Primrose, James (d.1641) (DNB00)

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PRIMROSE, JAMES (d. 1641), clerk of the privy council of Scotland, was the second son of Archibald Primrose of Culross and of Burnbrae, Perthshire, by Margaret Bleau of Castlehill, Perthshire. He belonged to a family of officials specially connected with the revenue department during the seventeenth century. His father, Archibald, a writer—i.e. a conveyancer or law agent—was employed in the comptroller's office under Sir James Hay, and at Hay's death in 1610 was entrusted with the collection of the arrears of taxation made in 1606, and received special leave of access to the meetings of the privy council and exchequer. His ability was shown by several pieces of special business entrusted to him—the collection of information as to the highlands and the monopoly of the publication of ‘God and the King,’ a catechism teaching high prerogative which James VI attempted through the privy council to disseminate in every household of Scotland.

James practised as a ‘writer’ or solicitor in Edinburgh. Probably he is the James Primrose who on 4 Nov. 1586 is mentioned as procurator for the city of Perth (Reg. P. C. Scotl. iv. 116). After acting for some time as ‘servant’ or assistant to John Andro, clerk of the privy council, he, on Andro's retirement, 1 Feb. 1598–9, was appointed clerk for life (ib. v. 521). On 13 June 1616 he obtained a monopoly of the printing and selling of the book ‘God and the King,’ the use of which was then made imperative in the schools and universities throughout Scotland (ib. x. 535). He died in 1641. By his first wife, Sibylla Miller, he had a son Gilbert, and six daughters, of whom Alison became the second wife of George Heriot [q. v.], jeweller to James VI. By his second wife, Catharine, daughter of Richard Lawson of Boghall, he had six daughters and six sons, of whom Archibald, afterwards Sir Archibald Primrose, lord Carrington [q. v.], succeeded him as clerk to the privy council.

[Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 402; Reg. P. C. Scotl. v.–xi.; Calderwood's Hist. of the Kirk of Scotland.]

T. F. H.