CANONGATE (Sugarhouse Close)

1752 Edinburgh Sugar House - BAILLIE Robert to 1754, MERCER William, MURRAY James, SHARP Thomas & STEWART Archibald.
1760 HUNTER Alex, MERCER William, MURRAY James, HUNTER James, HUNTER Alexander, SANDY George.
1778-81 KEMPTIE Francis (Canongate Sugar House) (no.160)
1800-27 JARDINE David & Co
1829-1852 MACFIE William & Co (Canongate Sugar House) (no.160)


1804-1835> MACFIE William & Co


1852-61 FERGUSON, J&A (no.8)


1881-91 JAGER George & Co

HIGH STREET (North Foulis' Close)

1726-73 St Christopher's Sugar House


1757-62 Leith Sugar House Co started by Edinburgh bankers (Grant)
1758 Leith Sugar House Co began selling sugars and treacles in Kirkgate (Caledonian Mercury)
1778-1783 PARKER (Leith Sugar House Co)



CLICK the for sugar houses in that street.

(For local directory of sugar houses, click here.)

(For national directory of sugar houses, click here.)





The width of this map represents 1.6ml / 2.6km.

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"In late 1726 he [William McDowall] purchased a share of Glasgow's South Sugar House and the St Christopher Sugar Warehouse in Edinburgh"(1) ... this is one of the earliest references to the earlier of the two Edinburgh sugarhouses.
Probably taking its name from the island of the same name in the West Indies, now St Kitts, where McDowall had considerable plantation interests(1), the St Christopher Sugar House was referred to as being both "at North Foulis Close"(2) and "at Red Lyon opposite Lucken Booths"(3), and so was situated in the closes on the north side of the High Street in Edinburgh.
The National Archives of Scotland holds a wide variety of account books, ledgers, letterbooks, and correspondence belonging to the St Christopher, as well as original individual customer orders and bills from the early years, covering 1730-73, and far too much to study in a single short visit to the city. There is nothing regarding the sugarhouse itself or the workers ... and the reason becomes apparent ... this was a warehouse rather than a sugarhouse, an off-shoot of the South Sugar House in Glasgow, and the connection is alluded to in the opening quotation.

Being referred to as both 'Warehouse' and 'Sugar House' is confusing, however the opening quotation makes the earliest connection and as yet I've found no indication of the purchase of raw sugar or the paraphernalia of sugar refining. A record of 1730/1 is for "Letters from Glasgow accompanying invoices of sugars sent by the carrier from the South Sugar House in Glasgow to their shop in Edinburgh."(4) Another that followed shortly after refers to "Receipts and receipted accounts for goods supplied for the warehouse, and for the printing of advertisements to encourage customers. Goods include brass pan and weights, chapen stoups, candles, copper scales, ledgers, and papers."(5) ... the utensils for selling, rather than refining. And in 1745, "Invoices of sugars sent with covering letters from James Anderson, Glasgow, to Alexander Innes, Edinburgh."(6)

St Christopher Sugar Warehouse appears to have been run almost continuously by the Innes family ... Mrs Margaret Innes initially and Alexander Innes from 1734.(7) Alexander Innes also appears to have had a position at the Royal Bank(8), and maybe because of this the 'books' of the Warehouse contain huge lists of bills of exchange, the credit of the South Sugar House(9), which Innes was required to get accepted ... in 1756 he was sent 3 bills with the note "Pray be so good as get some of your acquaintance to procure acceptance when due, he has been long owing. I have refused him sugar till he would pay up."(8)

So a good business move by the Glasgow concern. Maybe those that opened before them had not considered the fact that Edinburgh had no sugarhouse, yet had a monied section of its community for whom sugar would be a great treat. Surely some purchased direct from Glasgow, others through local grocers, but to have their own warehouse/shop from which sugars of all types could be purchased easily and quickly would have been a considerable advantage. So who were the local customers of the St Christopher Sugar Warehouse ? ........


The St Christopher Sugar Warehouse - Orders 1731-48
(NAS GD113/5/172b)

Small orders as sent on their individual slips of paper by the customer ...

Henry McDouall -

Leith the 19 of october 1731
Mrs Innes
Please send with the bearer half a hundred weight 7 pence
loaf suggar which is for a friend and the note of it and shal
pay you the same first first time I come to Edr
I am your humble servant
Henry McDouall

Mr Pipink
Andrew Laurie
J Trotter
Margot Richie

Mrs Wack -

Jun 30 1733
Send out 2 loaves of shugar onof
fine shugar and one of morning shug
2 loaves of [ ] bread for
we want bread att present
Mrs Wack

Ann Dalrymple
Mr Biggars
Robert Trotter

James? Orr -

Lanark 22 October 1733
Memorandum for James Hilken to
go to Mrs Innes at St Christophers
office opposite to Lucken Booths and get
a suggar loafe at 7 [ ] 6d per pound and
half a stone of powder suggar to me
?James Orr

