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Scotland's Last Judicial Meetings of Baronial Courts - at The Prestoungrange Gothenburg

1. The right of Barons to hold Courts with Criminal and Civil Jurisdiction across their feudal Lands in Scotland finally ceases on November 28th 2004 along with the abolition of feudal land tenure. There have been very few instances of Baron’s Courts meeting in the past century except for ceremonial purposes which have not been affected by the legislation since they are part of the feudal ‘dignity’ of a baron which survives. [Abolition of Feudal Tenure (Scotland) Act 2000].

2. The Courts powers are derived from the Heritable Jurisdictions [Scotland] Act 1746, and include meting out punishment of up to three daylight hours in the stocks, fines of up to 40/- and, if guilty parties do not comply, up to one month in a jail approved by the County Sheriff.

3. The Barons of Prestoungrange and of Dolphinstoun have devoted the six years since they gained access to their 1000 year old baronies in East Lothian to establishing their Barons Courts as a Scottish Charity that is bringing further social and economic benefits to their ancient Lands most particularly by: (i) recording the local history; and (ii) painting murals on the walls of the area that tell out that written history. The Caput of their baronies is a fine 1908 arts and craft public house known as The Prestoungrange Gothenburg which runs on temperance lines and which was visited in 2003 by the Lord Mayor of Goteborg from Sweden.

4. To honour the 1000 year history of their baronies, the present Barons resolved to convene the Criminal and Civil Divisions of their Courts for a final Trinity Session and the Sittings on July 13th and 27th 2004 are documented here in most considerable detail. [It seems likely that these will be the last such Sittings in Scotland and as such are an historic event]. The Baron Sergeand fenced the Courts on the Baronial Foreshore and the Doomster read the Judgements. Officers responsible for the Foreshore and Conduct at the Prestoungrange Gothenburg read the new ByrLaws proclaimed by the Courts.

Click on pictures to enlarge

5. The Petitions and the Complaints received and considered are varied, but they are no means lightweight. Substantive issues of law are addressed, after much research, that concern the entire Baronage of Scotland as it continues after November 28th 2004; in particular the role of the Lord Lyon and Lyon Court in Properly Registering Baronial Titles and Granting Arms and Baronial Additaments thereto. In both these respects there has lately been considerable confusion and significant interlocutors, Declarators and Orders are made by the Baronial Courts.

6. Other matters adjudged are equally significant for the Baronage of Scotland at large such as the Courts’ declaration of November 28th henceforth as Barons Day; and the establishment of a biennial scholarship to evaluate the progress and successes of the feudal dignity of Scottish Baron after November 28th.

7. Finally a range of local Petitions were addressed re (i) Witchcraft, which was a very major issue in the baronies; (ii) the Performance of the world’s first Bagpipe Opera, TULSA, in Prestonpans; (iii) the Affirmation of the Ancient Extent of the two Crown Baronies from maps made in 1796 and 1812 for the Countess of Hyndford; and (iv) the Grant of Public Passage along the Baronial Foreshore.

8. The Complaints heard and Defendants punished arose from the current activities of the Baronial Courts as a Scottish Charity e.g. delays in completion of building works, late supply of soft furnishings, destruction of flowers and disruption of meetings. The guilty parties here have received either time in the stocks and/ or fines payable in King Charles I coinage up to the 40/- maximum. Ken Hart who failed to fit curtains in time for Lady Prestoungrange's Birthday Celebration on April 1st is shown here settling amerciamentis or fines to the Baron - who is entitled to keep the proceeds. Also illustrated is Andrew Crummy, Convenor of the Murals Action Group of The Prestoungrange Arts Festival, who was set in the stocks and pelted with croisasants, fish and bananas for 5 minutes for consistent late arrival at meetings to the detriment of colleagues with young children.

Click to enlarge pictures

9. The final Complaint, that merited both time in the stocks and a series of fines totalling 90/- for the Head Brewer, arose from the re-establishment of brewing real Fowler’s ales at The Prestoungrange Gothenburg which some three local folk mistook for the registered marks of Fowler’s Wee Heavy and 90/- Pale Ale held by mighty Tennent Caledonian and causing that enterprise some consternation. The Head Brewer was pelted in the stocks and jeered by local gongoozlers.

Click to enlarge pictures

10. ‘Souvenir’ copies of the Proceedings in full [including the Stocks and King Charles I Coinage] are for sale £20/ $US30/ €30 + postage; and from August 1st are accessible at Prestoungrange University Press on this website; or by phone (44) (0) 1875 819922; or by writing to Barons Courts @ 227/ 229 High Street, Prestonpans, Scotland EH32 9BE.

Published Date: July 28th 2004

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