In connection with the marriage of James Taylor and Mary Muir, Mary’s brother James Muir agreed to pay a tocher, or dowry, of 2000 merks. The debt went unpaid for several years. However, shortly after James Muir’s death, Taylor sought payment from Muir’s widow, Isobel Buchanan, and her children. (James Taylor died during the litigation, and the case was taken up by Mary Muir acting as his executrix.) As defender, Buchanan claimed that the tocher debt was more than offset by various sums that James Muir had advanced to his sister and brother-in-law over the years. In considering the parties’ competing claims, the court addressed a number of questions about which debts could properly be used to offset each other and what evidence was competent to prove those debts. Case documents discuss various commercial pursuits by the parties, including Mary Muir.

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