Our Legal Heritage



Our Legal Heritage: Henry Dundas – no statute of limitation on the limitation of statues

In part two of his reflection on the life of Henry Dundas, Chris Holme retells the episode that would be his undoing, see part one here.

Published 24 November 2020

Our Legal Heritage: Black History Month – Henry Dundas, lofty hero or lowlife crook?

Chris Holme looks at the life of Henry Dundas, a controversial figure who has come under scrutiny this year in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Published 26 October 2020

Our Legal Heritage: The Scots contract case that influenced English law

The outbreak of war in 1914 prompted a business dispute that ultimately reached the House of Lords and influenced reform to English law. Kate Scarborough explains the details of the case.

Published 18 September 2020

Our Legal Heritage: The lamb that strayed too far from home

In 1884, a lamb skipped its way into Scottish legal history after it entered unfriendly territory.

Published 25 August 2020

Our Legal Heritage: The adulterous judge who had his troublesome wife kidnapped and exiled to St Kilda

During his lifetime, James Erksine, Lord Grange, Scotland’s Lord Justice Clerk from 1710 to 1714, was best known for his eccentric opposition to the Witchcraft Act of 1735 which aimed to ensure there would be no return to the infamous witch hunts which had claimed the lives of so many women.

Published 21 August 2020

Our Legal Heritage: ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir?’

Graham Ogilvy enjoys a new presentation of the famous denouement of demagogue Joe McCarthy at the hands of Boston lawyer Joseph N Welch.

Published 24 June 2020

Our Legal Heritage: Mr Roughead and Miss Smith 

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.

Published 29 April 2020

Our Legal Heritage: Faculty’s Royal Mile buildings

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.

Published 15 November 2019

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