertook for many years the management of the Haddington Savings-Bank. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than, at the yearly balance, to invite some friends to meet in his snug sideroom to audit the accounts, and to give them, after their work was done, a nice supper of mutton pies, &c., and a social glass of toddy. The late Mr Alex. Donaldson, town-clerk, Mr William Ferme, Mr Hugh Fraser, and others, were almost yearly privileged to be among this company. Mr Donaldson used to remark that it was indeed a “ joyous and pie-ous feast/’ ’ Mr Hunter used to tell a good story regarding a visit to his friends in London, in company with his old friend Mr Patrick Begbie, farmer, Caimdinnes. He had taken with him a sum of money, collected by the Haddington Missionary Society in aid of the funds of the London Missionary Society. Going one day with his friend, Mr Begbie, to the office, and wishing much to see their rich and extensive museum of articles, collected and sent home by the Society's missionaries from the Islands of the South Sea, &c., he was refused admittance, being past the hour of shutting. On telling his name and place of abode, however, and saying if he gave them some “siller” they would perhaps let him and his friend in, the manager at once said—“Mr Hunter, the Society has known your name too well for years, and that also of other kind Haddington friends, not to welcome you in London, and a sight of our museum is heartily at your service, and we are most happy to see you.” He used often to tell of the wonders he saw in the London Missionary Society’s Museum. Mr Hunter was a member of the Rev. John Brown's congregation, and long an elder to his successor, the Rev. Benoni Black. He kept for many years a Sabbath-school in connection with that church. Many young men and women owed their first impressions of religious things to his teaching, of the effect of which some even yet living can testify. He was a schoolfellow and contemporary of the worthy John Brown of Whitburn, and his excellent brother, Ebenezer Brown of Inverkeithing, with both of whom he kept up a friendly intercourse and correspondence. Mr Hunter was elected a Bailie at the first election after the Municipal Burghs Bill passed in 1833, his old friend Samuel Brown being Provost at the same time. He died in 1835, universally regretted, and was buried in the west end of Haddington Churchyard, where a tombstone, with inscription, preserves his memory, along with those of his excellent and worthy wife, Agnes Martine, and their son, Andrew, who died a young man of great promise. This old family of Hunters is now extinct in Haddington, and their property was acquired some years ago by Mr Thomas Smith, grocer.

The property which comes next long belonged to Mr George Harley, tinsmith, a well-known Haddington man. He was the first child baptised by Dr George Barclay, after he was ordained second minister of Haddington in 1766, and was named after him. As a mark of respect for Dr Barclay, Mr Harley put up a new tombstone to the doctor's memory at the west end of the churchyard, and built up the old one in his own garden wall. His two brothers, Peter and Ban-natyne, were also well-known men in their day. Peter was bred a stocking-weaver, at which he was said to have been very proficient He was long a merchant councillor under the old system, and was known as one of the “Buckets." He was a keen freemason, and old frequenters of the lodge will still recollect his song, which ended in the words, “And a hunting we will go, go, go.” Peter had, however, neither ear nor taste for music. Bannatyne walked along the East Port road, along with another old sailor, Robert Beale, as far as the Abbey Toll, every day for upwards of thirty years. The stocking-weaving trade seems to have been a large one in Haddington at one time, when ladies wore long silk stockings, which were costly and fashionable. There were many looms always engaged in their manufacture. In connection with the weaving of silk stockings in these days, a good story is told of the late George Rennie, Esq., of Phantassie, one day saying to Provost Haldane, one of the best makers in the town— “Haldane, I am told you measure ladies’ legs for silk stockings; tell me how you measure them.” Mr Haldane replied—“ Mr Rennie, I have just been measuring Mrs Rennie for a pair, and she has as fine shaped a leg as I ever measured. You can just ask her.” In Harley’s property, on the west side, the saddlery establishment of Mr Ainslie—afterwards Ainslie and Dunlop—stood for many years. In the top flat there lived, now many years ago, Miss Peggy Craig, an old maiden lady of good family, and her relative, Lieutenant William Roughead. Miss Peggy was one of the old school, and as she was a great favourite, she was a “ standing dish ” at all the first-class ladies' tea-parties in the town. She had a wonderful memory for all old events, and when she was set on her “pins,” she delighted all youngsters with her old stories. She had a great dislike to "newfangledism ” and upstarts, and kept up old ways in dress and manners. It was said she wore the same silk dress for fifty years, and used to say that it had been twenty times in the fashion. She did not like jelly, jam, or honey at tea ; and youngsters, who knew her dislike to these sweets, rather pressed her sometimes to take them, when she said—“ No, my dears, I never take them, as they spoil the taste of the bread and butter and tea.” She had a great dislike also to girdle bread. She died an old woman, and her acquaintances missed her much, which is saying and implying a good deal. Opposite Mr Harley's property were the old town weights, still marked by causeway stones.

