MR. Carnegie was a gentleman of fortune, whose estate being contiguous to that of Charles, Earl of Strathmore, a considerable degree of intimacy subsisted between the parties, which was increased by the similarity of their political sentiments, both of them being favourers of the claims of the Pretender.
Lady Auchterhouse, who was sister to Mr. Carnegie, having invited some of the neighbouring gentry to visit her, there went among the rest John Lyon, Esq. a young gentleman who paid his addresses to another sister of Mr. Carnegie. Mr. Lyon's view in this visit was to ask Carnegie's consent to the match; but this the latter absolutely refused, and treated Lyon with so much asperity, that a quarrel ensued, and swords were drawn by both parties. The Earl of Strathmore, anxious to prevent bloodshed, exerted all his influence to reconcile the contending parties; and at length so far succeeded, that all animosity seemed to have subsided, and the company sat down and drank together, as if no quarrel had arisen.
The conversation now took a political turn; and, as the company were of different sentiments, high words of altercation arose; and the King and the Pretender were abused in a manner equally illiberal.
At length the passions of the parties were so inflamed that they had recourse to blows; and some of them quitting the house, among whom were Lyon and Carnegie, the former pushed the latter on the ground, which enraged him so much that he arose and drew his sword; but Lyon had consulted his safety by flight. Carnegie followed him a little way, but, falling in the pursuit, was lifted up by some of the company; when, turning about with the fury of a madman, he ran his sword into the body of Lord Strathmore.
This melancholy event had no sooner taken place than the company returned to Lady Auchterhouse's, except the Earl of Strathmore, who was carried home by his servants, and died, after languishing two days.
A neighbouring magistrate, being informed of what had happened, went to the house and demanded the gentlemen's swords, which were delivered: but Mr. Carnegie having been concealed under some flax in an outhouse, it was required that Lady Auchterhouse should tell where he was, which she did; and the magistrate, having received his sword, sent him to the prison of Forfar.
Some weeks afterwards he was removed, to be tried before the Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh, which is somewhat similar to our Court of King's Bench in England. [Note: There are no grand juries in Scotland; the king's advocate draws the indictment. The judges determine if the crime be capital; and the fact is tried by a petty jury.]
It was fully proved upon the trial, that Lyon had behaved in the most insulting manner to Carnegie, who did not draw his sword till he had been pushed down, as above mentioned. It was likewise proved, that Lord Strathmore had lived on terms of the utmost friendship with Mr. Carnegie; and that, on other occasions, when the latter had been insulted by Lyon, the earl had protected him.
A witness swore that Mr. Carnegie had proposed Lady Strathmore's health when in company, and that he sat next the earl. It was sworn also that Carnegie, since his confinement, had regretted the melancholy issue of the quarrel, as it had deprived him of one of his most valuable friends, and a person whom he could have had no thought of injuring.
Another evidence deposed that the behaviour of Mr. Lyon to Mr. Carnegie was insupportably aggravating; that he pushed him on the breast, and otherwise ill-treated him; and that he had seized Lady Auchterhouse by the hand, and struck it so violently on the table, that she cried out through the extremity of pain.
On the other hand, one of Lord Strathmore's servants swore that Mr. Carnegie stabbed his master twice in the belly; but the surgeon who examined the wound gave a more favourable account of the matter than the servant.
The trial lasted a considerable time, when the jury, considering on the whole matter, gave a verdict that the prisoner was Not Guilty. These transactions took place in the month of July, 1728.