The Scottish Enlightenment transformed cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow into major centers of intellectual inquiry, artistic expression, and print culture. Many Scottish judges and advocates such as Lord Kames, David Hume, James Boswell, and Sir Walter Scott made profound contributions to moral philosophy, economic theory, and literary form. British booksellers sold Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), Andrew Bell, Archibald Constable, and Colin Macfarquhar's Encyclopedia Britannica (1768), and Anne McVicker Grant's Memoirs of an American Lady (1808). Edinburgh residents attended performances at the Theatre Royal on Princes Street while the Fife-born artist David Martin painted the portraits of individuals such as Benjamin Franklin (1767) and the physician William Cullen (1776). Printed Session Papers, the subject of this digital archive, owe their very existence in part to the Court's desire to bring greater order and rationality to the legal process.
The cases offered here represent some of the ways in the Scottish Enlightenment was not without legal consequences. Essays became the subject of copy right claims, the personal letters of Robert Burns to his mistress Agnes Maclehose (a cousin of William Craig) were at the heart of an intellectual property rights dispute, and actors sued theater managers over lost wages. They reveal much about the private lives of sometimes public individuals who helped shape a formative movement in the British Atlantic world.
|Clark v. Bell||29 Feb 1804||Statute of limitations, Literary Property, Copyright||Andrew Bell, an engraver, included pages from James Clark's book in the Encyclopedia Britannica without permission. James Clark claimed that he had the copyright to the information, but Bell argued that the statute of limitations had expired on the claim. The case had originally been heard by a Lord Ordinary who had required Bell to return the pages to Clark. However, Bell appealed the statute of limitations issue to the higher court, which agreed with him that it was possible Clark's claim to the material had expired. As a result, the case was remanded to the Lord Ordinary to reconsider the penalty he had imposed requiring Bell to return the pages to Clark.
Note: Clark is indexed as "Clerk" in the digest.
|Goodall v. Fleming||1766||Contracts and Obligations||The Pursuer, Walter Goodall, claimed that the Defender, Robert Fleming, owed Goodall money for the work Goodall did in preparing a new edition of Fordun's History of Scotland for publication. Robert Fleming, a printer, was hired by Robert Freebairn in 1744 to publish this new edition, and Freebairn hired Goodall under contract to prepare the book for press. Goodall claimed that although his employment was arranged under contract, he is still owed money for the immense additional labor he put into the project that was not accounted for at the time of the original contract, including correcting the book for press, compiling the introduction, compiling the indexes, and working on the dedication and preface. After the project began, Robert Fleming acquired the right to the publication from Freebairn, believing that from the number of subscriptions that this would be a profitable endeavor. Goodall continued work on the project under the same conditions agreed upon with Freebairn. Goodall brought action against Fleming in the Court of Session to obtain the balance he claimed was due to him from Fleming. Fleming claimed that since Goodall's contract was with Freebairn, Fleming did not owe Goodall the additional balance. Further, Fleming argued that since Goodall carried out the work with significant delays and did not finish until 1759, Fleming lost many subscriptions and no longer owed Goodall the additional balance. Goodall claimed that he was sorry to lay this case before the Court of Session because "it publishes to the World at what a very low Price learned Labour is estimated in Scotland."|
|Ross v. Woodman||1770||Employment||Pursuer David Ross was the manager of the Theatre-Royal of Edinburgh. Defender Esther Woodman was an actress in the theatre's productions. Esther entered into an employment contract with Ross after receiving her husband's (Thomas Woodman) consent. Ross eventually fired Esther Woodman because she refused to take on certain roles in the plays and did not show up to rehearsals. Following her dismissal, Esther and Thomas Woodman brought an action against Ross before the sheriff of Edinburgh, seeking a weekly salary for the term of Esther's employment contract. Ross maintained that Esther was justly and properly dismissed based on her improper conduct, and that she was not entitled to her weekly salary under the employment contract.|
