Act in favour of the burgh of Edinburgh anent the annuity

Forasmuch as the city of Edinburgh, being the chief and principal city of this kingdom, whether upon occasion of sitting of parliaments for the most part, the secret council and session and other great judicatories within the same, the nobility, gentry and people of the kingdom of all sorts and from all the corners of the country do daily repair and resort, not only the inhabitants of the said burgh but the whole kingdom is concerned that able and faithful ministers of parts and abilities suitable to the eminency of the place and weight of the charge should serve in the said city and, for their encouragement, competent stipends should be settled and provided for them; and seeing the teinds, rents and others belonging to the city for the use and maintenance of the ministers of the said city are far short and not proportionable nor sufficient for such a number of ministers as is necessary there; and the said town having been at vast charges for building of churches and public works, upon that and other occasions, the common good and patrimony thereof is exhausted and overburdened, and upon the considerations foresaid the inhabitants of the said burgh, who have the comfort and benefit of the preaching of the Gospel and ministry within the same, by the space of diverse years until this time, has been in use to pay for the provision and stipend of six of the ministers of the said burgh a yearly imposition and annuity at the rate and proportion of 6 merks for and pertaining to each 100 merks of the mail and rents of all the dwelling houses, chambers, booths, cellars and all other houses, high and low, inhabited within the said town; and his majesty and estates of parliament, considering that there is not a more easy and effectual way for providing and paying the stipends of the said six ministers than in manner and by the imposition foresaid, and that it is just and necessary that the same should be authorised and settled by a perpetual law in all time coming; therefore his majesty, with consent of his said estates of parliament, do statute and ordain that the yearly stipends of six of the ministers of the said burgh shall be imposed upon and paid by the inhabitants, tenants and occupiers of the several dwelling houses, chambers, booths, cellars and all other houses, high and low, within the said town, without exemption or exception of any house of whatsoever holding or nature the same be of, or of any person or persons of whatsoever degree or quality or place, upon pretence of any privilege or pretext whatsoever, and that the quota of the said annuity payable by the several inhabitants of the said houses shall be according and pertaining to the mails of the houses occupied and inhabited by them at the proportion of 6 merks for each 100 merks of mail so that the inhabitants and occupiers of houses of which the mail extends to 100 merks shall be liable beside and in addition to the mail pertaining and payable to the heritors and others having right, to pay yearly to the collectors of the said annuity 6 merks, and according as the mails of the houses occupied by the several inhabitants of the said burgh shall be less or more than 100 merks their respective quota of the said annuity is to be less or more proportionally; and to the effect that the said ministers are not frustrated of the payment of their stipends, it is statute that the payment of the said imposition and annuity shall be quarterly each three months in advance, the first quarter's payment beginning 1 February last and that the same shall be collected by the deacons of the kirks or by a collector to be appointed for that purpose by the magistrates and council of the said burgh in their option, and as they shall think fit and expedient for the time. It is always declared that the said imposition being only payable by the inhabitants and occupiers of the said tenements, chambers, booths, cellars and other houses shall not affect the ground and that the heritors and others having right to the said houses shall not be liable to the same unless they actually inhabit, occupy and dwell in the same themselves. And because it is not intended that the college of justice should suffer any prejudice in their liberties or that any member thereof should be unequally burdened, it is declared that the payment of the said annuity and imposition for the said ministers' stipends, being a cause so pious and necessary, shall not prejudge nor be derogatory to the liberties and privileges of the college of justice, and it is further ordained that the said annuity and imposition shall be laid upon all the inhabitants, tenants and occupiers of the said houses within the said burgh after exact survey by four sworn men in every parish, who shall survey and value the house mails aforesaid, whereof two shall be citizens to be chosen and sworn by the town council and the other two shall be nominated, chosen and sworn by the college of justice or such as they shall appoint, and the roll of the rents being subscribed by the said four surveyors in every parish shall be the unalterable rule of collecting for that year, except by warrant and authority of the commissioners underwritten in so far as concerns the members of the college of justice, and if the college of justice refuses or delays, being required by the magistrates of Edinburgh as follows, namely, the president of session and dean of faculty to be required in time of session upon six days and in time of vacation upon twenty days, in that case the magistrates and council of Edinburgh are to have power, after the said requisition and expiring of the time and days of requisition respectively, to nominate, choose and swear such of the college of justice as they shall think fit for surveying and valuing the said house mails, and if the members of the college of justice shall either not accept or not concur in the said employment being required, then and in either of the said cases the remainder of these persons chosen and sworn by the town council shall have power to go on in the said employment and act by themselves without the members of the college of justice not accepting or concurring, as said is; and if any question or debate shall happen to arise between the said collectors or any of the members of the college of justice concerning the valuing, exacting or uplifting of the proportions imposed upon them, it is thought necessary that there be some appointed for deciding of such questions and, therefore, his majesty does hereby appoint one of the lords of session such as shall be named by the remainder of the said lords, and the dean of faculty for the time, being an advocate, and a writer to the signet to be nominated by the advocates and writers jointly, and the four bailies of Edinburgh present and to come for the said burgh, or any five of them, two always being members of the college of justice and the lord president of the session and the provost of Edinburgh present and to come to be supernumerary, to the effect foresaid, authorising them and the said quorum with full power to judge, determine and decide all questions and differences foresaid summarily, and to do all things necessary for that effect, upon whose sentence execution shall follow, without any interruption by suspension on or other trouble, and as any of these four appointed for the college of justice shall fall vacant by not acceptation, death or otherwise, the same is to be filled by the college of justice, the president and dean of faculty being required for that effect; and in case the college of justice shall not fill the said place within six days after the said requisition in time of session and within twenty days after the same in time of vacation, the said vacant places shall be filled by the remaining members of the said commission. And his majesty, with consent foresaid, ratifies and approves the possession and use of payment of the said annuity and imposition since the same has been in use to be paid, and ordains all persons who are due and have not made payment of their quota and proportion of the said annuity, or any part thereof since the same was in use to be paid, to make payment of the same of all years and terms bygone since the time foresaid, requiring and commanding the deacons of the kirk and collectors one or more to be appointed by the magistrates and council of the said burgh, to collect, gather and uplift the foresaid annuity yet due of all years and terms bygone and in time coming, and that the magistrates of the said burgh see this whole act and ordinance obeyed and put to due execution, according to the tenor thereof, and to do all things necessary for that effect, and letters of horning and all other executorials necessary are ordained to be directed upon this act in form as appropriate.

  1. NAS. PA2/27, f.15v-16v. Back