Our Legal Heritage: James Macpherson – hung for being an ‘Egyptian’

He has attained folk hero status as a sort of Scottish Robin Hood and at Burns Suppers around the country this weekend his execution will be recalled with performances of ‘Macpherson’s Farewell’ also known as Macpherson’s ‘Rant’ or ‘Lament’.

Published 24 January 2020

Our Legal Heritage: Duncan Clark, the Scottish lawyer sentenced to death after a grisly find in his desk

As a young lawyer, or ‘writer’, in the county town of Perth in the 1820s, Duncan Clark was a pillar of the community and a model of respectability.

Published 10 January 2020

Our Legal Heritage: Lord Monboddo – the nudist judge who pre-empted Darwin’s theory of evolution

When adherents of a pre-World War One nudist craze in Germany decided to establish a club, their decision to name it after an 18th century Scottish judge seemed the most natural thing in the world. Berlin's Monboddo Bund remains one of the more unusual salutes to the Scottish judiciary but is testament to Lord Monboddo's pioneering passion for what he described as 'air-bathing' in the pursuit of harmony between body and mind.

Published 6 December 2019

Our Legal Heritage: A Glasgow Kiss

In 1937 a story emerged in the Irish press about a girl from Glasgow called Julia Clarke who had been sentenced, in absentia, to one month's imprisonment for “kissing a boyfriend in public”.

Published 8 November 2019

Our Legal Heritage: Campaign to pardon 'notorious pyratt' Captain Kidd

A bid is underway to clear the name of a Scots sailor whose body was left hanging over the Thames for three years as a warning to other would-be pirates.

Published 1 November 2019

Our Legal Heritage: The Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597

Lauren Brown looks back at the long summer of 1597 when Scotland was swept by witch-finding fever.

Published 2 August 2019

Our Legal Heritage: Scotland's first woman notary public joins prestigious list of pioneers

This year the legal community has reflected on the entry of women into the profession and the struggle for equality that has ensued.

Published 19 July 2019

Our Legal Heritage: Helen Duncan, the wartime ‘witch’

In 1941 at a seancé in Portsmouth, the spirit of a sailor was said to have appeared to announce the sinking of HMS Barham.

Published 7 June 2019

Our Legal Heritage: A scandalous divorce recalled

Donald Findlay QC has narrated an audiobook on the divorce case of the Duchess of Argyll – Allan Nicol’s Three Strand Pearl Necklace.

Published 3 May 2019

Our Legal Heritage: The trial of George Mealmaker, Scotland’s forgotten democratic martyr

George Mealmaker, transported in 1798 to Australia for sedition, was a political giant and visionary who deserves to be recognised in Scotland today, writes Graham Ogilvy.

Published 12 April 2019

Society of Advocates in Aberdeen book sheds light on history of beloved city bridge

One of Aberdeen’s oldest professional organisations, The Society of Advocates, which dates back to the 16th century, has been gifted a rare book compiled by a former member in 1876.

Published 11 April 2019

Our Legal Heritage: Test of the bahr-recht

In many of his works Sir Walter Scott referred to real cases and described real criminal court room procedure, drawing on his legal training and experience as an advocate. He once wrote:

Published 22 March 2019

Our Legal Heritage: The Flowers of Potter-row

Dr Karen Baston looks at a particularly acrimonious legal dispute from the eighteenth century over the use of a garden.

Published 24 January 2019