A Treatise on the Provincial Dialect of Scotland

A Treatise on the Provincial Dialect of Scotland

A Treatise on the Provincial Dialect of Scotland

A Treatise on the Provincial Dialect of Scotland

Excerpt

The only surviving son of John and Margaret Douglas, Sylvester Douglas was born on May 13th 1744 in Fechil, by Ellon, some twelve miles to the north and west of the city of Aberdeen:

I was born, as appears by an entry in the blank leaf of my copy of Field's Bible in my father's handwriting, on the 13th of May, in the year 1744 in the house and on the estate of my maternal ancestors for several generations, called Fechil, pleasantly situated near the south or right bank of the almost Arcadian River Ythan, in the parish of Ellon, and county of Aberdeen.

(although the Dictionary of National Biography, the Complete Peerage and The Georgian Era cite his birth as occuring on May 24th, 1743). We have very few details relating to any aspect of his early life, other than that he ran away from his local school at Foveran at the tender age of eight years (Bickley, 1928:vol.2;21). His higher education was initially undertaken in the field of medicine, first at the university of Aberdeen and then (not unusually for a Scottish student at that time (Innes Smith, 1932)) at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands from where he graduated in February of 1766. Although his early medical interests were known to his contemporaries -- cf. Sheridan Political Pasquinade:

Gl-nb-e, Gl-nb-e
What's good for the scurvy?
For ne'er be your old trade forgot --
In your arms rather quarter
A pestle and mortar
And your crest be a spruce gallipot, Gl-nb-e,
And your crest be a spruce gallipot.

he seems at an early period to have abandoned this area of study for that of the law, since five years after graduating from Leiden we find him recorded as a student at Lincoln's Inn and four years later, in 1776, qualifying as a barrister. Although details of his early legal career are sparse, Douglas does appear to have gained something of a reputation as a reporter of Lord Mansfield's decisions at the King's Bench. Indeed, he became a King's Councillor in 1793, and a bencher in the same year. Six years later he is recorded as treasurer of Lincoln's Inn.

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