Chronicles of the Secret Order of St Mungo.

  • (Secret Society.)
  • Edinburgh: Printed at Edinburgh 1836


SKU: 5023 Category: Tag:


4to, pp. [iv], 33, [1]. Title-page and second leaf printed in red and black, engraved vignette to title-page. Contemporary half brown roan, dark red boards, spine lettered vertically in gilt. Three leaves at beginning torn across horizontally and neatly repaired, otherwise just some light soiling. Extremities rubbed, spine ends a touch worn. Armorial bookplate of Arch. Swinton, Esq. to pastedown, rear flyleaf with manuscript list ‘Goodfellows (16 March 1844)’ containing 9 names.


The jokey record of a secret society of Scottish advocates, comprising five 'aires' of doggerel (covering Winter 1833/4, January 1834, Spring and Autumn 1835, and Spring 1846) in which the members of the Society and other figures from the Scottish legal circuit are tweaked and teased (e.g. 'A man purloined a pair of shears / From a fair one he was courting; / The Judges would have given seven years / but Craufurd got him Fourteen'). Substantial footnotes often identify or explicate the joke with the facts of the cases referenced.
The Society, about which little else is recorded, seems to have been a social (drinking?) club for young lawyers: the list of the Society's 'Goodfellows' following the title-page includes figures (among them Cosmo Innes, John Hall Maxwell, David Mure, and John Thomson Gordon) who qualified as advocates in the 1820s and early 1830s. The name is taken from the patron saint of Glasgow despite the members mostly staying in Edinburgh - perhaps based on the members finding their amusements when travelling around Glasgow on the Western Circuit.
This particular copy belonged to Archibald Swinton (1812-1889), identified in the printed members' list as the Grand Registrar; Swinton qualified as an advocate in 1833. The manuscript list at the end of this copy, from almost 10 years later, has no overlap of members.
The sale catalogue of the Gibson Craig Library claims 'Only 25 copies privately printed', and it is certainly scarce: Library Hub locates four copies, BL, Glasgow, Cambridge, and NLS; no copy is recorded at auction since 1929.

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