Some curious Scottish Legal MSS

The Law Book Exchange is currently offering for sale two Scottish legal MSS. Both reveal something about the nineteenth-century lives of Scots from different social backgrounds

The first consists of papers from H.M.A. v. Hunter & Mackie. These were papers from a trail at a Circuit Court at Glasgow in 1818 before David Douglas, Lord Reston, best known to history as the heir of Adam Smith, who supervised his education, and whose splendid library Douglas inherited. The panels were prosecuted for theft and reset of wheels of cheese. The descriptions states there were three horizontal fold lines – no doubt indicating these had been the papers of one of the lawyers involved, who had fielded then the traditional way and tied them with red tape! At some stage someone has bound them together. Search through newspapers and the NRS might cause more information to emerge. 1818 is an interesting year, however, because of anxieties about combinations and sedition.

The second MSS was prepared by lawyers for the trustees of a complicated estate. The estate was that of a Scot, Major General John Ogilvie (1783-1847), who had served in the Madras Army of the East India Company. He died without issue but leaving a widow and several siblings. A fight then commenced over the property left. This is not an unfamiliar story for any lawyer; but the papers contain considerable detail about the financial affairs of a Scots officer in India, and his progressive accumulation of wealth through his career, investing, for example, in the shares of banks in Bombay. They must contain considerable insight about the history of Scotland and the Empire in the nineteenth century. The litigation concluded only in 1870 in the Inner House of the Court of Session.