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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


358 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. BXLIV. THOMAS ELDER, ESQ. OF FORNETH, LATE LORD PRQVOST OF ERINBURGH. TRIS gentleman held the office of Chief Magistrate of Edinburgh at the following different periods-first, from 1788 till 1790; again, from 1792 till 1794; and, lastly from 1796 till 1798. Great responsibility WCLS attachable to the office during the second period of his pravostship, in consequence of the disturbed state of the country, and the measures of agitation resorted to by the “Friends of the People.” Provost Elder exerted himself vigorously to check the inroad of democracy, Although the troops then scattered over Scotland were under two thousand, he ventured, assisted by a few only of the more respectable citizens of Edinburgh, to suppress the meeting of the memorable British Convention, held on the 5th December 1793, taking ten or twelve of the principal members prisoners; and, in a similar manner, on the 12th of December, he dissolved another meeting, held in the cock-pit at the Grassmarket. On the 13th January 1794 an immense crowd had assembled on occasion of the trial of Maurice Margarot, for the purpose of accompanying him to the Court of Justiciary. In anticipation of this, the Magistrates, City-Guard, and constables, with a number of respectable inhabitants, met at an early hour in the Merchants’ Hall, and sallying forth, with the Chief Magistrate at their head, about ten o’clock, they met Margarot and a number of his friends walking in procession under an ornamental arch, on which the words “Liberty, Justice,” etc. were inscribed. The canopy was instantly seized and thrown over the east side of the North Bridge; and, with the assistance of the crew of a frigate lying in Leith Roads, the crowd was dispersed, and the two arch-bearers captured. At ameeting of the Town Council on the 9th September, immediately previous to the annual change in that body, they “unanimously returned their thanks, and voted a piece of plate to the Right Hon. the Lord Provost, for his spirited and prudent conduct while in office, and especially during the late commotions.” On the formation of the Royal Edinburgh Volunteers, in the summer of 1794, Mr. Elder intended, on retiring from the provostship, to enter tbe ranks as a common volunteer ; but this resolution was rendered nugatory by a mark of distinction emanating from the members of the association. For obvious reasons the commission of Colonel was to be invested in the Chief Maa&trate
Volume 8 Page 500
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