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Notebook on legal matters, including copy of transcript of the trial of Capt. John Porteous

Identifier: Coll-1244

Scope and Contents

Much of this notebook contains a part-copy of the transcript of the trial as it was published in Edinburgh, 1818, in - Criminal Trials Illustrative Of The Tale Entitled The Heart Of Mid-Lothian: Published From The Original Record . Also in the notebook are some law notes on Cox v. Coleridge and the Rights of Allornies (or Attornies?); Rex v. Inhabitants of Middlesex; and, the Assizes at Lewes.

There are also notes from Lacon, or Many Things in Few Words, addressed to those who think, by Charles Caleb Colton. There are other notes on: an Irish affidavit; the Courtly Abbe; as well as smaller items.

Pasted in to the notebook is a newspaper cutting referring to Parliamentary Paper. His Majesty's Coronation - being an account of the expenses for the Coronation of George IV.


  • Creation: 1818-1824

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance of any visit.

Biographical / Historical

The writer of the notebook which forms this collection was probably a law student. In addition to a part-copy of the transcript of the trial of Captain John Porteous in 1736, there are other notes on legal matters, aphorisms and religious references. The notebook is rather like a commonplace book.

What transpired as the lynching of Captain John Porteous in 1736 was another shocking incident in Edinburgh's dark history. Porteous had been captain of the city guard of Edinburgh when one Andrew Wilson, a smuggler, was hanged on 14 April 1736. The crowd sympathised with Wilson and a riot started. Porteous ordered the guard to fire above the heads of the mob and in so doing onlookers from adjacent tenements were shot and injured. This enraged the mob even more and Porteous took the extreme measure of ordering his troops to fire on the people, killing six. Porteous was tried and convicted for murder, but seemed likely to be spared the death penalty. Popular feeling ran so high that a mob stormed the old Tolbooth Prison on 7 September 1736 and took Porteous to be beaten, repeatedly hung and let down, and eventually killed. No-one was ever punished for the riot, but the Provost of Edinburgh was dismissed for failing to manage his turbulent city.


1 notebook

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession no: E2009.37

Processing Information

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library.

Notebook on legal matters (circa 1820-1824), including copy of transcript of the trial of Capt.John Porteous (1736)
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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