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Restalrig

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Restalrig, a decayed village in South Leith parish, Edinburghshire, in the northern vicinity of Jock's Lodge, and north-eastern vicinity of St Margaret's railway depôt, 2 miles E by N of the General Post Office, Edinburgh. In pre-Reformation days, Restalrig was the capital of the parish in which it stands, and the site of the parish church. According to tradition, St Triduana, a noble virgin of Achaia, who came to Scotland in the 8th century in company with St Rule, died at Restalrig; and down to Sir David Lyndsay's time many pilgrims, afflicted with eye-diseases, resorted hither to Sanct Tredwall's shrine. At the death of William the Lyon (1214), the district of Restalrig-or, as it was anciently called, Lestalric-was possessed by the De Lestalric family. In 1291 Adam of St Edmund's, parson of Lestalric, obtained a writ to the sheriff of Edinburgh to deliver him his lands and rights; and, in 1296, in the ancient church here, he swore fealty to Edward I. During the reign of Robert Bruce, or the early part of the 14th century, the barony passed by marriage into the possession of the Logans, with whom it continued till they incurred forfeiture for participation in the Gowrie Conspiracy. In 1435 the patronage of the church was confirmed to Thomas Logan, by William, Bishop of St Andrews. A collegiate establishment, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, the Virgin, and St Margaret, was established at Restalrig by James III. in 1487, enlarged by James IV. in 1512, and completed by James V. in 1515, the foundation comprising a dean, 9 prebendaries, 3 chaplains, and 2 singing boys. The parsonage, however, remained entire till the Reformation. In 1560 the first General Assembly ordained that the church, 'as a monument of idolatrie, be raysit, and utterlie casten downe and destroyed;' and that the parishioners should in future adopt as their parish church, St Mary's chapel in Leith. In 1609 the legal rights of the church and parish of Restalrig, with all their revenues and pertinents, were formerly alienated from them by parliament, and conferred upon that chapel, then legally declared to be the parish church of South Leith. Robert Logan of Restalrig, the Gowrie conspirator, who died a bankrupt in 1606, had sold in 1596 his estate of Nether Gogar to Andrew Logan of Coalfield, in 1602 his lands of Fast Castle to Archibald Douglas, and in 1604 his barony of Restalrig to Lord Balmerino. The Lords Balmerino held the lands of Restalrig till their forfeiture in 1746; and during the whole period of their possession appropriated the vaults of the forsaken and dilapidated church as the burying-place of themselves and their kinsfolk. Lady Balmerino, the wife of Arthur, the sixth and attainted Lord. resided in the village during the years of her widowhood, and died there in 1765. The Earls of Moray, who purchased the forfeited lands, now claim as their mausoleum an octagonal chapter-house to the S of the church, whose groined roof springs from a single central pillar, and which is said to have been built about 1435 by Sir Robert Logan. The Episcopalians have always, from the Revolution downward, had a strong attachment to Restalrig. They were for years prohibited from performing their funeral service in any of the city or suburban burying-grounds; so they adopted Restalrigs their cemetery, and here in 1720 interred the body of Alexander Rose, the last legal or more than titular bishop of Edinburgh. Here, too, is the grave of Lord Brougham's father, as well as of many a gallant soldier. The Second Pointed, three-bayed choir consisted of little more than the E wall and part of the side walls in 1836, when it was restored from designs by Mr W. Burn, and made a chapel of ease or mission chapel, subordinate to South Leith church. Under the verge of St Margaret's depôt was a famous spring, called St Margaret's Well; and some fine old Gothic stone-work over this was removed in 1860 to a runnel at the N foot of Salisbury Craigs. Restalrig House, to the N of the village, is a plain substantial mansion, in a well-wooded park of 15 acres. It was built in 1815-17, and enlarged a few years afterwards. The ancient mansion on the barony was a castellated structure, opposite the W end of the church, and is now represented by the lower walls of a plain modern house in the village.—Ord. Sur., sh. 32, 1857.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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