News from the Archives – Advertisements


When the coronavirus closed the Cathedral, my access to the archive ceased.  Fortunately I have two shoe boxes worth of very early Cathedral magazines at home.  These cover the period from January 1879 to December 1902 which provide a cornucopia of fascinating information on many aspects of life in the Cathedral.

Surprisingly, this includes paid advertisements which first appeared on a regular basis in the magazines in April 1883 in the form of a loose-leaf advertisement inserted into the magazine.  It was from A. D. (no name given, only initials) who was looking for a position as a lady’s maid.

Prior to that date there had been a few “advertisements,” the first from the Organist Mr. Collinson and from three of the lay clerks.  These were printed at the bottom of the last page of the magazine, presumably free of charge.  Mr. Collinson’s first entry was in February 1879.  It was reprinted in March and again from May to October that year.  It read as follows:

O R G A N  L E S S O N S.
Mr T. H. COLLINSON, Mus. Bac. Oxon., Organist of S. Mary’s Cathedral, (late of Durham Cathedral, Organist’s Assistant and Deputy), begs to intimate that he will be glad to receive Pupils in Music, under one or more of the following heads: – PIANOFORTE, ORGAN, AND THEORY OF COMPOSITION (Harmony, Counterpoint, etc.) For Terms etc., please address 27 Walker Street.

Unsurprisingly the lay clerks offered singing lessons, two in 1879 and the third in 1881.

From 1883 the advertisements were charged at a cost of one shilling each and required the approval of one of the Chaplains.  The advertisements from April 1883 to July 1885 were loose-leaf inserts.  However, from August that year the magazines in my possession are insert free, whether they simply stopped or not I don’t know. The answer could be in the Cathedral’s accounts but again, these are out of bounds for the moment.  This gap lasts for eight years until September 1893 when advertisements once again appear, now printed on the back page of the Monthly Paper.

The majority of the earlier advertisers tended to be individuals looking for employment as servants such as butler, footman, house maid or cook, or offering a service of some kind such as dressmaking, nursing or providing a takeaway laundry.  This type of advertisement continued throughout the whole period under review.

Here are a few examples:

PRIVATE WAITER begs to inform the gentry that he will be glad for employment at all classes of Parties and Entertainments during the coming winter.  Thoroughly experienced in all branches of Waiting.  Employed in some of the best families in Scotland.  P. RUFFLE, 4 Caledonian Road.

PLACE Wanted as Butler, Handy Man, Caretaker, etc., by a married man.  Highly recommended by the Dean.  Apply, A. MILLAR, 20 Orwell Place.

LADIES’ MAID (Disengaged) understands her duties; can be highly recommended; has no objection to assist Lady’s Maids in Sewing and Dressmaking.  A. D. care of BRODIE and WELSH, 60 Castle Street.

DRESSMAKER, Experienced, Good Fitter and Cutter, goes out to Ladies’ own residence, or takes work at home.  Miss TREGANOWAN, 37 William Street.

NURSE, LADIES’ MONTHLY. – Very experienced.  Open to a few Engagements.  First-class References. Good Plain Needlewoman, Mending and Knitting.  MRS HENDERSON, c/o Mrs Kemp, 14 William Street.

YOUNG, ENGLISH LADY wishes Daily Teaching – English, French, Drawing, Mathematics, Junior Latin, German.  Young Children preferred.  Good References. – Address M., c/o Messrs. R. Duncan, 72 Haymarket Terrace.

MRS. CROSBIE, 33 Angle Park Terrace, begs respectfully to intimate that she has opened a Laundry at the above address, and hopes, with her practical experience, strict attention to orders, and punctuality, that those entrusting their washings to her may rely on getting satisfaction.


The Monthly Paper was also a useful place to find accommodation:

APARTMENTS (comfortable), bed-rooms, with or without sitting-room.  Board, or otherwise, Good cooking and attendance.  Terms moderate; well recommended.  Mrs. Taylor, 89 Lothian Road.

APARTMENTS (Superior), Bath – hot and cold.  Good Cooking. FIFE, 4 Haymarket Terrace.


The first business advertisement appeared in October 1883 by B. Garth & Son of Shandwick Place.  This must have been reasonably successful as they advertised again in December that year:

GARTH & SON, Tailors and Breeches Makers, 15 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh. NEWEST STYLES – Dress Suits, Clerical Suits, Worsted Suits, Boys Suits, Overcoats, Liveries, Ladies’ Jackets, Pulpit robes, Gowns, Cassocks, etc. Repairs of all kinds neatly executed.

