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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


408 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. were not only carried of forcibly about eight days ago, but that the house in which they were assembled last night was assaulted by a mob-the windows broke by stones and other implements from withouLand the whole members of this meeting put in great bodily fear and hazard during the night. They observed, with much regret, the same system pursued this morning, and which was to their knowledge excited and encouraged by Sir John Henderson of Fordel, Bart., a declared candidate for the district on this occasion, and by Colonel James Francis Erskine, and William Wemyss of Cuttlehill, Esq. ; and in particular, the town was crowded, and the peace of it disturbed by the colliers belonging to the said Sir John Henderson, and others his dependants and adherents ; and that for the purpose of exciting alarm and convocating said mob, the church bells were rung, without authority from the Chief Magistrate, as is usual in such cases, about nine of the clock this morning. The members now present did therefore, betwixt nine and ten of the clock this forenoon, repair from the house of John Wilson, vintner in this place, where they were hoping thereby to get into the Council-Room without assault or injury from the mob, excited as aforesaid ; but in which expectation they were disappointed, for several of them were assaulted and jostled by said mob, who were so disorderly that the Provost was under the necessity of reading the Riot Act at the Council-House door. The twelve members now present, having thus got into the Council-Room, were waiting with patience for the hour assigned for proceeding to the election of their dclegate, when the aforesaid William Wemyss, Esq., haviug entered the Council-House, followed by Alexander Law, messenger in Edinburgh, arid several others, who having rushed into the Council-Room, said Law drew a pistol, and said he would shoot any person who would stop him; and thereupon he and his party, without his allowing the perusal of any wamnt he might have had, seized Provost Moodie-Robert Hutton, Dean of Guild-John Hutton, the Old ProvostJVilliam Anderson, the Old Treasurer-and Deacons Charles Anderson and Robert Young, and, dragging them from the Council-table, they were forced into post-chaises, which have been in the employment of Sir John Henderson during his canvass, and were immediately carried from Dunfermline in these chaises, and were accompanied by several parties of Sir John Henderson’s colliers on foot, armed with bludgeons, and others of his dependants on horseback, and were brought by a circuitous course to, and lodged in the black-hole in Inverkeithing jail, commonly used for felons; and they were not liberated therefrom until they had found caution, in the Books of Adjournal at Edinburgh, to stand trial for pretended crimes, of which none of them were guilty. And they are satisfied that this unwarfantable proceeding, so very inconsistent with the liberty of the subject, and the freedom of election, was carried on by the aforesaid Sir John Hendemon and his aforesaid adherents, in order to deprive them of their right of electing a delegate, of which there cannot be a clearer demonstration than the pretended election carried on, as stated in the foregoing minutes [the substance of which we have given], by a minority of the Council, after the members of this meeting were carried off as aforesaid, and without a legal quorum of the Council, as these minutea prove. “ That on their return to this burgh about eight o’clock in the evening, the Provost immediately issued his order for the Council being summoned to this diet, in order to proceed and make a regular election of their delegate at the earliest hour which it was possible for them to do,from the extraordinary occurrences of the day, which have been shortly detailed ; but Bailie James Hunt, who is in the interest of Sir John Henderson, having possessed himself of the key of the Council-House, this meeting were obliged to gain their admission here at this time by breaking open the door, under a warrant of the Sheriff-substitute ; and John Dunsyre, townofficer, having been called in, he, together with Thomas Inglis, police-officer, and Robert Taggart, town-drummer, verified the citations to the haill members of Council in the usual manner. ‘<Thereafter the minute of Council of the thirtieth day of May last, fixing this day for the election of their delegate, was openly read in Council ; but upon inquiry at the clerk for the precept of the Sheriff, founded on in said minute, he informed that he had delivered it up along with a commissiou to the foresaid William Wemyss of Cuttlehill, Esq., as delegate, in consequence of the minutes of the meeting of the minority of the Council, improperly held on the former part of this day, of which this meeting greatly disapprove. “After taking the oaths of allegiance, etc. (according to the usual form, which we omit), the Council being then duly constituted, and all the members legally qualified, and the roll being called for the choice of their delegate or commissioner, They Did, and hereby Do, unanimously
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 409 Elect and make choice of the foresaid Provost James Moodie to be their Commissioner or Delegate for them, and in their name to meet and Convene at the Burgh of Inverkeithing, being the presiding Burgh of the District for the time, upon Monday, the 20th day of June current.” At the election, which took place on the 20th June 1796, the Hon. Andrew Cochrane Johnstone was returned member for the Inverkeithing district of burghs, but not without a protest on the part of Sir John Henderson, Bart., the defeated candidate. In a petition presented to the House of Commons, the latter complained that the elections of the delegates for Stirling, Culross, and Queensferry,’ the three burghs opposed to him, ‘( were all and each of them brought about by undue means, made by unqualified persons ; were illegal, and contrary to the statutes made and provided for regulating the elections of commissioners, or delegates ; and because the commissions pretended to be given to the said persons severally were also illegal, informal, and essentially defective, and that the majority of legal votes at the said election were in favour of the petitioner.” The delegate for Dunfermline* voted for Sir John ; and, as the petitioner had himself been the commissioner for Inverkeithing-the returning burgh-fliv- Johr, very naturally voted for Sir John. Thus two votes were in favour and three against him ; but, if successful in striking off one of the latter, the casting vote secured his election. The petition was ordered to be taken into consideration; and, on the 17th March 1797, a Select Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to (( try and determine the merits of the said petition.” The Hon. Charles James Fox was nominated by the counsel for the petitioner, and William Grant, Esq., by that of the sitting member. Bryan Edwards, author of the ‘‘ History of the West Indies,” was elected chairman, Among other parties summoned before the Select Committee were the townclerk of Kinghorn and Lucky Skinner. We are unable to gratify our readers with a report of the evidence, or even an outline of the curious facts obtained in the course of the investigation ; but it is well known that the wary hostess came off with flying colours. The information sought to be elicited from hlrs. Skinner of course related chiefly to the jollifications of the electors-as to what extent they had been entertained-and by whom the expenses had been paid. Sir James Mackintosh, who was on the Committee, was the first to interrogate her. After the usual queries as to name and residence, he proceeded- And now for the sequel to the “Battle of Kinghorn.” “ Tqu keep an inn in Kinghorn 2 ” “ No, sir,” was the reply. ‘‘ A tavern 1 ” ‘ ‘ No, sir.” “What, then-a public-house, or place of entertainment, it must be 1” , “ Nane 0’ the twa 0’ them,” replied Lucky Skinner-chuckling at the idea of having taxed the ingenuity of her learned countryman ; “ for wee1 micht ye ken that in Scotland it’s the man and no the woman that keeps the house.” The delegate for Stirling, John Gdchrist, Esq. ; for Culrosg Patrick Geddes, Esq. ; and for Queensferry, David Williamson, Esq., afterwards Lord Balgray. Provost Moodie, who had been chosen delegate at the second meeting of the Council, voted under protest in the opposite interest ; hut the legality of his commission does not seem to have been established. * William Wemyss, Esq., of Cuttlehill. VOL. 11. 3 G
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