Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2

Search

Volume 9 Page 26
  Enlarge Enlarge  
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 21 practice at the bar having become so great that he was unable to continue the duty of the chair. In 1788 he was appointed Sheriff-Depute of the county of Renfrew; and, on the death of Lord Abercromby in 1796, promoted to the bench by the title of Lord Meadowbank In 1804, on the resignation of Lord Methven, he was constituted one of the Lords of Justiciary. In both of these judicial capacities he conducted himself with the greatest ability. In politics, Lord Meadowbank was decidedly of the Pitt and Dundas school, or, in other words, a Tory; but his was an enlightened attachment to the constitution, springing from judicious and comprehensive views of social and political economy.' When trial by jury-the bulwark of the subject's libertywas proposed to be introduced into Scotland, Lord Meadowbank evinced the soundness and liberality of his sentiments by warmly advocating the measure. He wrote an excellent pamphlet on the subject, entitled '' Considerations on the Introduction of Trial by Jury in Scotland ;'I and in 1815, when the Jury Court was instituted, he was appointed one of the Lords-Commissioners. Amid the multifarious duties arising from official engagements, Lord Meadowbank still found leisure to continue his acquaintance with literature and the progress of the sciences, of which he was a warm promoter. He was one of the earliest members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, to which he contributed several valuable papers, and was for many years Vice-President. He was likewise one of the Directors of the Astronomical Institution. Like many of his contemporaries, Lord Meadowbank was a keen agriculturist; and to his ingenious speculations and inquiries into this important science the country is indebted for the invention of moss mhure, now extensively employed in various counties in Scotland.' The character of Lord Meadowbank as a judge has been recently given by one in every way qualified to form a just and impartial estimate of his merits. " Above all," said Lord Brougham, in deciding a recent cme in the House of Lords (Inglis v. Mansfield, 10th April 1835), " we have, what with me is of the highest authority and of the greatest weight, the very valuable opinion of the late Lord Meadowbank, one of the best lawyers-one of the most acute men-a man of large general capacity, and of great experience-and with hardly any exception, certainly with very few exceptions, if any-the most diligent judge one can remember in the practice of the Scotch Lord Meadowbank died on the 14th of June 1816, in the sixty-ninth year of his age.' In 1792, prior to his elevation to the bench, he resided in what was then No. 33 Hanover Street. His lordship left several children, the eldest of whom was raised to the bench under the same title of Lord Meadowbank. ' . See his opinion in the case of Andrew w. Murdoch, 1806. His lordship printed, for private distribution, a tract on the subject. Shaw an4 Maclean's Reports in the House of Lords, 1835. For interesting notices of this judge see Cockbum's MmOriaZs of hi9 Time, and his fife of Buchanan's Reports. Jofrey.
Volume 9 Page 27
  Enlarge Enlarge