Mr Mitchell -

Mid Calder 14th January 1734
Mrs Innes
Please send me by the bearer Alexander Gardner
one lump loaf of 16 or 18lb weight and two powder loaves
of the smallest which make a note of and shall be paid first
time I come to town I am
your most humble servant
David Mitchell

J H -

Send out 6 pound of best powder shougar
1 loaf of morning shugar
and send out a pair of stokins for Mrs ?Harmston

Robert Meldrum
William Fraizer
Lady Rilraik


The St Christopher Sugar Warehouse - Bills 1731-42
(NAS GD113/5/172a)

Little slips of paper for individual customers (date, items supplied, price, total) ...

Mrs Leech
Lady Dauphinton
Mrs Bisset
Mrs Pothins
W Stirling
Major Robertson
James Trotter
William Crawford

Lady Bogie -

Edinburgh November 22 . 1733
My Lady Bogie
Bought of the St Christophers Warehouse
1 loaf Powder Loaf 7lb 7oz @ 9½ - 5s.6½d
Second Powder 16 @ 5d - 6s.8d

William Scot -

Wm Scot
Bought of St Christophers Warehouse
June 22 3 loaves Single Refined 20lb 12oz @ 7½d - 13s.0d
2 loaves ditto 14lb 12oz @ 7½d - 9s.2½d
August 2 Tops Bastard 10lb @ 3½d - 2s.11d
September 6 1 loaf Powder Loaf 5lb 8oz @ 8½d - 3s.11d
Tops Bastard 8lb @ 3½d - 2s.4d

Lady Brice?
Lady Woolmot
John Goodale
Robert Trotter
David Oliphant

Sir James Johnston -

The Honourable Sir James Johnston
Bought of St Christophers Warehouse
March 24 84lb Best Powder Sugar - 2.5s.0d
August 4 56lb Powder Loaf - 2.2s.0d
56lb Best Powder - 1.9s.0d
September 20 56lb Best Powder - 1.9s.0d
December 4 56lb Best Powder & a Box - 1.10s.0d
1734 January 2 112 Best Powder - 2.18s.0d

Sugars 11.13s.0d
Bill on Patrick Caldwell March 1733 Returned - 2.0s.0d
Protesting Regrating & Charging - 3s.10d

William Hislop
Mrs Dowie
Mrs Turnbull

Mrs Rennie -

Edinburgh 26 November 1735
Mrs Rennie
Bought of St Christophers Warehouse
2 Lumps 35½lb Sugar @ 6¼d - 18s.9d
14 Best Bastard - 5s.10½d
28lb Middle Bastard - 9s.3d
28lb Top Bastard - 7s.3d

Robert Turnbull -

Edinburgh 9 July 1735
Mr Robert Turnbull
Vintner in Edinburgh
Bought of St Christophers Warehouse
Loaf 7lb 15oz Single Refined - 5s.3½d
22lb 0oz Lumps - 13s.3d

Received payment of the above with all
others preceeding the 6 October 1739
Alexander Innes

Mrs Davidson
Lady Cutheras
Lady Shawsfield
William Fraser

Mrs Andrews -

Mrs Andrews
14lb Middle Bastard - 4s.7½d
21lb Lumps - 10s.6d
4 pints Brandy - 6s.8d
4lb Brown Candy - 2s.10d
14lb Tops - 3s.7½d

Received the above 28 December 1736
Alexander Innes

Lady Bevly -

Lady Bevly
Bought of St Christophers Warehouse
January 3 Loaf 6lb 12oz Double Ref - 7s.4d
Loaf 8lb 6oz Single Ref - 6s.8d
4lb Best Powder - 2s.11d
January 28 4 B Powder - 2s.11d
March 12 Loaf 6lb 8oz D Ref - 6s.0d
4 Loaves 28lb S Ref - 17s.6d
April 11 Loaf 6lb 8oz D Ref - 6s.0d
May 8 Loaf 6lb 14oz DR - 6s.4d
4 Loaves 28lb SR - 17s.6d
8lb BP - 4s.8d
4lb MB - 1s.8d
July 26 4 Loaves 30lb DR - 1.6s.3d
Aug 1 4lb BP - 2s.4d
4lb MB - 1s.8d
Nov 1 4 Loaves 30lb SR - 18s.11d
Dec 11 Loaf 6lb 10oz DR - 5s.7d
Jany 1 4lb BP - 2s.4d
14 4lb BB - 1s.10d
Feby 4 Loaf 6lb 14oz DR - 5s.9d
13 4lb BP - 2s.2d
4lb BB - 1s.10d
21 Loaf 6lb 6oz SR - 4s.0d
March 5 Loaf 7lb 5oz PL - 5s.7d
17 Loaf 6lb 2oz DR - 5s.2d
19 Loaf 6lb 1oz DR - 5s.0½d
loaf 7lb 12oz SR - 4s.12½d
April 2 Loaf 7lb 7oz SR - 4s.8½d
4lb BB - 1s.10d
22 4lb BC - 3s.0d
23 Loaf 7lb 15oz PL - 6s.0d
30 Loaf 7lb 4oz SR - 4s.6½d
4 BP - 2s.2d
4 BB - 1s.10d
May 3 4 BP - 2s.2d
June 2 Loaf 5lb 15oz SR - 3s.9d
8 2 Loaves 15lb 2oz PL - 11s.5d
Loaf 6 DR - 5s.0d
9 4lb BB - 1s.10d

