Historical Info
Home

Extracts of the short history of the
DUMBRECK'S of ABERDEENSHIRE & MORAYSHIRE

(with special thanks to William Vincent Dumbreck who compiled & researched the following)

See Roland and Lynne Dunbrack at Mains of Dumbreck

See St. Mary's Chapel

NOTE ANY ITEM IN BLUE IS A LINK TO A PAGE

From this period parish registers are sometimes available but they are generally incomplete. Relationships must therefore be confirmed from other sources. There are very few death (mortcloth) entries, not surprising" in view of the unsettled state of the country. Dumbreck names now appear for the first time in districts far remote from Morayshire and Aberdeenshire.

A CHARLES "Captain in Colonel Archibald Row his Regiment of Foot Guards" (21st. Foot now Royal Scots Fusiliers) was amongst the officers of the regiment made honorary freemen of Aberdeen In 1894. He married Elizabeth Ranken widow in Edinburgh in 1699, was made an honorary burgess of that city in 1701 "for several good services done by him to the interest of the town" and is described as of the Edinburgh City Guards on his death in 1717. He left considerable estate.

A WILLIAM appears in Aberdeen in 1757. On 25th August, described as ‘gardener in Craigtown’ he married Mary Anderson of Linlithgow and became the progenitor of the more numerous Linlithgow branch of the family. It is still represented in that town.

Alexander Dumbreck  had seven children by Margaret Dunbar, James, Alexander, Archibald, Thomas, Mary, Christian and Jean. JAMES, bapt. at Boharm 12 Sept. 1674 was in Mains of Rothes in 1700. He had four children ‘by his wife Elizabeth Leslie: Charles, Robert, James and Christian, some of whom were baptised in the church of Dundurcus.

CHARLES, b. c. 1700 married Isobel Mitchell at Dundurcus 25 Oct. 1726 and is described as ‘of Rothes’. He was the miller in Mains of Rothes in 1734 and had died by 1760. He had five sons and one daughter; James, Alexander, Thomas, George, John and Margaret.

Of the first three sons, only Alexander remained in the Rothes area; James and Thomas emigrated to Halifax, Nova Scotia their name changing to DUNBRACK / DUNBERACK (possibly as a result of immigration).  JOHN, the youngest, bapt. Rothes 23 May 1736, appears in Edinburgh in 1762, when on 2 Feb. he married Christian Noble, daughter of William Noble mason in Penicuik. The marriage entry describes him as ‘stablers servant’ but in all the entries relating to the baptism of his children he is called ‘vintner’. John’s connection with Rothes is established by two entries in the Edinburgh Registers. A witness to the baptism of his son James on 2nd Feb. 1765 was his eldest brother James (it was custom for the sponsors to be of the same christian name as the child, described as ‘salmon fisher at Spey’. The Rothes registers show that James lived at Coble-pot of Airndilly, on the Spey opposite Rothes. The second entry is that of the marriage of his sister Margaret to William Stables in 1769, where she is called ‘daughter of the late Charles Dumbreck miller in Rothes". It is a likely assumption that John left Rothes on his father’s death and took his young sister with him.

John became a very successful vintner and Innkeeper and figured prominently in Edinburgh when the New Town was being built. In 1773 he owned the King’s Head at the end of New Bridge (the first North Bridge) and in 1779 also purchased the White Horse Inn at the Cowgate Port. While proprietor of the White Horse John developed the coaching business belonging to it. In March 1781, under the heading "In 4 days to London during the Summer" he advertised that "The Edinburgh and London Fly would on Monday 2nd April set out from the White Horse at 2 o’clock in the morning precisely and continue to do so every lawful day". He also ran the Edinburgh and Aberdeen Fly, stage coach to Kelso and several coaches to Leith. In 1780 John also owned the Whale Inn at Newhaven. In 1790 he took over Dun’s Hotel at 59, St. Andrew Square in the New Town and disposed of the White Horse. He was regarded by his contemporaries as a man of advanced ideas who had greatly improved the hotel standards of the time.

