262 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. Mackenzie, and who sat for nearly half a century on the Bench under the title of Lord Strichen. From him it derived its present name of Strichen’s Close, and there is little probability now that any of his plebeian successors will rob it of the title. The front tenement, which extends between Strichen’s Close and Blackfriars’ Wynd, presents no features of attraction as it now stands. It is a plain, modern land, re-erected after the destruction of its predecessor in one of the alarming fires of the memorable year 1824, and constructed with a view to the humbler requisites of its modern tenants ; but the old building that occupied its site was a handsome stone fabric of loftier proportions than its plebeian successor, and formed even within the present century the residence of people of rank. The most interesting among its later occupants was Lady Lovat, the relict of the celebrated Simon, Lord Lovat, who was beheaded on Tower Hill in 1747 ; in consequence of which it was generally known as Lady Lovat’s Land. It possesses, however, more valuable associations than this, its ancient title-deeds naming as the original proprietor, Walter Chepman, the earliest Scottish printer, who introduced the printingpress into Scotland in the year 1507, under the munificent auspices of James IT. To the press of Walter Chepman, the admirers of our early national literature still turn, not without hope that additions may yet be made, by further discovery of its invaluable fragments, to the writings of those great men who adorned the Augustan age of Scotland. The building, however, which perished in the conflagration of 1824, did not appear to be of an earlier date than the period of the Revolution ; soon after which many of the substantial stone tenements of the Old Town were erected. The more ancient edifice seems to have been one of the picturesque timber-fronted erections of the reign of James IT., and formed the subject of special privileges granted by that monarch to his valued servitor. In the Registers of the Privy Seal (iv. 173), there is preserved the following royal licence, dated at Edinburgh, February 5, 1510 :-‘‘ A licence maid to Walter Chepman,.burges of Edinburgh, to haif staris towart the Hie Strete and calsay, with bak staris and turngres in the Frer Wynd, or on the forgait, of sic breid and lenth as he sal1 think expedient for entre and asiamentis to his land and tenement; and to flit the pend of the said Frer Wynd, for making of neidful asiaments in the sammyn ; and als to big and haif ane wolt vnder the calsay, befor the for front of the said tenement, of sic breid as he thinkis expedient; with ane penteis vnder the greissis of his for star,” &c. The whole grant is a curious sample of the arbitrary manner in which private interests and the general convenience of the citizens were sacrificed to the wishes of the royal favourite. The printing house of Chepman & Millar was in the 8outh gait, or Cowgate’ of Edinburgh, as appears from the imprint on the rare edition of ‘‘ The Knightly Tale of Golagros and Gawane,” and others of the earliest issues from their press in the year 1508 ; and it no doubt was the same tenement with which, in 1528, Chepman endowed an altar in the chapel of the Holy Rood, in the lower churchyard of St Giles. We would infer, however, from the nature of the royal grant, that the ancient building at the Nether Bow was the residence of Walter Chepman, who was a 1 The names of streets so common in Scotland, formed with the adjunct gate, rarely if ever refer to a gate or part, according to the modern acceptation of the word ; but to gait or street, as the King’s hie gait, or, aa here, the south gait, meaning the south street The Water Gate, which is the only instance of the ancient me of the ward in Edinburgh, is invariably written yett in early notices of it.
THE HIGH STREET AND NETHER BOW. 263 citizen of wealth and importance, occupying a high office, probably of an ecclesiastical character, in the royal household, and in his titles is styled Wilter Chepman de Everland.‘ A broad archway, which leads through the modern successor of the old typographer’s fore tenement, gives entrance to Blackfriars’ Wynd, the largest, and undoubtedly the most important, of all the ancient closes of Edinburgh. It derives its name from having formed the approach to the monastery of the Dominicans, or Black Friars, founded by Alexander 11. in 1230, which etood on the site of the Old High School. This royal foundation, which formed for a time the residence of its founder, received from him, among other endowments, a gdt of the whole ground now occupied by the wpd to erect houses thereon. For fully five centuries this ancient alley may be said to have formed one of the most aristocratic districts of the Scottish capital; and it continued even after the Reformation to be the chosen place of residence of some of the chief Scottish ecclesiastics. It possessed, till a few years since, much of the fine antique picturesqueness that anciently pertained to it, as will be seen in the accompanying view, drawn in 1837 ; but since then a rapid demolition of its decaying tenements has taken place ; and although it still retains some exceedingly interesting relics of the past, the general aspect of the €‘reading Friar$ Vennel has given place to rude and tasteless modern erections, or to ruinous desolation.!’ We have already noticed, in the introductory sketch, several of the most memorable incidents of which this ancient alley has been the scene. There some of the keenest struggles of the rival factions took place during the famous contest known as ‘‘ Cleanse the Causeway ; ” down its straitened thoroughfare the victorious adherents of the Earl of Angus rushed to assault the palace of the Archbishop of Glasgow at the foot of the wynd, and from thence to wreak their rengeance on his person in the neighbouring church of the .Black Friars, whither he fled for shelter. In the reign of James VI., in 1588, it was the arena of a similar contest between the retainers of the Earl of Bothwell and Sir William Stewart, when the latter was slain there by the sword of his rival. The next remarkable incident that occurred was in 1668, when Sharpe, Archbishop of St Andrews, was seated in his coach at the head of Blackfriars’ Wynd, waiting for the Bishop of Orkney, whose residence would appear from this to have been in the wynd. Just as the Bishop was approaching the vehicle, Mitchell, the fanatic assassin already described,’ and an intimate acquaintance of the no less notorious Major Weir,’ aimed a pistol at the Primate, the contents of which missed him, but dangerously wounded the Bishop of Orkney, who at the moment was stepping into the coach. Since then the old alley has quietly progressed in its declining fortunes to a state of desertion and ruin. On the west side, near the head of the wynd, a decorated lintel bore the inscription and device represented in the accompanying woodcut, with the date 1564. The ground floor of this building consisted of one very large apartment, with a massive stone pillar in the centre, which formed the place of worship to which the adherents of the covenanted kirk retreated on the settlement of ecclesiastical affairs at the Revolution ; and it is described, l It may be remarked here that Chepman’s spouse, Agnea Coburn, is mentioned in the same titles, showing that he waa not bound by ecclesiastical vows of celibacy. While the west side of Blackfriars’ Wynd still stands, the east, with several closes adjacent, a description of which is given in subsequent pages of this chapter, has been taken down, in connection with plana for the improvement of the city. a Ante, p. 101. ‘ RavaiUac Redivivus, Lond. 1678, p. 12.