Talk: The Tumbling Lassie by Alan McLean QC.
Alan McLean QC is a member of the Faculty of Advocates and Chair of the Tumbling Lassie Committee,fighting against modern slavery and people trafficking and to help survivors in Scotland and beyond.
The Committee is named in honour of a case decided by the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 1687, Reid v Scot of Harden and his Lady.
The case concerned a young girl gymnast, known to history only by her nickname, "the tumbling lassie". She performed as an act in public entertainments put on by one Reid, a "mountebank" or travelling showman. She was being worn out by having to dance in Reid's shows and ran away, taking refuge with the Scots of Harden, a family from the Scottish Borders. Reid sued the Scots and produced a written contract, showing that he had "bought" the tumbling lassie from her mother. He argued that the tumbling lassie belonged to him as his property.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh heard the case in January 1687. The Court dismissed Reid's claim, impliedly declaring the tumbling lassie free. The only surviving report of the case contains the trenchant observation: "But we have no slaves in Scotland, and mothers cannot sell their bairns..."
Slavery is now illegal all over the world. It is because this has not, tragically, prevented millions still being held in actual or effective slavery, throughout the world and even in Scotland, that the charities we support continue the struggle to end slavery and people trafficking and to support modern survivors of these crimes as they recover from their ordeals.
He will also be making an exciting announcement about a spectacular musical event to be staged later in the year……