Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Asher, Alexander

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ASHER, ALEXANDER (1835–1905), solicitor-general for Scotland, born at Inveravon, Banffshire, in 1835, was son of William Asher, parish minister of Inverness. After education at Elgin Academy and at King's College, Aberdeen, he entered Edinburgh University, where he was a member of the Speculative Society (president 1863–5), but did not graduate. Passing to the Scottish baron 10 Dec. 1861, he gradually acquired a large practice, and became one of the most distinguished counsel of his day, his only rival being John Blair Balfour, first Baron Kinross [q. v. Suppl. II]. He took a leading part in numerous cases which attracted public attention, and he represented the United Free Church in litigation which ended in 1904 with the defeat of that body. A strong liberal in politics, he was appointed in 1870, during the Gladstone ministry of 1868–74, advocate-depute. At the general election of 1880 Asher was unsuccessful as liberal candidate for the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen; but in 1881 he was elected for the Elgin district of boroughs (in succession to Sir M. E. Grant Duff) and retained this seat for the rest of his life. He made no great mark in the House of Commons, where he followed Gladstone in his support of home rule. Meanwhile in 1881 he became Q.C., and was solicitor-general for Scotland during Gladstone's later ministries in the years 1881–5, 1886, and 1892–4. He received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the Universities of Aberdeen (1883) and of Edinburgh (1891). In 1894 he resigned office, ‘largely,’ it was said, ‘owing to the very inadequate remuneration then paid to the Scottish solicitor-general’ (The Times, 7 Aug. 1905), and in the following year was elected dean of the faculty of advocates. Suddenly taken ill in London on 4 July 1905, he died at Beechwood, near Edinburgh, on 5 Aug. following, and was buried in the churchyard of Corstorphine. Asher, who married in 1870 Caroline, daughter of the Rev. C. H. Gregan Craufurd, left no family. There is a portrait of him in the Parliament House at Edinburgh, painted, at the request of the Scottish bar, by Sir William Quiller Orchardson, R.A. [q. v. Suppl. II], in 1902.

[Scotsman and The Times, 7 Aug. 1905; Roll of Alumni in Univ. and King's Coll., Aberdeen, 1596–1860, p. 170; Hist. Speculative Soc. p. 150; Rolls of the Faculty of Advocates.]

G. W. T. O.