Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TS fights the Sheriff (sort of)

It seems likely that this is Thomas Sutherland (1772-1850), it certainly doesn't seem out of character. Furthermore, he is the only Thomas Sutherland, merchant tailor--or tailor of any kind--of whom I can find a record of in Edinburgh at the time:

The Scots Revised Reports, [Court of Session]: Faculty Collection, 1807-1825

No. 168 F.C. N.S. VII 666 19 Jan. 1825

Thomas Sutherland and others, pursuers Solicitor-General (Hope), Shav,
WALTER S. MORSON, Defender. — Walker Baird.
Minor — Cautioner — Personal Objection. — Circumstances in which minority was sustained to set aside a cautionary obligation, although the party pleading it had previously made a declaration in writing that he was a major, and, in consequence, had obtained a degree of doctor of medicine.

Samuel Sheriff, a friend and fellow student of the defender, contracted various debts to tradesmen in Edinburgh, and among these to the pursuer, a merchant tailor, and to others for whom the pursuer acted as assignee. Sheriff, upon obtaining his degree a - doctor of medicine, invited a party of his friends to dinner, and among others, the defender, Mr. Morson. During the evening, the pursuer, who, with some other creditors of Mr. Sheriff, had taken out a warrant against him as in meditatione fugue, made their appearance at Mr. Sheriff’s lodgings, and intimated their intention of putting the warrant in execution, unless security was given by some of the party for payment of the debt. Upon this the defender granted the following obligation: — "1st August 1822. — I hereby become bound to pay, or see paid, the following sums due by Dr. Sheriff to the following persons. To Thomas Sutherland, twenty-six pounds sixteen shillings. Mr. James Mellis, twenty-five pounds four shillings. Mr. Purves eighty-seven pounds. Mr. Rose twenty-eight pounds fourteen shillings. Mr. Forrest fourteen pounds three shillings. Expences [sic] two pounds shillings; and that within six weeks of this date.”

Sheriff afterwards left Scotland; and an action was raised against Morson by Sutherland for himself, and as assignee for the other creditors, for payment….

Morson was, in all probability, Walter Skerrett Morson (1802, Antigua-1830, Newcastle), who studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. His family was prominent in Montserrat, and Morson appears to have had success in his short career as a doctor; at least one source claims he was “physician to the late Princess Sophia, daughter of George III.” Sophia could have been a very interesting patient given the rumours of her “indiscretions.” But those would have preceded Morson’s arrival on the scene. Given that at his premature death he left at least four children behind, it is to be hoped he had developed a better grasp of finances.

It seems less likely that Sheriff “stuck” Morson with the bill, and more likely that he was aware of Morson’s status as a minor who could not be held responsible for the debts. Evidence points to the original debtor being Dr. Samuel Marchant Sheriff (1799-1839) of Antigua (son of Samuel Harman Sheriff, brother-in-law to Dr. Anthony Musgrave, treasurer of Antigua, 1825- 1852, uncle to colonial administrator Sir Anthony Musgrave). If so, Morson was less the gallant friend who covered his friend’s financial obligations, and more the conspirator. This seems supported by the very fact that the case went to trial. Ultimately, the fact that this young man choose to frequent this TS's shop suggests he was a tailor whose services and wares were appreciated by the upper-middle classes.

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