Friday, 30 December 2016

Some excellent info here.

The mutineers then went to the Canongate prison, broke it open to release some soldiers held there for riotous behaviour, and dispersed after a harmless exchange of gunfire. When the remaining troops assembled on Leith Links to embark, the officers again refused to pay them anything until they were on board. So the majority - about 500 of them - marched to the top of Arthur's Seat and stayed there, being supplied with food and drink for two days by the people of the town, many of them Highlanders like the troops. They came down to embark after getting complete agreement to their demands: a full pardon for the mutiny, payment of all arrears, an undertaking that they would never be sent to the East Indies, and their officers subjected to an immediate court of inquiry under officers of other regiments with any soldier permitted to testify. There were only a few minor wounds in the episode and one soldier was killed falling off Arthur's Seat in the dark. The year 1778 had seen the first big strike recorded in Edinburgh's history, a bitter confrontation between the journeymen stonemasons and their employers for higher wages, with workers from many other trades contributing to the strike fund. Memories of this must have been in the minds of the many people of the city who helped the MacRaes against their officers.

Edinburgh saw more politically conscious movements in the 1790s, inspired sucessively by the French Revolution, Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man, and the example of the United Irishmen

Robert Watt of the Friends of the People was executed for treason in 1794, and the cavalry volunteers of the East Lothian gentry suppressed protests against conscription in Tranent in 1797 by arbitrary massacre. The war years from the mid-1790s on were a time of silence, when protest was treason and, apart from meal riots, no dissent was audibly voiced. As Lord Cockburn put it:
I doubt if there was a public meeting held in Edinburgh between the year 1795 and 1820.

 Paranoia was whipped up to the point where in 1798 an Edinburgh woman believed to sympathize with the French revolutionaries, Eliza Fletcher, was accused of setting up a toy guillotine in her garden and practicing on chickens with it.

 Edinburgh's relief work projects, like the Radical Road and the landscaping of Bruntsfield Links, seem to have quieted the worst of the popular anger, which in Nottingham and Derby led to an abortive armed revolt.

The Scotsman reported a different Tory anxiety about the Reform Bill in 1832:
ONE HONEST TORY. - A day or two before the news arrived in Edinburgh of the fate of the reform bill in the House of Lords, a respectable lady called upon her baker in --- street, and inquired for her account. The Master of the Rolls replied "there was no hurry, he would wait till the usual time of payment." She insisted, telling him "that if the bill did not pass she was afraid that all the Tories would be killed, and she wished to have her accounts all settled before-hand".
The Reform Act was marked by a parade to Leith Links, with a rally begun by a mass choir singing God Save the King and ending with Scots Wha Hae, then the unoffical national anthem of Scotland, as Flower of Scotland is today. The reformers were well aware of how far they had to go, not least in extending the reforms to the whole world. The parade banner of the Edinburgh Shopmen included these internationalist lines:
In Poland's blood-reflecting sky
The Sun of Liberty has set,
But THOU shall rise in strength on high
Above her armies yet.
 The most serious incidents involved the boys of the Royal High School in the late 16th century. A common form of protest by the pupils of British schools at the time, often against refusal of holidays, was "barring-out", locking the teachers and governors out of the school. The first of these at the Royal High was in 1580, with nine pupils imprisoned for rioting. Another followed in 1587, and then another in 1595 when a cancelled holiday led to an armed siege with swords, guns and axes. While one of the city magistrates was battering the door in with a joist, a pupil blew his brains out with a pistol. And, it seems, got away with it; his father was the Chancellor of Caithness, after all. He next appears in the historical record as a minor diplomat.

One of the few conflicts involving the University was in January 1838; the students were hurling snowballs out of the college across the street, and broke some windows. A few were arrested after a fight with a mob of townspeople. The next day the conflict intensified, and the students armed themselves with sticks. This time the police ("Charlies" in the slang of the time) claimed to be too exhausted and below strength to deal with it as a result of guarding the court at the mass trial of the Glasgow cotton-spinners, called in the army, and had the Riot Act read. The 79th Regiment attempted to invade the college. The subsequent trial ruled that the invasion was unlawful since there was no rioting still going on when they arrived, and the students were cleared.

