In November 1777, Jean Alexander of Rosebank had some nux vomica (strychnine) put into her swine and poultry's meat. A few days later her neighbor James Wilson's dog died "after suffering the greatest agony." After Wilson discovered that his dog was likely poisoned by his neighbor, he confronted her and she responded with contempt, saying that the poison had been to stop her livestock's food being eaten by his dog. Wilson, filed a complaint with the Sheriff of Edinburgh, who found the complaint relevant. Alexander then brought the process by advocation to the Court, and Lord Westhall assoilzied (absolved) her, determining that she was entitled to lay poison in her property in order to protect it. Wilson then petitioned the Court to alter this interlocutor. His advocate, David Armstrong, argued that Alexander's actions had gone against the common good, and that Alexander should have trusted in the law to protect her from Wilson's dog. In response, Alexander said there was no proof that her poison had caused the dog's death, and that even if it had, "what she did she was entitled to do in virtue of her right of property, and in defence of that property." She also disputed the basis of Wilson's claim to damages - that his dog was valuable to him as, among other things, a protection from thieves. Finally, in an illuminating turn of events, Alexander responded to a rumor that she had also poisoned the Duke of Buccleuch's dog. Rather, the defender insisted, Buccleuch's dog had been killed by a mob at Loanhead.


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