|Description||Sir James's grandfather, Sir William Dick, had been a leading light in Scottish politics, briefly holding the office of Provost of Edinburgh. He had grown so incredibly wealthy from his mercantile activities that he was called upon time and again to loan funds to the impoverished Scottish exchequer. However, his fabled generosity and fondness for litigation brought financial ruin. He died while incarcerated in a London prison during 1655, leaving his family so impoverished that they were unable to contemplate the expense of his funeral for a further six months. |
Within two decades, however, Sir William's grandson, Sir James Dick restored the Dick family's fortunes. Although the Dick family remained Catholic during the ascendancy of Protestantism, he too became Provost of Edinburgh in 1679, and his increasing prosperity allowed him to purchase property and land including the Priestfield estate in the 1677.
Ingeniously, he undertook to clear Edinburgh's streets of their filthy excrement at his own expense - arranging to have the stinking debris ferried out to enrich the Priestfield soil. And when an anti-Catholic student protest escalated into the burning down of the original Priestfield House, Sir James enlisted the king's architect, Sir William Bruce, then working on the Palace of Holyrood House nearby, to design a suitably lavish replacement, modifying the estate's contentious name to Prestonfield.
Contents: Accounts, 1694-1695