Amount of the other account from                     
13 Aug 1736 to 14 January 1737 incl - 3.3s.0d

Charles Glasier

Mrs Lindsay -

Edinb 1738
Mrs Lindsay
Bought of the St Christopher's Warehouse
January 14 Loaf 8lb 4oz Single Refined - 5s.10d
28lb Middle Bastard - 11s.8d
April 28 2 Loaves 14lb 8oz Single Refined - 10s.3d
28lb Tops Bastard - 10s.0d
Aug 24 2 Loaves 15lb 8oz Single Refined - 10s.8d
28lb Middle Bastard - 11s.8d

Received payment of the above with all others
preceeding this 29 September 1739
Alexander Innes

Lady Cuthererants
Mrs Urqhart
Mrs Yoriton
William Scott

Mrs Urquhart -

Mrs Urquhart
Bought of St Christophers Warehouse
March 9 4lb Best Powder - 2s.5d
May 11 Loaf 6lb 13oz Single Refined - 4s.8d
28 4lb Best Powder - 2s.5d
Octob 7 Loaf 7lb 12oz Single Refined - 5s.4d
January 20 Lump 23lb 8oz Lumps - 13s.8½d
March 28 Lump 18lb Lumps - 10s.6d

Lady Milton

Lord Royston -

Edinburgh 1739
The Right Honourable My Lord Royston
Bought of St Christophers Warehouse
1739 May 8 Loaf 6lb 9oz Single Refined - 4s.4½d
4lb Middle Bastard - 1s.10d
19 Loaf 6lb 4oz Single Refined - 4s.2d
June 2 Loaf 6lb 5oz Single Refined - 4s.2d
4lb Middle Bastard - 1s.10d
7 Loaf 5lb 11oz Double Refined - 5s.1d
Loaf 6lb 14oz Single Refined - 4s.7d
19 4lb Middle Bastard - 1s.10d
Loaf 6lb 8oz Single Refined - 4s.4d
July 4 4lb Middle Bastard - 1s.10d
Loaf 7lb 6oz Single Refined - 4s.11d
14 Loaf 5lb 11oz Double Refined - 5s.0d
Loaf 6lb 2oz Single Refined - 4s.1d
27 Loaf 6lb 2oz Double Refined - 5s.4½d
Loaf 6lb 11oz Single Refined 4s.5½d
4lb Middle Bastard - 1s.10d
Aug 6 Loaf 6lb 8oz Single Refined - 4s.4d
4lb Middle Bastard - 1s.10d
14 Loaf 6lb 5oz Double Refined - 5s.6½d
Loaf 6lb 7oz Single Refined - 4s.3½d
4lb Middle Bastard - 1s.10d
Septem 19 Loaf 5lb 14oz Double Refined - 5s.1½d
Loaf 6lb 9oz Single Refined - 4s.4½d
4lb Middle Bastard - 1s.10d

Received payment of the above September 1739
Alexander Innes

November 6 Loaf 6lb Double Refined - 5s.3d
Loaf 6lb 11oz Single Refined @ 8 - 4s.5½d
4lb Middle Bastards @ 5½ - 1s.10d


The St Christopher Sugar Warehouse - Individual Accounts (1751-1755)
(NAS GD113/1/304)

Entered into book by now, though much the same as above in all other respects.
From just two pages only ...

Lord Milton Apr 1753 to Jun 1754 22.13s.0d
Robert Brisbain May 1753 to Dec 1753 2.19s.7¾d
John Hay May 1753 to Mar 1754 3.1s.10½d
Mrs Thain ** Sep 1751 to May 1753 1.13s.8½d
Mr Robert McGlashan Dec 1752 0.14s.2d
James Mitchell Diddiston Sep 1753 to May 1754 0.13s.0½d
David Munro Jan 1753 to Apr 1754 5.0s.1½d
John Dingwall Feb 1753 7.7s.8d
William Stark Balmerino Jun 1753 to May 1755 15.0s.11d

** Three small notes in the accounts of Mrs Thain ...
1) On 15 Feb 1752 she borrowed 4.4s.0d.
2) Innes wrote, "She paid the above and I have cleared account with her and payed my room rent to the 1st September 1753. Receipt dated 28 June 1753."
3) And at end of column Innes wrote, "She paid the above 4th September 1754 and we have cleared account by mutual discharges."


