chapter  1
32 Pages

Andrew Millar’s ‘Good Vouchers’

The Malt Tax Crisis and Trade in Controversy
WithAdam Budd

Adam Budd’s material approach to book history yields insights on the political imperatives driving the integration of Scotland’s tax system with England after 1707, alongside the role of print as a pioneering vehicle of public accountability. Budd shows how ‘leading figures of cultural improvement’ including Duncan Forbes and George Drummond attempted to manipulate the nascent national press to direct blame at local Glasgow magistrates during the deadly Malt Tax riots in the city during the summer of 1725. He highlights the role of a young Edinburgh bookseller’s apprentice, Andrew Millar, whose publication of a Letter from the Magistrates of Glasgow challenged the official narrative behind the prosecution. This episode, and correspondence between Millar and the minister and ecclesiastical historian Robert Wodrow, helps to frame the relationship between morality, rationality and print during an understudied period in eighteenth-century Scottish cultural history. The chapter underlines countervailing institutional dynamics in Scotland’s post-1707 public sphere, where bodies like the Kirk and General Assembly provided opportunities for organizing responses to an often unaccountable legal and civic establishment. Budd also examines Millar’s later career as a prominent London publisher of such key Scottish Enlightenment figures as David Hume and Lord Kames—a publishing career that ‘distinguish[es] itself by presenting conflicting ideas under his own imprint’ and was often overshadowed by Millar’s longstanding campaign of copyright prosecutions. The chapter thus invites us to ‘reconsider Millar’s legacy in the cultural history of improvement’, recovering his consistent championing of print as a vehicle for both morality and reason.