The Chartists began organizing in and around Edinburgh in 1838. Most of the early agitators were from England, with miners from Northumberland spreading the idea of unionization to those of Midlothian. The first big Chartist meeting was on Calton Hill in December 1838, reported by the Edinburgh Advertiser like this:
Among the other dangerous novelties of the day are the meetings of the Radicals by torch-light, for the alleged purpose of securing the so-called rights of the people, such as the Ballot, Universal Suffrage, &c. One of these illuminations took place on the Caltonhill, on Wednesday night; and strange to say, was presided over by a clergyman belonging to the Church of Scotland. There is, we believe, only one man bearing the sacred character of a minister of our Church, who could so far degrade and prostitute his holy profession to such a purpose, and that individual, we need hardly say, is the same who attended the O'Connell dinner in Glasgow, and rode into Paisley in the same chariot with the Popish incendiary. It was the Rev. Patrick Brewster of Paisley, that presided over the nocturnal orgies on the Caltonhill.
The council's panicked response to this meeting was to try setting up its own vigilante force of special constables. But times and the law had changed; the courts said they had acted illegally in not consulting the Police Commissioners first. 1838 was not a good year to be an Edinburgh policeman. The Kirk tried to expel Brewster for his Chartist activities in 1842 but were overtaken by the Disruption before they could complete the process.

Chartist agitation continued through the 1840s, but even though 1848 saw a riot in favour of a British Republic that broke most of the city's streetlamps, there were few local songs from the movement. (Their best writing was in a polemic from the political prisoner Robert Peddie's The Dungeon Harp, representing alcohol as a drug whose main purpose was to keep the working class passive; but Peddie had no sense of proportion and it is far too long to reproduce here). Then the Crimean War of the 1850s and the war panic that started in 1859 damped down popular protest. The next burst of mass political activity was over Gladstone's reform bill of 1866; this was marked by a huge parade to Leith Links.

Suffragettes around Edinburgh before World War 1 were among the most extreme in Britain. They tried to bomb the Duke of Buccleuch's chapel in Dalkeith in 1913, attacked the Blackford Observatory more successfully a few days later, and in 1914 burnt the mediaeval Whitekirk church to a shell, in revenge for the "mediaeval" forced feeding of Ethel Moorehead in the Calton Jail. But they created no songs of their own, preferring to use those written by their English sisters. The 1970s wave of feminism did better. Lament of the Working Class Hero's Wife was written in 1977 by Linda Peachey with members of the Edinburgh Women's Liberation Workshop, later somewhat adapted by their Glasgow sisters (hence both "wains" and "bairns", words from opposite coasts of Scotland). Its tune is the hornpipe The Black Bear, used as a quick march by C Company of the Royal Scots; I've given both their version and the way I've heard it used for this song by women in Edinburgh. The chorus is not repeated at the end. Men Have All Had Their Own Way For Too Long is from the Edinburgh lesbian-separatist newsletter Nessie of the late 70s; "to thi tune of betsy thi dyke", that is, Sweet Betsy from Pike, also known as Villikins and his Dinah or The Old Orange Flute.

the most extreme conflict between Scots and Irish in Edinburgh was a riot at Musselburgh Races in 1823 between Irish racegoers on one side and bakers of Edinburgh and Leith and colliers of Musselburgh on the other, with several people on each side beaten senseless or pushed into the Esk. In music, William Burke alone must have got more opprobrium than all the rest of his countrymen together, but none of the ballads I've found portray him as a typical Irishman.