(1) Wm McDowall letterbook; St Christopher Sugar House papers, NAS GD113, from 'That Nefarious Commerce' - St Kitts, Slavery and the West of Scotland c.1695-1735 - Stuart Nisbet.
(2) Edinburgh Directory 1752, Gilhooley.
(3) NAS GD113/5/172b.
(4) NAS GD113/5/151a.
(5) NAS GD113/5/173c.
(6) NAS GD113/5/204h.
(7) NAS GD113/5/7, 12, 153c.
(8) NAS GD113/5/12.
(9) NAS GD113/1/302,304,305.







The Edinburgh Sugar House Company - Minute Book 1752-63 & Account Book 1758-59
(Edinburgh Central Library - Y.HD.9111.8 - NRAS3563/125/1&2)

Notes from the Minute Book - 27 Apr 1752 to 26 Mar 1763

This book is an almost daily record of the internal running and the external management of the sugarhouse in Sugarhouse Close, Canongate, Edinburgh. Too much to take in during just a few hours research, I have attempted to obtain the important facts from the book, from which to get an idea of just how a small sugarhouse like this was run. Whilst I have always suggested that the majority of owners were not refiners and so left the day-to-day running to an experienced boiler and a foreman, these minutes show how the system worked ... the managers/owners appointed one from amongst themselves to be the "manager for the week", whose duty it was to visit the sugarhouse daily, check its smooth working and record what was going on that day.

The first week ...

Monday 27th April 1752 - Managers of The Edinburgh Sugar House Company - meeting held at the British Coffee House, Edinburgh.
Present were managers Robert Baillie, William Mercer, James Murray, Thomas Sharp & Archibald Stewart. Also present were William Alexander, Alexander Sharp and George Chalmers.
Tues 28th - Boiling sugars for lumps. 37 moulds filled. Pans charged with 4 tierces of sugar for lumps tomorrow.
Wed 29th - 39 moulds filled.
Thurs 30th - 43 moulds filled. Panman Terrol Mackanaly from London 12 for expenses and 30 per year.
Write to London for 3000 sticks, 1000 hoops, 4 dozen large and 2 dozen small eggbrooms, 30 bundles scale boards, 2 coal baskets, 9 pan stones.
Fri 1st - 38 moulds filled.
Sat 2nd - 41 moulds filled.

... and on ... extracts only, eg. moulds filled each day but I've only included 'highlights' ...

Aimed to buy sugar at no more than 34s per cwt.
Sugar from London merchant - 4 hogsheads each of St Christopher, Antigua and Jamaica.
Lime cistern found to be faulty.
Workmen - "Mr Knack, foreman, and his men".
Francis Kemptie clerk at Canongate, John Peat his under-clerk paid 15 per year.
Tues 12 May - 48 moulds filled. Small beer brewed Saturday for the men.
Sale of loaves - firsts 3.8s.0d per cwt, seconds 3.6s.0d per cwt, thirds lumps 3.3s.0d per cwt. molasses 16s per cwt.
John Peat given rooms to live in.
Wed 17 May - Advertising in local papers the sale of molasses.
Tues 23 May - Boiling for single loaves and brown candy loaves.
Out of 'the managers' a different one was appointed each week as 'manager for the week'.
June - Powder loaves sold at 4.4s.0d per cwt.
Thurs - 169 double loaves moulds and 41 single moulds filled.
Fri - 94 canary moulds filled for best lumps.
Sat - 103 lump moulds filled.
Fri 7 July - 258 single loaf moulds filled.
Tues 18 - 291 single loaf moulds filled.
Wed 19 - 245 double loaf moulds filled.
Mon 2 Oct - Syrup and scum this day filled. 42 bastard moulds filled.
Mon 9 - 254 doubles in afternoon. 358 singles.
Extra 700 single loaf moulds ordered.
* Pans charged in afternoons for boiling next day - morning boiling and filling, charged again in afternoon. *
4 Dec - 20 reams of 'sugar' paper from Holland.
Prices up in London, so prices increased - 4th powder 42s, 3rd powder 54s, 2nd powder 68s, lumps 72s, 75s, 78s, single loaves 82s, 84s, powder loaves 4.10s.0d, double refined 10d, 11d, 12d, brown candy 9d, molasses 14s.
20 Dec - New panman needed, but delayed by Knack (foreman over panman). Insurance needed - Sun Fire Office 700 house, 500 utensils, 2000 stock, total 3200.
3 Jan 1753 - 100 more bastard moulds ordered and 500 bastard mould hoops.
Thurs Feb 5 - 170 double loaf moulds and 10 white candy pots filled.
Cooper needed at 6s per week - Mr Bell.
26 Mar - Terrol the boiler/panman at last dismissed.
"Ordered the clerk to buy cloth fit for making frocks for the men".
"Met with a gentleman from Hull about the molasses and agreed a price".
Thurs 31 May - Clerk receiving sugar from ?Haxton of London.
Tues 13 June - 75 lump moulds filled, 141 singles.
Wed 4 July - 254 small singles filled.
Wed 18 July - 249 Singles filled.
3 pans filled 163 canary moulds for second lumps and 3 pans charged for boiling tomorrow.
Fri 24 July - 240 singles filled.
Sat 25 July - 233 singles filled.
Quality less because of lack of 'upstairs man' - Cunningham employed.
23 Sep - To pay 3 guineas for pipe for water to sugarhouse for one year.
11 Oct - No sugar boiled owing to scarcity of water.
Mon 3 Dec - 136 lumps, weight 23:0:15 was boiled in one pan for double refined and filled 222 double refined moulds.
Fri 14 Dec - Men employed claying sugars.
Sat 15 Dec - Men employed claying sugars.
24 Dec - 88 lump moulds filled.
25 Dec - Men employed upstairs.
26 Dec - New fire stones being placed under pans.
27 Dec - New fire stones being placed under pans.
28 Dec - 90 lump moulds filled.
29 Dec - 87 lump moulds filled.
31 Dec - 91 lump moulds filled.
1 Jan 1754 - 85 lump moulds filled.
Nov - Robert Baillie left the Company.