John had six sons and three daughters by Christian Noble: William, James (d. in infancy), Charles, John, Thomas, Robert, Fanny, May and Josepha.

WILLIAM, the eldest son, also opened a hotel at 35 St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh in 1790. When John died the next year William took over both houses, which soon became well known as ‘Dumbreck’s Hotels’ and, spread into the intervening buildings. It was the leading hotel of the New Town and is often mentioned in literature of the period e.g. Stevenson’s "St. Ives". William retired from active management in 1825, to attain the dignity of ‘William Dumbreck Esq. of South Coates’, a detached house then standing in the country at the east end of Haymarket, Edinburgh. He sold the hotel buildings in 1825 to the newly formed National Bank of Scotland for 13,000 (and 3,000 guineas compensation to the tenant). William had three sons and three daughters by his first wife Catherine Bowie; John, William, Robert, Catherine, Christian and Forbes and by his second wife Sarah Keltie three sons and two daughters; Archibald, William, George (d. as child) Alexander, Helen and Elizabeth. Go to Williams' page for an image of what the Hotels looked like back in the 1800's.

JOHN (1799-1854) the eldest son was a writer to the Signet in Edinburgh and had an only daughter Kate by his wife Euphemia Kinnear. The second son WILLIAM (1800-1875) qualified MD at Edinburgh in 1828. He was later examiner to the College of Surgeons. He m. 1828 Anne Bassanville and had one son William and one daughter Margaret Alston. This last WILLIAM b. Edinburgh 1835 d. Lucknow 1858, also qualified MD Edinburgh and was surgeon to 1st. Royals at Sebastopol in 1854. The third son ROBERT (1802- ?) was a hatter at 88, Candlemaker Row Edinburgh, m. Christian Greig and had an only daughter Elizabeth b. 1824. The fourth and fifth sons ARCHIBALD WILLIAM (1817-1848) and ALEXANDER (1824-1881) emigrated to New Zealand and Australia respectively and possibly have male descendants.

CHARLES, second son of John the vintner, b. Edinburgh 11 June 1766, was admitted a burgess of the city in 1789, in right of his father John, as "cutler at the upper end of Chalmers Street" . On his marriage to Mary Cromar in 1808 he is, however, called "Mariner of Newhaven". He had six daughters, Anne, Christina, Sally, Elizabeth, Catherine and Baillie and finally a son John, b. Edinburgh 30 Oct. 1823. As the son of a burgess JOHN was admitted to Heriot’s Hospital in 1831, entered in the school records as son of Charles Dumbreck cutler’. He left the hospital in 1858 with the report "Conduct, fair, talent and attainments, tolerable". His father having died in 1837 he was apprenticed to a silversmith but, that occupation proving disagreeable and the weight of his feminine entourage too heavy, he ‘ran away to sea’. In 1854 he joined the Customs service and was finally stationed and retired in Liverpool, where he died in 1905. JOHN married in 1854 Eliza Jane Craig of Dumfries, they had four sons, Charles (d. in infancy), James Craig, John and William and five daughters, Mary, Elizabeth, Anne, Emily Maud and Christina.

JAMES CRAIG DUMBRECK (1858-1935) went to the United States and there became a political figure. He had two daughters, Mary and Christina (m. Ledson).

JOHN, the second son, (1860-1941), was a post office official and had an only son JAMES CRAIG, b. 1894, for many years head of the Eastern Telegraph Company in Scotland. His only son JOHN, b. 1923, is a graduate of Glasgow University, now in the Russian Department of Manchester University (John retired 1983).

The third son WILLIAM, b. Liverpool 11 Dec. 1866, d, 7 Nov. 1957, also joined the Customs service. He married 28 July 1892 Anne Brannan, daughter of Thomas Brannan, late of Bray, County Wicklow, and had three sons William Vincent, Stanley and James Craig, and three daughters Anne Dorothy, Isobel and Hilda.

