Hume, David (1757-1838) (DNB00)

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For works with similar titles, see David Hume.


HUME, DAVID (1757–1838), judge, second surviving son of John Hume of Ninewells, Berwickshire, by Agnes, daughter of Robert Carre of Cavers, Roxburghshire, and nephew to David Hume the philosopher [q.v.], was born 27 Feb. 1757. He was admitted advocate in 1779, in 1784 was appointed sheriff of Berwickshire and afterwards of West Lothian, and in 1786 became professor of Scots law in the university of Edinburgh. Sir Walter Scott, who attended his classes, describes him as `neither wandering into fanciful and abstruse disquisitions, which are the more proper subject of the antiquary, nor satisfied with presenting to his pupils a dry and undigested detail of the laws in their present state, but combining the past state of our legal enactments with the present, and tracing clearly and judiciously the changes which took place and the causes which led to them.' He was also a curator of the Advocates' Library. In 1793 he became sheriff of Linlithgowshire, in 1811 principal clerk to the court of session, and in 1822 a baron of the Scots exchequer, which post he held until the abolition of the court, when he retired upon a pension. He was the author of the standard work on Scottish criminal law, first published in 2 vols. 4to in 1797—'Commentaries on the Law of Scotland respecting the Description and Punishment of Crimes,' having published seven years previously 'Commentaries on the Law of Scotland respecting Trials for Crimes.' He died at his house, Moray Place, Edinburgh, on 30 Aug. 1838. Lockhart calls him 'a man as virtuous and amiable as conspicuous for masculine vigour of intellect and variety of knowledge.' His contributions to the 'Mirror' and the 'Lounger' were published in Alexander Chalmers's edition of 'British Essayists,' 1802, vols. xxxiii-xl. His will, made in 1832, prohibited the publication of any of his lectures or legal papers except his great collection of Reports of Decisions, 1781-1822, which were published in 1839. His only son, Joseph, a young man of much promise, died in 1829.

[Anderson's Scottish Nation; Lockhart's Life of Scott; John Hill Burton's Life of David Hume; Gent. Mag. 1838.]

J. A. H.