Our Legal Heritage



Our Legal Heritage: The Branks or Scold’s Bridle

Graham Ogilvy considers one of Scotland’s less celebrated legal innovations – the Scold’s bridle or Branks.

Published 18 January 2019

Our Legal Heritage: Johnny Ramensky

John Forsyth writes...

Published 12 December 2018

Our Legal Heritage: The Hate Factory

It is unlikely that any of the former inmates of Peterhead Prison will be beating a path to spend a pleasant afternoon in what must rate as Scotland's most unusual tourist attraction.

Published 7 December 2018

Our Legal Heritage: The trial of Oscar Slater

SLN reflects on one of Scotland's most famous miscarriages of justice as a new play – Oscar Slater - The Trial That Shamed A City – opens at the Òran Mór in Glasgow this week, running until Saturday. Book your tickets here.

Published 13 November 2018

Our Legal Heritage: William Davidson

Graham Ogilvy looks at the life of the radical William Davidson.

Published 6 November 2018

Our Legal Heritage: US founding father and Supreme Court justice James Wilson

Global attention has recently focused on the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, but Graham Ogilvy reports that the appointment of Scottish lawyer James Wilson as one of the first six SCOTUS justices was also controversial — when Wilson was twice incarcerated in a debtor’s prison while a sitting judge and narrowly avoided impeachment for promoting legislation that favoured his fellow land speculators.

Published 9 October 2018

Our Legal Heritage: The last man publicly hanged in Glasgow

In December 1864, Mary Pritchard became seriously ill and experienced retching and headaches. She was suffering the effects of antimony poisoning at the hands of her husband, Dr Edward Pritchard, who would become the last man to be publicly hanged in Glasgow.

Published 31 August 2018

Our Legal Heritage: Society of Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland

The venerable Society of Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland and its premises in Parliament House are among the jewels in the crown of Scotland’s legal heritage, as SSC secretary Mr Robert Shiels explains.

Published 27 August 2018

Our Legal Heritage: The whipping stone

The "whipping stone", which marks the site of medieval flogging in Aberdeen, has once again been revealed.

Published 20 August 2018

Our Legal Heritage: Inveraray Jail and Courthouse

In the latest of our occasional series, Graham Ogilvy visits Inveraray Jail and Courthouse.

Published 3 August 2018

Our Legal Heritage: Lord Braxfield

In our continuing occasional series on Scotland's legal heritage, Graham Ogilvy considers the National Gallery's portrait of Robert McQueen, who gained notoriety as Lord Braxfield, Scotland's very own hanging judge.

Published 24 July 2018

Our Legal Heritage: Chrystal Macmillan

Annabel Twose of First 100 Years writes about Jessie Chrystal Macmillan, a Scottish feminist, barrister and politician. She was the first female science graduate from the University of Edinburgh; the first woman to plead a case before the House of Lords and a founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. First 100 Years is a charitable project recording the history of women in law in order to provide future generations of female lawyers with visible role models. Next year, the project will celebrate the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which paved the way for women to become lawyers for the first time.

Published 19 July 2018

Our Legal Heritage: The Faculty Mummy

In 1748, James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton, an antiquarian who had travelled in Egypt, presented a mummy to the Faculty.

Published 16 July 2018

Our Legal Heritage: Dunkeld jail

In the latest of our occasional series, Graham Ogilvy discovers a curious legal relic in Dunkeld.

Published 13 July 2018

Our Legal Heritage: Indian Peter Williamson

In the latest in our occasional legal heritage series, Graham Ogilvy reflects on the remarkable story of ‘Indian’ Peter Williamson.

Published 6 July 2018