Thomas Muir of Huntershill

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This song was written by Adam McNaughtan in 1993 and appears on his album Last Stand at Mount Florida (1996). It commemorates the trial of Thomas Muir, a Scottish radical who was sentenced to fourteen years transportation following his infamous trial in 1793.  Muir supported parliamentary reform and he was often celebrated by nineteenth-century reformers.

Performer: Adam McNaughtan.

My name is Thomas Muir; as a lawyer I was trained
(Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill)
Now you’ve branded me an outlaw, for sedition I’m arraigned
(Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill)
But I never preached sedition in any shape or form
And against the constitution I have never raised a storm
It’s the scoundrels who’ve corrupted it that I want to reform
Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill

My lord, you found me guilty before the trial began
(Remember …)
And the jury that you’ve picked are Tory placemen to a man
(Remember …)
Yet here I stand for judgement unafraid what may befall
Though your spies were in my parish kirk and in my father’s ha’
Not one of them can testify I ever broke a law
(Remember …)

Yes, I spoke to Paisley weavers and addressed the city’s youth
For neither age nor class should be a barrier to the truth
My lord, you may chastise them with your vitriolic tongue
You say that books are dangerous to those I moved among
But the future of our land is with the workers and the young

Members of the jury, it’s not me who’s being tried
Two hundred years in future they will mind what you decide
You may send me to Van Diemen’s Land or clap me in the jail
Grant me death or grant me liberty my spirit will not fail
For my cause it is a just one and my cause it will prevail

With quiet words and dignity Muir led his own defence
He appeared completely blameless to those with common sense
When he had finished speaking the courtroom rang with cheers
Lord Braxfield said, “This outburst just confirms our deepest fears”
And he sentenced Thomas Muir to be transported fourteen years

Gerrard, Palmer, Skirving, Thomas Muir and Margarot
These are names that every Scottish man and woman ought to know
When you’re called for jury service, when your name is drawn by lot
When you vote in an election when you freely voice your thought
Don’t take these things for granted, for dearly were they bought.