Saturday, December 04, 2010

National Archives of Scotland

Back in June of 2006 I blogged about finding the web pages for The National Archives of Scotland. Searching their catalogue and finding the following entry about a Justiciary appeal by my GreatGrandfather Patrick Shields against the then Lord Bute!

Record: 1 of 1
RefNo Title Date
JC31 Justiciary Appeals Processes 1864-1994
JC31/1906 Justiciary appeals processes, 1906

CountryCode GB RepCode 234
RefNo JC31/1906/19
Repository National Archives of Scotland
Justiciary appeal by Patrick Shields, porter, North British Railway Company, Rothesay, and residing at Minister's Brae, Rothesay v The Most Honourable John Crichton Stuart, Marquis of Bute and Earl of Windsor etc.
Date 1906
Description Lodged 16 March 1906. Appeal dismissed.
AccessStatus: Open

I kept promising to arrange a visit to check out the record but life kept getting in the way.

I eventually made it up to Edinburgh to visit the National Archives in November of 2009. You need to register as a reader and show proof of address and photo id and you can then access the records free of charge. As I already had the record details it was quite straight forward to request the actual documents and they were shortly delivered to my desk as a bound wrap of legal documents tied in ribbon.

It was quite exciting to unwrap these and find the original documents from the court record where my grandfather was found guilty, the handwritten letter from my grandfathers lawyer lodging his appeal to the typewritten findings of the High Court of Justiciary.

I discovered my Great Grandfather had been found guilty of Day Poaching on land belonging to Lord Bute.

On the 26th November 1905, Patrick had been found in the grounds of Barone Park Farm near a rabbit burrow, in a turnip field, with rabbit nets, a ferret and a brown collie dog. When asked what he was doing by the gamewatcher a Mr John McGhee, he admitted he was looking for a rabbit.

You would think a straightforward case so why the appeal?

His lawyer, Mr J Scrymgeour Hepburn, lodged the appeal and argued the gamewatcher had not been asked who the owner of the land was and had not said himself who the owner was, so could you be convicted of poaching if no proof or evidence had been given that someone else owned the land. He put forward that as there had been no evidence of the ownership of the property and it could be in either of two parishes you could not impose a penalty. This despite it being common knowledge that the lands were part of Bute Estate.

Sounds like a legal technicality to me.

It did to the High Court as well. They repelled the procurators contentions and convicted my grandfather and charged a penalty of 20 shillings plus 10 shillings for expenses with the alternative of 14 days imprisonment.
My grandfather sensibly paid the fine.

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