Notes to pages 174-182

p. 174 The papers concerning the divorce proceedings between Elizabeth Rattray and James Tytler ‘sometime Druggist in Leith, now Chemyst in or near Edinburgh’  were issued on 23 January, 1788; in them Elizabeth claimed that Tytler ‘totally withdrew his affections- and obliged her to leave his House, and that soon thereafter, casting off the fear of God and all regard for his conjugal vows took up with another woman of the name of Cairns with whom he cohabited under the title or appellation of his wife for severall years and by her he had obe or two children and she having died in childbed as is said, he also took up with jean Aitkenhead… who he also calls his wife and is now living in cohabitation with her as such and has twin children by her.’

p.175 ‘if a woman proves unfaithful..’; this article was printed in the Weekly Mirror for January 5th, 1781. It is only by inference, of course, that one might presume that these articles, all apparently the work of Tytler himself, reflect not just his opinions but also his experiences.

p.176 ‘Burkes Reflecions…’; ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France is a political pamphlet written by the British statesman Edmund Burke and published in November 1790. One of the best-known intellectual attacks against the French Revolution, Reflections is a defining tract of modern conservatism as well as an important contribution to international theory. Above all else, it has been one of the defining efforts of Edmund Burke’s transformation of “traditionalism into a self-conscious and fully conceived political philosophy of conservatism”. ‘(Wikipedia)

‘Paine’s Response…’;  ‘Rights of Man (1791), a book by Thomas Paine, including 31 articles, posits that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard the natural rights of its people. Using these points as a base it defends the French Revolution against Edmund Burke’s attack … It was published in two parts in March 1791 and February 1792.’ (Wikipedia)

‘The attack on Priestley’s house   ‘; ‘The Priestley Riots (also known as the Birmingham Riots of 1791) took place from 14 July to 17 July 1791 in Birmingham, England; the rioters’ main targets were religious Dissenters, most notably the politically and theologically controversial Joseph Priestley.’ (Wikipedia) Wiki struggles here to appear impartial, the result being to play down the implications and consequences of the riots; the opposite point of view is HERE; ‘The story of the riots, the most shameful episode in Birmingham’s history, is the stuff of a book or a film. The ringleaders were a venal attorney, who (according to William Hutton) was to meet an ignominious death; a criminal magistrate; and a self-serving vicar, also a magistrate, who was not averse to a spot of looting. The attorney was John Brooke, Under Sheriff of Warwickshire, and Coroner. The two justices were Joseph Carles who, despite a substantial income and a reputation for efficiency, died penniless and disgraced; and Dr Benjamin Spencer, Vicar of Aston. Edward Carver, manufacturer, was also implicated.  Carver was to become president of The Association for Preserving Property Against Republicans & Levellers, an extremist Anglican organisation, of which Brooke was secretary and Carles and Spencer prominent members.

In the first issue of the Historical Register July 1791 Tytler wrote of ‘they have attacked and ruined the house, library and philosophical apparatus of Dr Priestley, a man respected throughout the world.’  He went on to include a long rant against the newspapers for inciting the mob.

p.178 The Friends of The People in Scotland is described HERE and a brief analysis of the overall state of political dissent at the time is HERE. Thomas Muir’s role in the proceedings and the National Convention of Dec 1792 are described HERE.

Muir was indeed on his way to defend Tytler when he was arrested at Portpatrick.

The notorious handbill that ensured Tytler’s arrest has not survived in its original form. The whole text was, thankfully, included in the trial documentation; excerpts from these records are included on pages 180-182. The entire indictment and the text of the handbill is online HERE.