In July 1769, John Craig, son of James Craig of Baidland, contracted with Cunninghame and Co. to serve for five years as an indentured servant in "any of their stores in Virginia or Maryland." Towards the end of his contract, he allegedly became gravely ill. Cunninghame and Co. advanced money to cover his medical bills. Cunninghame & Co. brought action against Craig of Baidland for repayment of this debt, claiming that they had extracted a guarantee from his son to accept the bill provided they released him from his contract. The cause came before Lord Ankerville, who assoilzied (absolved) the defender. The pursuers then petitioned the Court for review, arguing that it was the "natural obligation" of parents to pay for their children's support. Furthermore, the pursuers claimed that they had been obliged to advance the money in question as a result of the "duty incumbent on every man to save his neighbour's life." In his answer, James Craig wrote that he could not afford to cover the expenses of his adult son who had supported himself for years. Furthermore, Craig noted that after settling in North America his son "acquired habits of dissipation and extravagance" and that most or all of the sum advanced by the pursuers was likely to sustain this spendthrift lifestyle, and not to cover medical bills. After all, “It may likewise be observed, that if the assistance may not be had, of the most skilled, even for a less sum than the salary due to John Craig, very miserable must be the situation of numbers, both in America and elsewhere.” Craig's answers concluded by asking what would happen if every parent were compelled to accept the bills of their children who, living in far-off lands, made unverifiable claims of sickness as the cause of their debt.


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