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John Fea VII of Clestrain

Traill v Rev Thomas Lyell

This case was brought by Mr George Traill, Minister of the Gospel at Dunnet against Mr Thomas Lyell, Minister of the Gospel at Lady Parish in the Island of Sanday.

There are eight printed documents relating to the case which was an attempt to get the Rev Traill out of his charge. The action continued for some years and happened after the death of John Fea VII of Clestrain.

The pursuer's proof runs to some 96 pages and the Heads contained therein give some indication of the scandalous nature of the affair, reflecting on either the character of the Rev Lyell or the sensationalism of the actions taken against him or perhaps both:

Head I Fornication with Elspeth Smith
II Fornication with Margaret Scott
III Guilty of many instances of lewd and lascivious behaviour and attempts to ravish women
IV Attempt to assassinate Mr James Tyrie
V Threatened to assassinate Mr James Stuart of Brough
VI Threatened to destroy or hurt Mr John Scollay, minister of Cross Kirk
VII Threatening to murder Mr John Yule
VIII Guilty of defamation, scandal, slander and evil speaking
IX Guilty of oppression, violence and battery
X Guilty of cursing, profane swearing and other evil speaking
XI Guilty of crimes of falsehood and falsification in giving certificates to Elspeth Smith and Margaret Scott

Christian Manson was one of five individuals named under Head III and, as such, was a small player in the attempt to blacken the name of Rev Thomas Lyell.

She appeared on both 18th October and 20th October 1766 at Kirkwall. The objections against her evidence on 18th October do everything to blacken her character and that of her illegitimate children, Henry and Alexander Fea. She was so distraught by this that the Commissioners agreed to delay the hearing of her evidence.

It is noted that one of the objections was that she was a "pensioner or dependent of the family of Stove in Sanday, of which Thomas Traill of Westove, a party against Mr Lyell, has great management and direction." Christian Manson was still living at Stove some six years after the death of John Fea VII of Clestrain.

She subsequently gave evidence of the advances made by the Rev Lyell while, at the request his request, walking him home through the corns to show him the road.

The action in Traill v Rev Thomas Lyell continued for some years.

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