Margaret Suttie, a hawker of salt

56] Margaret Suttie was one of the last salt hawkers in Edinburgh.  She lived in Fisherrow and each day left home for Edinburgh, stopping at the saltpans of Joppa or Pinkie to buy a load of salt which she brought into the city. Salt-wives were almost as common as fish-wives in those days.  Margaret paid 13½ pence for a peck (about seven pounds) of salt and sold it at six pence a coup (about a quarter of a peck).  Her cry “Wha’ll buy my lucky forpit o’ sa-at” was familiar in the streets of Edinburgh as was her habit of talking to herself as she walked through the streets, which amused the youngsters.  When the salt tax was repealed in 1825, cheap salt became available in shops and the salt hawkers disappeared.  The most celebrated salt-wife was ‘Half-hangit Maggie Dickson’.  Maggie had been sentenced to death in connection with a concealed pregnancy and a dead baby.  The sentence was carried out in 1724 in the Grassmarket. After hanging for the allotted time the body was brought down and placed in a coffin. There was then a dispute between surgeon apprentices who wanted the body for dissection and some of Maggie’s friends.  The friends won and the body was being carried to her home in Inveresk when she showed signs of life. By the time they reached Musselburgh she was completely restored.  She subsequently became a celebrated figure who lived a full life, bearing several children and for many years worked as a salt-crier in the streets of Edinburgh.