... continues like this ... now only the unusual ...

May 1758 - Dismissed Cameron and Duncan for fighting and doing mischief in the sugarhouse.
Mon 28 Aug 1758 - One of the stoves caught fire and burnt all the goods within it and the house being in such confusion that it prevented business ... melancholy accident ... clerk to notify Mr Baird agent for Sun Fire Office of this misfortune ... men were requested to sit up all night to prevent further danger. Walls of stove very weak now, had to be rebuilt before new arch could be built above.
Oct 1759 - It seems generally raw sugar supplied by London merchants Innes & Clerk ... however at this time poor sugar supplied ... 11 hogsheads of Jamaica proved 'average bad' and 10 hogsheads of St Kitts 'very bad' in the boiling ... demanded some allowance.
20 Oct 1760 - Charles Gib the Company's apprentice panman wished to be discharged from his indenture with loss of wages. Managers allowed this owing to his previous bad behaviour.
New managers listed as Alex Hunter, William Mercer, James Murray, James Hunter, Alexander Hunter, George Sandy. Also mentioned are William McFarlane, William Willie, James Scott.
Mar 1761 - Sugars to be sold at - treble loaves at 13d, double loaves at 12d per lb, powder loaves at 94s-98s, single loaves at 89s-91s, lumps at 82s-86s, powder 55s, 60s, 64s, 72s, 80s.
21 Jun 1762 - purchase/order from Innes & Hope of 400 lump moulds, 300 bastard moulds, 100 canary moulds, 300 single moulds, 100 double moulds. (no jars ?) And also questioning the best source of raw sugar requiring samples from London and Glasgow.
Feb 1763 - Prices of refined sugar have fallen considerably in London so priced reviewed.

Sample extracts from the Account Book - 18 Feb 1758 to 22 Nov 1759

* Prices, etc

First day ...
Sold old staves 1s.3d
11 loaves 2nd single 1.0.7 at 76s 4.0s.9d
molasses 3.1.0 at 30s 4.17s.6d
1 box brown candy 0.0.59 at 9d 2.4s.3d
2nd powder 1.0.0 at 2.17s.0d
3rd powder 1.0.0 at 2.13s.0d
5 loaves treble 0.0.33 at 11d 1.10s.3d
4 loaves double 0.0.29 at 10d 1.4s.2d

Second week ...
Bought 19 hogsheads Jamaica sugar 233.7.20 nett at 15 cwt 526.6s.9d
Sold 7 loaves 3rd lump 2.0.6 at 68s 6.19s.7d
4 loaves 2nd lump 1.0.23 at 70s 4.4s.4d
fine powder 1.0.0 at 3.3s.0d
4th powder 1.0.0 at 2.6s.0d
carriage for 124 hogsheads of sugar 9.18s.0d
10 loaves best single 1.0.0 at 4.0s.0d
12 loaves best single 1.0.12 at 78s 4.6s.4d
11 loaves best single 1.0.6 at 80s 4.4s.3d

