In 1752 and 1769, Thomas Hopkirk and John MacCall, respectively, paid a £20 fine to avoid serving on the Glasgow Town Council. In 1778, both men having retired to the country, they were successively elected Dean of Guild and also declined the position. The Town Council demanded that they each pay a £40 fine to the Merchants House as a penalty, so the two men presented suspensions of charge to Lord Gardenstone. They argued that the Town Council was not a court of law and did not have the authority to seize the private property of a burgher. Furthermore, they argued that even if the Town Council had the legal authority to impose fines, both men had been liberated by the fines they had already paid. The Lord Ordinary ruled in their favor, and James Hill, collector of the Merchants House, represented against this interlocutor. He argued that such fines were customary in several Scottish burghs, and that their previous fine did not liberate the suspenders from serving as Dean of Guild. In response, Hopkirk and MacCall argued that it was unjust that two men, both over the age of sixty, should be required “to take up the load of a laborious employment, at an age, when the humane regulations of every civilized community, permit the willing subjects to lay down the burden of public office altogether.” The Court found that the men were not liable for an additional fine, having already been liberated from serving on the Council.

Published Reports

William Morison, The Decisions of the Court of Session (1811), pg. 1995
Sir David Dalyrymple of Hailes, Decisions of the Lords of Council and Session, from 1766 to 1791 (1826)


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