Gibson, Alexander (d.1644) (DNB00)

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GIBSON, Sir ALEXANDER, Lord Durie (d. 1644), Scottish judge, was son of George Gibson of Goldingstones, a clerk of session (d. 1590?), by his wife Mary Airth, of the ancient family of Airth of that ilk in Stirlingshire. Thomas Gibson (1488–1513), member of an old family in Fife, had two sons, George and William [see Gibson, William, fl. 1540, lord of session]. George, the elder son of Thomas, was grandfather of George, father of Sir Alexander and of Archibald, who was bred to the church.

Alexander graduated M.A. at the university of Edinburgh, August 1588. On 14 Dec. 1594 he was admitted third clerk of session. James VI was present at his admission, and promised to reward the first and second clerks for their consent. On 10 July 1621 he was appointed a lord of session, when he took the title of Lord Durie, his clerkship being conferred on his son Alexander, to be held conjointly with himself. He is described in many charters as ‘Alexander Gibson de Durie, Miles’ before December 1628. In that year, according to Douglas, he was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, but does not appear to have actually assumed the dignity. In 1633 he was named a commissioner for reviewing the laws and collecting the local customs of the country. In 1640 he was elected a member of the committee of estates, and on 13 Nov. 1641 his appointment as judge was continued under a new commission to the court. While the office of president of the College of Justice continued elective, Durie was twice chosen head of the court, namely for the summer session on 1 June 1642, and for the winter session of 1643 (Brunton and Haig, Senators of the College of Justice, p. 264). He died at his house of Durie 10 June 1644, having from 11 July 1621, the day after his elevation to the bench, to 16 July 1642 preserved notes of the more important decisions. They are the earliest digested collection of decisions in the Scottish law, and are often referred to as ‘Lord Durie's Practicks.’ They were published (with his portrait prefixed) by his grandson, Sir Alexander Gibson (d. 1693) [q. v.], folio, Edinburgh, 1690. Durie married, 14 Jan. 1596, Margaret, the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Craig [q. v.] of Riccarton, by whom he had three sons, Sir Alexander of Durie (d. 1656) [q. v.], Sir John of Pentland, and George of Balhousise. William Forbes, in the preface to his ‘Journal of the Session’ (1714), says that Durie ‘was a man of a penetrating wit and clear judgment, polished and improved by much study and exercise.’ He was constantly studying the civil law, as appears from the preface to Sir Thomas Craig's ‘Jus Feudale,’ and his abilities are further proved, according to Forbes, by his own book, by his frequent election to the vice-presidency of the court of session, to which no one else was appointed in his time, and by a story of his being kidnapped by a suitor, the Earl of Traquair, who thought him unfavourable in a cause before the court, and kept him for three months in a dark room in the country, when, the cause being decided, he was returned to the place where he had been seized. This story forms the subject of Scott's ballad of ‘Christie's Will’ [see Armstrong, William, 1602?–1658?] in the ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.’ Patrick Fraser Tytler, in the appendix to his ‘Life of Sir Thomas Craig,’ mentions another version of the kidnapping of Durie in 1604, when he was only a clerk of session. Mr. Tytler thinks this was another and different incident.

[Douglas's Baronage of Scotland, 1798; manuscript Scottish Charters; Tytler's Life of Sir Thomas Craig, Edinburgh, 1823; Anderson's Scottish Nation; family memoranda.]

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