September, 1849 - September 1849

Peter Ross or MacWilliam, Balintore, over 6o years of age, married, a sawyer to trade. Appeared at Tain Court charged with forgery. He presented himself at the Commercial Bank of Scotland, Tain, with a letter purported to be from the Rev. David Fraser, Nigg. The letter was addressed to the ‘Commeil bank of Seland, tain’, and said ‘ Sur I want the sum of 60 pounds sterling and 12 shilins inclosed and giv it to my berer and put it into my account for a munth’ it was signed Davan Fraser. David Fraser has no account at this bank. Peter Ross’s defence argued that nobody in their right mind would accept the note as genuine. The prosecution argued fraud is fraud no matter how bad the documentation, the Judge, Lord Cockburn, agreed and told the jury the defence’s argument had no place in law. The foreman of the jury announced a guilty verdict without retiring, moments later other members of the jury said they had not been asked their opinion.  Lord Cockburn asked them to retire, they returned a few minutes later with a verdict of guilty by majority. Lord Cockburn in sentencing the accused to 1 year imprisonment pointed out that not that long ago he would have been hung for this crime and if he appears before him again he will be transported to Australia.