The value of paper
In the times of turmoil from at the
end of the sixteen-hundreds, the Bible was the vital key to church, state and
law, to education and to morality. In
Paper quality in
While rough paper might do for wrappers and handbills, something whiter and more substantial was needed for publishing, especially for the heavy use of bibles up and down the land. Using the purer Penicuik water from St Mungo’s well, and with expertise largely borrowed from France and the Low Countries, the making of high quality paper began here in Penicuik thanks to Agnes Campbell, –and was to continue on the Esk for 300 years.
Agnes Campbell was always on the lookout for more space –quiet rooms for proof reading, drying rooms for fresh paper and print. She acquired the lands of Roseburn and Tollcross in her own right and because of this was given the courtesy title of Lady Roseburn.
Her persistence was matched with good connections. Her family relative the Earl of Argyll was an important political figure, her sister’s husband was leading Scots banker and goldsmith William Law. And her young nephew, the brilliant risk-taking John Law went on to become France’s all-powerful Comptroller of Finance –a persuasive Scot who sunk France’s money in the Darien-like Mississippi Company and who persuaded the whole French nation that paper notes -not precious metals- were the best form of currency –a brave experiment they were soon to regret.
Lady Roseburn's nephew John Law
This article first appeared in the Penicuik Arts Penicuik Looking Back exhibition in Penicuik Town Hall –RK May 1997