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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


402 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. change in the council was the sumptuous entertainment invariably given’ in honour of the occasion. Not only were the principal gentry of the neighbourhood in attendance, but many beyond the ferry, and not a few from “Ayld Reekie ” found their way to the feast. Among other distinguished guests, it may be mentioned that Henry Dundas (afterwards Lord Melville), the late John Earl of Hopetoun, the late Mr. Fergusson of Craigdarroch,’ Charles Hay, advocate (Lord Newton), Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglass, Bart., etc., were often present at the civic banquets of Kinghorn. The noble families of Hopetoun and Balcarras held the chief sway in the burgh towards the close of the American war ; but the late William Fergusson, Esq. of Raith, having then started as a candidate in the liberal interest, it became somewhat difficult for his opponents, even with the aid of all “ the wits and wags of Edinburgh,” to maintain the ascendancy. Besides being an extensive heritor in the parish of Kinghorn, the courteous deportment of Mr. Fergusson and of his sons: in their intercourse with the inhabitants, created a very general feeling of attachment for his family.“ At that period, except Edinburgh, no town in Scotland had singly the privilege of returning a member to Parliament ; consequently each of the burghs forming a district had an equal voice in the choice of a representative. Thus, in the case of Kinghorn, four town-councils had to be “wooed and won,” though nominally the elective power was vested in commissioners, chosen-one for each burgh-by the respective corporations ; the returning burgh for the time having the casting vote. Hence the strength of the parties came to be primarily developed in the election of delegates. The two principal local agents employed to counteract the growing influence of the Whig interest, were the town-clerk-Mr. John Hutton, originally from Dunfermline ; and the hostess of the principal inn-dohanna Baxter, wife of Mr. William Skinner, but better known as “Jockey Baxter,” or “ Luckie Skinner.” In smoothing down the Whiggery of the councillors, and in keeping the party together, out of the reach of counter influence, for days and weeks prior to an election, the exquisite tact displayed by the worthy pair could hardly be surpassed. Once assembled in the inn, what head could hold out against the insinuating address of the hostess, or the potency of her good cheer !-and no doubt, as the patriotic electors quaffed bowl after bowl, the old ballad would recur to their memory- ‘‘ ’Tis good to be merry and wise ; ’Tis good to be honest and t w ; ’Tis good to be off with the old love, Before we are on with the MW.” Father of the Right Hon. Fbbert Cutlar Fergusson, Her Majesty’s Judge-Advocate-General. One of whom was the Lord Lieutenant of the county of Fife ; and the other, General Sir a It was not, however, till 1815 or 1816, that the Raith family acquired the chief influence in Ronald C, Fergusson, M.P. for Nottingham. the burgh.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Charlea Anderson, Smiths. James Lowson, Weavers. Henry Thomson, Wrights. 403 James wardlaw, shahs. David Beveridge, Bakus. Robert Young, Mawnzp. Intimidation was usually the pretext for keeping the electors locked up in convivial durance. One notable example of this occurred about the year 1789 or 1790, Under the pretence that the lives of the elect.ors would be in danger if they remained in Kinghorn, Mr. Hutton and Lucky Skinner persuaded a majority of them one evening, when in their cups, to take flight for the mansion- house of Balcarras (the seat of Colonel Lindsay), more than twenty miles distant. Here they were entertained in a splendid manner for several weeks ; and only brought back in the “nick of time” to vote for a delegate in the ministerial interest. The success of this exploit greatly extended the fame of the town-clerk and the hostess ; and the heroes who professed to be intimidated were ever afterwards known by the expressive designation of “ the Balcarras Lambs.” The “row” recorded in the Print occurred at the general election in 1796. It was not properly speaking a Kinghorn affair at all ; for on that occasion Sir James St. Clair Erskine, afterwards Earl of Rosslyn, was elected without opposition. The adjacent district of burghs (Inverkeithing), however, was keenly contested by Sir John Henderson of Fordel, Bart., and the Hon. Andrew Cochrane Johnstone, afterwards Governor of Dominica. The result appearing doubtful, it occurred to the friends of the latter gentleman that the services of Mr. Hutton and Lucky Skinner-the much-famed guardians of ‘‘ the Balcarras Lambs ”-might be advantageously employed in furthering their cause, A party of the Dunfermline councillors were accordingly transported quietly during the night to Kinghorn, and safely lodged in the inn, When the retreat became known, the circumstance created great excitement in Dunfermline. Crowds of people assembled, and the shout “ to Kinghorn ” being raised, a numerous body-including detachments of colliers from Fordel, many of them armed with bludgeons-was speedily on the march to capture the electors. A blockade having been resolved upon, as the more prudent and Mr. Hutton, though resident in Kinghorn, was one of the Town-council of Dunfermline. The following is a list of the members at this period (1796) :- JAMES MOODIE, Pro!mst.’ James Hunt, First Ba.iZie.-Thomas Wardlaw, Seccmd Bailie. Robert Hutton, Dean of Guild. -Thomas Hunt, Treasurer. John Hutton, Old Provost. James Cowper, First Old Bailie.-David Anderson, Second Old Bailie. John Wilson, Old Dean of Guild.-William Anderson, Old Treasurer. New Merchant Couiscillors. Andrew Adie. Jamea Blackwood. New Trades counciWws. John Smith. John Kirk.
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