Apr 1758 ...
Paid Wilkie for coals 7.8s.3d

Jun 1758 ...
blue paper from Holland 25.1s.6d

Nov 1759 ...
Sold -
4 loaves double 0.0.28 at 11½d 1.6s.10d
4 loaves lump 1.0.8 at 81s 4.6s.9d
2nd powder 1.0.0 3.12s.0d
4th powder 1.0.0 2.19s.0d
9 brown candy 0.0.68 at 11½d 3.5s.2d
11 loaves 2nd single 1.0.10 at 88s 4.15s.10d
molasses at 28s
3rd powder 1.0.0 at 3.5s.0d
5 best lump 1.0.1 at 85s 4.5s.9d
11 loaves best single 1.0.9 at 90s 4.17s.2d
second best lump at 84s
20 loaves 2nd single 2.0.4 at 88s 8.19s.1d
Bought -
5 hogsheads St Kitts 50.3.16 at 51s 129.15s.6d
15 hogsheads Jamaica 162.2.0 at 42s.6d 345.6s.3d
20 hogsheads Jamaica 222.2.21 at 46s 512.15s.1d
20 hogsheads St Kitts 231.3.13 at 50s 579.13s.9d
12 hogsheads Jamaica 138.3.26 at 44s 305.15s.2d
charges 14.8s.5d
commission 23.11s.11d
insurance 53.15s.6d
arrived on board the Glasgow Paisley packet, Capt Thomson
104 hogsheads shipped by Innes & Clerk of London

* Wages, etc

Second week ...
Paid Brine Brines (boiler) 4.0s.0d
Paid Niss Volquardson (panman) 2.0s.0d

1 Apr 1758 ...
Paid Francis Kemptie (clerk) salary Dec 25 to Mar 25 12.10s.0d
Paid Brine Brines 4.0s.1d
Paid Niss Volquardson 3.10s.0d
Received from Niss Volquardson 1.4s.0d

27 Apr 1758 ...
Paid Brine Brines 2.0s.0d

20 May 1758 ...
Paid Brine Brines 5.0s.0d
Paid James Cunningham (upstairs man) a quarters wages 4.0s.0d

3 Jun 1758 ...
Paid Niss Volquardson 2.0s.0d

29 Jun 1758 ...
Paid Brine Brines 5.0s.0d
Paid Francis Kemptie 12.10s.0d

5 Aug 1758 ...
Paid Brine Brines 5.0s.0d
Paid James Cunningham a quarters wages 4.0s.0d

30 Aug 1758 ...
Paid Brine Brines 5.0s.0d

4 Sep 1758 ...
Paid Niss Volquardson 2.0s.0d

Nov 1759 ...
Paid Brine Brines 4.0s.0d
Paid Niss Volquardson 2.0s.0d





Sugar House Company - An Old-Time Edinburgh Industry
By W Forbes Gray
The Weekly Scotsman, Saturday May 15, 1926

