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Edinburgh Riots

The inhabitants of Edinburgh and other towns in Scotland loudly exclaimed against the malt-tax, when imposed in 1725. Seditious pamphlets were printed and dispersed through the country, comparing their slavery to that of the Israelites under the Egyptian bondage that England had loaded them with burdens too heavy for them to bear; and that they were betrayed by the treacherous actions of their own representatives. The magistrates of Edinburgh were inveighed against and insulted for the zeal they had shown in suppressing and discouraging tumultous proceedings, and requiring a due obedience to the law.

The inhabitants of Glasgow were still more outrageous, declaring publicly in the streets that they would not submit to a malt tax, insulting the officers of excise, and threatening to stone them if they attempted to enter their malt-houses; for which purpose they had piled up heaps of stones at the doors to show them what they might expect if they proceeded in the execution of that
law. Messengers and letters were sent from Glasgow to most of the considerable towns, exciting them not to submit to this new imposition; but to follow the example of the people of Glasgow, who were determined to suffer all extremities rather than comply with the payment of this insupportable tax, as they were pleased to term it ; and it was reported publicly at that time in Stirling, Perth, and Edinburgh, that the house of Daniel Camphell, Esq., member of parliament for Glasgow, one of the chief promoters of this law, was to be plundered on the day the malt-tax was to be imposed.

General Wade sent two companies of soldiers, numbering 110 men, under the command of Captain Bushel. At their
entrance into the town, the mob assembled in the streets, throwing stones and dirt at the soldiers, using reproachful language, and seemed to show great con-
tempt for the smallness of their numbers, saying they were but a breakfast to them, and that they should soon repent coming thither. The guard-room was locked up, and the key taken away by the populace. The captain bore these insults with patience, and sent for a civil
magistrate ; but none could be found to assist in dispersing the rabble ; and though the provost bad sent billets for quartering the soldiers, the inhabitants for the most part refused to receive them into their houses. The people increasing in their number, went to the house of Mr Campbell, broke it open, and began to plunder it with great rage and fury. The captain, as soon as he had notice of it, sent to the chief magistrate, offering him his assistance in dispersing them. He answered that he
thanked him for his offer, but thought his number insufficient; so that mob continued their outrages all that night and part of time day following: plundering and destroying the house and gardens without molestation.

The next morning the provost ordered the guard-house to be broke open, and gave the captain possession of it, who posted a guard there of an officer and thirty men.
About three in the afternoon, drums were beat about the streets by women, or men in women’s clothes, as a signal
to assemble the mob, who got together in greater numbers than before. The captain, not knowing what mischief they intended, ordered all his men to repair
to the guard-room, but the mob did not long keep their secret, for they advanced through the several streets that led to the guard-house, saying, their next business was the soldiers, and crying, ”Drive the dogs out of the town, cot them to pieces!”

The captain, apprehensive that their first intention was to disarm his men called tbem out and posted them in four divisions, facing tbe streets through which the mob advanced. As soon as they approached, without the least provocation, they threw stones at the soldiers in large quantities, and of so large a size, that several of the men were wounded and bruised. The captain spoke to them very calmly, telling them that he was not come there to do them any harm, and desired them earnestly to retire, lest the soldiers opened fire.

To which sume of them answered, ”Return your men to the guard, and then we will retire.” The captain, in hopes to appease them, ordered his men to face about, and
return to the guard-bouse. Their backs were no sooner turned, but the stones showered in upon them in greater
quantity than before, wounded and bruised many of them, broke several of their bayonets and locks of their muskets, and put them into such disorder, that they retired into the guardroom for shelter. The captain then ordered the soldiers to advance again into the streets ; and being attacked as they came out, the soldiers fired, and killed and wounded several.

They dispersed for some time, but returned in greater
rage and fury, and brought with them all the fire-arms they could find in the town, and distributed to their men a barrel of powder belonging to the two companies, which they had seized on their first coming to attack the guard. The provost, apprehending the rage the populace were in might occasion greater mischiefs than what had already happened, sent to Captain Bushel, desiring him for his safety, and to avoid further bloodshed, to retire out of the town otherwise, all his men would probably be murdered.

The captain took his advice and marched his men
to Dumbarton Castle, ten miles distant, being followed part of the way by some hundreds of the mob, which obliged him to fire some shot in the rear, to secure his retreat. There were of the town’s-people eight killed on the spot, besides nineteen who were wounded, two or three of whom afterwards died. Of the soldiers there were six missing, who, being disabled by the wouods and bruises they received in the riot, could not march with the companies to Dumbarton Castle. Two of them who fell into the hands of the mob were inhumanly treated and left for dead, but after some time they all recovered and returned to the regimeot. The shoes, stockings, and linen belongiog to the two companies, which were left in the town when they retreated, were plundered by the
people ; aod though application was afterwards made to the magistrates they never could obtain any reparation.

By the arrival of a large military force order was restored. A heavy contribution was levied to indemnify Mr Campbell for his loss.



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