Looking At Edinburgh

7 October 2008

Persevere: the seal of the town of Leith

Filed under: history, photos — Tags: , , , , , , — EdinburghEye @ 8:00 am

A boat in port of Leith and an old lamp-post with the Leith Port shield

Leith became a Parliamentary Burgh in 1833 (that is, a burgh upon which an elected town council was imposed by Parliament in their reforms of 1832-33), uniting the parishes North Leith and South Leith (separated by the Water of Leith). The name Leith was once Leyt, Let, or Inverlet. King David (1083 – 1153) gave the water, fishings and meadows to Holyrood Abbey by charter, and then “and that Inverlet which is nearest the harbour, and with the half of the fishing, and with a whole tithe of all of the fishing that belongs to the church of St. Cuthbert“.

Leith ceased to be an independent town in 1927, but here and there around Leith (such as the lamp-posts that line the lower river) you can see the Seal of the Burgh “A shield bearing a galley on the sea. At each end of the galley is a mast with furled sail and flag flying. In the centre is the Virgin seated, bearing the Holy Child in her arms, and a cloud rests above their heads. Above, on a scroll, are the words Sigillum oppidi de Leith, and beneath, on a scroll, the motto Persevere“. Despite a discouraging discussion on blipfoto, a bit of google-fu and a scrap of Latin established that, well, it just means “the seal of the town of Leith”. A bit dull, but not at all mysterious.

Burghs were essentially urban settlements which enjoyed trading privileges from medieval times until 1832 and which regulated their own affairs to a greater or lesser extent (depending on the type of burgh) until the abolition of Scottish burghs in 1975. Burgh status has implications for historical records. Separate valuation rolls and electoral rolls were compiled by royal and police burghs until 1975. Burgh Records: Burghs produced characteristic forms of historical record, such as court books, guild records, registers of deeds, financial accounts, and, latterly, records of burgh institutions such as schools and libraries. VisionofBritain

This photo is available on Redbubble: Persevere: Leith is still a port.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] It’s everywhere. There’s a pub called The Persevere, you can find pictures of the town seal on everything from lamp posts to stained glass windows, and it’s even set into the ground. […]

    Pingback by Persevere — 4 February 2015 @ 10:36 am


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