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The Rising Burgh: 1560 to 1770s

Everyday Life

The Home

By Hugh McBrien

Lord Darnley's Cottage Although finer buildings on the street frontages were now being built in stone and slate, most of the houses of the rising population were still built of timber and thatch. The town kept to its medieval limits, but became more built up with workshops and houses for their workers, so homes ranged in size and quality from palatial houses for the nobility to squalid hovels for the poorest workers in the growing town industries. As time went on, fewer people worked within the home. Industrial pollution and the rising population led to the digging of many wells in search of cleaner water, but by the 1770s crowded conditions and the lack of sanitation led to higher infant mortality rates and infectious diseases were beginning to take their toll on the lives of the families in the old town.

Delftfield bottle The town still produced a lot of its own foodstuffs, but this tended to be through the Incorporated Trade of Gardeners rather than by home production in each backland plot as in earlier times. The range of foods available to the well-off increased, and wine and other luxuries were imported in larger quantities. Coffee, sugar and tobacco came from the Americas and tea, cotton and porcelain from the East. Glass and fine pottery began to be produced locally towards the end of this period.

Provand's Lordship Pottery and metalwork became commonplace in the home. Locally made metal pots, pans and griddles replaced earthenware cookwares, while pottery bowls, jugs and storage jars became the norm and specialised items such as chamber pots were introduced. During this period fireplaces replaced the open hearth and coal began to replace wood as the main fuel. A wider range of furniture and household fittings became available, first to the upper classes, then to the less well-off as the economy grew.

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