The Royal Burgh of Burntisland held some land, called the Links or Commonty, upon which "from time immemorial" the burgesses would pasture their animals and wash, bleach, and dry their clothes. The Commonty was tacked to an individual who was charged with its upkeep, in exchange for which the burgesses whose livestock grazed on the land paid a grass-mail (rent). In 1776, Alexander MacDonald, tacksman for the Commonty, received permission from the town council to raise the annual grass-mail from less than five shillings to ten shillings per beast. Several burgesses applied to the Court of Session for a suspension. Lord Kennet rejected their request. They then applied to the Court to for review, arguing that neither the charger nor the Magistrates had the authority to encroach upon their rights to the Commonty. “It is well known, that every royal burgh has its own privileges and common-good, for behoof of its inhabitants . . . the Kings of Scotland, when they gave any village the privileges of a royal burgh, also gave them lands, or a common-good, for the support and encouragement of its inhabitants. They are called common lands and common-good, for this reason, that every inhabitant has an equal interest therein.” On December 9, 1779 the Court suspended the letters simpliciter, and soon afterward MacDonald submitted a petition. He argued that the Magistrates had sole authority over the disposal of the Commonty: "That Magistrates of royal burghs, as administrators of the property and common good of the burgh, can exercise every act of property and dispose of the same to the best advantage, is undoubtedly established.”

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