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The Bailie’s Great Adventure
Grant vs Fife

The Bailie’s Great Adventure

Saturday & Sunday

About 8 o’clock next morning, Saturday, Taylor opened the back door to his garden. He was expecting Collie to return from Grant Lodge by that route. Walking in the passage to the north of his garden towards Grant Lodge, Taylor saw two men start up from behind a dyke. He thought they had been watching there.

Instantly, he turned, but after walking only a few paces he saw three or four more men coming running to meet him. Turning again, he went into the field to the north of the passage where George Winchester, servant of Lord Seafield, was ploughing. (8)

Taylor asked Winchester to go in by to some nearby corn stacks in order to ascertain whether any people were there. Winchester went to the stacks, came back and told the bailie he had seen two men. The bailie left the servant and continued northwards across the field till he came to the footpath leading along the River Lossie. He followed this path westward till he came to the high road between Elgin and Bishopmill. (9)

Walking towards Elgin, the bailie came up to some masons who were building a dyke at the roadside; he conversed a few minutes with these men. Leaving the workmen, he walked on in the direction of Elgin, when he was met and surrounded by a mob he claimed numbered more than a hundred people. Taylor asked them what they wanted of him, somebody answered they meant to take him out of the way, although it was not him they wished for, they were determined to have at least one Grant councillor.

The bailie then said it would be of no use to take him, the precept had been served on him and he was then on his way home to make the town officers call a meeting of the council. Some person of the mob answered the Provost, Sir Archibald Dunbar, had returned and Sir Archibald could call the council. Taylor replied the Provost might call the council but it would not be legal as the precept had been served on him.

James Farquhar, Carrier or Hirer in Elgin, then took hold of Taylor by the arm and turned him toward Bishopmill. Shaking himself clear of Farquhar's hold, Taylor said he might walk along with him. Farquhar, but would not be laid hold of as a common criminal. (10) The Bailie saw it was useless to make any resistance.

The mob all went on to Bishopmill with their captive in the middle of them, where Taylor was then taken to a public house occupied by a woman of the name of Mary Gill or Bain. He was taken upstairs to a room guarded by several men, Farquhar and James Grant, Shoemaker in Elgin among them. The unfortunate and unintended victim was held there for about a quarter of an hour, until a chaise came from Elgin.

James Grant, Crofter at Wester Elchies and George Findlay, Farmer at Heathfield of Wester Elchies arrived and said they wished to speak with Taylor. Findlay saw William Cattanach, Saddler in Elgin, when he was going up the woman’s stair. He asked Cattanach the meaning of what was going on; Cattanach answered they wanted to steal the bailie from the election.

At first, Grant and Findlay were refused admission, but afterwards allowed entry. Grant asked Taylor’s keepers to allow the bailie to go to the head of the stair to speak to Findlay and himself. The keepers refused but agreed to leave the room for a few minutes; the men left the room but watched on the stair. James Grant gave Taylor a letter containing money from George Stewart, Merchant at Curgyle of Elchies. Taylor opened, read and returned the letter to Grant desiring him to give it to John Ross, his Clerk, requesting him to tell Ross to do the best he could till he returned. The bailie then told Grant he was here a prisoner and the men had laid hold of him and carried him off. Grant was very sorry for him, Taylor was in “great trouble & much casten down” and he was in dirty clothes, in great dishabile and had a very long beard. (11)

Taylor's son, Francis Taylor, had joined his father on the road to Bishopmill. Taylor now asked his son be allowed to go home and tell Mrs Taylor he was being taken away but he did not believe they would hurt him. The child was allowed to do so, but only in the company of John McKain, Carrier in Elgin. (12)

John Ross, Shopman to Taylor, arrived at Bishopmill and saw the bailie come out of the woman Bain’s house. Ross got up to Taylor, shook him by the hand, and requested Taylor might be allowed to go out over a little to speak to him. James Rhind, Bookseller in Elgin, exclaimed he should not be allowed to speak to the bailie, but the bailie and Ross went out a few yards onto the road opposite the woman Bain’s door and spoke. To prevent his escaping, Farquhar was holding the bailie by the tails of his coat. When John Ross asked Taylor if he was willing to go away, the bailie said he was not but he saw any resistance would be useless. Ross then said, “By God then you shall not go,” or words to that effect. The crowd laughed contemptuously and the bailie was, “All shaking and very much agitated.” (13)

With a man holding him by each arm and one at his back by way of forcing him against his will, Taylor was put into the chaise.

Alexander Christie, Butcher in Elgin and James Grant, Shoemaker in Elgin went into the chaise with him one of them on each side of Taylor. Young Francis Taylor, unwilling to part from his father, was put into the chaise by his own accord. When the chaise left Bishopmill, William Brander was mounted on the back as guard and about half a dozen men were running alongside. (14)

The chaise stopped when well into the wood between Bishopmill and Duffus where the men on the outside discussed what they should do. Might they take the bailie into the wood and keep him hidden there till it got dark in case the carriage was discovered and followed? They proceeded on however, through the wood to the village of New Duffus, stopping there at the house of William McKimmie and Elizabeth Russell, the mother of James Farquhar. (15) The bailie did not know to which house he was being taken.

At New Duffus, Taylor expressed a wish to go and breakfast with his acquaintance James Adam but his captors would not permit this. The bailie then asked them if they would allow him to send for Adam to breakfast with him. This they did and young Francis Taylor went for Adam and brought him.

The group had been some time at New Duffus when a servant of Lord Seafield’s was seen in the village. Someone said this was for a rescue of Taylor, putting his hand to his breast, James Grant exclaimed, “Rather than allow Taylor to be taken from him he would suffer a pair of balls to be put through him.” Hearing Grant make use of these words had a wonderful effect on Taylor’s mind and made him very much afraid!

Extract from the Precognition


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