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Extracts From the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1528-1557. Originally published by Scottish Burgh Records Society, Edinburgh, 1871.

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A FORMER Volume of "Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh" contains all that is known to exist of what may be termed the Burghal Legislation of the Scottish capital previous to May 1528. The present volume comprises the sequel of that legislation till the commencement of the regular series of the Council Records in 1551. The two volumes thus contain all the acts and ordinances of the civic authorities, so far as preserved, prior to the commencement of the second half of the sixteenth century; and these are now given in chronological order. This second volume also contains extracts from the subsequent Records of the Burgh, and selections from the Accounts of the Treasurers and Deans of Guild of the City, so far as these are still in existence, down to 1556–57.

The continuous records of the Council, which commence in 1551, set forth details of municipal administration of great local interest and value, but too voluminous to be given in full with a due regard to the objects of the present publication. A wide discretion, in selecting and curtailing the materials since that date, has therefore been exercised; but when doubt existed as to the propriety of giving a passage, it has usually been inserted. Other sources of information as to the internal history of the City previous to the Reformation being so meagre, those interested in the subject are not likely to find fault with what may even be considered unnecessary fulness of detail.

The materials for the present volume have been mainly gathered from the several sources described in the preface to the first volume, with the following additions:—

(1.) A volume titled on the back, "Court of the Dean of Guild," "Burgh Court, 1529–1531." The first part of the volume consists of minutes of the Dean of Guild Court, from 29th April 1529 till 19th June 1557, but these are of little general value or interest, and it has not been considered expedient to put these in the present collection. The second part is intituled,"Liber Statutorum Burgi de Edinburgh, de mandato Magistri Ade Ottirburne prepositi ballivorum et counsulum eiusdum," and contains a series of acts relating to the police of the burgh, extending from 8th October 1529 till 19th October 1531. The whole of the series is included in this collection.

(2.) A volume titled on the back,"Accounts of Bailies and Town Treasurers from 1552 to 1567;" and,

(3.) A volume titled, "Dean of Guild's Accounts from 1552 to 1567.

The first of these volumes of Accounts consists of two parts separately paged. In the first part are recorded the intromissions of the Bailies of Edinburgh with extents or taxations imposed on the inhabitants, for various national and local purposes, between the years 1540 and 1566: and the second part contains the accounts of the intromissions of the Town Treasurers with the common good or proper revenues of the Burgh, for the ten years from Martinmas 1552 to Martinmas 1562; two accounts of David Symer, master of work, for taking down the old Tolbooth and building the new Tolbooth, 1561–64; and the Town Treasurers' accounts from Martinmas 1563 to 22d February 1566–67. The second volume contains the accounts of the Deans of Guild, from Michaelmas 1552 to Michaelmas 1567, with the exception of the year 1558–59, and the period from Michaelmas 1559 to May 1560.

The accounts both of the Treasurer and Dean of Guild for the years 1552–53 are printed nearly at length; and copious extracts are given from the accounts for the years 1553–54, 1554–55, and 1555–56, —unnecessary repetitions or details alone being excluded. The style and structure of the originals are thus exhibited, while every material fact illustrative of social and civic life in Edinburgh three centuries ago is faithfully given.

The work of transcribing these accounts, and of carefully collating the proof sheets with the originals, was readily undertaken by Mr Robert Adam, City Accountant, whose intimate acquaintance with the numerous and varied accounts in the archives of the City pre-eminently fitted him for such a work. To Mr Adam, therefore, the Editor offers his best acknowledgment for a willing co-operation which has largely added to the interest and value of the present volume.

The two volumes of Extracts now published bring down the selections from the records of the Burgh to within four years of the date at which the doctrines of the Reformation were formally recognised and established by Parliament. These four years were momentous years for Scotland; and it would be interesting to see from the contemporary records of the Burgh in which many of the most important events connected with the Reformation took place, how far the changes then in progress are reflected in the municipal administration. Doubtless, many of the Magistrates and Councillors of the day were active promoters of that trates and Councillors of the day were active promoters of that movement which more than any other has influenced the subsequent history of the country, and moulded the character of its people. The action of these men during such a crisis, even in the conduct of ordinary public business, is not without interest. Still more interesting must it be to discover from authentic records,—the very phraseology of which photographs as it were the incidents they narrate,—how the fabric of the old religious institutions succumbed to the innovating vigour of the new doctrines. The Council records and accounts of the Burgh contain many curious details illustrative of this portion of national history, and selections from them are being made with a view to early publication in a third volume.

Since the completion of the first volume of Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, there has been issued a volume containing charters and documents relating to the City, from 1143 till 1540; and the Corporation has authorised the preparation of a second volume, which will probably contain its charters and muniments previous to the date at which King James VI. succeeded to the English crown. These two volumes of charters, and the three volumes of Extracts from the Records, when completed, will nearly exhaust, for historical purposes, the materials in the archives of the City during the period over which those volumes may extend. It has therefore been considered expedient to postpone the historical preface to the present collection, and to make it applicable to all the volumes published and projected with reference to Edinburgh.

A table of contents, stating the source from which every extract in the present volume is taken, is prefixed.

Chronological lists of the Lord Provosts, Magistrates, and Officers of the Burgh; of the Constables and Governors of the Castle; of the Sheriffs of the County of Edinburgh; of the Parliaments and General Councils of Scotland; of the Provincial Councils of the Scottish Clergy; and of the Conventions of the Royal Burghs of Scotland, held at Edinburgh,—in continuation of those given in the previous volume,— will be appended to the next volume of Extracts from the Records of the Burgh. A glossary and general index applicable to the three volumes will also accompany that volume.


10 Bellevue Crescent,
Edinburgh, December 1871.