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Justices, held at Elgin on 13th January 1745, the chairman read the following letter from Duncan Forbes, Lord President of the Court of Session :
“ DEAR SIR,— The Christmas holy-days, which have emptied the town, and adjourned the Board of Customs, have prevented my being able to write you on the subject of your smuggling, as I once thought I should; but lest what I may write upon consultation with others should come too late for your meeting on the 15th inst., I have taken the part in the mean time of dropping you this line.
“ I have not been more surprized for a great while, than when I heard that a majority of Justices, at your last meeting, putt off the precognition on a doubt whether they lawfully could take information from the witnesses upon oath, and thereby, however innocent their intentions were, flung some cold water at least upon
the inquiry. “As to the doubt itself, I confess I am at a loss to guess on what it is founded ; precognitions have at all times been taken on oath in Scotland, and hence the established practice in the Court of Justiciary, of cancelling, at the trial, the oath formerly emitted on the precognition, before the witness emit his deposition in Court, if he desire it. No occult crime, however dangerous to the common weal, or to the Crown, could be detected or punished, if witnesses were in the least backward, without a power, in those whose duty it is to enquire, to examine upon oath. And if the practice of England is enquired into, no Justice can commit, as they may in Scotland, upon a signed information only. The Justice must examine the informant upon oath before he can issue his warrant, so that, as I apprehend the scruple is without any just foundation, I doubt not at your next meeting, after gentlemen have had time to inform themselves duely, it will evanish.
“I cannot suffer myself to suspect that, considering the notoriety of the mischief that smuggling does to this poor unhappy country, and the forwardness lately shown, by all ranks of men, to express their detestation of it, and to bind themselves to one another and to the publick, by resolutions and engagements of honour, to discourage that villanious traffick, any gentleman or number of gentlemen, will in broad day light, and in an open Court (whatever their connection with, or tenderness for the unhappy smuggler be), be so impudently profligate as to attempt to screen the cut throats of their country, and thereby expose themselves to the universal contempt and abhorrence of mankind. Such an attempt requires more than an ordinary degree of courage and wickedness; the guilty person cannot hope to remain unknown, the Minutes of the Court must record his infamy, nor is it to be expected by him that the character, which by such practices he may purchase, shall remain confined to his own country : the common post can, by an Extract of the Minutes, convey his fame to Edinburgh, from whence it may be communicated to the whole kingdom.
“Now tho', for these reasons, I hope you will be unanimous at your next meeting, yet, if contrary to my expectations, and very much against my wish, the smugglers should find protection, and the national justice, as well as interest, should be defeated, I hope you will be so good as to transmit the Minutes, distinguishing how each Justice voted, that, besides furnishing me as a private gentleman with information who I ought to detest and avoid as a scoundrell, I may be able to inform my fellow-subjects, as far as that may be done within the laws, whom they ought to look upon as enemies to their country. Other rebukes they may possibly meet with, but it is not necessary to speak of that at present. I write, you see, with great freedom, as I am very much in carnest; but what I have said are the dictates of my heart, and you are at full liberty to make what use you please of what I have wrote. This mean, shameful course to destruction must be prevented, or our unhappy country must be undone. Make my compliments to every one who can lay his hand on his heart and say he does not deserve the title of Rascal, and believe me to be, &c.,
XII. THE FAMILIES OF BURGIE AND OF
ROBERT DUNBAR sold the estate of Burgie, about the year 1660, to his cousin, Thomas Dunbar of Grange, in whose family it continued until the death, in 1827, of bis descendant and male representative, Lewis Dunbar Brodie. Although he had parted with the estate, Robert still retained the designation “ of Burgie,” which was also assumed by his descendants, who, on subsequently acquiring property near Elgin, made the Dean's manse, now North College, their chief seat. The last so designated Laird of Burgie, John Dunbar, got into difficulties, sold his estates, which we bave shown were in the vicinity of Elgin, and is supposed to have emigrated about 1756 to Carolina, where his brother Robert had previously settled.
These particulars are given, because, on a competition by claimants for the estate of Burgie, in 1827, time and money were wasted by persons who did not attend to the fact, that the later proprietors of that estate were not the “ Dunbars of Burgie,” but the “ Dunbars of Grange.”
The Earl of Moray's letter had the desired effect. The King's authority was vindicated by the expulsion of “young Burgie.”
“ For the Right Honorable my LORD CHANCELLOR, and remanent
LORDS of his Majesties most honorable PRIVIE COUNSELL :
“ CASTLE STEWART, 28th May, 1668. Right HONORABLE,—I am treuly sory that ther should such a necessity ly upon me as to give your Lordship notice of any rude and illegal disorders falling out in the place of my residence; but that your Lordship in your wisedome may both punish and redress this and obviat the lyke, I find myself oblidged to give your Lordship ane accompt of what has past upon some civil transactions betwixt the Lairds of Grange and Burgy. Burgy did give Grange possession of his hous and estate, and did dispone the same unto him for very onerous causes; and whilst Grange, his wife, and family were settled and living in the hous of Burgy, young Burgy did, on the sixteenth day of May inst., with armed men, enter the hous, and eject Grange, his servants and family, and possess himself of the hous, plenishing, trunks, papers, and whatever was in the hous, and plants a garrisone in it. Upon notice whereof I wrot to the actor by a messenger, and required him in the King's Majesties name, and your Lordship’s, to disband these armed men, and retire himself, repossess Grange to the hous