This detail map of the Old Town in Edinburgh amalgamates features from the 1861, 1877 and 1885 maps of the city – many of the streets and places shown here no longer exist. The New Town is above the railway (see the Edinburgh District map).

Between 1840 and 1860, five of John and Janet McLeay’s daughters moved from Keith to Edinburgh: Anne, Jane, Mary, Margaret, and my 3g-grandmother, Helen. About the same time, or slightly before, four of John’s siblings and their families moved from Dingwall to Edinburgh (Margaret, Helen, Janet and Forbes). Aunt Helen and her family lived in the Old Town in close proximity to the McLeay sisters from Keith and, at times, shared addresses. In the 1880s, the sisters’ nephew, Alexander McLeay (son of their brother Alexander in Whitehills, Banffshire), also moved here and married.


The McLeay sisters Anne, Jane and Mary, and their aunt Helen, had all lived for many years just off The Royal Mile and High Street, the main thoroughfare leading down from Edinburgh Castle through the Lawnmarket.  By 1859, some of the sisters began moving to Simon Square, a few hundred yards south of High Street. Following are some contemporary sketches of the ‘closes’ and ‘courts’ they lived in.

MILNE COURT – Where the aunt Helen McLeay married Ronald McLeod in 1835.

JAMES COURT – Where the aunt Helen McLeay lived between at least 1838 and 1851.

ADVOCATE’S CLOSE – This is where the oldest sister, Anne McLeay, lived with her husband Angus McKay at least between 1849 and 1851.

OLD POST OFFICE CLOSEAnne McLeay and her family moved here around 1853, and was joined by her sister Mary McLeay and her 1st husband, George Baillie, in 1855.

BAILIE FYFE CLOSEAnne McLeay and her husband lived here from 1855 to her death in 1872. Five of their children were born at this address.

Nºs 26 & 27 SIMON SQUARE – between 1859 and 1871, four of the McLeay sisters variously lived either at Nº 26 or Nº 27 Simon Square, which lies about 800 m south of High Street. Jane was at both 26 & 27 between 1859 and 1871; Mary lived at Nº 27, at least from 1859 to 1861 ; Margaret was at Nº 26 when she married John Buchan in 1865; and my 3g-grandmother, Helen, was there between 1862 and 1863 when she married Peter McLaren and had their 1st child.


 


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