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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


170 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Parliament House. the old High School in 1659, and studying law at Leyden, became a member of the Faculty of Advocates on the 5th June, 1668, from which period he began industriously to record the decisions of the Court of Session. He was one of the counsel for the Earl of Argyll in 1681, and four years after was M.P. for West Lothian. To the arbitrary measures of the Scottish Government he offered all constitutional resistance, and for his zeal in support of the Protestant religion was exposed to some trouble and peril in 1686. He firmly opposed the attempt of James VII. to abolish the penal laws against Roman Catholics in Scotland; and in 1692 was offered the post of Lord Advocate, which he bluntly declined, not being allowed to prosecute the perpetrators of the massacre of Glencoe, which has left an indelible stain on the memory of William of Orange. He was regular in his attendance during the debates on the Union, against which he voted and protested; but soon after age and infirmity compelled him to resign his place in the Justiciary Court, and afterwards that on the Bench. He died in 1722, leaving behind him MSS., which are preserved in ten folio and three quarto volumes, many of which have been published more than once. Few senators have left behind them so kindly a memory as Alexander Lockhart, Lord Covington, so called from his estate in Lanarkshire. His paternal grandfather was the celebrated Sir GCorge Lockhart, President of the Court of Session ; his maternal grandfather was the Earl of Eglinton ; and his father was Lockhart of Camwath, author of the Memoirs of Scotland.? He had been at the Bar from 1722, and, when appointed to the Bench, in 1774, had long borne the reputation of being one of the most able lawyers of the age, yet he never realised more than a thousand a-year by his practice. He lived in a somewhat isolated nlansion, near the Parliament Close, which -eventually was used as the Post Office. Lockhart and Fergusson (afterwards Lord Pitfour, in 1764, being rival advocates, were usually pitted against each other in cases of importance. After the battle of Culloden, says Robert Chambers, ? many violently unjust, as well as bloody measures, were resorted to at Carlisle in the disposal of the prisoners, about seventy of whom came to a barbarous death.? Messrs. Lockhart and Fergusson, indignant at the treatment of the poor Highlanders, and the unscrupulous measures of the English authorities to procure convictions, set off for Carlisle, arranging with each other that Lockhart should examine the evidence, while Fergusson pleaded, and addressed the jury- Offering their services, these were gladly accepted by the unfortunates whom defeat had thrown at the mercy of the Government. Each lawyer exerted his abilities with the greatest solicitude, but with little or no effect; national and political rancour inflamed all against the prisoners. The jurors of Carlisle had been so temfied by the passage of the Highland army-orderly and peaceful though it was-that they deemed everything like tartan a perfect proof of guilt ; and they were utterly incapable of discriminating the amount of complicity in any particular prisoner, but sent all who came before them to the human shamblesfor such the place of execution was then namedbefore the Castle-gate. At length one of the tww Scottish advocates fell upon an expedient, which? he deemed might prove effectual, as eloquence had failed. He desired his servant to dress himself in a suit of tartan, and skulk about in the neighbourhood of Carlisle, till he was arrested, and, in the usual fashion, accused of being ?a rebel.? As such the man was found guilty by the English jury, andwould have been condemned had not his master stood forth, and claimed him as his servant, proving beyond all dispute that he had been in immediate attendance on himself during the whole time the Highland army had been in the field. This staggered even the Carlisle jury, and, when aided by a few caustic remarks from the young and indignant advocate, made them a little more cautious in their future proceedings. So high was the estimation in which Lockhart of Covington (who died in 1782) was held as an advocate, that Lord Newton-a senator famous for his extraordinary judicial talents and social eccentricities-when at the Bar wore his gown till it was in tatters; and when, at last, he was compelled to have a new one made, he had a fragment of the neck of the original sewed into it, that he might still boast he wore ?? Covington?s gown.? Lord Newton, famous in the annals of old legal convivialia, died so late as October, 18-11. Covington, coadjutor to Lord Pitfour, always wore his hat when on the Bench, being afflicted with weak eyes. Lords Monboddo and Kames, though both learned senators, are chiefly remembered for their eccentricities, some of which would now be deemed vulgarities. The former, James Burnet, who was raised to the Bench in 1767, once embroiled himself in a law-plea respecting a horse, which belonged to himself. He had committed the animal, when ill,
Volume 1 Page 170
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