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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 445 becoming a barrister, he at the same time prepared himself for admission to the Faculty of Advocates, by studying the Scotch and Civil Law, under the celebrated Professor Millar, in the University of Glasgow. Early imbibing Whig principles; and the French Revolution having split society in this country into so many parties, Mr. Macfarlane delayed following up his intention till 1804, when he removed to Edinburgh, and came to the bar in 1806. His practice was very considerable ; and, without swerving from his political principles, in which, however, he was always moderate, he at length realised iuch a competency: that, about the year 1832, when he had the misfortune of losing his wife, to whom he had been married above thirty years (by whom he had no family), he resolved to retire from farther public practice, which he had the satisfaction of doing, like the philosophic Hume, without ever having preferred a request to one great man, or even made advances to any of them. He died in 1839. XI1.-ARCHIBALD FLETCHER, author of “ An Examination of the Grounds on which the Convention of Royal Burghs claimed the right of Altering and Amending the Setts or Constitution of the Individual Burghs.” Edinburgh, 1825, 8vo. He was a native of Glenlyon, Perthshire, where he was born in 1745. His father, Angus Fletcher, was a younger brother of Archibald Fletcher, Esq. of Bernice and Dunans, in Argyleshire. He completed his apprenticeship, as a Writer to the Signet, with Mr. Wilson of Howden, who afterwards admitted him into partnership. While prosecuting his professional labours with equal zeal and success, he contrived to devote a considerable portion of time to classical and other studies, frequently encroaching on those hours that ought to have been given to rest; and at length, aspiring to the toga, he became, in 1790, at the age of forty-five, a member of the Faculty of Advocates. Naturally of a kind and generous disposition, he was on all occasions the friend of the oppressed, and the consistent advocate of freedom. Many years before he was himself known to have any view towards the bar, he effectually opposed, in a wellwritten argumentative pamphlet, addressed to the Society of Writers to the Signet, the adoption of a resolution by the Faculty of Advocates, prohibiting the admission of members above twenty-seven years of age-a resolution which would have irremediably operated to the exclusion of many industrious aspirants to legal eminence. Much about the same period he published an essay on Church Patronage-a subject at that time warmly debated in the Church Courts-and in which he of course advocated the popular side. In 1784, when Burgh Reform was first agitated in Scotland, he took an active part in the energetic measures then adopted. He was chosen secretary to the society formed in Edinburgh at the time; and, in 1787 was one of the delegatesdespatched to London by the Scottish Burghs. On his way to the metropolis Mr. Fletcher first met with the young lady who afterwards became his wife. They were married in ’1791 ; and though Mr. Fletcher was justly styled the father of Burgh Reform.
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446 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. then in his forty-sixth year, while Miss Dawson (from the vicinity of Doncaster) was no more than seventeen, the union was understood to be one of real affection, and proved most happy in its results.’ Strictly constitutional in his political views, and foreseeing the error into which the Friends of the People were betraying themselves, Mr. Fletcher took no part in the memorable proceedings of 1793-4. He shrunk not, however, from the fearless avowal of his opinions. He acted gratuitously as counsel for Joseph Gerrald and others accused of sedition, and was one of the minority of thiTty-eight who, in 1796, opposed the deposition of the Hon. Henry Erskine, then Dean of Facaulty. In 1797 he was one of the counsel for the late Mr. John Johnstone, printer and publisher of the Scots Chronicle, in an action of damages brought against him and John Morthland, Esq., advocate, (who was connected responsibly with the paper), in the name of the late Mr. Cadell of Tranent, Deputy-Lieutenant and a Justice of the Peace for the county of Haddington. A quonim of the Justices had met at Tranent for the purpose of balloting for men liable to serve in the militia; and as this was tl measure which was unpopular with a great proportion of the people, especially the working classes, a crowd collected at Tranent with the design of impeding the Lieutenancy in the discharge of their duty. The mob, by intimidation and threats, and by maltreating the peace-officers, obliged the Justices to send an express to Piershill barracks for a troop of dragoons, part of the Cinque Ports Cavalry regiment, then lying there. The dragoons were soon on the spot, and scoured the streets, when a considerable number of the mob got down the closes, and took to the roofs of the houses, from which they assailed the soldiers with stones and brick-bats, and some, it is believed, had firearms. This so exasperated the soldiers, that they became regardless, fired in all directions, and killed several persons. Mr. Johnstone inserted in his newspaper an account of the proceedings, forwarded to him by one Rodgers (whose sister had been shot within her own house), in a letter from Tranent, wherein it was insinuated, if not directly stated, that the soldiers had been guilty of deliberate murder, and that Mr. Cadell and the other magistrates were accessories. This gave rise to the action of damages, in which a long and voluminous proof was taken, printed, and prepared for the Court; and Mr. Fletcher was one of the counsel who stated the defence. As may be anticipated, the decision was unfavourable (or rather ruinous) to the defenders. Though at one time, in consequence of his political predilections, almost a “ briefless barrister,” and occasionally, it is said, reduced to his last guinea, 1 By his wife Mr. Fletcher had several children. His eldest son, Miles, was brought up to the bar. He married Miss Angusta Clavering, daughter of General Clavering (who attracted so much notice during the investigation of the charges against the Duke of York), by whom he had a family. He died in the prime of life, much regretted. His widow afterwards married John Christison, Esq., advocate. The second son, Angus, relinquished the profession of a Writer to the Signet, for which he had been educated, and became a sculptor in London. One of Mr. Fletcher’s daughtem married John Taylor, Esq., at one time a member of Parliament, and another, Dr. Davy, a brother of the late Sir Humphrey Davy.
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