Defender Walter Scott was a trustee for the late Thomas Cockburn, writer in Edinburgh. Cockburn originally planned to leave much of his estate to his nephew, John Simpson. Learning of Simpson's shortcomings as a businessperson, Cockburn changed his will to set up a trusteeship. Under the trusteeship, his wife Elisabeth Campbell and his nephew John Simpson would receive annual incomes. Cockburn designed the trusteeship to ward off any of Simpson's creditors. Cockburn died on December 2, 1765. On July 31, 1769, an arrestment was used at the instance of pursuer, Edward Tyson, acting as executor for the late John Watson, merchant in London who claimed to be a creditor of Mr. Simpson and Thomas Young, partner in business to Mr. Simpson. Tyson arrested all of Simpson's goods to cover outstanding debts. Tyson sought to collect assets from the Cockburn estate.

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