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Architecture Notes

Event ID 771086

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Architecture Notes


Old Fishmarket Close is recorded in 1592 and was evidently named for the fish market set up within it, as noted in Town Council Minutes 1539; but interpretation of records is made difficult by the fact that the close as it is at present is a combination of a pair of closes shown, with the fish market between them, on Rothiemay 1647. The one on the East is "Fishmarkett wyne" on Rothiemay but Back of Borthwick's Close on Edgar 1742, and becomes the upper part of Old Fishmarket Close on Ainslie 1780; and it would seem that it was also known by the names, as yet obscure, of Carmichael's Close (mentioned in 1722), Gourlay's Close (1756) and Home Close (1707). The last of these might perhaps be the origin of the strange name Humph Close shown in Ordnance Survey 1852 as attached to its southern remnant. The western close of the pair is unnamed on Rothiemay, but is given as Fishmarket Close on Edgar 1742, while Ainslie 1780 continues that name for its southern half., but adds "Old", and shows the northern part suppressed by new buildings. On the assumption that the arrangement shown on Edgar 1742 and 1765 is the one referred to in charters dated between 1719 snd 1765, it is likely that this close was once Barrie's Close later Jolly's Close, mentioned in 1724 but as yet obscure, and also Suittie's Close (1741), perhaps from a connection with the family of wool merchants who were prominent in the town froom 1620 to the 1660s. The most ancient name of all is Swift's Wynd, recorded in 1539 but apparently going back to John Swift and his wife Alison, who acquired a tenement South of the High Street and "near the Cross" in 1427. Various references in RMS (Register of the Great Seal of Scotland Vols I-XI) 1433-1527 show that John and his son Thomas has more than one property between St Giles kirkyard and Borthwick's Close. The name Back of the Fishmarket is mentioned as an alternative to Barrie's Close, but it is also listed in 1635 as though it weerre the next close west of Borthwick's Close -i.e. the foot of the Fishmarket Wynd marked on Rothiemay 1647. (from Stuart Harris, "Place Names of Edinburgh", 1996, pages 270-1)

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