Violence against the Italian community approached the level of pogrom on "Italian Night" after Italy entered the war in 1940, when Italian-owned shops were smashed up and looted by a mob. The mob made a point of attacking known fascists, like the chipshop proprietor in Stockbridge who used to serve behind the counter in full Blackshirt uniform, though the innocent undoubtedly suffered too. But the lasting portrayal of Italians in the popular mind was no more menacing than this children's song collected by Ritchie in the 1950

Built on a field to the south of the city by the private speculator James Brown in 1763-4, George Square was the first development of fashionable housing outside the Old Town and began the exodus of the wealthy from the city centre. Brown lived to receive more in annual rents than the total amount he paid for the land. Its occupants included Lord Braxfield (the ferocious original of the judge in Stevenson's Weir of Hermiston), Sir Walter Scott as a child, Lord Provost Sir James Forrest, Admiral Duncan, and Henry Dundas, virtual dictator of Scotland. The King's Birthday, 4 June 1792, saw Dundas's house besieged by an angry mob in one of the most aggressive demonstrations for parliamentary reform ever seen in Edinburgh. The riot was planned weeks in advance, with anti-slavery posters stuck up around the city and the burning of Dundas in effigy announced by little leaflets like this:
Now Is the Time
Burn the Villain
Fear Not - You will
Be Supported
One of the rioters was shot dead by the army. A smaller riot in the square in 1796 was directed at both Dundas and Admiral Duncan; a year later, a cheering crowd paraded the square to celebrate Duncan's victory in the Battle of Camperdown against the Dutch. Most of the square was demolished in the 1960s and 1970s by Edinburgh University to make way for their present collection of windswept monoliths, carefully designed to make the space around them as unusable as possible by the general public. William Marshall published George's Square in 1781, as the last part of the square was nearing completion; when he republished the tune 40 years later its title became Lady Louisa Hamilton. Marshall renamed many of his tunes, and the Gow family added to the muddle by plagiarizing and renaming others. Most of the good tunes in the Scottish repertoire have several names, but Marshall's output is in a category of its own for confusion. He sometimes got his publisher to think up his titles, and once even asked him to shuffle the titles about to make sure a dedicatee got a new tune, because she didn't like the first she was offered.

Nicolson Street was part of the city's expansion in the same direction. It was named after James Nicolson, who had a house around there early in the eighteenth century, but the street was built in 1764 as a driveway to his widow's riding school, the first in the city. It was sheer fluke that it was in the right place to link with the South Bridge a few years later. At first it was a fashionable area to live, only slowly declining as the nearby St Leonards area was turned into a slum in the 19th century. The whole area suffered two catastrophes after World War 2, from which it has never recovered: the council wanted to demolish most of it for inner-city motorways, and the University wanted to knock down the rest to build concrete tower blocks like those around George Square. Both sets of plans were abandoned, which did nothing to help those already evicted; the council has unofficially got its bypass anyway, with traffic routed through the street at motorway-level densities to generate some of the worst air pollution in Europe.

When it was built it was on the site of the main beggars' pitch and next to Shakespeare Square, the site of the Theatre Royal. With the usual 18th century association of theatres and prostitution, the square was always famed for its streetwalkers. So the beggars, buskers and political petitioners in front of Register House are continuing a tradition that goes back over 200 years. Its strangest and saddest character was "Register Rachel", who was stood up by her lover after arranging to meet him there in the middle of the 19th century. She waited daily by its clock for the rest of her life, dressed in the fading fashions of her youth

