Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/101

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SIR GEORGE LOCKHART.


Reformed Dutch church in New York, professor of Divinity to that body, and president of Queen's college, New Jersey one of the first men of his age and country, and to whose memoirs, by Mr Alexander Gunn, we have been indebt- ed for some of the preceding facts was the great-great grandson of the subject of this memoir.

LOCKHART, (Sra) GKORQK, a distinguished constitutional lawyer, and lord president of the court of session, was the second son of Sir James Lockhart ot Lee, a judge of the court of session. The period of his birth is unknown, and the earliest circumstance of his life which has been recorded is, that he studied for the bar, to which he was admitted on the 8th of January, 1656, by the commissioners appointed for the administration of justice in Scotland, under the goyernment of Cromwell. 1 The well-known personal interest of his brother, Sir William Lockhart, with the protector, was probably the means of introducing his talents to early notice; and on the 14th May, 1658, he was appointed " sole attorney, or lord advocate of Scotland. On the restoration of the monarchy, his family influence procured him favour at court; and after taking the oath of allegiance, along with the performance of other somewhat humiliating ceremonies, expressive of regret for his support to the fallen government, he was permitted the exercise of his profession, and received the honour of knighthood in 1663. Sir George distinguished himself as an able barrister, and became a man of power and influence. Notwithstanding favours extended towards him, such as monarchs too often find sufficient to secure un- hesitating tools, he used the privileges of his profession frequently against the court ; and through the progress of the dark deeds perpetrated by Tweeddale and Lauderdale, his name frequently occurs in the books of Adjournal (the criminal record of Scotland), as using his professional abilities in favour of the covenanters. One of the most prominent features of his life, is the struggle which he headed in 1674, for procuring by indirect means, and partly through the influence of the bar, an appeal from the courts of law to the legislature, unauthorized by the theory of the constitution of Scotland, and directly against the wishes of the court, to which a body of paid judges, removeable at plea- sure, seemed a more pliable engine, than an assembly of men, partly elected, partly holding by hereditary right. He was the person who, in the suit be- tween the earl of Dunfermline, and the earl of Callender and lord Almond, advised the last mentioned to present an appeal to parliament. * The earl being cited before the privy council to answer for this act, applied to Sir George Lockhart, Sir Robert Sinclair, Sir George Cunningham, and Sir George Mackenzie, for information how to act in the matter ; and a paper was drawn up for him by these eminent men, declaring " that he desired nothing thereby, but to protest for remeid of law ;" in other words, that he did not wish the decree of the court of session to be reduced on the ground of injustice or oppression, but a revisal by the parliament, declaratory or statutory, as to the law on the point. " In all which," says Sir George Mackenzie, with the bit- terness of disappointment, " Sir George Lockhart's design was to bring in this trial before the parliament, hoping thereby that they would lay aside the presi- dent, and leave the chair vacant for him." Lauderdale immediately proceeded to court, accompanied by the president of the court of session and one of the judges ; and on their report of the proceedings, Charles found the matter of sufficient importance to demand personal interference, and wrote a letter to the

1 Brunton and Haig's Hist, of Col. of Just., 419.

' Those readers who .are not acquainted with the details of this event, may find such circumstances connected with it as are here omitted, in the life of Sir John Lauder of Fountainhall.