WILLIAM SCOTT, who long acted a very distinguished part among the Radical Reformers of Forfarshire, was a native of, and for many years resident in, the town of Brechin, being born about the year 1790. He at first followed the occupation of a weaver ; but while the Montrose Review was in the hands of Mr James Watt, the original projector of that journal, Mr Scott was an occasional correspondent for the Review in Brechin ; and his communications manifesting considerable talent, and harmonising with the political and religious sentiments advocated by that newspaper, he was, at his own request, taken into Mr Watt's employment.
After a time, Mr Watt was so well pleased with Mr Scott's abilities as a writer, that he entrusted him to act as editor of his newspaper. Subsequently, in consequence of pecuniary embarrassments, the Montrose Review passed from Mr Watt, and Mr Scott purchased it from the trustee, and was for a considerable time the proprietor and publisher of it. There was some dispute as to the purchase, however; and ultimately Mr Scott returned to Brechin, and resumed his original occupation. His itch for writing, however, did not lie dormant, and he seldom let an opportunity slip of indulging this propensity, and took a part in most of the local squabbles that occurred, whether on civil or religious matters. His opinions were those of an ultra-Radical, but he possessed considerable literary talents, and was entitled to the highest rank among his party in Dundee and the district, as an advocate of their principles through the press. Many of his lucubrations attracted great attention in the county, as he
figured in both the Radical journals in Dundee the Advertiser and the Chronicle— besides contributing to the Montrose paper. Though often coarse, his contributions
were always forcible, his reasoning at times ingenious, and his style approaching to elegance. In the contest between Sir James Carnegie and Mr Ross, of Rossie, for the representation in Parliament of the Aberdeen and Montrose district of burghs, Mr Scott was an active agitator in behalf of the former, although Mr Ross's political creed at that time was more in unison with his Radical feelings. Mr Scott, however, was not of the prudent and industrious race of mortals ; and it is possible he could have said, with the starved apothecary : ' My poverty, but not my will, consents.' After the passing of the Reform Act of 1832, when the representation of the Eastern district of Forfarshire burghs was contested by Mr Ross and Mr Chalmers of Auldbar (the sitting member), Mr Scott contributed a great number of articles to the Radical prints, advocating the cause of Mr Chalmers, and remarkable for their caustic severity and bitterness of spirit towards his opponent. Mr Scott removed from Brechin to Dundee about the year 1834, and here he took an active part in the Radical clubs which were then in existence. It was in writing for the press, however, that he was chiefly distinguished above all the Radicals of the same rank in Forfarshire. During the contest between Sir Henry Parnell and Mr John Gladstone, in July 1837, he wrote several clever political squibs. On that occasion, there was a division in the Liberal ranks, and Mr Scott espoused the cause of Sir Henry. He also contributed several smart articles to the Advertiser on the Water Question, the controversy on which was at that time at its height; and some of these articles were so pungent, that the individual against whose actings and writings they were chiefly- directed, while smarting under the castigation bestowed, commenced an action against the proprietors for giving them publicity. Mr Scott died on Sunday, July 1, 1838, in the 48th year of his age.
Norrie, W. (1873) Dundee Celebrities of the Nineteenth Century. PP.57-59.