Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


The story of William Lindsay

William Lindsay was born in Leith. He first saw the light of day in Coburg Street in 1819. His father was a shipmaster. Articled to the legal firm of Simson in Bernard Street and serving for a time in an Edinburgh Office he started business for himself as a solicitor in Leith.

He gradually gained an interest in Shipping and during the Crimean War he had to do with the sending of steam transports to the French based in the Black Sea. In 1864 he ceased to practice as a lawyer but continued his interest in Shipping and general commercial business. Like so many Leith Merchants of public spirit he entered the Town Council and on the retrial of Mr Taylor he was elected Lord Provost of the burgh in 1860. He was in office for six years.

He had to do with the laying of the foundation of the Corn Exchange and took a prominent part in the meeting which Lord Palmerston addressed in that building. He was associated with Sir William Millar of Manderston and others in the successful attempt which was made to get the Government if the day to accept a cash payment in discharge of the large debt which encumbered the Leith Docks. Lindsay Road in North Leith is called after him because of the distinct improvement he caused to be made in the road at Leith Fort in the neighbourhood. He acquired more local fame however in connection with the improvement which he succeeded in carrying out the General Police Act of 1850. This he was able to do because of his practical experience happily combined with his legal acquirements. So the General Police and Improvement Act (Scotland) was passed in 1862 and became known over the country by the name of its framer as the “Lindsay Act”. However due to changes in sanitary science this act had to be amended in time. He was involved in General Police Amendment Act which was into Law in 1892 under the guidance of the Lord Advocate,

After his retrial he devoted his time to local charities and public bodies. He was an Elder of South leith church and attended the General Assembly as Representative Elder for Lochmaben. He was a widower at the time of his death and left two sons and two daughters. One of the daughters married a Mr J.Carlow who developed the Fife Coal Company which helped not a few leith people. Mr Lindsay died in February 1884 and a large oil painting of him can be seen in the old Council chamber there is also a bust of him in Carrara marble in the Town Hall.

South Leith Records (C)

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