Ordinance of the Baillies in Edinburgh intended to restrain City Guard soldiers from Cursing and Swearing, 1720 - a broadside

Scope and Content

This broadside is addressed to Edinburgh and is dated 29 November 1720. The name Jo. Wightman, Baillie, J.P. appears at the bottom of the ordinance. There is a woodcut initial at the beginning of the text.

Administrative / Biographical History

Until the mid-19th century, broadsides provided the sort of information provided by modern tabloids. They tended to be single sheets of paper, unfolded, and printed on one side. Designed to be posted up in public places, broadsides were used for the printing of royal proclamations, acts, and official notices, and later on became a means of political agitation.

Edinburgh's 'baillies', the officials responsible for this notice or broadside, were the city's magistrates who had administrative and judicial powers. In Scotland the office of 'baillie', also spelled 'bailie', emerged in the 14th century. Since 1975, the title has largely become a courtesy one.

Those baillies present when this ordinance was issued in Edinburgh in November 1720 were: John Wightman, George Preston, Robert Grierson, and Hugh Hathorn. They were present as Baillies and Justices of His Majesty's Peace.

The ordinance was intended to restrain the soldiers of the City Guard from the 'immoral practices of Cursing and Swearing'. Those who were caught would be fined one penny and the money put into the poor box.

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Acquisition Information

Purchased. Accession no: E2007.05, January 2007.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) [online]. The word on the street. National Library of Scotland. [Accessed 30 January 2007].

Other Finding Aids

None prepared for this item.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.


Geographical Names