Pursuer Patrick Bell was the proprietor of a piece of land, called Bellshaugh or Provost Haugh, situated along the river Clyde near Glasgow Green. Additionally, Bell claimed to own a small strip of land that was used for access to Bellshaugh. The magistrates of Glasgow purchased property on either side of this strip and sought to enclose the entire area. Bell protested, and the magistrates proposed two possible solutions. First, citing an act of parliament, they offered to build a fence on either side of the road and charge Bell for half of the construction cost. Alternatively, they proposed to erect a gate that could be used to access the road. Bell refused both proposals, claiming that the cited statute did not apply and that he had an absolute right to exclude the magistrates. The magistrates maintained that either accommodation—the fence or the gate—would be reasonable and equitable; they also suggested that Bell might only hold a servitude.