Harled tenement 95-99 West Bow, Edinburgh built by Janet McMath (Widow of James Johnston, poultryman) in 1729
Until after the 1827 Improvement Act, West Bow was a steep Z-shaped street which climbed from the Grassmarket to Upper Bow at the foot of Castlehill. Most of the old buildings in West Bow were swept away to make room for the northern side of Victoria Street, built to link the Grassmarket with the new George IV Bridge. Before their demolition, Thomas Hamilton, the architect for the scheme, made careful elevational drawings of the buildings. As Hamilton's drawing shows, the first five houses at the lower end of the street on the West remain.
William Birnie Rhind RSA (1853–1933) was a Scottish sculptor. Rhind was born in Edinburgh as the eldest son of sculptor John Rhind (1828–1892), and the elder brother of J. Massey Rhind. The two brothers set up a studio in Glasgow in 1885, then Birnie moved to Edinburgh, and his brother went to Paris, then permanently to America in 1889, despite the warnings of their father. His younger brother was Thomas Duncan Rhind the architect.
His name is particularly connected to several dozen fine sculptural war memorials in the Edinburgh and Lothian area. The best of these is the hauntingly calm monument to the Royal Scots Greys on Princes Street in Edinburgh. Also of poignant note is the 1919 bronze figure of a fallen officer, telling his men to "carry on", which acts as the school war memorial at Fettes College, a private school in Edinburgh.
William is buried with his parents, and Alice Stone, his wife, in the family plot in Warriston Cemetery in North Edinburgh towards the south end of the original cemetery, facing a main path.
William Brodie (28 September 1741 – 1 October 1788), more commonly known by his prestigious title of Deacon Brodie, was a Scottish cabinet-maker, deacon of a trades guild and Edinburgh city councillor, who maintained a secret life as a burglar, partly for the thrill, and partly to fund his gambling.
By day, Brodie was a respectable tradesman and Deacon (president) of the Incorporation of Wrights, the head of the Craft of Cabinetmaking, which made him a member of the Town Council. Part of his job in building cabinets was to install and repair their locks and other security mechanisms and repair door locks. He socialised with the gentry of Edinburgh, and met the poet Robert Burns and the painter Sir Henry Raeburn. He was also a member of The Edinburgh Cape Club, and known as Sir Llyud.
At night, however, Brodie became a burglar and thief. He used his daytime job as a way to gain knowledge about the security mechanisms of his clients and to copy their keys using wax impressions. As the foremost wright of the city, Brodie was asked to work in the homes of many of the richest members of Edinburgh society. He used the illicit money to maintain his second life, which included a gambling habit and five children to two mistresses (who did not know of each other, and were unknown in the city). He reputedly began his criminal career around 1768 when he copied keys to a bank door and stole £800. In 1786 he recruited a gang of three thieves, John Brown (a thief escaping a seven-year sentence of transportation), George Smith (a locksmith, who ran a grocer's shop in the Cowgate) and Andrew Ainslie (a shoemaker).
The case that led to Brodie's downfall began later in 1788 when he organised an armed raid on an Excise office in Chessel's Court on The Canongate. Brodie's plan failed. On the same night, Brown approached the authorities to claim a King's Pardon, which had been offered after a previous robbery, and gave up the names of Smith and Ainslie (initially saying nothing of Brodie's involvement). Smith and Ainslie were arrested and the next day Brodie attempted to visit them in prison but was refused. Realising that he had to leave Edinburgh, Brodie escaped to London and then to the Netherlands intending to flee to the United States but was arrested in Amsterdam and shipped back to Edinburgh for trial.
The trial of Brodie and Smith started on 27 August 1788. At first there was no hard evidence against Brodie, although the tools of his criminal trade (copied keys, a disguise and pistols) were found in his house and workshops. But with Brown's evidence and Ainslie being persuaded to turn King's Evidence, added to the self-incriminating lines in the letters he had written while on the run, the jury found Brodie and Smith guilty.
Brodie and Smith were hanged at the Tolbooth Prison in the High Street on 1 October 1788, before a crowd of 40,000. According to one tale, Brodie wore a steel collar and silver tube to prevent the hanging from being fatal. It was said that he had bribed the hangman to ignore it and arranged for his body to be removed quickly in the hope that he could later be revived. If so, the plan failed. Brodie was buried in an unmarked grave at the Buccleuch Church in Chapel Street. The ground is now covered by a car park behind university lecture-halls. However, rumours of his being seen in Paris circulated later and gave the story of his scheme to evade death further publicity.
Deacon Brodie is commemorated by a pub of that name on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, on the corner of the Lawnmarket and Bank Street which leads down to The Mound, and a close off the Royal Mile, which contained his family residence and workshops, still bears the name "Brodie's Close". [Wikipedia]