The Times/1931/Obituary/James Balfour Paul

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Obituary: Sir James Balfour Paul, Scottish Herald and Antiquary (1931)
480978Obituary: Sir James Balfour Paul, Scottish Herald and Antiquary1931

Sir James Balfour Paul
Scottish Herald and Antiquary

We regret to announce that Sir James Balfour Paul, Lyon-King-of-Arms from 1890 to the end of 1926, died yesterday in Edinburgh at the age of 84.

He was a man of genial manners and fine presence, and displayed to advantage on State occasions, the magnificent costume of an office in which he was the lineal successor of Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount, 1490-1555. In his quarters at the Register House he was ever courteously at the service of all genuine investigators into historical and antiquarian documents, while his please house in Heriot-row was one of the last remaining rallying-grounds of literary society in Edinburgh. He was an ardent devotee of the national game of curling.

Born in Edinburgh on November 16, 1846, he was the second son of the Rev. John Paul, D.D., and Margaret, eldest daughter of James Balfour of Pilrig. His grandmother, the daughter of a marriage celebrated in 1749, was daughter of the Rev. Sir William Moncreiff. the seventh baronet of the creation of 1626. Educated at the High School and University of Edinburgh, he was called to the Scottish Bar in 1870, edited the Journal of Jurisprudence from 1875-1887, and was Registrar of Friendly Societies for Scotland from 1879 to 1890. He was Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and he received the degree of LL.D. from Edinburgh University in 1908. In 1900, he was knighted, became C.V.O. in 1911 and K.C.V.O in 1926, was also Secretary of the Order of the Thistle and an Esquire and afterwards Commander of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.

Sir James's publications included a "History of the Royal Company of Archer," 1875; a "Handbook to the Parliament House," 1884; an "Ordinary of Scottish Arms," 1893; "Memoir and Remains of John M. Gray," the gifted art critic and first Curator of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, two volumes, 1895; "Heraldry in Relation to Scottish History and Art," 1900; besides many contributions to Chamber's Journal and other periodicals, on history and antiquities. His principal literary work, however, lay in the department of editing, for which his wide knowledge and scrupulous care especially fitted him, and included the Record Series of "Registrum Magni Sigilli," 1882-3; the "Accounts of the Lord Treasurer of Scotland," Vols. II.-XI., 1900-1916; Douglas's 'Scots Peerage," Vol I., 1904, with successive volumes up to Vol. IX., which appeared in 1914; and also an edition for the Scottish History Society of the "Diary of the Rev. George Ridpath, Minister of Stichill," whose "Border History of England and Scotland" was published posthumously in 1776.

During his long reign as the King of Arms having jurisdiction over Scotland, the Lord Lyon very greatly enhanced the status of Armory in that kingdom, and succeeded in persuading unnumerable cadets of armorial families to comply with provisions of the Scots law anent matriculation. He adopted a most ingenious scheme whereby differences may be uniformly graduated throughout any number of branches of a family in successive generations. With the assistance of Mr. Graham Johnston, the Herald Painter to his Court, and other heraldic artists, he succeeded in infusing a new vigour into the art of his armorial grants and strengthened the symbolical and historical value of the achievements. Sir James's reign, which ended with his abdication from the heraldic throne of the Lyon King, will long be celebrated for a great and remarkable renascence of Scottish heraldry. He tried two very interesting heraldic cases in his Court, Sir Colin Macrae's claim for supporters as Chief of the Clan Macrae, which was opposed by Colonel Macrae-Gilstrap, and the action brought against Mrs. Fraser Mackenzie by Colonel Stewart-Mackenzie, afterwards Lord Seaforth, in connexion with the bearing of supporters in right of her father. In the latter the Lyon's ruling was upheld on appeal by the House of Lords.

Sir James Balfour Paul married in 1872 Helen, daughter of Mr. John Nairne Forman, W.S. of Staffa, by whom he had three sons and one daughter. Of these the eldest, Cuthbert, predecease his father in 1926, Lady Paul died in 1929.

The funeral service will be at St. Cuthbert's parish church, Edinburgh, on Friday and afterwards to Dean Cemetery.

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