Let's kick off in Enlightenment Edinburgh - knee-deep in claret and philosophers, and home to a number of fascinating characters! Your best guidebook was written in 1824: Chambers' Traditions of Edinburgh!
NICOLSON SQUARE (now in the heart of student-land) is no longer quite the elegant place it was when the Earl of Leven, General Alexander Leslie's elder half-brother, had his town-house there. Here Lord Leven and family entertained their American student friend, Ben Rush, who, as Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, paid for the gravestone of the Earl's second son, Capt. Willie Leslie, 17th Foot, killed at Princeton in 1777. Willie was only 25 when he died in the snow at Clark's Orchard, with 2 musketballs through his body. Rush later said that, when he got the news, for the first time he wept at a victory by his own side in the war...Willie is buried in Pluckemin, New Jersey.
There's a good café (which serves delicious bambi-burgers!), The Elephant's Sufficiency on the High Street. It's the bottom of the OLD ASSEMBLY CLOSE tenement where Betty Ferguson and her husband Alexander Scrymgeour-Wedderburn were living when they received the news of her dear brother Pattie's death at the battle of King's Mountain. The battle was on 7 October, but the family got the news about 2 weeks before Christmas. Bet that really made their festive season... NEW ASSEMBLY CLOSE, nearby, was the home of their early 17C ancestors, the Murrays of Blackbarony.
The 7-storey High Street land, east of Roxburgh's Close, containing the Fergusons' town flat, no. 333, was demolished c. 1929. Its site is now part of the City Chambers, but the adjacent lands give an idea what it looked like, a tall stone tenement with a shop on the ground floor. (The family lived in summer at Morningside, then from 1763 at Inverleith, and by the 1770s at Gilmerton.)
Further up the street, the neo-Classical statue of one of their family acquaintances, philosopher and librarian of the Advocates' Library, David Hume, was unveiled only a year or 2 ago. "Think for yourselves!" is the message of the deliberately blank tablets he holds. He once had a light-hearted argument with Lord Monboddo over whether Jamie Ferguson was wasting his time reading Eustathius' Commentary on Homer, and recommended Richardson's Clarissa to 15-year-old Pattie... all 8 volumes of it! "Le bon David" initially supported the rebels in the Colonies, but began to have misgivings by the time he died in 1776: before the conflict became a world war and before it touched the lives of his friends...
Parliament House is worth a visit - the hub of the Scottish legal system and workplace of Father and Jamie Ferguson! It lurks behind St. Giles in Parliament Square. During the Festival, it's a tranquil oasis of neo-Classical calm set apart from the chaos of the High Street. Lots of paintings of judges, & c, including some contemporaries of our friends, but I couldn't see one of 'Lord Pitfour'!
(While you're at Greyfriars, you might as well just pop across the road to the new NATIONAL MUSEUM !)
Other Edinburgh officers include the brothers Webster, James (1740-81), mortally wounded at Guilford Courthouse, and John (b. 1738), sons of the noted Minister of the Tolbooth Kirk and former Moderator, Rev. Dr. Alexander Webster (1707-84). Rev. Webster is said to have come up with the idea of a New Town in Edinburgh... Their family home was on the south side of the Castle Hill, in Webster's Close (where else?!). Sadly, it no longer survives. A 19C school, now the commercial Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, is on the site. Would the Rev. have approved? - He liked a drink, but claret was the classic Scots drink in his day. He was known as 'Bonum Magnum', and would many a bottle with friends and family, including his wife's nephew James Boswell. Whisky was for Highlanders, the poor, or medicinal! Edinburgh is more noted for breweries than whisky production anyway - but as usual, historical accuracy seems to go out of the window when it comes to making a fast buck out of tourists, and the site is very near the Castle and the coach park on the Esplanade... 'Bonum Magnum' and his wife, Mary Erskine, lie in Greyfriars, in unmarked plots close to the pillars of the Kinloch monument in the north-west of the kirkyard.
The tenement at 79 Queen Street (corner of North Charlotte Street) is also memorable as the home of a military family who returned from Upper Canada in 1819: Captain J.B. Nolan (70th Foot), his wife Eliza, her 2 sons by previous husbands, and their own 3 boys (The youngest, Edmond, was born here in 1820). Their second surviving son, Louis Edward Nolan, Canadian-born, and an infant at the time the family lived here - his first British home - became a noted author on cavalry subjects. He died in tragic and controversial circumstances in the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854. The ground floor of 79-80 Queen Street is now a pub, '80 Queen Street', which serves food and is handy for visiting the National Trust for Scotland and the NTS Georgian House. I'm not sure which flat the Nolans occupied, but one of them was until recently the HQ of the Scottish National Party.
The West End, a little later, includes 36 Melville Street, the last home of Gen. Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe. Sir Roger, a Boston-born Loyal American, died there aged 88 on 17 July 1851. After the fall of Gen. Brock and his aide John MacDonnell on Queenston Heights in 1812, it was Roger who saved the day - and Canada - from American invasion.