Graham Ogilvy enjoys a new presentation of the famous denouement of demagogue Joe McCarthy at the hands of Boston lawyer Joseph N Welch. It is an epic moment in American legal history that played out live on US television – and now new light is shed on the withering exchanges between veteran B
Our Legal Heritage
May 8th 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of VE Day – the end of the Second World War in Europe. During the six long years of conflict, the WS Society kept a scrapbook of news about Writers to the Signet in service at home and abroad. James Hamilton introduces this poignant resource. One mornin
Robert Pirrie WS, chief executive of the WS Society, tells the story of William Roughead, the Edinburgh lawyer who became the father of the ‘true crime’ genre and the celebrated trial for murder of Miss Madelaine Smith. Amongst the many remarkable collections of the Signet Library,
This week marks the 30th anniversary of the world’s largest unsolved art theft, in which 13 pieces worth around $500 million, including paintings by famous artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet, were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
He has attained folk hero status as a sort of Scottish Robin Hood and at Burns Suppers around the country this weekend his execution will be recalled with performances of ‘Macpherson’s Farewell’ also known as Macpherson’s ‘Rant’ or ‘Lament’. But who wa
It might be stretching things a bit to describe this football match in 1980 as part of our legal heritage but it does reflect the days when local faculties ran their own football teams – a practice now in decline – although we were pleased yesterday to report that the Glasgow Bar is mak
Our Legal Heritage: Duncan Clark, the Scottish lawyer sentenced to death after a grisly find in his desk
As a young lawyer, or ‘writer’, in the county town of Perth in the 1820s, Duncan Clark was a pillar of the community and a model of respectability.
When adherents of a pre-World War One nudist craze in Germany decided to establish a club, their decision to name it after an 18th century Scottish judge seemed the most natural thing in the world. Berlin's Monboddo Bund remains one of the more unusual salutes to the Scottish judiciary but is testam
As you would expect of properties in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the Faculty of Advocates’ Lord Reid Building and Mackenzie Building are steeped in history. The Lord Reid Building, behind 142 High Street, is within an enclosed court and accessed via the pend known as New Assembly Close. It h
In 1937 a story emerged in the Irish press about a girl from Glasgow called Julia Clarke who had been sentenced, in absentia, to one month's imprisonment for “kissing a boyfriend in public”. Ms Clarke and the (notably unnamed) local boy had been seen kissing on church property in Blackro
A bid is underway to clear the name of a Scots sailor whose body was left hanging over the Thames for three years as a warning to other would-be pirates. Born in 1645 most likely in Dundee but possibly Greenock, Captain William Kidd's early life is obscure. It is believed that, like his father, he t
Lauren Brown looks back at the long summer of 1597 when Scotland was swept by witch-finding fever. Between March and October 1597, Scotland was gripped by witchcraft hysteria. Around 400 people were tried for witchcraft and 200 are believed to have been executed. The number of people accused was dou
This year the legal community has reflected on the entry of women into the profession and the struggle for equality that has ensued. The Law Society of Scotland recounts the names of the women pioneers who have succeeded in law.
Seosamh Gráinséir recounts the Yelverton saga, litigated across the Scottish, English and Irish courts and which resulted in marriage reform in Ireland. On 15 August 1857, Maria Theresa Longworth and Major William Charles Yelverton got married in a Catholic Church near Rostrevor. They
In 1941 at a seancé in Portsmouth, the spirit of a sailor was said to have appeared to announce the sinking of HMS Barham. But the battleship, which had been sunk in an attack by German forces off the Egyptian coast, was not officially declared lost until a number of months later, an effort b