Robert Alexander, the pursuer, owned property in the town of Ayr that contained coal deposits. On behalf of his brother Robert Alexander, William Alexander exchanged letters with James Montgomery, Dr. John Campbell, and the other partners of the coal company at Newton of Ayr. Through this series of letters, the parties apparently agreed that Montgomery would deliver and the coal company would purchase the coal from Montgomery's property. Montgomery et al. denied the existence of a formal contract. Montgomery et al. also argued that Alexander was late delivering the coal.

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