The George Hotel was always the principal inn of the burgh—at least, since its rival, the Blue Bell, was given up. The George has had various tenants in its day. The names of Sang, Marjoribanks, Blackwell, and McDonald will still be remembered by old residenters; as also the names of former waiters—Robert Stewart (who was over thirty years in the house), James M'Donald James Dickson, and others. In the old days of posting and coaches (Haddington being the first stage from Edinburgh to London, and the last to Edinburgh), many a sensation and bustle occurred, when a distinguished party drove up to the door of the George, with their carriage and four, to change horses. On these occasions, the post-boys, in buckskins and livery jackets, with their assistants, were all activity, getting the horses yoked and started, and “ mine host ” blandly seeing the carriage off. Such turn-outs are now seldom seen, and the good old days of “posters” and mail-coaches are gone. A good story is told of the Marquis of Granby once arriving with his carriage and four at the George on a warm day—“areal Geordie Jute day”— when the street-sweeper, Wull Bertram, who was a bit of a Radical and Republican, was busy making a cloud of dust rise from his besom. The town-officer told Wull to desist, as the Marquis of Granby was there, but Wull continued his work, and said—“What care I for the Marquis of Granby; he is nothing else but a greasy-faced Englishman.” Wull was a bit of a character. A person once told him that the earth went round every day, which he stoutly denied. “Will ye tell me,” said he, “that Burley's Walls go round—are they not always in the same place?” The George has been the scene of many a social meeting—both political and domestic. In former years, the yearly magistrates', conveners', and incorporation dinners were generally held there, and conducted in a style of conviviality not now dreamt of. Long ago, a small public-house, called the Bee-hive, existed at the bottom of the present Brown Street, and adjoining the George, which was well frequented during the time of the barracks.

Round the corner from the George Inn, and in the narrower part of the High Street, was the smithy of Tammie Cowan, whose nickname was “Downright.” The smithy was pulled down, and the large room of the George Inn, built in 1822, by Mr Blackwell, then proprietor of the George, on its site. The Cowans had been for several generations smiths in Haddington, and had all been members of the Hammermen Corporation. A good story has been handed down about old “ Downright.” During the heat of a faction and contested election between the Elcho and Lauderdale parties, Tammie and some other deacons were taken to Hatton, the then seat of the Earl of Lauderdale in Mid-Lothian, and entertained in grand style for some days. It is said they got port wine to their porridge, and full tumblers to their dinner. Tammie did not much relish the wine, and said it was very fairish drink, but rather deadish and flat, which remark passed into an old Haddington saying in the clubs, &c., that when the ale was flat, and not taken with the bottle, it was like “ Downright’s ” drink, rather deadish.

A curious incident happened in the town of Irvine, in 1839, during the days of the Eglinton Tournament. A party of Haddingtonians had gone there to see the pageant, among whom were Mr A. Matthew, Mr W. Dods, Mr Daniel Wilkie, &c. While walking along, they were astonished to hear a man cry—“ Haddington yet! Haddington yet!” This person turned out to be young Tammie, a son of old “Downright’s” who had located himself in the district, and who knew all the Haddington party well. Young Tammie was well entertained by his acquaintances for old friendship’s sake. The old family of Cowan (the smiths) are now nearly extinct in Haddington.

