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698. Proceedings in the High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh against ALExANDER M*LAREN and Thomas BAIRD, for Sedition, March 5th–7th : 57 GEong E III. A. D. 1817.



Rt. Hon. David Boyle, Lord Justice Clerk.
Lord Hermand.
Lord Gillies.
Lord Pitmilly.
Lord Reston.
Counsel for the Crown.

Rt. Hon. Alexander Maconochie, Lord Advo

cate [afterwards a lord of Session and Justi

ciary, with the title of Lord Meadowbank.]
James Wedderburn, Esq. Solicitor-General.
H. H. Drummond, Esq.
J. A. Maconochie, Esq.

H. Warrender, Esq. Agent.
Counsel for Alexander M*Laren.
John Clerk, Esq.
J. P. Grant, Esq.
James Campbell, Esq.
Mr. R. Morton, Agent.

Counsel for Thomas Baird,

Francis Jeffery. Esq.
Henry Cockburn, Esq.
J. S. Stewart, Esq. -

Mr. A. Campbell, W. S. Agent. Lord Justice Clerk. —Alexander M'Laren and Thomas Baird, attend to the indictment against you, which the clerk of Court will read.

ALEXANDER MLAREN, now or lately weaver in Kilmarnock, in the county of Ayr, and Thomas Baird, merchant there, you are indicted and accused, at the instance of Alexander Maconochie of Meadowbank, his majesty's advocate, for his majesty's interest: that albeit, by the laws of this and of every other well-governed realm, Sedition is a crime of a heinous nature, and severely punishable:


yet true it is and of verity, that you the said Alexander M*Laren and Thomas Baird are both and each, or one or other of you, guilty thereof, actors or actor, or art and part: in so far as, you the said Alexander M'Laren did, at a public meeting, held at Dean-park, in the vicinity of Kilmarnock aforesaid, on the 7th day of December 1816, or on one or other of the days of that month, or of November immediately preceding, or of January immediately following, which meeting was attended by a great multitude of persons, chiefly of the lower orders, wickedly and feloniously deliver a speech, containing a number of seditious and inflammatory remarks and assertions, calculated to degrade and bring into contempt the government and legislature, and to withdraw therefrom the confidence and affections of the people, and fill the realm with trouble and dissention; in which speech there were the following or similar wicked and seditious expressions:–“That our sufferings are insupportable, is demonstrated to the world; and that they are neither temporary, nor occasioned by a transition “from war to peace,’ is palpable to all, though all have not the courage to avow it. The fact is, we are ruled by men only solicitous for their own aggrandizement; and they care no farther for the great body of the people, than they are subservient to their accursed purposes. If you are convinced of this, my countrymen, I would therefore put the question, are you degenerate enough to bear it Shall we, whose forefathers set limits to the all-grasping power of Rome; shall we, whose forefathers, at the never to be forgotten field of Bannockburn, told the mighty Edward, at the head of the most mighty army ever trode on Britain's soil, “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther;' shall we, I say, whose forefathers defied the efforts of foreign tyranny to enslave our beloved country, meanly permit,