There has recently been acquired for the Reference Department of Edinburgh Public Library two Manuscript volumes of folio size bound in stout calf, containing the minutes and accounts of the Edinburgh Sugar House Company, a manufacturing concern which flourished in the middle of the eighteenth century.
The Company had its headquarters in an old mansion (now gone) on the south side of Canongate, formerly belonging to the Earl of Dunkeld. The "Sugar Work House", the exact site of which is shown on Edgar's "Plan of Edinburgh" (1765), was situated in what came to be known, appropriately enough, as Sugar House Close. It comprised a square block of buildings immediately to the rear of that timber-fronted dwelling, opposite the Canongate Churchyard, which has for many years been designated (probably erroneously) Huntly House. The premises were bounded on the east by the property of the Incorporation of Hammermen of Canongate and on the west by Moray House.
The Company was formed on April 24, 1752, and a charter of confirmation was granted to the trustees on June 3, 1767. How long the Company carried on operations I have not been able to ascertain, but probably the concern existed into the nineteenth century. At all events, The Sugar House was burned on January 8, 1800, and there is mention of it in the Town Council minutes so late as May 20, 1807.
The minute book that has been preserved covers the first ten years of the Company's existence, and gives a detailed account of an episode in the economic history of Scotland which well repays study. The volume of accounts, on the other hand, records the transactions for the years 1758-59, when the Seven Years' War was raging, a circumstance which interfered considerably with the Company's importation of raw sugar from the West Indies.
Wavering Fortunes.
From the outset the Sugar House seems to have been carefully managed. There is ample evidence that its promoters were men of experience and enterprise, who, while keeping a watchful eye on the internal affairs of the Company, devoted their main energies to improving and cheapening the process of sugar manufacture as well as to securing fresh markets for their goods. Large supplies of raw sugar were imported which were refined at the premises in Canongate.
The first balance-sheet showed a profit of 739.12s.6d. In 1754 a dividend of 4 per cent was recommended, though the profits had fallen to 574.16s.3d. A special effort, however, was made to promote the sale of the Company's sugar, the shareholders being asked "to take the trouble to direct that no other be used in their family but that is the manufactory of the Company, and that they will recommend the same to their friends."
On June 15, 1757, the managers asked for powers to borrow a sum not exceeding 4000, which increased capital might, it was thought, "be of real benefit and forward their gains." But "the unsettled state of publick affairs" pressed hard on the Company.
In June 1762 a loss of 576.5s.9d on the year's working was reported. The Company's stock was "too small for the operations of the House, especially in time of war," and eventually the money for purchasing sugar was so reduced that supplies amounted to not more than a third of the quantity used in normal times.
As a result of the straitened circumstances, an attempt was made by the Company to impose a regulation which, in the opinion of the managers, created suspicion that in their purchases they promoted rather the interest of the Company's factors in London than the aims of promoters of raw sugar in Scotland. The managers contended that it was impossible to carry on the manufacture of sugar baking without a factor in London, the market there being on many accounts the most advantages of the Company. It afforded "three very essential requisites" - the greatest choice of muscovadoes; the opportunity of buying up the largest quantity; and the best assortments. The last mentioned were to be had when prices were at their lowest, whereas importation into Scotland was most precarious.
Extended Premises.
Three years after the Company was formed plans were prepared for the erection of a warehouse for storing "refined goods". In July 1758 the east gable of the Sugar House was reported to be "rent in many places." It was therefore decided to rebuild the premises as well as extend them 17½ feet eastwards in order to carry on the Company's affairs with more convenience than hitherto.
Before, however, the work could be undertaken permission had to be obtained from the Incorporation of Hammermen, which body assented to building operations on the foundation of "the mutual garden dyke belonging to the said Corporation, and this Company, but to go no further east therewith," provided that the Company agreed "to be at the sole expence of repairing the said mutuall wall from the Dutchess of Gordon's lodgings to the said new building." The Company was also to allow the Hammermen to build "ane tenement on the foundation of the said mutuall garden wall" at any point below the Sugar House.
In July 1761 Lord Kames proposed that, "as the new road at the back of the Canongate on the south side" would "encroach on the dyke at the foot of the garden belonging to the Company," the latter should be rebuilt at the Company's expense. Evidently Kames's proposal was given effect to, for on November 13 it was reported that the expense of "rebuilding the wall at the south side of the Company's property" which was "lately pulled down in order to widen the new road" (ie, South Back of Canongate) was estimated at 9.12s.6d.
Relations with Workpeople.
The Minute Book throws interesting sidelights upon the relations between the Company and its workpeople. In the first year of the Company's existence there is an entry ordering "a boll of malt to be got to brew small beer for the men," while another empowers the Clerk to "gett beds, blankets, and sheets for the men's beds" in the "most frugal manner," an instruction which suggests that the workmen slept at the Sugar House.
The methods employed by the managers to settle labour disputes were marked by an Arcadian simplicity. A troublesome employee was John Peat, who, dissatisfied with the rate of pay, did his best to foster a like spirit among his fellow workmen. In March 1756 Peat, having been offered another situation, demanded more wages. But his services were not rated so highly as he imagined, for the managers refused "to augment his salary" and gave him "free liberty" to go. If, however, he was "satisfied to stay and mind his business," they were "content to keep him."
Peat did remain with the Company, but only to make mischief, becoming the leading spirit at the Sugar House for a "down tools" policy. In short, the workpeople refused to serve the Company without an increase of wages. But the managers were not to be intimidated. They resolutely declined to comply with the men's demands, and informed them that they (the managers) did not choose "to keep them above a month, but if any wished to remain they were to inform the Clerk." Peat now submitted a petition "in vindication of himself in the men's affairs," in response to which the Clerk was instructed "to give him a rebuke, to be more careful thereafter."
Service Rewarded.
But if the managers dealt firmly with recalcitrant workmen they were not slow to recognise conscientious service; they could be generous as well as just. On August 16, 1756, there is this quaint entry :-
"The managers, being sensible of Mr Kemptie's attachment to the interests of the Company, and of his care, industry, and application in all their concerns, have resolved as an incitement to him to continue such good services, to give him what sugars he shall want for the use of his family, and therefore they allow him from time to time to take what sugars he wants for that purpose at the sight of the manager for the week, and to state what he takes under charges of management."
An even more novel form of recompense is suggested by the manager's approval of the action of their Clerk in inviting the boilerman to a neighbouring public-house, and giving him "a glass of punch," because of his having been "very carefull and working hard upstairs himself on account of two of the men being sick." Nor were the grocers who did business with the Sugar House forgotten. In December, 1756, they were invited to meet with the managers "to drink a glass with us in Richard Johnston's, vintner."
A Fire at the Sugar House.
Numerous entries indicate that the Company was not unmindful of the welfare of the inhabitants of Canongate. In January 1757 a donation of two guineas was voted for the relief of the poor "in this time of scarcity"; likewise 40s towards the cost of lighting a lamp for a whole winter," a burden which the Company undertook at the request of the Magistrates. In 1758 the funds of the burgh were still low, and the Magistrates asked the Company to "continue to favour them with defraying the expense of the lamp." The response was 20 Scots. A third appeal was made, and another donation was voted.
On August 28, 1758, a fire occurred at the Sugar House which caused damage to the extent of 351.16s.7d. Next day the Clerk was instructed "to invite the Gentlemen in Canongate that gave us their assistance yesterday to meet with us this evening to drink a glass in James Aitken's, and the Gentlemen in Town tomorrow evening in Richard Johnston's." Three guineas each were given to the "Town Guard, Firemen, and Watermen that attended at the fire."
Nor were the managers forgetful of the "hard labour and fatigue" of their own employees on the occasion, the Panman being given a crown and each of the other servants half a crown. "Mr Brown, the Company's boiler," who as a result of his exertions, was confined to bed for several days, was rewarded with a suit of clothes. Brown might choose any colour, but the cloth must not exceed 7s per yard.
Such are the few gleanings from the crowded pages of the Minute Book of the Edinburgh Sugar House Company. The last entry is dated March 26, 1763.

