Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


The Watson Kendall Monument. (South Leith Parish Church)

The Watson Kendall Monument. (South Leith Parish Church)
IN the North-East Porch, which is really part of the portion of the church allotted to mariners, there is found the oldest monument in the church. It is situated on the capital of the north pillar, now partly embedded in the wall, which must either have carried the arch of a demolished transept or supported one of the corners of a central tower.
The monument consists of two panels, upon which are engraved the inscriptions. On the top of the moulding of the panels is a pediment, in the centre of which is sculptured a sand glass with the bold date, 1674, partly on either side, and under the date the letters M.M.T.K:
It is interesting that the oldest monument in the church should be connected with shipping. Leith has always owed its prosperity to the sea, and in all probability will continue to do so.
The inscription is as follows
Rt Panel—
Here lyeth Marrion Mackyne Spous to John Watsone, Skipper in Leith. Who deceased the 15th day of February 1674. Being of age here 34 years. Lyeth John Watson, Skipper in Leith Who deceased, Jan. 15th 1691. Being of age 61 years, and Androu Watson, and Alexander Watson, tuo of his.
Left Panel—
Here lyeth James Kendall, Skipper in Leith who deceased the last day of March 1674. His age being 40 years. here lyeth Alexander Kendall, son to the deceased James Kendall, Skipper in Leith, who deceased September 14th His age being 21 years.
This monument, as has been said, is the oldest extant on the walls of the church. Its situation renders it practically invisible except for the large initials. In order to decipher it, it was necessary for Mr Limond to throw wide open the doors of the porch, to turn on the light, and to mount to the top of the pillar by means of a ladder. Thus the discovery of the actual inscription was somewhat of an accident.
John Watson was a shipmaster of Leith and was Boxmaster of Trinity House on 12th May 1690.
This monument, almost forgotten in the dint light, is an allegory. After half a century it is very difficult to trace both the history and even the descendants of those commemorated in private monuments. Families either die out, or migrate to some other place, leaving not a trace behind. To stumble upon a monument, therefore, is to discover an impressive proof that things which are seen are temporal. It was possible to discover, by using the office where the Wills of the country are kept, some few facts about the monuments dating back from eighty to a hundred years. But it is impossible to use this channel for recovering any information about ordinary and unhistorical persons who died over two hundred and fifty years ago. It may be presumed, seeing their memorials are in church, that they served their generation by the will of God before they fell on sleep. But thick darkness hides from us how exactly they did it.
Source-South Leith Records 1922

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