The shop now occupied by Mr John Mather, druggist, and belonging to the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons, was, as far back as 1765, occupied by Mr John Crombie, an extensive ironmonger in his day. On the 22d December 1773, a fatal accident, from the explosion of gunpowder, occurred in the shop. An apprentice lad was killed on the spot, and a servant-girl was much injured. Mr Crombie himself, with the contents of the shop, were blown up as far as the Cross, and while the goods were much damaged or destroyed, Mr Crombie fortunately escaped with some bruises! Mr Crombie was insured in the now old-established Sun Fire Insurance Company, London, the directors of which, to mark their respect for him, in making the most of the damaged goods for the benefit of the company, presented him with a silver tea-service, with the sun in full splendour engraved on the articles, and a suitable inscription. This silver tea-service was left by Mr Crombie to his niece, Mrs Patterson, mother of the late Rev. John Brown Patterson. The writer has often partaken of tea made in the “Sun’s” office teapot. The room above the shop, which was called “the Hall” of the Wrights and Masons’ Incorporation, was also much damaged by the explosion, which the insurance office liberally repaired, as it belonged to a charity fund; which drew forth a letter of thanks from what was at that time a strong incorporation, the members numbering forty or fifty. The only members of the incorporation remaining at the present time are Mr Andrew Dickson and R. W. Smiles.

From “Downright’s” smithy to Hardgate Street, were several old tenements, which are now taken down. In one of these, Adam Cockbum had his watch and clock shop, and was succeeded in it by John Pinkerton (whose nickname was “Battle of Pinkie”), in the same line of business.

James Newton (called “the Codder”) kept a small victual and fish shop in this locality. When the peace came in 1814, and provisions became cheaper, Jamie put the following notice in his window :—

No more fighting, no more killing;
Big loaves a groat, meal a shilling.

Robert Hay, a most respectable old man, owned and occupied the corner house, which was an old “Temple” tenement. It was a curious old building, with many vaults in it. In the wall of the east end, was a large stone, with the words “Gloria Dei” cut on it, no doubt a relic of the Knights Templar of St John. Robert Hay sold meal, pot-barley, and flour. Samuelston meal at that time was all the rage, and was called "Samuelston Sugar.” It was made by John Begbie and other millers, and manufactured at Samuelston.

In the George Inn Wynd (now called Brown Street), at the entry to Burley’s Walls, there was a famous tobacconist's shop, kept for many years by John Bun-tim, or Blounthorn, as he was commonly called. His old sign was a curiosity, showing the painted figure of a Kentucky negro, cutting growing tobacco, together with the protruding head of a Turk, which was often pelted by the boys of the day. Blounthorn had a great sale for his tobacco and black rappee snuff, which was thought superior to others. He was a curious character, very fond of keeping and training dogs to all sorts of tricks. He had three generations all of the same breed, and called them all “Bobbie.” His last one was well known to all the boys. It went by the name of "Scounday Bobbie,” and wherever it was seen, its master was sure not to be far away. Blounthorn got his portrait once drawn by Painter Brookes, but “Bobbie” did not like the picture, and tore it all to pieces.

Blounthorn had a .very old large family Bible, with numerous engravings of Scripture subjects in it, of which he was very proud. He brought it one morning into Mr Hunter’s bakehouse to show it to the apprentices, and in turning over the leaves of it a five-pound note of an old date was found, which had been there for a great many years—this sure evidence that John had not been a great reader of the Scriptures being made the most of by his cronies. He was, indeed, fonder of the public-house than the kirk. In his later days he got quite “dotrified,” and died somewhere about 1823. Old Willie Coalstoun (whose nickname was “Rowland Kiddies”) occupied the same shop, also as a tobacconist, after Blounthorn’s death, for some years. At convivial meetings he used to sing “Brave Haddington for me,” an original song. He was a respectable man, and died at Gifford at a very old age. Opposite Bloun-thorn’s shop, and at the corner of Kilpair Street, there lived for many years David Beale, shoemaker, an old Haddington man, whose nickname was the “Bit Stick.” A famous contest betwixt him and Alexander Profit for the office of deacon of shoemakers took place in 1806, which ended in a Court of Session lawsuit—no fewer than thirty-five members of the incorporation voting at the election. The Court of Session decided in David Beale’s favour, and he was made deacon. At that time burgh politics ran very high. James Donaldson is now the only member living of this once strong incorporation, the money box of which has been long “ toom,” only some old papers and a bad shilling in it.

