In January 1687, during the reign of James VII and II, the little-known case of Reid v Scot of Harden (Mor. 9505) was decided in the Court of Session in Edinburgh. It was about a little girl, a “tumbling lassie” or stage gymnast, who had fled from her manager (Mr Reid) because she was being physically worn out by her work dancing as part of his travelling stage-show. She had taken shelter with Scot of Harden and his wife. Reid sued the Scots, claiming that he had bought the girl from her mother and that she belonged to him. He even produced a written contract as evidence of the purchase. The Scottish Court of Session refused Reid’s claims, the case report declaring roundly:
“But we have no slaves in Scotland, and mothers cannot sell their bairns.”
330 years later, it is shocking but true that some people still live in Scotland effectively as slaves, often trafficked here on false pretences, threatened, trapped in menial work or worse, with their earnings withheld and their passports taken away. In other parts of the world, people languish in slavery because getting access to trained lawyers to uphold their rights (without which the tumbling lassie could not have been declared free) can be almost impossible. This should not be so.
Following the success of our inaugural events in 2015, you are warmly invited to subscribe for tickets for the Tumbling Lassie Ball 2017. Come and help us commemorate and celebrate the tumbling lassie and her vindication under Scots law 330 years ago, by helping to raise funds to help modern victims of slavery and people trafficking.
The evening will begin with a champagne reception at 6.45pm for 7.15pm, kindly sponsored by the Faculty of Advocates, followed by a three-course meal and dancing to the Clappy Doo band, with carriages at midnight – dress: black tie/tartan and sparkle.
All net proceeds of the event (and donations given at the associated morning seminar) will be split equally between our two charities: TARA, which works to support victims of trafficking in Scotland, and the International Justice Mission, which works with local lawyers in the developing world to fight slavery there.
For further details, please visit www.tumblinglassie.com