Grange footpaths in the 1760s – public access or enclosure?

Isobel Dick, wife of Sir Andrew Lauder
Isobel Dick “heiress of Grange” and mother of Andrew Dick. She and her parents all died at Grange House not long before Andrew Dick started a number of law suits.

Should the 18th century Grange estate be an enclosed area of “fine fruitful corn grounds” or “open upon all quarters and resorted to by the Rabble from Edinburgh”? In the 1760s the owner wanted to limit access to his estate. Like other lairds of the time he planned to improve his agricultural land by keeping people away.

Andrew Dick Esq. of Grange 1 had reckoned without the rich merchants living on the eastern fringes of his estate. They were outraged by his demand that they close up the doors in their garden walls, and by his attempt to stop people using paths that had been there “immemorially”. Legal action went on for nearly four years, from 1765-1769. The surviving evidence is often one-sided, bad-tempered, and overloaded with repetitive detail, but it still gives an interesting view of the area at that time.

Grangegateside map
The red paths are the ones explicitly named in the dispute. The red north-south route runs alongside a green patch where the merchants’ houses were, with the much-contested back doors in their garden walls. Turquoise lines are routes that have not changed for centuries: Grange Loan and Causewayside, Sciennes and Sciennes Road. Blue indicates the old “cart road” that gave access to Grange Farm and a track that turned off to the west past Grange House. Dotted lines show today’s Cumin Place, Grange Road and Lauder Road. More about this below.

Grangegateside

The merchants who challenged Andrew Dick’s plans lived in fine houses facing “the Street”, known as Causewayside today.  They were “feuars” (proprietors) of properties on the eastern fringe of the Grange estate in an area called Grangegateside. 2 The back doors in their garden walls were a key element in the access row.

A 1766 plan of the “lands of Grange” shows a path leading westward from the “high stone and lime dyke” at the back of the feuars’ gardens. It crossed a “cart road” before passing the northern entrance of Grange House and then meeting another track. The eastern part of this path was labelled “Dean of Gild’s [sic] Walk”.

Alongside the garden walls was a north-south road parallel to Causewayside, but this had been interrupted by a wall since the 1730s, though the feuars claimed there was a way round. Wider than the east-west path, the north-south route had been constantly in use as far back as anyone could remember, and “the back doors which [gave access] were all made a great many years ago indeed past memory of man” said the householders. Meanwhile the laird of Grange said the road had been of no use since Mr. Bayne built a wall round his property and furthermore it encroached illegally on Grange land. 3

Dean of Guild’s Walk

Sheens Walls, the remains of the Sciennes convent, source of stone for the Dean of Guild's Walk.
Sheens Walls, the remains of the Sciennes convent, source of materials used for the Dean of Guild’s Walk and seat.

This walk was gravelled in the 1720s or 30s, and named for Dean of Guild Thomas Dick, a merchant burgess, who had moved out to Grangegateside in 1725. The path was laid upon an older track, according to some evidence. 4 Mr. Dick used it for his morning and evening walks, and had a seat made near it for his pleasure. 5 One witness said he had helped make the path when “the Rubbish which was laid upon this walk was brought from the Sheens Walls [the old Sciennes convent]…as also the stones for building the Dean of Guild’s seat.” The feuars claimed they or their predecessors had shared the expense of the project. Andrew Dick said “the family of Grange” had given “a particular concession” to the Dean of Guild alone. 6  A few witnesses backed his case, though some of them were accused of being under his thumb, as his tenants or employees. One of these claimed the walk was used by “drunken washerwomen and smugglers” in winter and regularly ploughed up in spring.

Anna Seton, wife of William Dick
Anne Seton, Lady Grange (d.1764), who went shopping in Causewayside with two of her sisters, according to a witness in her grandson’s legal action.

The feuars had dozens of supportive witnesses reminiscing about past usage of the east-west path and the supposedly constant traffic on the north-south one. Lady Grange and her two sisters used to come along the Dean of Guild’s Walk to get to a local shop via one of the controversial back doors, said one witness. Two children living at the mansion-house were taken to school that way. These paths were indispensable for anyone walking from Grangegateside to the parish church: the West Kirk, St. Cuthbert’s. The north-south path was regularly ridden by Provost Drummond when he lived at Liberton, and it was the “common way which washerwomen took with their burdens”. It was essential to have an alternative to the main road. Since the “Turnpike was made” (c1754) the Street was “for at least one half of the year made impassable”. Walking on it then meant “wading up to the ancles”. It had become “so crowded with Horses and Carriages that foot passengers [could] not travel upon it.”

The West Kirk, St. Cuthbert's, parish church for a lot of the southern outskirts of Edinburgh.
The West Kirk, St. Cuthbert’s, parish church for the Grange and much of the southern outskirts of Edinburgh.