in our day, without a murmur, a base oligarchy to feed their filthy vermin on our vitals, and rule us as they will 2 No, my countrymen. Let us lay our petitions at the foot of the throne, where sits our August Prince, whose gracious nature will incline his ear to listen to the cries of his people, which he is bound to do by the laws of the country. But, should he be so infatuated as to turn a deaf ear to their just petition, he has forfeited their allegiance. Yes, my fellow townsmen, in such a case, to hell with our allegiance.” And you the said Alexander M*Laren did, shortly thereafter, deliver, or cause to be delivered, your said speech, in manuscript, to Hugh Crawford, printer in Kilmarnock, to be by him printed and published. And you the said Thomas Baird having been present at the said meeting, and having heard the said speech, and others of a similar tendency, delivered there, did, shortly thereafter, and in the course of the said months of December or January, wickedly and feloniously print, or cause or procure to be printed, at the printing-office of the said Hugh Crawford, in Kilmarnock aforesaid, a seditious tract or statement, intituled, “Account of the proceedings of the public meeting of the Burgesses and Inhabitants of the town of Kilmarnock, held on the 7th of December 1816, for the purpose of deliberating on the most proper method of remedying the present distresses of the country, with a full report of the speeches on that occasion;” which printed tract or statement did contain a number of seditious and inflammatory remarks and assertions, calculated for the purposes above mentioned; and, in particular, a report of the said speech of you the said Alexander M'Laren, with the passage aforesaid, in the same, or nearly the same terms; as also the following wicked and seditious passages, viz. page ninth, —“And a House of {..."; the latter is corrupted; it is decayed and worn out; it is not really what it is called, it is not a House of Commons.”—Page tenth—“The House of Commons, in its original composition, consisted only of commoners, chosen annually by the universal suffrage of the people. No nobleman, no clergyman, no naval or military officer, in short, none who held places, or received pensions from government, had any right to sit in that House.—This is what the THouse of Commons was, what it ought to be, and what we wish it to be ; this is the wanted change in our form of government—the Commons House of Parliament restored to its original purity; and this, beyond a doubt, would strike at the root of the greatest part of the evils we groan under at the present day.”— Page eleventh, “Is it any wonder, my friends, that this country is brought to its present unprecedented state of misery, when the rights of the people have been thus wantonly violated f"— Page twelfth, “But let us come nearer home. Look at the year 1793, when the debt amounted to two hundred and eleven millions, and the

when liberty began to rear her drooping head in the country; when associations were framed from one end of the kingdom to another, composed of men eminent for their talents and virtue, to assert their rights; when a neighbouring nation had just thrown off a yoke which was become intolerable—what did the wise rulers of this country do? Why, they declared war, not only against the French nation, but also against the friends of liberty at home.”—Page twenty-ninth, “Our oppressors have taxed the very light of heaven; and they seem surprised and indignant that we should not bear the insupportable burden, with which folly, corruption, and avarice, have loaded us, without reluctance and complaint.” —Page thirty-second, “Their reverend hirelings would convince you that you are suffering under the visitation of the Almighty, and therefore ought to be submissive under the chastening stroke.”—Page thirty-fifth, “We have these twenty-five years been condemned to incessant and unparalleled slavery, by a usurped Oligarchy, who pretend to be our guardians and representatives, while, in fact, they are nothing but our inflexible and determined enemies.”—“They have robbed us of our money, deprived us of our friends, violated our rights, and abused our privileges.”—“At present we have no representatives; they are only nominal, not real; active only in prosecuting their own designs, and at the same time telling us that they are agreeable to our wishes.” —And you the said Thomas Baird having obtained a number of copies of the said printed tract or statement, containing the said false, wicked, and seditious passages, and others of a similar tendency, and being altogether of a seditious nature, did, in the course of the said months of December and January, and of February immediately following, at your shop in Kilmarnock aforesaid, wickedly and feloniously sell, publish, and circulate, or cause to be sold, published, or circulated, many of the said copies thereof, at the price of fourpence each, or other small sum, one of which was then and there purchased by Hugh Wilson, weaver in Kilmarnock. And you the said Alexander M*Laren and Thomas Baird having been apprehended and taken before William Eaton, esq., sheriff-substitute of the county of

| Ayr, did, in his presence, at Kilmarnock, on

the 26th day of February 1817, both and each of you emit and subscribe a declaration: which declarations, being to be used in evidence against each of you respectively, and the manuscript of nineteen pages, and the half sheet of paper, titled on the back, “No. 5.” both referred to in the said declaration of you the said Thomas Baird, being to be used in evidence against you the said Thomas Baird, as also three copies of the printed tract, or statement, above mentioned, being to be used in evidence against both and each of you, will be lodged in due time in the hands of the clerk of the high court of

annual taxation to about eighteen millions; justiciary, before which you are to be tried,

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