WILLIAM VINCENT DUMBRECK, b. Liverpool 1 July 1893, served with the Liverpool Scottish (Camerons) 1911-1917), Indian Army 1917-1923, Royal Air Force 1938-1946. He married 15 July 1924 Nora Alice Luck, eldest daughter of Alfred Gray Luck of Frant, Sussex, and had twin daughter and son, Jean Christina, and Ian Robert. IAN ROBERT b. Hadlow, Kent, 28 Jan. 1927 is a serving officer of the Royal Navy. He married 20 Nov. 1954 Fay Langrish, King of Tarkastadt, Cape Province and has a daughter, Deborah Christian, b. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 27 Aug. 1955. Also RODERICK WILLIAM DUMBRECK b. Singapore, 21 Aug. 1957, Alice Polly Dumbreck b. East Peckham, Kent 9 April 1960 and Hamish Munro Dumbreck b. 3 Sept. 1964.

JOHN, third son of John the vintner, b. Edinburgh 25 Mar. 1768, took over his father’s chaise hiring business and established himself as a reputable coach-builder in West Register Street, Edinburgh. He is referred to in the account of Shelley’s visit to Edinburgh in 1813 as "the Edinburgh coach-maker who had repaired the private carriage". He married 1797 Mary Cossar and died in 1830 without issue.

THOMAS, fourth son of John the vintner, b. Edinburgh 17 Mar 1769, joined the Excise service in 1802. He was stationed in Aberdeen in 1805, Edinburgh in 1818 and was successively Collector at Argyle South, Perth and Glasgow, retiring to Edinburgh in 1843. By his wife Elizabeth Sutherland he had a son DAVID, b. Aberdeen 1805, MD Edinburgh 1830, who joined the Army Medical Service. He was in the Crimea, became Inspector General of the Medical Services 1864, honorary physician to the Queen 1865, K.C.B. (Knight Commander of the Bath) 1871. He died at Florence in 1876. By his wife Elizabeth Campbell Gibson of Leith, m. 1844, he had issue an only son SUTHERLAND.  Thomas may have had another son - William born about 1808, more details are described on Thomas Dumbreck's page .

ROBERT, fifth son of John the vintner, b. Edinburgh 13 Nov. 1774, was admitted a burgess of the city in 1830 in right of his father John, innkeeper, as ‘late grocer’, No other record of him has been traced.

An un-placed member of the family (until 1999) was WILLIAM FRANCIS MAXWELL DUMBRECK, whose service record shows him b. Edinburgh 1790. He joined the Royal Navy 1802, serving in H.M.S. Defence at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), and H.M.S. Victory at Corunna, invalided out in 1814. He joined the Excise service in 1824 and was posted to the care of ‘Collector Dumbreck’ at Perth and transferred to Glasgow in 1825 when qualified. He married his first wife Jane Inglis of Lasswade in 1816 and his second wife Margaret McNicol of Glenarchy in 1820 having a son by each wife. In 1825 he lived at the address in Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh of Robert the Hatter.

DUMBRECK ARMS

The earliest Scottish armorial MS., the Forman-Workman MS., of circa 1562, shows the arms of "Drumbrak of that Ilk" as an otter seizing a salmon, with two fleur-de-lys in chief, (see reproduction on home page), but at the date of this MS the line ‘of that Ilk’ had died out with THOMAS DUMBRECK of DUMBRECK, killed on the 10th September 1547at the Battle of Pinkie. The coat suggests a connection with Meldrum of that Ilk (whose lands adjoined Dumbreck), which has "a demi otter sable issuing from a fess wavy", with the fleur-de-lys as cadency marks for the Orton branch. There is another early reference to an otter coat in the armorial MS of Sir Patrick Home, where a ‘wolf passant’ is erroneously blazoned as an ‘otter sable’.

The Seton armorial of 1591 and the Balfour MS of c. 1640 both give ‘a wolf transfixed with a dagger hilted gules’ and Nisbet’s "System of Heraldry" of 1722 states "With us the surname of Dumbreck carries: Argent, a dagger thrust into the back of a Wolf passant sable (Workman MS.)".

