In April 1765, the defender, Thomas Wilson, as Inspector of Yarn appointed by the Trustees for Improving Manufactures in Scotland, inspected a quantity of yarn owned by the pursuer, Patrick Somerville, in an Edinburgh market waiting to be transported to Glasgow. Wilson determined that 32 of Somerville's 150 spindles were faulty in their manufacture, and he seized these spindles. Wilson brought action against Somerville before the Sheriff of Edinburgh, who condemned the 32 spindles and charged Somerville with a penalty, payable to Wilson. Somerville appealed the Sheriff's decision to the Court of Session, which overturned the fine but upheld the forfeiture of the yarn. In an effort to get his yarn back, Somerville argued that the seizure was unwarranted and illegally done. He claimed that the statues relative to the linen industry and improving manufacturing in Scotland were an encroachment on the liberty of individuals. Wilson's petition argued for the importance of inspections in order to counteract people like Somerville, working as hawkers, who dealt both in the spinning of yarn from flax and the purchasing of yarn to sell to manufactures. Wilson argued that these hawkers have been particularly active in Edinburgh selling yarn to Glasgow and Paisley and that their trade had provided regular cover to fraud in the making of yarn.