Date of Decision: 1780
Abstract: This case was about a “birly court”: a voluntary association of small proprietors and tenants that regulated property lines and common pasturages in their neighborhood. The birly court in Elsrighill (Elsrickle) levied a fine on one of its members, John Wilson. When Wilson refused to pay, the court’s elected officers seized two of his pewter plates. Wilson complained to the sheriff of Lanarkshire, alleging that the birly court lacked authority to take such an action. The sheriff-substitute, John Bannatyne, found that the officers were guilty of a riot and had them detained. In response, the officers sued both Wilson and Bannatyne for wrongful imprisonment.
Subjects: Birly court, Jurisdiction, Riot

Published Report

Not Reported


Andrew Aitken, Elsrickle birlyman
David Brown, Elsrickle birlyman
James Richardson, Elsrickle birlyman
William Elder, Elsrickle birly officer
John Cuthbertson
John Lawson
John White, of Howburn
John Wilson
John Bannatyne, Sheriff-substitute of Lanark

People or Organizations Associated with Case

Named in case documents:
James Gilbert, Deponent
Hugh Stewart, Deponent
John Barclay, Deponent
Robert Sinclair, Sheriff of Lanark
William Pairman, Deponent
John White, Master of deponent William Pairman
William Richardson, Son of pursuer James Richardson
Elizabeth Robertson, Deponent
Robert Newbigging, Deponent
Marion Nicol, Deponent
Elsrickle Birly Court
James Stewart, Commissioner at Lanark
Robert Steel, Deponent
James Lawson, Husband of deponent
James Paterson, Deponent
Lawrence Brown, Esq., of Edmonstone, Justice of the Peace for Lanark County
Andrew Smith, Deponent
William Gilbert, Deponent
Thomas Brown, Deponent
James Cossar, Deponent
Richard Rob, Deponent
Joseph Allan, of Castlebrockat
Thomas Muir, Deponent
William Brown, Procurator for the defender John Wilson
David Hunter, Deponent
James Currie, Procurator for the defender John Wilson
James Muir, Deponent
James Moodie, Deponent; Sheriff-clerk of Lanark
Lord Ordinary:
Alexander Lockhart, Lord Covington
Advocate for Pursuer:
Andrew Crosbie, Esq.
Advocate for Defender:
William Craig, Lord Craig, Advocate for defender John Bannatyne
Alexander Wight, Advocate for defender John Wilson