Some later writers have a ‘bear sable’ and in 1830 Robson’s "British Herald" gives "DUMBRECK (Edinburgh). Ar. a wolf passant sable transfixed with a sword ppr. within a bordure gules - Crest, a dexter hand holding a sword in pale and on the point thereof a boars head couped ppr. Motto "Nocentes prosequor".

DRUMBRECK (Drumbreck, Scotland). Ar a bear sa. with a skean piercing his back and coming out under his belly handle gu. blade az."

The ‘bordure gules’ in Robson’s Edinburgh blazon indicates a third son and it undoubtedly refers to arms used by JOHN (1768-1830) the coach-maker in West Register Street, who would be quite familiar with the rules of heraldry as coaches bore the crest of the family to which they belonged.

There are like arms attributable to his brother WILLIAM (1763-1837) and his father JOHN (1736-1791) on a seal. It also appears on plate or seals of’ THOMAS (1769-1856), JOHN (1799-1854) and JOHN (1823-1905) and has descended to the present generation.

The arms have never been entered in the ‘Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland’ as required by an Act of 1672. They are however granted in England by Somerset Herald to RICHARD in 1926.

There is no armorial evidence in the buildings of Dumbreck or Orton to confirm either coat. Hopes that confirmation might be obtained from seals on deeds signed by JOHN of Orton between 1611 and 1632 came to nothing as no seals are attached to the deeds.

NOTES

References in the text are to official Scottish records

RGS = Register of the Great Seal

RPC = Register of the Privy Council

KPS = Register of the King’s Privy Seal

LHT = Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer

ER = Exchequer Rolls.

The present Mains of Dumbreck estate in Aberdeenshire consists of five farms - Mains, Newseat, Milltown, Alehouse and Mill. It lies between two streams, the Bronie Burn and the Yowlie Burn, and is in gentle rolling country, very bare except for the trees in the old burying ground and around the houses and farms. It is about 1 mile from Pitmedden, the nearest station being Logierieve and since 1731 belongs to Gordon College, Aberdeen.


Roland Dunbrack and Sister Lynne Dunbrack on a visit 2001 from the USA

Orton, the home of the Moray branch, is in the Spey valley about 5 miles north of Rothes, on the road and railway from Keith to Elgin. The house stands between the road and the Haugh of Orton, the latter here being about one-third of a mile wide. The present building is basically a Scots tower of four or five stories, around which extensive additions were made in 1786 and 1848. The estate comprises the farms of’ Garbity Mains, Home Farm, Mill and Bruntlands. 


St. Mary's Chapel and the Holy Well at Orton

On the northern boundary of the estate, adjoining Inchberry, was formerly a chapel and Holy Well, objects of pilgrimage before the Reformation. A mausoleum designed as a small Gothic chapel was erected on the site in 1844 by Wharton-Duff, the then owner of the property. The family was buried in it until 1940. Norman foundation stones were found on the site.

Extracts from ‘The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club'

Vol.: X1V (1925)

SOME INNS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
kindly supplied by John Dumbreck (Cheadle, Cheshire)


........... suitable roadster, which was to serve all the way.’ Chambers adds that when Charles x. in 1639
‘ had made his first pacification with the Covenanters, and had come temporarily to Berwick, he sent messages to the chief lords of that party, desiring some conversation with them. They were unsuspectingly mounting their horses at this inn in order to ride to Berwick, when a mob taught by the clergy to suspect that the king wished only to wile over the nobles to his side, came and forcibly prevented them from commencing their designed journey.’

It is Chambers, too, who declares that the White Horse ceased to be an inn ‘ from a time which no oldest inhabitant of my era could pretend to have any recollection of.’ That such a suitable inn as the White Horse appears to have been should have thus fallen into disuse may seem strange, but as little traffic in the early coaching days went by the East Road, travellers no doubt found it more convenient to lodge at the inns at the Netherbow and Cowgate Ports where the coaches by the Mid Road had their headquarters. Notwithstanding the fact that the principal inns were at the gates of the city, one innkeeper, at any rate, John Somervell, had his establishment in the middle of the eighteenth century at the foot of the Canongate, although there is no clue as to which building he occupied.