In Kilpair Street there existed for many years the Lamb Inn, kept by John Lamb, who had been butler to Lord Elcho of that time, at Beanston and Amisfield.

John Lamb was a most respectable man, and his house was much patronised by farmers on Fridays, and by the burgh authorities of the day. His suppers and viands were reckoned first-rate, and he had therefore a great trade. A Council supper, famous in days of yore, once took place in the Lamb Inn, when, to gratify the appetite of one who got the name “Justice Guttle,” a pair of roasted solan geese, besides other dainties, appeared on the table, and were heartily partaken off, with no doubt a full, firm dram of the best aqua afterwards. A good story has been handed down about some ale which Mr Lamb had got from one Franks, at that time a small brewer, and latterly gamekeeper at Amisfield. Franks thought so much of the strength and entireness of his ale that he declared no one should run it in Haddington except John Lamb. A cask had been bottled, and in a short time the ale had got so brisk, quite unlike Downright’s, that it broke all the bottles and flooded the floors. “The Dyer” (Lettie) and Blounthorn, boon companions, had heard of the circumstance, and being in the inn one day, they asked Mrs Lamb if she ran any of Franks’ ale. She replied—“Rin his ale! I assure it ran, and it ran, and ran, and destroyed all the house!” In the dyer’s waggish way, Franks’ “running ale” was not long in being made a standing joke. The house, long owned by Provost Banks, has now been converted into the Oddfellows’ Hall, for which purpose it was well adapted.

In part of the Lamb Inn there lived for many years after it was given up, James M‘Cullagh—a man, whose memory as a good man, and a Christian without guile or hypocrisy, deserves to be kept in remembrance.

Born near Armagh, in Ireland, he came to Haddington with his regiment, the Fourth Dragoons, or the Royal Irish, in which he was a sergeant, during the time it lay in Haddington barracks, somewhere about 1806. Of the Wesleyan Methodist persuasion, and gifted with natural abilities, he used to preach to the soldiers of the barracks and others, with his red coat on. While with his regiment in Haddington he married Miss Ann Pringle, sister of the late Bailie Andrew Pringle, and sometime afterwards, when he left his regiment, he settled in Haddington. He was the means of establishing a Methodist congregation in Haddington, and in building a chapel in Sidegate Street, which for many years was numerously attended. During the incumbency of the Drs M'Callum, senior and junior, both superior preachers, and others, Methodism was extremely popular, and crowds filled the chapel. James M'Cullagh very frequently preached to the body, and kept it together for many years, but at last, owing to deaths and removals, it dwindled away, and the chapel was given up. It was taken down some years ago. He frequently rose early on a Sunday morning, walked to Dunbar, and preached twice to the congregation of Methodists there, when the minister was absent, and walked home again at night. He also used to go to Garvald, Stenton, &c., and address the villagers there. His zeal for doing good was great. Mr M'Cullagh was much esteemed by the people of Haddington, and his memory is held in respect by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him. The late Dr Cook enjoyed his acquaintance, and acknowledged him as a “brother of the cloth.” He died in the eightieth year of his age, and was buried in Haddington churchyard, where also Mrs M'Cullagh, who died in the ninetieth year of her age, was interred.

It is a matter of tradition that a narrow vennel ran from the George Inn Wynd betwixt the houses of the High Street and Market Street to the Tolbooth, traces of which are yet observable. This passage was probably connected in old times with Burley’s Walls and the Gowl Close, for the conveyance of prisoners to the Tolbooth.


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