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TITLE
Extract Act of Warrant of Liberation on Bail 22October 1827, p2
EXTERNAL ID
Z_GB232_L_INV_HC_9_45_Iv_02
DATE OF IMAGE
1827
PERIOD
1820s
SOURCE
Highland Archive Centre
ASSET ID
5776
KEYWORDS
court papers
court records
distillery
whisky making
Extract Act of Warrant of Liberation on Bail 22October 1827, p2

This is an Extract Act of Warrant of Liberation on Bail, dated 22 October 1827 at Edinburgh, in favour of Donald Cameron.

Donald Cameron of Balnabruach, Kiltarlity, was committed to Inverness jail on 25 September 1827, charged with breaking the Act passed in 1825 entitled "An Act to make provision in Scotland for the further prevention of malicious shooting and attempting to discharge loaded firearms; stabbing, cutting, wounding, poisoning, maiming, disfiguring and disabling his Majesty's Subjects". These offences were made capital crimes requiring the death sentence.

The incident in which Donald Cameron was accused of having taken part involved John McNiven, Excise Officer at Inverness, Colin Campbell and William Lee, Excise Officers at Struy, and a party of assistants. The nature of the party implies they were expecting trouble and they found it at Tomich, in the parish of Kiltarlity. About thirty men armed with firearms or other offensive weapons threatened the lives of the excise officers and their party and threw stones at them to prevent them from carrying out their work. It appears that this was a matter normally dealt with by the local magistrate, but this case was brought to the High Court in Edinburgh because the accused were "skulking in different jurisdictions". The warrant required that they should be arrested and jailed wherever they might be found in Scotland.

Donald Cameron was one of the men accused but he claimed that he was "wholly innocent of said crimes", and requested that he be released on bail. Lord Gillies, one of the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, considered the application on 8 October and passed it to His Majesty's Advocate. Consent was given with bail set at £60 Sterling. Lord MacKenzie, who had initiated the justiciary warrants for arrest, then granted "warrant to ... the Magistrates of Inverness and keepers of their Tolbooth to set him at Liberty."

The violence of the alleged incident and the severity of the punishment indicate the importance of the issue of illicit stilling and excise at the time. In the period up to the Union of the Parliaments, whisky took the place of ale as the general drink in the Highlands and Western Isles and by the 1790s small, local stills with a capacity of 30 gallons were commonplace. From 1793, however, legislation was enacted which firstly licensed and taxed small stills, and also forbade the sale of the produce of Highland stills in the Lowlands, tried to stamp out opposition to excise, made the licensing of small stills more difficult and increased the powers of excise officers.

The overall effect was to shift distilling away from being a cottage industry to being based in distilleries, which were fewer, larger, more centralized and therefore more easily controlled. The measures were to be rigorously enforced. Local distillers opposed the change and were prepared to risk the death penalty to fight it.


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Extract Act of Warrant of Liberation on Bail 22October 1827, p2

1820s

court papers; court records; distillery; whisky making

Highland Archive Centre

Inverness County Sheriff Court Records

This is an Extract Act of Warrant of Liberation on Bail, dated 22 October 1827 at Edinburgh, in favour of Donald Cameron. <br /> <br /> Donald Cameron of Balnabruach, Kiltarlity, was committed to Inverness jail on 25 September 1827, charged with breaking the Act passed in 1825 entitled "An Act to make provision in Scotland for the further prevention of malicious shooting and attempting to discharge loaded firearms; stabbing, cutting, wounding, poisoning, maiming, disfiguring and disabling his Majesty's Subjects". These offences were made capital crimes requiring the death sentence.<br /> <br /> The incident in which Donald Cameron was accused of having taken part involved John McNiven, Excise Officer at Inverness, Colin Campbell and William Lee, Excise Officers at Struy, and a party of assistants. The nature of the party implies they were expecting trouble and they found it at Tomich, in the parish of Kiltarlity. About thirty men armed with firearms or other offensive weapons threatened the lives of the excise officers and their party and threw stones at them to prevent them from carrying out their work. It appears that this was a matter normally dealt with by the local magistrate, but this case was brought to the High Court in Edinburgh because the accused were "skulking in different jurisdictions". The warrant required that they should be arrested and jailed wherever they might be found in Scotland.<br /> <br /> Donald Cameron was one of the men accused but he claimed that he was "wholly innocent of said crimes", and requested that he be released on bail. Lord Gillies, one of the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, considered the application on 8 October and passed it to His Majesty's Advocate. Consent was given with bail set at £60 Sterling. Lord MacKenzie, who had initiated the justiciary warrants for arrest, then granted "warrant to ... the Magistrates of Inverness and keepers of their Tolbooth to set him at Liberty." <br /> <br /> The violence of the alleged incident and the severity of the punishment indicate the importance of the issue of illicit stilling and excise at the time. In the period up to the Union of the Parliaments, whisky took the place of ale as the general drink in the Highlands and Western Isles and by the 1790s small, local stills with a capacity of 30 gallons were commonplace. From 1793, however, legislation was enacted which firstly licensed and taxed small stills, and also forbade the sale of the produce of Highland stills in the Lowlands, tried to stamp out opposition to excise, made the licensing of small stills more difficult and increased the powers of excise officers. <br /> <br /> The overall effect was to shift distilling away from being a cottage industry to being based in distilleries, which were fewer, larger, more centralized and therefore more easily controlled. The measures were to be rigorously enforced. Local distillers opposed the change and were prepared to risk the death penalty to fight it. <br /> <br /> <br /> For further information about this item and the collection to which it belongs, please <a href="mailto: archives@highlifehighland.com">email</a> the Highland Archive Service