Lauder, John (DNB00)

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LAUDER, Sir JOHN, of Fountainhall, Lord Fountainhall (1646–1722), born in Edinburgh 2 Aug. 1646, was descended from an old Haddington family which can be traced back to the thirteenth century, and claims as an ancestor one of the Anglo-Norman barons who accompanied Malcolm Canmore to Scotland in 1056. He was the eldest son of John Lauder, an Edinburgh merchant and bailie, who was created a Nova Scotian baronet in 1688, by his second wife, Isabella, daughter of Alexander Ellis of Merton Hall, Wigtownshire. John was educated at the high school and university of Edinburgh, graduating M.A. on 18 July 1664. In the following year he went to the continent, partly with the view of studying law. After some time spent in travelling he resided from 28 July 1665 till 24 April 1666 at Poitiers. Later in the same year he proceeded by Paris, Brussels, and Antwerp to Leyden, where he matriculated at the university on 27 Sept. (Index to Leyden Students, p. 59). He passed advocate at the Scottish bar on 5 June 1668, and from the time of his admission began to keep a record of the decisions of the court of session. Along with fifty other members of the Scottish bar he supported Sir George Lockhart [q.v.] in his resolve to appeal from a court of law to the parliament. They were in consequence debarred and banished twelve miles from the city (Sir George Mackenzie, Memoirs, p. 293), but after a year's exile they were permitted to return. Lauder was one of the council for the Earl of Argyll on his trial in 1681 for lease-making; and for having previously advised the earl that his conduct was lawful, Lauder and eight other advocates were called before the council and censured.

On 23 April 1685 Lauder was elected a member of the Scottish parliament for the county of Haddington. He also sat as member for the same county in the parliaments of 1690–1702 and of 1702–7. Although moderate and cautious in the expression of his opinions, he disapproved of the policy of the government of James V against the covenanters, and holding decided protestant views, he also took a firm stand against the attempts of the king to establish catholicism. He supported the revolution, and was on 1 Nov. 1689 appointed a lord of session, with the title of Lord Fountainhall. On the 27th of the following January he was made a lord justiciary. In 1692 he was offered the office of lord advocate, but declined, except on condition that he were allowed to prosecute the agents in the massacre of Glencoe. He further opposed the union with England, and voted against it. Not long afterwards he resigned the office of lord justiciary from failing health, but he continued for some years to discharge his duties as lord of session. He died on 20 Sept. 1722.

Although not possessing exceptional abilities, Lauder, by his wide knowledge of law and the conscientious care with which he discharged his judicial duties, obtained general respect. It is, however, rather as a chronicler or diarist that he has acquired fame. The majority of his manuscripts are in the library of the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh. 'The Decisions of the Lords of Council and Session from June 6th, 1678, to July 30th, 1712, collected by the Honourable Sir John Lauder of Fountainhall, one of the senators of the College of Justice, containing also the Transactions of the Privy Council, of the Criminal Court, and Court of Exchequer, and interspersed with a variety of Historical Facts and many curious Anecdotes,' was published at Edinburgh, 1759–61, in two volumes. In addition Fountainhall kept a separate historical record, contained in two manuscripts. The earlier, entitled 'Miscellanie Historicall Collections, digested into Annals, by order of tyme as they occurred,' extended from 1660 to 1680, but has apparently been lost. The second, which he named 'Historical Observes of Memorable Occurrents, happening either in Church or State,' extends from 1680 to 1701. From this manuscript Robert Mylne, an Edinburgh lawyer, between 1727 and 1729 made a series of extracts, occasionally abridging them, and also inserting additions and corrections of his own, indicating personal knowledge, but also a strong Jacobite bias. A portion of these extracts was published by Sir Walter Scott in 1822, under the title 'Chronological Notes of Scottish Affairs from 1680 till 1701, being chiefly taken from the Diary of Lord Fountainhall.' The diary was printed in full by the Bannatyne Club in 1840. The club also printed in 1848 'Historical Notices of Scottish Affairs, selected from the Manuscripts [of the 'Decisions'] of Sir John Lauder of Fountainhall, 1661–1688.' The 'Observes' and the 'Notices' of Fountainhall are among the most important historical authorities for the period of Scottish history included in them.

When Fountainhall's father was created a baronet in 1688, his third wife, on the ground of Fountainhall's disloyalty, obtained the succession to the title for her own son George; but after the revolution Fountainhall secured a new destination, by which in 1692 it descended to him. He was married first to Janet Ramsay, daughter of Sir Andrew Ramsay, lord Abbotshall, and secondly to Marion Anderson, daughter of Anderson of Baltrain. He had issue by both marriages, and was succeeded in the title by John, his eldest son by the first marriage.

[Prefaces to Historical Observes and Historical Notices, and also incidental notices in these volumes and in Fountainhall's Decisions; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice, pp. 442–3; Chambers's Eminent Scotsmen.]

T. F. H.