Alexander Shepherd, a tenant farmer, rented land in Begg from the Earl of Rothes. After failing to pay a year's rent, Shepherd sought a bill of suspension from the court to avoid getting evicted, claiming that the time and money that he had invested in enclosing the land with hedges and ditches, at the Earl's encouragement, had rendered it impossible to pay his rent. The Earl of Rothes argued that Shepherd was not the industrious farmer and improver that he claimed to be.