George Williamson King’s Messenger

45] George Williamson (c1749- 1823), the King’s Messenger was an important government official.  Among his duties were the arrest and conduct of prisoners to a place of detention. One of his most notable prisoners was the celebrated Deacon Brodie, whom he escorted from London to Edinburgh following his capture in Holland.  During the journey Brodie said that he would like his beard to be shaved.  Williamson, not daring to allow the prisoner access to a razor, undertook the task himself much to the prisoner’s discomfort.  During the political agitation for parliamentary reform in 1793 Williamson incurred the displeasure of the masses by having to arrest men such as Thomas Muir, although he was noted to carry out his duties with more gentleness and humanity than most of his colleagues. The duties of his office carried many perks and Williamson acquired a considerable fortune.  He lived in President’s Stairs off Parliament Square, the address of a number of prominent individuals and of the bankers Coutts and Co.  He also had a ‘country’ home in Liberton, about three miles away, where he kept a notable garden.