Craig, William (1745-1813) (DNB00)

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CRAIG, WILLIAM, Lord Craig (1745–1813), Scottish judge, son of William Craig, minister, of Glasgow, was born in 1745. He studied at the university of Edinburgh, and was admitted advocate at the Scottish bar in 1768. Partly on account of his literary tastes and pursuits, his success was not so rapid as his undoubted legal talents might have guaranteed. In 1784 he discharged the duties of advocate-depute along with Blair and Abercromby, and in 1787 he became sheriff-depute of Ayrshire. In 1792 he was on the death of Hailes raised to the bench with the title of Lord Craig. Though he had not held a prominent position at the bar, his elevation was fully justified by his career as a judge. In 1795 he succeeded Lord Henderland as a judge of the court of justiciary, an office which he held till 1812. He retained his office in the civil court till his death 8 July 1813. Craig along with other advocates was a member of a literary society called the ‘Tabernacle,’ who met at a tavern for reading essays and discussing literary matters. On the suggestion of Craig they ultimately resolved to start a periodical for the publication of the essays, upon which they changed the name of the society to the ‘Mirror Club,’ the name given to the publication being the ‘Mirror.’ It was published by Creech on Tuesdays and Saturdays, the first number appearing on Saturday 23 Jan. 1779, and the last (the 110th) 27 May 1780. Next to those of Henry Mackenzie the contributions of Craig were the most numerous, among them being a paper in the thirty-sixth number which assisted to bring into notice the poems of Michael Bruce. Craig was also a frequent contributor to the ‘Lounger’ (1785–6–7), published by the same club. He was cousin-german of Mrs. Maclehose, the ‘Clarinda’ of Robert Burns. Both publicly and privately he was held in much esteem for his upright conduct and courteous manners.

[Kay's Original Portraits, i. 302–4, ii. 380; Haig and Brunton's Senators of the College of Justice, 540–1; Chambers's Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen (Thomson), i. 392–3.]

T. F. H.