James Forsyth – son of Robert Forsyth
Died 1st February 1881 aged 28 at Marine House, Portobello
Cause: Phthisis, Pulmonalia
Occ.: Clerk (wholesale stationer)
Status: Single

Eliza Sarah Blencowe Forsyth – fourth daughter of Robert Forsyth
Died 16th July 1882 aged 24 at Marine House, Portobello
Cause: Pulmonalia
Born: 27 January 1858
Status: Single

Robert Forsyth – Bath Proprietor, Hotel Proprietor
Died 16th July 1900 aged 86 at 2, Sandford Street, Portobello
Cause: Senile Decay
Occ.: Hotel Proprietor (Retired)
Status: Married to Margaret Boyd (married 6th April 1842)
Born: 10th May 1814

Margaret Boyd – wife of Robert Forsyth
Died 24th March 1905 aged 90 at 37, Brighton Place, Portobello
Cause: Senile Debility
Status: Widow of Robert Forsyth (Veterinary Surgeon and Bath Proprietor)

Note: The additional details not on the gravestone were obtained from Old Parish Registers, statutory birth, marriage and death records and the Census.

Robert Forsyth was one of the eight children of Rice Forsyth and Catherine Westall and is described as a Grocer in the Census of 1841. This changes to Bath Keeper in 1851 and he is described as Bath Proprietor in Censuses from 1861 to 1891 suggesting that he had taken the facility over. He seems to have had other strings to his bow as he also gives occupations of Hotel Keeper, and Spirit Dealer in other documents.

The baths in question were the Hot and Cold Sea Water Baths that opened in 1806 at the corner of Bath Street and the Promenade. Open from 7am to 10pm, these were very popular from the outset and attracted many customers from Edinburgh. They came mainly from the middle and upper classes as they could afford the stage coach fare or had their own private carriages. An advertisement stated that there was “a stable for bathers’ horses”.

A daily stage coach service between Edinburgh and Portobello operated from April 1806 – fare 9d – promising comfort and a careful driver. William Baird remarks, ‛Old Rice Forsyth, the proprietor, thus established a lucrative line of coaches which for fully half a century kept the road and was known as Forsyth’s Coaches.’(Annals of Duddingston and Portobello) After his death in June 1834 the business was operated by another of his sons, James.

In 1825 Rice Forsyth built Portobello’s new Assembly Rooms, which in time became the Royal Hotel, at the corner of the High Street and Bath Street.

Town Plan 1832 showing the Bath House
Town Plan 1832 showing the Bath House
Portobello Street Map 1893 showing Marine House
Portobello Street Map 1893 showing Marine House

Archie Foley