The laird’s “sworn measurer” said the north-south path was not part of the land feued out for houses in the 1680s. A surveyor produced a plan of the land that left out paths for getting around Mr. Bayne’s enclosure, according to the feuars.  An early ruling by a sheriff said the back doors should be shut up, at Andrew Dick’s expense. The indignant feuars, “Robert Tennent, Thos. McGrugar and George Boyd all merchants in Edinburgh and Mary Heron spouse to James Pinkerton likewise merchant in Edinburgh”, went to a higher court, generating a series of argumentative documents. 7

The laird made accusations that people using the back doors were stealing his corn and “cutt grass”. He also asserted that the disputed paths were neither needed nor well-established. The feuars said his ancestors had allowed these ancient paths to be freely used, and they themselves – wealthy merchants – could not possibly be stealing crops in the middle of the night. Indeed, any damage was more likely to be from Andrew Dick’s “tenant’s servants going betwixt the Causewayside and the Grange Farm”. 8

The Outcome

It appears Andrew Dick got his way sooner or later, as maps in 1817 and 1825 do not show the paths, although the field boundaries still follow their lines. There is no record in the bundles of documents referenced below of the finale to this process. Maybe they agreed things between themselves. Maybe a ruling has been lost – or maybe someone will find it.

References

Two bundles of documents and a plan, all held by the National Records of Scotland and covering 1765-1769:

  • Robert Tennant & others (Feuars at Grangegateside) v Andrew Dick of Grange (Court of Session: Bill Chamber Processes, Old Series, 1765)
  • Andrew Dick v Robert Tenant (Court of Session: Unextracted processes, 1st arrangement, Innes-Mackenzie office, 1768)
  • Sketch plan of the lands between Grange Loan and the Meadows, 1766. (Unattributed)

Also:

  • Miller and Grainger’s 1825 map of the Grange, held by the National Records of Scotland. Also see the smaller version in Smith’s The Grange of St. Giles.
  • Robert Kirkwood’s 1817 map of Edinburgh, in the National Library of Scotland map collection.

All quotes are from the documents above. It should be clear which side produced which remark, except for the second quotation about the Rabble. This was the feuars’ side arguing that they could not possibly be responsible for any damage since the land was open…to the Rabble etc. etc.

Map

Please note the illustrative “map” above is based on documentary evidence and early 19th century maps, as well as on the 1766 sketch plan. On that plan the east-west route is a straight line crossing the “cart road from the Grange to Edinburgh” almost at right angles. It shows the “Dean of Gild’s Walk” starting just north of the boundary between the feus of Mr. Cook and Mr. McGrugor. Cook’s one-acre property had belonged to Thomas Dick, Dean of Guild who bought it from the Black family in 1725. (The line the path took is also suggested by the 1764 Plan of the Ground of Sheens in Malcolm Cant’s Sciennes and the Grange, John Donald, 1990, p.41.)

Written evidence said there was “a road leading westward from the back of James Cook’s garden passing the north side of the house of Grange leading to an avenue which leads down to Mr. Forrest’s House.” (West Grange)  This track joined a north-south route at a stile, according to the 1766 plan, but it has not been possible to work out exactly where the stile was. It is shown at a T-junction between a path from West Grange to the West Kirk – “the Kirk Road thro Bruntsfield links”- and the path running past the entrance to Grange House.

Some evidence said access to Dean of Guild’s Walk was often through Mr. McGrugor’s back door which “was rarely more than sneckered”. Using the NLS georeferenced version of Kirkwood’s 1817 map, which shows the relevant properties and owners’ names, helps anyone exploring this. By 1817 Cook’s property had passed to Mr. Cowan. Miss McGregor is probably one of Thomas McGrugor’s four daughters.

A lot of argument centred on whether Professor Bayne’s interruption of the old, straight north-south path harmed the feuars’ case or not. The surveyor who sketched the 1766 plan mis-represented the reality on the ground, said Dick’s opponents, who claimed their back doors still led to a useful route into town, even if less direct than before.

On the 1766 plan the north-south route was labelled “old foot road to Edinburgh” north of Dean of Guild’s Walk, and “foot path behind the Garden walls” on the other stretch.

(An 1825 map has been used as a framework for this illustration so some background details will not apply. It includes roads planned for later in the 19th century.)

Pictures

  • 1724 portrait of Anne Seton, daughter of Lord Pitmedden, wife of William Dick 3rd baron of Grange, by Richard Waitt
  • Ruins of Sciennes Convent, Edinburgh, in the Hutton collection, c1800, CC license, NLS
  • St. Cuthbert’s West Kirk from Views in Edinburgh and Its Vicinity by J. and H.S. Storer , Vol. 2, 1820
  • Isobel Dick in 1731, from Grange of St. Giles, by Jane Stewart Smith. (Smith’s book is also the source for the 1825 map.)
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Notes:

  1. Later known as Sir Andrew Lauder Dick of Fountainhall and Grange, he did not live at the Grange.
  2. Their feus were on a strip of land 40 yards wide. Grangegateside included more land too, on the eastern side of the road, and down towards the Grange Toll.
  3. Surprisingly for readers who know Edinburgh today, the documents sometimes mention the “village of Causewayside”. The road that goes by that name now was generally referred to as “the Street” or sometimes the high road.
  4. Some people said it followed the line of an old stone dyke that had been taken to build McLellan’s Land in the Cowgate.
  5. Thomas Dick died in 1739 “…in an advanced Age. An honest, well-meaning Gentleman.” said the Caledonian Mercury, 1 Feb. 1739″
  6. Thomas Dick may have been a distant cousin to Andrew Dick, but this is not clear.
  7. Andrew Dick himself was annoyed by the ruling. He did not want to pay for shutting up the back doors.
  8. Tenant meaning tenant farmer.