Mr. Carmichael left the lands known as Batties-mains in his trust for the education of poor scholars at a public school located there. The trust required that the land not be sold, so some of the trustees agreed to rent out parts of the land for a fixed time period to other parties. They subsequently agreed to allow Lord Armadale to build a road through the lands of Batties-mains to his own estate of Smyllum, on the condition that after the renting period was up, he would destroy the road and return the ground to its prior condition. The final trustee to review the agreement, Minister Fergusson, disapproved of a clause which stated that the road would be Lord Armadale's property, and disputed it based on his belief that it undermined the true intent of the original trust.

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