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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 361 hoisted Blue Peter; while all agreed that he set the darbies and .u$les charmingly, and that nothing was wanting to complete his full dress but a nosegay, which he would easily procure among the Flowers of Edinburgh.” The prisoner arrived in Glasgow on the 8th of April 1812-was committed for trial-and while in jail offered to put the bank in possession of $1000 of their money, which their agent in London actually procured from Mr. Harmer, who was then Mackcoull’s solicitor.’ He also gave a bill for $400, granted by himself on Ann Wheeler, his sister, with her endorsation. Notwithstanding this implied admission of his guilt, he ran his letters against the King’s Advocate ; and it being supposed that sufficient proof could not be procured to convict him capitally, he was liberated on the 2d July 1812. Mackcoull now returned to London, and with great activity set about cashing his Scotch notes. Besides employing a confidential individual in the business, he made several journeys to Scotland, buying bills on London in various names. On the last of these expeditions, in 181 3, having been seen by Mr. I)enovan, who then superintended the Leith Police, his motions were carefully observed, After purchasing bills, amounting to nearly $1 000, at various banking establishments in Edinburgh and Leith, he was again apprehended on the 5th of March, when just on the eve of sailing by one of the smacks. He was next day examined before the Magistrates of Edinburgh ; but, from a belief that he could not be legally prosecuted after having “run his letters” on the former occasion, Mackcoull was again set at liberty. His bills and money, however-with the exception of 336 (in English notes)-were retained in the hands of Mr. Callander, the City Clerk. That he did not insist on having the whole of the money restored to him at that time was probably owing to his anxiety to escape. In October 1813, while Mackcoull was confined in Newgate for a breach of the peace, committed in the house of his wife (for at that time he was not living with her), the Paisley Union Bank obtained possession of the bills from the Magistrates of Edinburgh, on lodging a bond of indemnity and relief; but it was not till 1815 that he mustered assurance enough to demand restitution. He first wrote several letters to Mr. Callander-next came himself to Edinburgh -called at the British Linen Company’s Office, and imperiously demanded the bills he had purchased from them in 1813. He wrote a statement of his case to the then Lord Advocate (Colquhoun of Killermont) ; and, failing to procure his interference, made personal application to the Council Chambers, where his conduct was such as to cause the city officers to turn him out. Mackcoull first brought his case before the Sheriff Court, but not meeting with success, he commenced a series of proceedings in the Supreme Court, which lasted several years, and in which he had well-nigh been victorious. The 1 This snm had been deposited for the purpose by Mackcoull’s mother. As an instance of his villany, after the death of Old Uunpowder (as he called her), he instituted a process against Mr. Harmer, on the ground that he had no authorityfvom him for paying away the money, and was actually successful. VOL. IL S A
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362 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. bank, unable to prove that the money with which he purchased the bills was part of the amount stolen from them in 1811, insisted, as a last resource, that Mackcoull should be subjected to a judiciub examinutim. This not very usual course was opposed ; but at length, finding it impossible to resist the Court, he made a virtue of necessity, and latterly submitted to the proposed examination. On the day appointed-the 4th of March 1819-the Outer House was crowded to excess, the cause having excited great interest. Attended by his counse1,l the pursuer appeared in due time; and throughout the whole of his long examination, which lasted for several days, he conducted himself with the greatest sang fioid-objecting to this and the other question ; and when his replies were occasionally so absurd and improbable as to elicit a laugh, he never failed to join in it. The examination havinz closed on the 11th of the month, without producing anything tending seriously to criminate him, Mackcoull instantly repaired to London, to consult his brother John, who had throughout been a useful adviser, and who was now in more request than ever, to furnish him with one or two fictitious letters, necessary to strengthen his averments in the Court, and which he had been ordered to produce. At the end of every session, Mackcoull repaired regularly to London, and used to be seen almost every night at Elakeman’s, where he sat the whole evening, drinking half and half, smoking his pipe, and entertaining the vulgar company around him with metuphom (as he called his jokes), and caricature descriptions of Scottish judges and lawyers-against all of whom he was violent in his denunciations.’ On his last visit, feeling assured of success, he was in great good-humour, and treated his friends with the utmost liberality. Having arranged matters to his liking, he again returned to Edinburgh : and, perfectly confident of victory, pressed his agent to bring the matter to an issue before the Jury Court. On the other hand, the defenders were as much disconcerted as he was elated. The only way in which they could possibly save themselves, was by recurring to the circnmstances connected with the robbery in 18 11, and producing evidence sufficient to identify Mackcoull as one of the party. This appeared a hopeless task ; yet they were resolved to attempt it. A professional gentleman was desptched to England, to make inquiry on the subject ; but he returned without success. In the meantime, the pursuer, aware of the intentions of his opponents, and knowing the precarious ground on which he stood, became the more importunate in forcing on the trial. This the bank was anxious to delay as long as possible, but at last it was finally fixed for the 20th February 1820. In this dilemma, the bank directors engaged Mr. Denovan (formerly of Leith, One of whom was Sir J. P. Grant, of Rothiemurchus, Knight, who afterwards received this honour on being appointed a Judge in India. In Edinburgh his time was spent much in the same way. He frequented a tavern in East Register Street, where he generally sat from morning till night drinking and smoking. He associated with all who came in his way ; and the subjects of his “metaphors” and denunciations were invariably Scotch bankers, bsilies, or lawyers. In this way he became well known to many ; and by some he wa.. looked upon a3 a person who had been ill used. Defeat appeared almost inevitable.
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