[By kind permission of the Scotsman Publications Library and Syndication Executive, Edinburgh, 2011.]





An Old Minute Book - The Edinburgh Sugarhouse Co, 1763 to 1773
By A C Cumming

Dr A C Cumming was an Australian by birth and, as well as being a Professor of Chemistry at Edinburgh University and a Board Member of United Molasses, was on the Board of Macfie's for fourteen years and Managing Director until his retirement in 1937. In his notes he refers to the Liverpool branch of Macfie's as "the only one that survives", showing that his little book was written prior to its closure in 1938. His extracts from the [second] Minute Book are sandwiched between notes on the history of Macfie's.

Notes from the Minute Book - March 1763 to November 1773

Boiler, upstairsman and cooper all lived in sugarhouse or in rooms attached.
Weekly Managers meetings, every Monday, 5 regularly attended. In turn, one attended the sugarhouse each day and signed in for which they were paid 2/6 per week.
25 April 1763 - Selling prices had to be reduced to match London prices.
Innes & Hope, brokers, from whom raw sugar was purchased. Order placed for 90 hogsheads to be sent no more than 10 or 12 per ship as would not be insured at that time of year.
11 July 1763 - House boiling 15 hogsheads per week, 8-9 tons.
The clerk, Mr Komptie, visited London for instruction in London sugarhouse at the expense of the company.
Two skilled men were the boiler and the upstairsman. The boiler was responsible for boiling the sugar, the upstairsman for filling the moulds and drying and packing the loaves.
Loaves were usually packed in barrels, hence the need for a cooper.
24 December 1764 - Mr Gutzmer the boiler was unhappy with the standards of the upstairsman, David Tweedie. He asked for a replacement from London. Mr Innes was asked to consult Mr Ede and his boiler Mr Wirth.
Tweedie was taken before the magistrates for libelling the cooper ... false libel admitted and Tweedie left his job.
28 January 1765 - The clerk received a letter stating that Mr Ede had found a "proper" upstairsman Peter Saat, previously with Dandridge & Blount "one of the greatest sugarhouses in London", and that Mr Guzman was already well aquainted with him.
7 March 1765 - Peter Saat arrived on foot from South Shields where his ship put in owing to bad weather (102 miles).
1765 - A general shortage of water in the city was causing considerable problems.
1766 - The underclerk, William Strachan, in very poor health. When he dies the company to pay for very simple funeral.
1766 - Accounts showed sugarhouse in a poor state finacially, however 1767 and 1768 were OK at around 1000 profit each year.
1770 - Mr Guzmam left in disgrace and Peter Saat was made boiler but required 3 months training in London and the House stayed idle.
1770 - Mr Ede of London to be thanked for all his help over previous years. 10 dozen of best claret to be sent by ship to Mr Innes for delivery. [Chopin bottles mentioned here.]
1772 - The dwelling house in which the panman, James Morton, and his family lived fell down, all lost. Clerk gave him 40 to help as he'd been in their employ for 14 years.

Notes regarding Macfie's ownership of the refinery in Sugarhouse Close

In 1804 William Macfie built the Leith Sugarhouse on the site of the old Red Herring House.
It burnt down in 1822 and was immediately rebuilt on the 'fireproof' principle.
The 'fireproof', and thus uninsured, sugarhouse collapsed in 1829 as the result of a fire !
Straight away Macfie's purchased the idle sugarhouse in Sugarhouse Close, on Canongate, and had it working within 3 weeks.
Leith was rebuilt and worked into the 1840s, Sugarhouse Close closed in 1840 [?].




Carlier (Edinburgh Sugar House Co) v Begrie, 1785
(National Archives of Scotland - CS271/18465)

John CARLIER, cashier & clerk to The Edinburgh Sugar House Company, represented the Company at the Court of Sessions in a claim for incorrectly charged import duties on sugar into Edinburgh, 1785.




the new ... ... and the old ...
... together in Canongate
images bryan mawer 2011