Engraving courtesy of Peter Stubbs

CANNONGATE ENTRANCE

STAIR LEADING TO HALL

WHITE HORSE INN, BOYD'S CLOSE

At first Somervell seems to have been a gunsmith in the Canongate, and under that designation we find him advertising in December 1736 ‘a good coach and six stout horses to set out for London or Bath.’  Besides opening an inn, he appears to have developed the coaching business, for in July 1754 he announced that another London stage coach‘ a new genteel two-end glass machine‘ would set out from his house. This coach was ‘drawn by six horses, with a postillion on one of the leaders.’  In the eighteenth century the inns located immediately without the Netherbow Port were a favourite rendezvous for travellers.  Here gentlemen from London, York, Newcastle, and other English towns rubbed shoulders with East Lothian farmers and Border merchante; here heavily laden carts from many towns and villages were housed for the night; and hers horses could be shod and chaise or cart repaired. The most notable inn in this locality was the White Horse, which, by the way, is often confused with the inn of the same name at the foot of the Canongate.

The buildings in which this inn was carried on had been used for stablers’ premises in the reign of Charles r., for in the List of Owners of Property in Edinburgh in 1635 James Hamilton, Stabler, is mentioned as having premises on the west side of the close which, in later days, was named Boyd’s Close. In his memorials of Edinburgh, Sir Daniel Wilson describes the premises as ‘directly opposite to the site of St. Mary’s Chapel in St. Mary’s Wynd on the west side, where it contracts in breadth, a few yards below the Nether Bow.’  In the eighteenth century the inn was invariably described as ‘at the head of the Canongate.’  There were two entrances, one from the Canongate and the other from St. Mary’s Wynd. In the second half of the eighteenth century the inn was owned by James Boyd, during whose occupancy it acquired literary fame.  As we are reminded by a tablet affixed to the building occupying the larger part of the site of the hostelry, it was ‘Boyd’s Inn at which Samuel Johnson arrived‘ on ‘14th August 1773 on his memorable tour to the Hebrides’,  and here it was that, later in the evening, Boswell ‘exulted in the thought‘ that he now had his hero ‘actually in Caledonia’,  while Johnson embraced him cordially. But there is no need to retail the incidents of Johnson’s stay at Boyd’s Inn, for they are well known. Boyd occupied the premises before stage coaches became common, but, like others of his class, he sometimes arranged to find accommodation for passengers who desired to travel by coach.  For instance, on 11th May 1761 he publicly announced that ‘a mourning coach with six able horses‘ was about to set out for London, and that passengers could obtain seats by applying to him.  In 1771 the White Horse was described by one who had stayed there as ‘crowded and con - fused',  the master living in the stable, the mistress ‘not equal - to the business'.   In 1779 Boyd sought relief from his arduous labours by letting the inn, as we learn from the following advertisement:-

‘To be let immediately and entry to at Whitsunday next for such a term of years as shall be agreed upon that large commodious and well - frequented inn at the head of the Canongate, called Boyd’s Inn, consisting of two dining-rooms, a small outer room or parlour, 13 bedrooms and closets, besides servants’ bedrooms, a small writing-closet, a convenient large kitchen and larder, wine cellar with catacombs, coal and ale cellars; together with stables for upwards of 50 horses wherein are 40 stalls; as also backyard, pump well and coachhouse, which will contain four or five carriages, and a convenient poultry house and other offices. The loft above the stables will hold between two and three thousand stone of hay, and there is an excellent corn loft. The premises are contiguous having free ish and entry from the Canongate and from St. Mary’s Wynd'.   The reputation of this inn is well known having for these 30 years past been frequented by noblemen and gentlemen of the first rank. For further particulars apply to Mr. Boyd the proprietor'.