e Annuity Tax was an almost-forgotten Edinburgh institution whose dramatic end in the 19th century prefigured the rise and fall of the Poll Tax in the 1980s. The tax was levied on property by its nominal rental value, and was intended to pay the salaries of 18 ministers of the established Church of Scotland. The only other town that ever levied it was Montrose. The first attempt to raise the tax was in 1634. So few people paid it that the tax-collector barely took enough to cover his 4 per cent commission, and it was abandoned in 1639. The next try, in 1661 with the forces of Charles II behind it, stuck. Because it was levied on members of all religious sects but only went to the established church, the minority denominations opposed it, as did many members of the Church of Scotland itself. Like many political episodes in Edinburgh's history, it attracted pseudo-Biblical parody, as in The Epistle of that most learned Rabbi, Ben Tarib, to the Chief Priests of the City of Edinburgh (1833):
And in my dream I beheld all the birds of the air in the grove, and lo, they were busily employed.And some gathered grain, and some builded their nests among the branches, and some tended their young, and none were idle;
But a number of black ravens, which set upon the loftiest trees, they alone were idle, and did no work.
And I marvelled how those black ravens, who sat upon the loftiest trees, did live; for they gathered no grain, no insects, nor any thing by which they could live;
But did nothing but croak.
Now, when I looked upon these things, I beheld that all the birds of the air, from time to time, brought these ravens of their grain and of their insects, and they did eat.
And these black ravens were fat, and glossy in their plumage, and the noise of these ravens grew louder and louder. ...
It was enforced by poinding (confiscation) of defaulters' goods and roup (auction) of them. A spoof manual of 1775 for would-be poinders by James Wilson ("Claudero"), The Messengers High Road to Destruction, cited recent precedents for each of its tips:
When you go to poind; if the man's wife hits your fancy, take her into custody, split her Tackles, cornufy her husband; Roup the house, regardless of the cries of the Whore's Birds, put the money in your pocket, and apply the same to your own purposes; notwithstanding any law to the contrary ...Let your apprisers be the scum of the earth, void of all humanity or conscience and genuine Knights of the Post. - It does not signify whether you take witnesses along with you: Staff and Dog are good ones. ...
By 1833, when all-out confrontation started, the tax had become a money-spinner for the council, raising four times as much money as was paid out to the ministers. But poinding had failed by then; it provoked such frequent and determined riots that the authorities had to resort to the Calton Jail instead, a reprisal that had never before been used even for defaulters on Government taxes. Non-payers released from jail were greeted by huge demonstrations, like one on the 13th of August 1833 for the release of the razor strop manufacturer Johnston, with about 8000 people, banners and a band. As "Ben Tarib" saw it, with stylistic help from Psalm 150 and the Book of Revelation:
And, lo, as I stood thus musing, there was a tumult, and a shouting, and the sound of musical instruments, and behold, a multitude, which no man might number, stood before the door of the prison house.And upon the hill, and upon the rocks, and every where around, there were people standing.
And the noise was exceeding great, and the tumult increased, and the shouting was as the roaring of the waves of the sea, in a great storm.
And the musicians played before the people upon the sackbut, and psaltry, and the dulcimer, and the lute, and the timbrel, and the trumpet, and the drum, and the bagpipe. ...
846 people were prosecuted for nonpayment in 1833, with 5 imprisoned. "The Lorry", or Police Wagon No. 14, became Scotland's most-famed vehicle; it was used to take poinded goods to the Cross for sale. Some determined responses were made to the poindings. At one, the auctioneer's wagon was set on fire, and at another, when a protester's piano was due to be seized, he removed the insides:
In due course the auctioneer arrived, and gave notice that Mr Adair's piano was to be put up for auction. Then, "just to let you see, gentlemen, what a grand article you are bidding for," the official sat down to play a tune. "What tune will I play?" he asked jocosely, adding, "perhaps Robin Adair would be appropriate"; and with a chuckle at his joke he thumped at the dumb case, to the intense delight of the spectators.
The conflict raged on for years; in 1836 a councillor, Thomas Russell, was imprisoned, with a meeting of 3000 people held to support him. The crisis year was 1848, when Chartist agitation reached the point of riot. The figure who drew the most publicity was one of the city magistrates, Joseph Stott. On 14 June 1848, the authorities tried to auction the assets of both Mr Darlington, an upholsterer in Frederick Street, and Mr Sword, a furniture auctioneer of Hanover Street. The crowd broke up both auctions and drove the law officers away. The poinders tried again on July 3, with the help of 100 troops from the Castle and a troop of cavalry from Piershill Barracks:
Why march in firm and stern array
Adown the Castle's rocky way,
That field of bayonets bright?
Is there a rising in the North?
Are Frenchmen in the Frith of Forth?
Where is the foe to fight? ...
But SWORD, that man with martial name,
Swore, as he hoped for future fame,
The Tax he would not pay;
The up went Catch-'em-by-the-muff,
That messenger-at-arms so bluff,
Upon a certain day.
He had a paper in his hand,
And with assistant at command,
Each bedstead noted down;
As if to amplify his wrongs,
He spared not fender, poker, tongs,
Or window-curtains brown.
The china shared the common lot,
Each kettle, jelly-pan and pot
All found a noting here;
Nay e'en the pillows from the bed,
Whereon had rested oft the head
Of that poor Auctioneer.
But the mob drove the army off then too. Sheriff Gordon prosecuted one of the crowd for obstructing the police. Despite his well-known opposition to the tax, the magistrate assigned to hear the case was Bailie Stott, who dismissed the action. In revenge, Gordon got Stott jailed for nonpayment a few days later. Like the other tax resisters, Stott used his time in jail effectively, writing dramatic open letters to his opponents:
How are you able to mount the pulpit on Sabbath? - how are you to face even your own people? Some of them are my true friends. What will be their silent thoughts while they listen to you, it may be, giving out the following verse of the 79th Psalm:-    Oh, let the pris'ner's sighs ascend
    Before Thy throne on high, &c.
and a few days later:
Do you when expounding Daniel, hold up to your congregation Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as anarchists? - for you know they resisted the law of the land. Or are you prepared to hold up God as the abettor of their anarchical conduct? - for sure I am He declared His approval of them by controlling the furnace and shutting the lions' mouths.
A subscription was raised to pay his tax and release him; the receipts had a woodcut of a church leaning at 45 degrees propped up by soldiers with bayonets. The Reverend Joseph Brown of the United Presbyterian Church in Dalkeith said the same in plain words:
Many people were of the opinion that the military procession at the opening of the General Assembly of the Established Church was for mere pomp or parade, but the people who were so simple as to believe this had now learned the lesson that the soldiery, with their swords and their bayonets, were the only strength and support of the Establishment.
The tax was abolished in stages by muddled, partial Acts of 1860 and 1869, and a decisive one of 1870. It left Edinburgh with a folklore reputation for bizarre repressiveness across all of Scotland. A tax with similar effect stayed in force a few years longer in the fishing village of Eyemouth, 40 miles eastwards on the Forth; it was imposed on fish catches. The chaos the Kirk imposed on the town's finances in its last-ditch efforts to extract the money against intransigent, dead-fish-throwing opposition from a community that largely belonged to nonconformist sects like the Brethren was one of the reasons Eyemouth was so poorly prepared for the great storm that almost wiped out a generation of fishermen in 1881.

