The whole Particulars of the Trial of Mr James
Stuart, before the High Court of Justiciary on
Monday the 10th June 1822, for being concerned
in the Fatal Duel on the 26th March last, when
Sir Alexander Boswell was mortally wounded, and
died the following day.
This day came on the trial of Mr James Stuart. indicted for shooting
Sir A. Boswell in a duel on the 26th of March 1822. Mr Stewart ap-
peared at the bar, attended by the Earl of Moray, Mr Erskine of Card-
ross, Lord Loughborough and a few more-friends. He plad not guilty.
Mr Cockburn made a most clear and able speech on the part of Mr
Stewart, in which he stated that upon a Saturday Mr Stewart was walk-
ing in the Parliament house, when he was addressed by person who
introduced himself as the private agent of Borthwick. He told Mr
Stewart that Borthwick was willing to give up the paragraphs against
Mr Stewart in order to screen himself. Mr Stewart went to Glasgow,
he did not know that Borthwick had no right to give up these papers.
If Mr Stuart had not accepted of that offer of ascertaining the author,
he would be again attacked as the mean fellow, &c. Mr Stuart had no
communication with Borthwick, he did not pay the debt for which he
was incarcerated. Mr Stuart discovered on gaining possession of the
papers, that Sir Alexander Boswell, a person whose talents he admired,
and who was distantly related to him; was the author of these libellons
paragraphs, Mr stuart made two propositions to Sir Alexander, one to
deny that he was the author of the song; he admitted of being the au-
thor, The other was that Sir Alexander should' say he was sorry for it,
that it was a squib, and would be friends. Sir Alexander's answer was,
I cannot submit to be catechised. A meeting took place, and both
parteis fired at the same time. Mr Stuart gave notice to the crown office
that whenever he was wanted he would deliver himself up.
A number of witness were examined, but the principal evidence was that the
Earl of Rosslyn, who had acted as second to Mr Stuart, and Hon. John Douglas,
second to sir Alex. Boswell.
Earl of Roslin.?I was acquainted with the late Sir A. Boswell, I was employed
in a message between them on the 25th of March last. I saw Sir Alexander on that
day, in consequence of a note which I had written to him, requesting permission to
see him; and I stated to him that I came at the desire of Mr Stuart . I also stated
to him that Mr Stuart had been in possession of several paper, some of which ap-
peared to be in Sir A. Boswell's hand ,writing and having been sent by the post,
bore the post-mark of Mauchline and of Glasgow ; That there papers were address-
ed to the editor of the Sentinel ; some of which were original, and printed in that
newspaper : That one of them, particularly A song, contained matter most injurous
to Mr Stuart's character, charging him with cowardice : That the similarity of
of hand-writing, together with the circumstance of the post mark, formed so strong
a presumption that these papers had been sent by Sir A. Boswell, that Mr Stuart
thought himself entitled to ask Sir Alexander whether he was the author of them :
I stated, at the same time, that if Sir Alexander could say that he was not the author
of those papers, such denial on his part would be conclusire against any evidence
The explanetion was particularly asked for the song. In two passages it contained
a direct imputation of cowardice. I examined these papers,....They were now pre-
sented to his Lordship, and he recognized them. I saw Mr Stuart, and proceeded
immediately to Mr Douglas, and stated that I was grieved to find that no alterna--
tive was left to Mr Stuart. Mr Brougham staled to me (at half past 8, at Dysart)
that Sir A. Boswell and Mr Stuart, had been bound over in the course of the night.
by the Sheriff of Edinburgh, to keep the pence within that county and city; and
that in consequence of that proceeding. it had been settled during the night, that
Sir Alexander and Mr Stuart should meet at Auchtertoul that morning, and desir-
ing me to meet Mr Stuart, which I did. I met Mr Douglas in the inside of the
coach, we had some conversation. We fixed upon a piece of ground, in a field by
the road side. Mr Stuart and Sir Alexander arrived in carriage, and got out at
the place appointed, (I believe 12 o'clock was the time.).......Mr Douglas received
from me the measured powder for each, and the ball, and rammed them down.
There were but two pistols, of which Mr Douglas took one, and I took the other,
The ground was measured first, immediately after loading the pistols, at 12 very
long paces. The distance was intimated to the two parties by Mr Douglas, and by
me and it was agreed that they should fire sogether by our word. They both fired,
and Sir Alexander fell. Every possible assistance was afforded to Sir Alexander
by the medical attendants, and no time was lost in removing Sir Alexander to Bal
The examination of the Hon. John Douglas was nearly the same as the above.
Mr Jeffrey stated that the evidence for the defender was closed : and the Lord
Advocate in a short but distinct speech stated, that he had considered it to be his
bounden duty to bring this case to trial. Mr Jeffrey made a very long argumentative
speech ; he spoke for nearly three hours. The Lord Justice Clerk commenced his
Charge to the Jury at three o'clock?A more distinct, candid, and important charge,
we venture to assirm, has seldom been heard within the walls of a Criminal Court.
The Jury chose Sir John Hope, Bart, as their chancellor , and after consulting for
a few minutes in the Jury box, the chancellor delivered an unanimous verdict of
Not Guilty- The verdict was received with loud cheers from without the doors,
and with marked approbation from those within.
The trial lasted eighteen hours, and was not finished till near five the this morning.
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Date of publication:
1822 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(27)
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