|Cadell and Davies, and Others v. Stewart||1 Jun 1804||Intellectual property rights, Copyright||Defender Thomas Stewart, a bookseller in Glasgow, released a book consisting of previously unpublished letters from the late poet Robert Burns to "Clarinda" (Agnes Macelhose), who consented to the letters’ publication. Booksellers Cadell and Davies in London and William Creech in Edinburgh owned the rights to all of Burns's compositions, and they petitioned the court for an interdict against Stewart's publication. The brother and children of Robert Burns appeared in court to support the petition. The booksellers and family members, as pursuers, claimed that the interdict was warranted because Burns had not transferred his rights to the letters by sending the documents to Clarinda.|
|Hinton v. Donaldson||28 Jul 1773||Copyright||This case was about the right to publish a literary work. Stephen Austin obtained a patent from the Crown to publish the second edition of “A New History of the Holy Bible,” by Rev. Thomas Stackhouse. Austin died, leaving his estate to his wife, Elizabeth. She then died after marrying John Hinton, the pursuer. In 1765, defender James Meurose completed another edition of Stackhouse’s book, and in 1767, defenders Alexander Donaldson and John Wood agreed to reprint copies of certain volumes. Hinton sued all three men on the ground that the new edition violated his common law property right in the work. By this time, the patent had expired, and there was no statutory claim. The defenders argued that the common law of Scotland did not provide a perpetual right to so-called literary property.|
|Jardine v. Creech, &c||22 Jun 1776||Libel||In 1774, the Edinburgh Magazine and Review published a paragraph criticizing an essay sent to the editors for possible publication. Although the Review did not print the missive, the editors noted that the essay was written in opposition to a ball held in the town of Whitburn, and that it exhibited “alternate strokes of superstition and blasphemy.” The Review further stated that the essay was signed by one J---D--NE in Bathgate, who was a school-master, and that it had been approved by a popular clergyman. In response, Bathgate schoolmaster Walter Jardine raised a libel action against the Review’s printer, William Smellie, and publishers William Creech and Charles Elliot. Jardine alleged that based on the information printed in the Review, the essay would be widely attributed to him; however, he denied being the writer. The defenders argued that the paragraph did not refer to Jardine, and that it merely contained matters of opinion.|
|The Heritors and Kirk-Session of the Parish of Dalmellington v. The Magistrates, Minister and Kirk-Session of Irvine||3 Dec 1800||This case determined which of three parishes—Irvine, Dalrymple, or Dalmellington—was required to provide for the maintenance of James Wallace, an insane pauper. The statutory obligation to aliment certain persons was assigned to parishes based on residency. However, Wallace was an itinerant worker, complicating the analysis. Before losing the ability to support himself, Wallace had been a dance master who spent winters in the town of Irvine but traveled in the summer to teach. He spent his early years in Dalrymple and later went to Dalmellington, where he was employed for a time. More than a dozen witnesses from the three parishes testified about Wallace’s whereabouts over the course of his life, giving sometimes contradictory evidence. The court found that the parish of Irvine was liable, comparing Wallace to tradesmen who travel to seek work in the summer.|
|Hugh Baillie and Archibald M'Harg v. John Bland||1773||Suspension, Jurisdiction||Actor George Anne Bellamy granted four promissory notes to pursuer Hugh Baillie but failed to make timely payments. Subsequently, Bellamy and actor West Digges granted Baillie a bond of corroboration, promising to pay the accumulated debt. Bellamy and Digges again failed to make all necessary payments, and Digges was charged with horning. Digges obtained a suspension of the charge, but while the suit was pending, Digges went to England, where Baillie had him arrested. Digges, Baillie, and defender John Bland then entered into an agreement in which Digges and Bland agreed to pay the remaining debt. Bland granted Baillie two notes for 50 l. each, but payment was refused on one of them. Baillie protested the note, and Bland brought a bill of suspension. Bland argued that Baillie’s decision to effect Digges’s imprisonment constituted contempt of the Scottish Court. He also argued that the agreement among Digges, Bland, and Baillie was obtained metu carceris—that is, in fear of prison—and therefore was not actionable at law.|
|Howe v. Bland||1782||Copartnership||This case was about liability for a debt owed to John Howe, a wright, for his work for the Theatre Royal of Edinburgh. Howe alleged that the defender, John Bland, was liable as a joint lessee and partner to West Digges in the business of the theater. According to Howe, Bland and Digges were jointly and severally liable for the sum that was owed to him; because Digges was bankrupt, Howe sought to collect from Bland. Bland argued that he had given up his interest in the theater to Digges in exchange for a monthly fixed payment. Trained as a barrister, Bland signed case documents presenting his arguments.|
|Creditors of Jackson and Esten v. Kemble (Two Folders)||1793|