The inn was let to John Dumbreck, who had previously been in the service of Boyd, but had left to begin business for himself. Dumbreck is described in Williamson’s Directory of 1773-74 as vintner at the King’s Head,’ at the end of the New Bridge'.  These premises, however, he relinquished on becoming tenant of the White Horse. Dumbreck was also proprietor of an inn at Newhaven known as the Whale. A marked feature of Dumbreck’s tenancy of the White Horse was the development of the coaching business. In March 1781, under the heading of ‘ In Four Days to London During the Summer,’ it was intimated that the Edinburgh and London Fly would on Monday, 2nd April, set out from the White Horse at two o’clock in the morning precisely, and continue to do so every lawful day. In July 1782 the hour of departure was altered to one o’clock. The White Horse’ was also the place of departure of the Edinburgh and Aberdeen Fly, likewise of a stage coach for Kelso, and several for Leith. Dumbreck’s occupancy of the White Horse, however, was brief, for on 8th April 1790 he intimated to the public that he was removing at Whitsunday to Dun’s Hotel at the south-east corner of St. Andrew Square. The next tenant of the White Horse was Duncan M’Farlane, who had previously been proprietor of the White Hart in the Pleasance, and more recently of Dumbreck’s inn at the ‘end of the New Bridge.’ M’Farlane signalised his entry by repairing the building, and by extending the coaching business. In addition to the coaches already mentioned, the White Horse became the headquarters of the Stirling Coach, the Jedburgh Ply, and the Berwick Diligence. The last mentioned, which carried three passengers, ran by way of Haddington and Dunbar, the East Road now coming into favour through the opening of the Pease Bridge. M’Farlane died about 1795, for later references to the White Horse refer either to Mrs. M’Farlane, or Walter M’Farlane, probably his son.

Another noted inn at the head of the Canongate was the Black Bull, probably situated either in Bell’s or Gullan’s Close.

 
BLACK BULL INN (on right)

In the latter half of the eighteenth century this inn was owned by James Robertson, who in March 1772 tried to let it, as we learn from the following advertisement:

‘ To be let for one or more years and entry to it at Whitsunday next that well-frequented house, with garrets and cellars, and the stabling and coachhouses thereto belonging at the Black Bull, head of the Canongate. The house is well lighted and of easy access, having an entry from both the head and back of the Canongate, with good water in the coachyard and other conveniences. The whole very centrical for business, particularly for postchaises and hackney coaches, which has been carried on in this place for many years past. N.B. If a proper tenant does not appear for the whole, the subjects will be let separately.

......there was storage for about four thousand stones of hay. The upset price was 600, the ‘ proven rent ‘ being 66 sterling. Duncan M’Farlane afterwards became proprietor of a tavern and hotel on the west side of Bridge Street. Here, in February 1789, by authority of the Lord Provost and Magistrates, he placed on the street a coach and post-chaise for the convenience of revellers, who after midnight had to pay double fare. In June 1790 M’Farlane removed to the White Horse Inn at the head of the Canongate. At one time M’Farlane occupied the White Hart, Pleasance, from which he appears to have gone to Balfour’s Coffee-house, which stood on the south side of the High Street, opposite the Royal Exchange. He afterwards became tenant of an inn at South Queensferry. In 1790 he was the occupant of the large house in Adam Square, from which the London Fly (by Berwick and Newcastle) and the Jedburgh Diligence set out. Another of the inns in this locality was the White Hart, which is variously described as being situated ‘ at the foot of the Pleasance ‘ and ‘ near to the Cowgate port.’ In the ‘sixties of the eighteenth century it was in the possession of Mr. Laing, but in 1772 was taken over by James Dun, who previously had kept an inn at the head of the Horse Wynd. Dun ran a coach to Newcastle in opposition to one that set out from the Black Bull at the head of the Canongate. It carried four inside passengers, and proceeded, three times a week, by the Mid Road, reaching its destination on the same day that it left Edinburgh.

