This case was about whether the defender could claim an exclusive property right to a seat in a church. In 1728, the proprietor of an estate called Roslin transferred part of the estate to one Yaxly Davidson; the transferred land came to be known as Rosebank. The proprietor also gave Davidson access to certain seats in the local church, which had been reserved for the estate of Roslin. (The exact nature of this access, and the number of seats affected, were matters of dispute.) In time, Jean Alexander became the proprietor of Rosebank and began using the associated seats. She sought to exclude Roslin tenants from the seats, and Colonel James St. Clair, the contemporaneous proprietor of Roslin, sued. St. Clair claimed that he held the sole right to the disputed seats. In response, Alexander argued that the proprietors of Rosebank had acquired the seats by prescription—in other words, that by possessing the seats for a long period of time, they had obtained a property right. St. Clair argued that a church seat could not be obtained by prescription, and that in any case, Alexander had not enjoyed the sort of exclusive possession that was necessary for prescription to apply.

Published Reports

Sir David Dalyrymple of Hailes, Decisions of the Lords of Council and Session, from 1766 to 1791 (1826), pg. 719