Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Mackay, Æneas James George

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MACKAY, ÆNEAS JAMES GEORGE (1839–1911), Scottish legal and historical writer, born at Edinburgh on 3 Nov. 1839, was grandson of Captain Mackay of Scotstoun, Peeblesshire, a distinguished soldier in India, and was son of Thomas George Mackay, W.S., by his wife Mary, daughter of John Kirkcaldy of Baldovie, Forfarshire. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy, proceeding thence to King's College, London, where he gained distinction in divinity and history. He continued his course of study at University College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1862, proceeding M.A. in 1865, and then at Heidelberg, completing his legal curriculum at Edinburgh University, where he was one of the first to obtain the degree of LL.B. He was admitted advocate at the Scottish bar in 1864, and attained considerable repute in consultation rather than as a pleader. He devoted much time to studies in law and history, and in 1874 he succeeded Cosmo Innes [q. v.] as professor of constitutional law and history in Edinburgh University. While he occupied this chair he brought out his greatest work, 'The Practice of the Court of Session' (2 vols. 1877-9), which is still a standard authority. In 1881 he was appointed advocate-depute and resigned the professorship. In 1886 he was made sheriff - principal of Fife and Kinross, retaining that office till 1901, when failing health compelled him to resign. During the last ten years of his life illness condemned him to inactivity. His latest labours were connected with the statute law revision (Scotland), for which he prepared an elaborate and exhaustive account of pre-union legislation, issued as a Blue Book. During his term as sheriff he busily engaged in literary work, writing many articles on Scottish subjects for this Dictionary and for the 'Encyclopædia Britannica.' He was made LL.D. of Edinburgh in 1882, and was a fellow of King's College, London. He died at Edinburgh on 10 June 1911. He married in 1891 Lilian Alina, daughter of Colonel Charles W. St. John, 94th regt., who survived him without issue. Besides his legal works Mackay took much interest in Scottish literature, and made several notable contributions to it. He was one of the founders of the Scottish History Society in 1885, and was an active member of the Scottish Text Society. For the former society he wrote a prefatory life of John Major for Archibald Constable's translation of Major's 'History of Great Britain' (1892), and for the latter he supplied in 1884 an introduction and appendix for an edition of the 'Poems of William Dunbar,' and also edited Lindsay of Pitscottie's 'Chronicles of Scotland' in 1899. Other works of interest were: 1. 'Memoir of Sir James Dalrymple of Stair,' 1873. 2. 'William Dunbar: a Study in the Poetry and History of Scotland,' 1889. 3. 'A Sketch of the History of Fife and Kinross,' Cupar Fife, 1890. 4. 'A Century of Scottish Proverbs and Sayings, in Prose and Rhyme, current in Fife,' Cupar Fife, 1891. 5. 'Manual of Practice in the Court of Session,' Edinburgh, 1893. 6. 'A History of Fife and Kinross' ('County Histories' series), Edinburgh, 1896.

[Book of Mackay; Scotsman, and Glasgow Herald, 12 June 1911; Scots Law Times, 17 June 1911; private information.]

A. H. M.