In 1773 the Newcastle Flying Post Coach, as it was called at this time, changed its route, going instead by way of Kelso and Wooler. This coach after-wards journeyed to London, accomplishing the entire distance in four days. The fare to Newcastle was 31s. 6d, and to London 4 14s. 6d. From the White Hart Dun migrated to the New Town opening, in 1777, a larger, and certainly a more pretentious establishment at 39 St. Andrew Square, which was known for long as Dun’s Hotel. Here were organised dancing assemblies, which drew together the elite of the city. Many distinguished visitors to the city stayed at Dun’s Hotel, including Edmund Burke, Samuel Rogers the poet, and the Piozzis. The next tenant of the White Hart was Duncan M’Farlane, ‘ late Innkeeper at the head of the Horse Wynd.’ From the White Hart in M’Farlane’s time there departed the London Fly which travelled by the East Road; also the Glasgow Diligence which went by Linlithgow and Falkirk. M’Farlane also issued tickets for those who wished to travel by the coach from Kinghorn to Dundee, application for which had to be made twenty-four hours before the time of setting out at Kinghorn. In 1782 M’Farlane left the White Hart and became proprietor of the Red Lyon in the same street, after which, as already mentioned, he was owner of the inn at ‘ the end of the New Bridge ‘ vacated by Dumbreck. M’Farlane was succeeded in the White Hart by William Paterson.

A third inn which stood outside the Cowgate Port was owned about 1760 by John Sharp, ‘ Stabler in the Pleasance, Postmaster of Canongate.’ Sharp seems to have been a man of substance. In 1762 he possessed the parks of Innerleith as well as others near ‘ Sommervel house ‘ and ‘ two at Kellies,’ which were advertised for grazing horses and black cattle. Sharp had also a park at Drum, which he let out for ‘ ston’d horses ‘ at sixpence a night, likewise some grass parks near his house in the Pleasance. After Sharp’s death about the year 1774 the inn was tenanted by James Robertson, who reminded ‘ his friends and the public ‘ on 17th May 1775 that be had ‘ ‘fitted up in the neatest manner that large and commodious house and stabling lately possessed by the deceased Mr. John Sharp in the Pleasance near the Cowgate port, Edinburgh, now the sign of the Black Bull.’ From the Black Bull the Newcastle Fly set out three times a week, accomplishing the journey in one day. This was the dating back to the days of the Stuarts from the Selkirk and Peebles Inn, near the head of the Candlemaker Row, the resort of James Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd, to the White ‘ Hart at the west end of the Grassmarket, where Wordsworth and his sister resided on their visit to Edinburgh, there were numerous inns and stablers’ premises. Indeed, in the latter half of the eighteenth century, the Grassmarket was practically a street of such establishments.

Much interesting information regarding these has been collected by the writer, but owing to the many changes in ownership, it is difficult to trace their history. Be that as it may, it is hoped that the account given of the inns which have formed the subject of this paper has made clear how profoundly these establishments (and others) were affected by the progressive ideas at work in eighteenth century Edinburgh. Ramsay and Boyd were types of the old innkeeper; the condition of their establishments did not differ materially from that prevailing in the seventeenth century. Dun and Dumbreck, on the other hand, were men of wider vision, who saw that the days of the small, dirty, old-fashioned inn were numbered. The rearing of a new and more wholesome Edinburgh beyond the valley spanned by the North Bridge led to a demand for more luxurious, certainly more comfortable, quarters, and Dun and Dumbreck met it.

Thus they rendered an important service locally in the evolution of the modern hotel. The history, for example, of how Dun opened a palatial establishment in St. Andrew Square; of how the coaching business was enormously developed at the Black Bull in Catherine Street; and of how innkeepers, migrating from the Old Town, established splendid hotels in the New Town, all this forms a separate and intensely interesting chapter in the history of the inns of Edinburgh, which may be treated in a future paper.

JAMES H. JAMIESON

Home PageLinks of Interest - Photo Album - Family Tree Index - Latest News