The next business to advertise was Robert Home, who styled themselves as a dealer in “home and foreign Fancy Goods”. They first advertised in December 1884 and continued through to March 1901, advertising no fewer than 56 times.  During this period they moved premises from 30 Morrison Street to 24 West Maitland Street then back to Morrison Street initially number 224 and then to 230.  They finally moved to 60 Dean Street at the beginning of 1901. Their advertisement changed every few months.  Here is an example from November and December 1897 which reflected the approaching Christmas period:

HOME, 230 Morrison Street. – Birthday and other Presents, Albums, Purses, Combs, Brushes, Plain and Fancy Stationery, etc.  Jewellery Repaired.  Pictures Artistically Framed. Choice Selection of Christmas and New Year Cards for Foreign Mails. Agent for Thomson Ltd., Dyers and Cleaners, Perth.  District Agent for Edinburgh Laundry Company; Orders called for on receipt of Post Card.

The next most prolific advertiser was R. Grant & Son of 107 Princes Street (now the Next shop) booksellers, publishers, stationers and librarians who were still publishing books up to 2000.  They advertised 25 times from October 1896 to December 1902.

Going down the league table of advertising we have the Lauriston Dining Rooms with 17 advertisements, John M. Fife with 15 and Marsden Brothers with 13.

Here are examples of their advertisements:

GRANT & SON, 107 Princes Street. – Easter Cards – the best selection for Churchpeople, including Mowbray’s. Easter Presents. Common Prayer Book and Hymns. A. & M., as amended by command of King Edward VII., in various sizes and bindings. New Edition now ready.

LAURISTON DINING ROOMS, 156 Lauriston Place. – Dinners from 12 till 3.  Breakfast and Teas prepared in 5 minutes.  All sorts of cooked meats and fish. Potted-head a speciality. Picnics and Tea parties purveyed for.  Mrs COLLIE.

JOHN MUSHET FIFE, HOUSE PAINTER AND DECORATOR, 15 Haymarket Terrace.  Painter work properly treated.  Windows cleaned.  “Glacier” Window Decoration. To be added shortly, House Agency and other Departments.

WHITE SHIRTS Refitted with New Neckbands, Fronts, and Cuffs.  Clerical Collars kept in stock. MARSDEN BROTHERS, Hosiers, Glovers, and Shirt makers, No. 1 Teviot Place (opposite the M’Ewan Hall).


Finally here are a few other advertisements that you may find interesting:

A B. MCLAREN & CO., Plumbers and Gasfitters, Hot-Water and Sanity Engineers, 38 HOWE STREET.  Experienced Workmanship.  Modest Charges.  Drains Smoke-tested; Town or Country.  Orders Promptly Executed.

A B. CAMPBELL, being compelled through an accident to give up his calling as Plumber, begs to give notice that he has opened the A B C Tool Shop at 3 South-East Circus Place.  Orders for Repairs, Cutlery, Tools Sharpened, etc., would be gladly received.  Orders by post or otherwise.

COAL. – Families supplied in all parts of Edinburgh with the Best Scotch House Coals – Chews, Chirls, Nuts, Screened Dross, Pit Dross, and Gas Coke – at Lowest Possible Prices, Orders receiving prompt and careful attention.  Price List on application.  Every advantage given to large consumers.  R. J. SIMPSON, 16 Deanhaugh Street.

EDINBURGH SCHOOL OF COOKERY & DOMESTIC ECONOMY, LTD., 3 ATHOLL CRESCENT. – Open Daily.  Plain Cookery Demonstrations on Mondays, at 2.30.  High Class Cookery on Tuesdays, at 2.30.  Cookery Practice classes, Laundry Work, Sewing, Dressmaking, Millinery, etc.  Teachers trained.  Special Curriculum for Lady Housekeepers, and for Housewife’s Diploma.  Boarders received.  Prospectus at School.
(The Edinburgh School of Cookery & Domestic Economy became the Edinburgh College of Domestic Science in 1930, Queen Margaret College in 1972 and finally in 2007, Queen Margaret University.)

The most prolific year for advertisements was 1897 when 77 were printed.  At a shilling each, this would have brought in £3 17s. to help with the cost of producing the Monthly Paper which was constantly in need of money.  This may not seem much but in today’s terms this is roughly £504.


July 2020