1776 Scottish Legal Document curiously sent to the Editor of the New York Herald, concerning the Case of an Unpaid Debt.


From Edinburgh to New York. Document issued by King George III’s lords-in-council in Edinburgh on October 15, 1776 ordering George Dempster and Robert Baillie, “Messengers at arms our Sheriffs,” to arrest for non-payment of debt John Gibson, a wright (builder) in the town of Crieff.

Curiously, the document was folded and sealed for mailing, addressed on the verso to “Editor of the Newyork Herald” with the added instruction “To be sent by appropriate hand.” The document—which is almost entirely written out in a secretarial hand—was completed and signed by John Moir who adds the date and the names of the two sheriffs. His signature includes an endorsement possibly referring to the hand delivery (in full): “John Moir for Parker Swartout [?] / Stewart [?] / Stuart [?] by hand[?].”

The complaintant or plantiff, John Gorrie, was a tailor in Crieff who lent £2/3/4 to Gibson in March 1773 but had so far only been paid back £1. If the sheriffs were unable to collect the debt, they were to denounce Gibson “our Rebel and put him to the Horn,” a Scottish legal process where, in past times, refusal to pay a debt was publicly proclaimed by blowing a horn three times. Afterwards, they were to arrest him and seize his property and assets.

It is unclear, but Gibson may had fled Scotland for America and Parker S. was being sent there (or was already going) to publish Gibson’s infamy in the New York Herald. But for a debt of £2/3/4 plus interest? Very curious and in need of further research.


Description: 1776 Scottish Legal Document curiously sent to the Editor of the New York Herald, concerning the Case of an Unpaid Debt.

[Edinburgh, Scotland. October 15, 1776]. [1]p. Folio. Contemporary docketing; wax letter seal. Crown and shield watermark with countermark of “C. Taylor”. Transmittal folds; one fold line expertly mended with tissue; general soiling to verso; very good.

[3731777]

Price: $250.00

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