This Thursday we have a transcript of the enlargement of the St Giles’ graveyard in 1496. At this point, St Giles’ would have been a Catholic church- with some burials taking place in the church. After the reformation, that practice was stopped, and when the buildings that constitute Parliament Square were built, the cemetery and those buried there were moved and then more recently paved over. Visitors can still see a marker where we believe John Knox is buried in car park space number 23.
Charter by Mr William Forbes, Provost of the Collegiate Church of St Giles, to the Provost, Bailies, Council, and Community of the Burgh of Edinburgh, of a part of his manse and of the glebe of his Church for the enlargement of the cemetery of the church. Edinburgh, 30th July 1496.
To all who shall see or hear this charter, Master William Forbes, Provost of the Collegiate Church of St Giles of Edinburgh, greeting in God everlasting: Know ye us with consent and assent of the prebendaries of our chapter of the said church, for that purpose specially assembled, solemn deliberation in the church being previously had, for the benefit of the same, in praise and honour of God Almighty and of his most blessed mother the Virgin Mary, and of St Giles, our patron of the same church, to have given, granted, and by this our present charter to have confirmed, as also to give, grant, and by this our present charter to confirm to honourable men the Provost, Bailies, Councillors, and Community of this Burgh, parishioners of the said church, All and Whole that our north part of our mansion and glebe of the said church next and immediately adjoining to the same, videlicet, the land and chamber of the curate and the school below with all their bounds and limits, containing and extending from the said church to the north gable of the house called the stable, and thence directly in a line westward to the lands of Alexander Gray and the late William Bigholme, on one and the other parts, in augmentation of the cemetery of the foresaid church and burying ground of the parishioners thereof. To have and to hold all and whole the said north part of our said manse and glebe, containing and extending as above, with the pertinents, to the said Provost, Bailies, Councillors, and Community of the said Burgh and their successors, from us and our successors, in pure and perpetual alms, by all their just and ancient marches and divisions, as they lie in length and breadth, with all and sundry liberties, commodities, profits, and casements, and their just pertinents whatsoever, as well not named as named, as well under the earth as above the earth, distant and near, to the said land, with the pertinents belonging or which can justly belong in any manner of way in time coming, freely, quietly, fully, wholly, honourably, well, and in peace, without any retention, revocation, or obstacle whatsoever; For which the said Provost, Bailies, Councillors, and Community of the said Burgh and their successors, who shall be for the time, are held bound to build or to cause to be built a new convenient chamber for the curate and a suitable school below the same for scholars above the foresaid stable, and in the same place where it now is, and that the entry to and exit from the said house shall be upon the east side of the same; also to construct and cause to be built a latrin in the house which is commonly called the gallery in a fitting place which to us and our successors may seem most suitable. The said Provosts, Bailies, Councillors, and Community of this burgh and their successors, who shall be for the time are also held bound to cause to be celebrated annually in the choir of the said church and at the high alter of the same, on the day of the decease of me the foresaid Provost, when it shall happen, an obit videlicet: Placebo and Dirige and a chanted mass of requiem for the health of my soul and the souls of my successors provosts of this church at the costs and charge of the said town of Edinburgh only: And we the foresaid provost, and our successors provosts of the said church who shall be for the time, shall warrant, acquit, and for ever defend against all mortals all and whole the said north part of our said manse and glebe, containing and extending as above, with the pertinents to the said Provost, Bailies, Councillors, and Community of the said Burgh and their successors as freely and quietly, in all and by all, in the like form and effect as is above written. In witness whereof my proper seal together with the common seal of the chapter of our said college is appended to our present charter; in token also of sasine of the foresaid land with the pertinents being given and delivered by our own hands by delivery of earth and stone to an honourable man John Foular, Dean of Guild of the said Burgh, in name and on behalf of the said Provost, Bailies, Council, and Community of the same, at Edinburgh the thirtieth day of the month of July in the year of our Lord one thousand four hundred and ninety-six, before these witnesses Mr Richard Robeson, Mr James Paterson, Mr William Balbirny, Sirs William Blaklok, George Cotis, and Michael Geddes, chaplain, notaries, with sundry others.