The Theatre Royal was Edinburgh's main theatre for 100 years, in Shakespeare Square, which was where the eastern end of Princes Street is today. It got off to a bad start. It was begun at the north end of the North Bridge while the bridge was still under construction, with the idea that the bridge would be open in time for patrons to cross it from the city. The bridge collapsed in 1769, stranding the theatre just before it opened. It was demolished to make way for the (now closed) General Post Office at Waterloo Place, whose foundation stone was laid in 1861 in a ceremony that was the death of Prince Albert, who caught a fatal chill at it. Both Shakespeare Square and St James' Square nearby became notorious for prostitution, like theatre districts around the world. Even with its dramatic content rendered respectable, the institution of the theatre remained a moral danger, though the moralists could find few overt grounds for more than sporadic grumbles.
This theatre was the scene of at least two major riots. The first was in 1767, over the sacking of the popular actor Stayley; his supporters attacked the performers with swords and cudgels, forcing them to defend themselves with stage swords and fiddle bows. The whole inside of the theatre was wrecked. The proprietors took the rioters to court, but the rioters hit back by arguing that the theatre had never officially got a licence. Operators of unlicenced theatres were "rogues and vagabonds" under a law of Queen Anne's, punishable by being
stripped naked from the middle, and openly whipped until his or her body be blooded, or may be sent to the house of correction, there to be kept at hard labour
This stopped the action dead. The rioters included lawyers and law students, and the proprietors included several judges; since neither could get a fair trial, both processes were halted. The other disturbance was in 1794, when a Tragedy of King Charles I stirred up conflicts that had never died down since the Jenny Geddes riot. Partisans of both sides, led by Irish medical students on the Catholic side and lawyers' clerks including the young Walter Scott on the Protestant one, turned the performance into an all-out brawl.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings from Chester, England. Good luck to you and your endeavours.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.