"A REMNANT of the old Puritan
spirit long actuated our local authorities, and Sunday walking,
especially during the hours of divine service, was reckoned a punishable
offence. A band of functionaries, termed ‘compurgators,’ were employed
to perambulate the streets and public walks during ‘kirk hours’ on
Sundays, in order to compel strangers either to go to church or betake
themselves to their homes. Those who refused compliance were at once
taken into custody.
"This system continued in force to
a period subsequent to the middle of the last century, when Mr. Peter
Blackburn (grandfather of Mr. Blackburn of Killearn) was placed in
durance vile for walking in the Green on Sunday. This public-spirited
gentleman immediately raised an action against the authorities for such
an unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the subject. The case
was finally decided in his favour in the Court of Session, and the
system, of course, speedily fell into destitude."