Society which consisted of an area of land lying between the Flodden Wall and the Cowgate was granted to the Fellowship and Society of Ale and Beer Brewers of the Burgh of Edinburgh during the 16th century. The city reclaimed ownership but continued to use the name.
The Cunzie House or counting house stood at the foot of Candlemaker Row near the Cowgatehead. The building was demolished under the civic planning scheme.
The French Ambassador’s Chapel stood in the Cowgate. Charles Cauchon de Maupas et du Thour or de Tour (1566-1629) was a French ambassador to the court of James VI.
High School Wynd connected the Cowgate with Infirmary Street.
The residents living next to Campbell, Hope and King’s brewery in the Cowgate would always be aware of the smell of hops fermenting. The brewery was based in the Tailor’s Hall.
St Patrick’s Chapel was purchased from the United Secession Church by the Roman Catholic Church in 1856. The chapel would have provided a community centre for the working class men and women of Irish and Highland descent living in the Cowgate. The poet William McGonagall was brought up in the area. His parents may have lived either in the Cowgate or the Grassmarket.
The illustration shows the entrance in the Cowgate leading to the meal market. Held in the High Street the meal market became difficult to control and in 1538 a proposal was made in to re-site it at the foot of James Aikman’s Close.
The time ball on the Nelson Monument is not visible from the Cowgate. The residents would have had to depend on the One o’ clock Gun to set their clocks and watches to the correct time.
The houses in the Cowgate were occupied mainly by unskilled and casual workers and their families. Although the landlords collected rent from their tenants they failed to improve the property. The Free Church of Scotland campaigned to have the insanitary conditions within the property improved.
Rent collectors had a hard time collecting the rent from many of their tenants. Those unable to pay would pack their furniture and belongings on to a cart and leave after dark. They were known as moonlight flittens.