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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


Parliament House.] THE COLLEGE OF JUSTICE. - a vote among themselves in favour of that protest, declaring it to be founded on the laws of the realm, for which they were prosecuted before Parliament, and sharply reprimanded, a circumstance which gave great offence to the nation.. The affairs ot the Faculty are managed by a Dean, or President, a Treasurer, Clerk, and selected Council ; and, besides the usual branches of a liberal education, those who are admitted .as advocates must have gone through a regular course of civil and Scottish law. Connected with the Court of Session is the Society of Clerks, or Writers to the Royal Signet, whose business it is to subscribe the writs that pass under that signet in Scotland, and practise as attorneys before the Courts of Session, Justiciary, and the Jury Court The office of Keeper of the Signet is a lucrative one, but is performed by a deputy. The qualifications for admission to this body are an apprenticeship for five years with one of the members, after two years? attendance at the University, and on a course of lectures on conveyancing given by a lecturer appointed by the Society, and also on the Scottish law class in the University. Besides these Writers to the Signet, who enjoy the right of conducting exclusively certain branches .of legal procedure, there is another, but? inferior, society of practitioners, who act as attorneys before the various Courts, in which they were of long standing, but were only incorporated in 1797, under the title of Solicitors before the Supreme Courts, The Judges of the Courts of Session and Justiciary, with members of these before-mentioned corporate bodies, and the officers of Court, form the College of Justice instituted by James V., and of which the Judges of the Court of Session enjoy the title of Senators. The halls for the administration of justice immediately adjoin the Parliament House. The Court af Session is divided into what are nanied the Outer and Inner Houses. The former consists of five judges, or Lords Ordinary, occupying separate Courts, where cases are heard for the first time; tbe latter comprises two Courts, technically known .as the First and Second Divisions. Four Judges sit in each of these, and it is before them that litigants, if dissatisfied with the Outer House decision, may bring their cases for final judgment, unless .afterwards they indulge in the expensive luxury of appealing to the House of Lords. The Courts of the Lords Ordinary enter from the corridor at the south end of the great hall, and Those of the Inner House from a long lobby on the east side of it. Although the .College of Justice was instituted by James V., and held its first sederunt in the old Tolbooth on the 27th of May, 1532, it was first projected by his uncle, the Regent- Duke of Albany. The Court originally consisted of the Lord Chancellor, the Lord President, fourteen Lords Ordinary, or Senators (one-half clergy and one-half laity), and afterwards an indefinite number of supernumerary judges, designated Extraordinary Lords. The annual expenses of this Court were defrayed from the revenues of the clergy, who bitterly, but vainly, remonstrated against this taxation. It may not be uninteresting to give here the names of the first members of the Supreme Judicature :- Alexander, Abbot of Cambuskenneth, Lord President ; Richard Bothwell, Rector of Askirk (whose father was Provost .of Edinburgh in the time of James 111,); John Dingwall, Provost of the Trinity Church; Henry White, Dean of Brechin ; William Gibson, Dean of Restalrig ; Thomas Hay, Dean of Dunbar; Robert Reid, Abbot of Kinloss ; George Kerr, Provost of Dunglass ; Sir William Scott of Balwearie ; Sir John Campbell of Lundie ; Sir James Colville of Easter Wemyss; Sir Adam Otterburne of Auldhame ; Nicolas Crawford. of Oxengangs ; Sir Francis Bothwell (who was provost of the city in 1535); and James Lawson of the Highriggs. The memoirs which have been preserved of the administration of justice by the Court of Session in the olden time are not much to its honour. The arbitrary nature of it is referred to by Buchanan, and in the time of James VI. we find the Lord Chancellor, Sir Alexander Seaton (Lord Fyvie in 1598), superintending the lawsuits of a friend, and instructing him in the mode and manner in which they should be conducted. But Scott of Scotstarvit gives us a sorry account of this peer, who owed his preferment to Anne of Denmark. The strongest proof of the corrupt nature of the Court is given us by the -4ct passed by the sixth parliament of. James VI., in 1579, by which the Lords were prohibited, ? No uther be thamselves, or be their wives, or servantes, to take in ony times cumming, bud, bribe, gudes, or geir, fra quhat-sum-ever person or persones presently havand, or that hereafter sal1 happen to have ony actions or causes persewed before them,? under pain of confiscation (Glendoick?s Acts, fol.). The necessity for this law plainly evinws that the secret acceptance of bribes must have been common among the judges of the time; while, in other instances, the warlike spirit of the people paralysed the powers of the Court. When a noble, or chief of rank, was summoned tu
Volume 1 Page 167
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