I WAS delighted to see that one of Scotland’s greatest political reformers, Thomas Muir of Huntershill, had been restored to the roll of the Faculty of Advocates after 200 years (Redemption for political reformer, July 6).

Muir practised as an advocate from 1787 until being struck off in 1793 following his indictment on the charge of sedition. While he was facing trial and was a fugitive from justice, the Faculty expelled him. Brought to trial, he was convicted and sentenced to 14 years transportation to Australia, following which there began an adventure made for Hollywood and which I for one have found particularly interesting.

READ MORE: Redemption at last for Scots political reformer Thomas Muir

Escaping from Sydney Cove in 1796 on an American ship, he crossed the Pacific. finally ending up in California, then a Spanish outpost, on to Mexico City and ultimately Havana in Cuba, to await the departure of a convoy to Spain. Sailing for Spain, the ship he was on was intercepted by the Royal Navy. Badly disfigured in the conflict, he was not recognised and was sent ashore with the wounded.

Now began a long and painful recovery while the French and Spanish authorities indulged in a bitter diplomatic wrangle over Muir’s release.

In 1797, the Spanish Government relented and decreed Muir’s release and perpetual banishment from Spanish territories. Muir made his way to France by way of Spain. Arriving in France, he was hailed publicly as a “Hero of the French Republic” and a “Martyr of Liberty”. Feted by the civic authorities and literary societies, his last portrait, commissioned for display in public buildings, shows him with a large black patch over his left eye. The loss of his left cheekbone had caused that side of his face to droop, revealing the teeth in a perpetual grimace.

Shortly before his death in 1799, he noted: “We have achieved a great duty in these critical times. After the destruction of so many years, we have been the first to revive the spirit of our country and give it a National Existence”.

Alex Orr