London: J. Debrett, 1788. First Edition. Hardcover (Half Leather). Good Condition. Item #258112-H
These books were presented by Joseph Gerald to William Scott (Edinburgh Procurator Fiscal) in the days following his conviction, on March 14th, 1794 in Edinburgh for Sedition. Having been sent to Scotland as one of the two delegates from the London Corresponding Society to the British Convention of Friends of the People, the other being Maurice Margarot. Following their arrests, along with other prominent members and supporters of the Convention a series of trials followed in 1793-94, with the conviction and subsequent transportation of five individuals known to history as the Scottish Martyrs; Joseph Gerrald, Maurice Margarot, William Skirving, Thomas Fyshe Palmer, and Thomas Muir.
Joseph Gerald, arguably the most outstanding intellectual character of the five, had been tried last, after the other four had already been convicted and sentenced, and knew his likely fate even before his trial started. He appears to have developed if not a friendship at least a respect for the Edinburgh Procurator Fiscal, William Scott. The inscriptions in these books, just days after his conviction are a direct result of that relationship, ‘Gifted by Citizen Gerrald to Citizen Scott, March 24th, 1794’, along with a further ink notation in the margin of each title ‘Gift of [unknown] A.W. [likely Archibald Welch, clerk to Scott], WB.’
It is very rare to see any belongings of convicts sentenced to transportation, let along a collection of political tracts reflecting some of the concerns and interests of radicals in the late eighteenth century. Whilst the fourth volume is not present of course we have no way of knowing if Gerrald even had that final volume in his possession ever of whether it has been lost at some time. They would have been expensive books at the time given they published as several volumes, and likely to be considered important possessions, not least because of their content.
The use of the word ‘citizen’ in the inscriptions is very characteristic of the members of the London Corresponding Society who found inspiration in the aims and achievements of the French Revolutionaries, though not necessarily in their methods. Joseph Gerrald, as a leading member, and one of the more capable was chosen as a delegate to the Convention in Scotland at the very time that William Pitt’s government most feared a British uprising along the lines of that in France. That government concern led directly to a more heavy handed approach to the British Convention than might otherwise have been taken, indeed much of what the Convention sought was only what had already been discussed and debated in Parliament. In part it might be argued from his trial transcripts that Gerrald was actually being punished for his intelligence, the suggestion being that a man of his nature should know better than to be involved in such matters in this way.
Captain David Collins, in his ‘Account of the English Colony in New South Wales’ records Gerrald’s death. ‘Mr Gerrald breathed his last, glorying in being a martyr to the cause which he termed that of freedom, and considering as an honour that exile which brought him to an untimely grave’. Thomas Fyshe Palmer, one of the five Scottish Martyrs, records Gerrard death, “most inhumanely sentenced to [the society] of robbers, ruffians and the offscourings of mankind, he lingered through two years of this society, four months of them only in this climate, fatal to his enfeebled constitution… A Martyr to the Liberties of His Country. Reader, learn and imitate his virtues!’ Long after Gerrald’s death in New South Wales, and after much debate in Scotland, a 90 foot monument was unveiled in 1844 to commemorate the Martyrs at Calton Hill in Edinburgh, with another subsequently built in London at Nunhead Cemetery in 1851, 33 feet high and weighing 40 tons. The size and public nature of these monuments is a significant guide to the importance and regard these men were held in, even fifty or years after the death of them.
Three volumes, Octavo. Bound in later half leather, with marbled boards, gilt lettered and blind tooled spines. Volume one has suffered some staining to the title page, fortunately not affecting the inscription. The staining has gone across the first fifty or so pages, and there has been some old paper repair to the first three leaves, including the title, with loss of about twenty character to page six. The other two volumes are unblemished, and all three have sound joints to the boards and are without chipping or loss at the heads and tails of the spines. The marbled boards are rubbed with some loss of surface, as are the corners of the boards. They appear, from the cropping to the initials on the title pages to have been rebound at some time after they were presented (not recently). Essentially a firm and sound set overall. See pictures.
The content of each of the volumes is as follows;
Letter from The Cocoa-Tree to The Country Gentleman, by Dr. Francis.
Address to The Cocoa-Tree, by Dr. Butler.
Character of The Late Right Hon. Henry Bilson Legge, by the same.
Defence of The Minority on The Question of General Warrants, by The Late Right Hon. Charles Townsend.
Defence of The majority, on The same Question.
Letter concerning Libels, Warrants, The Seizure of Papers, and Sureties for The Peace or Behaviour: with a view to some Late Proceedings, and The Defence of them by The Majority.
Account of some Proceedings on The Writ of Habeas Corpus.
The Budget, by David Hartley, Esq.
Remarks on The Budget, by Thomas Whateley, Esq.
Address to The Public on The Dismission of General Conway.
Counter-Address on The same, by The Hon. Horace Walpole.
An Honest Man’s Reasons for declining to take a part in The New Administration. Ascribed to Charles Lloyd, Esq.
A Candid Answer to The Honest Man’s Reasons. Ascribed to Sir Grey Cooper.
Dr. Franklin’s Examination before The House of Commons, in Support of The Repeal of The American Stamp Act.
Mr. Burkes Short Account of a Short Administration, And Mr. Burke’s Short Account of a Short Administration.
Mr. Lloyd’s True History of a Short Administration.
Considerations on The Trade and Finances of this Kingdom. By Thomas Whately, Esq.
State of The Nation, by The Late Right Hon. Charles Townsend.
Speech against The Suspending and Dispensing Prerogative, etc.
The Case of The Duke of Portland, respecting two Leases, lately granted by The Lords of The Treasury to Sir James Lowther.
An Inquiry into The Legality of Pensions on The Irish Establishment. By Alexander McAulay, Esq.
Speech of The Right Hon, George Grenville, on The Motion for Expelling Mr. Wilkes.
Mr. Wilkes’s letter to Mr. Grenville in answer to his Speech.
A letter on The Public Conduct of Mr. Wilkes.
A Fair Trial of The Important Question.
The Case of The Middlesex Election Considered, by Mr. Dyson.