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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


B I 0 G RA P H I CA I, S KE T C H E S. 167 No. LXXI. ROBERT M'QUEEN OF BRAXFIELD, LORD JUSTICE-CLERK. THIS eminent lawyer and judge of the last century was born in 1722. His father, John M'Queen, Esq. of Braxfield, in the county of Lanark, was educated as a lawyer, and practised for some time ; but he gave up business on being appointed Sheriff-substitute of the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire. He was by no means wealthy, and having a large family, no extravagant views of future advancement seem to have been entertained respecting his children. Robert, who was his eldest son, received the early part of his education at the grammar-school of the county town,' and thereafter attended a course at the University of Edinburgh, with the view of becoming a Writer to the Signet. In accordance with this resolution, young M'Queen was apprenticed to Mr. Thomas Gouldie, an eminent practitioner, and, during the lat+er period of his service, he had an opportunity of superiiitending the management of processes before the Supreme Court. Those faculties of mind which subsequently distinguished him both as a lawyer and a judge were thus called into active operation ; and, feeling conscious of intellectual strength, he resolved to try his fortune at the bar. This new-kindled ambition by no means disturbed his arrangement with Mr. Gouldie, with whom he continued until the expiry of his indenture. In the meantime, however, he set about the study of the civil and feudal law, and very soon became deeply conversant in the principles of both, especially of the latter. In 1744, after the usual trials, he became a member of the Faculty of Advocates. In the course of a few years afterwards, a number of questions arising out of the Rebellion in 1745, respecting the forfeited estates, came to be decided, in all of which M'Queen had the good fortune to be appointed counsel for the crown. Nothing could be more opportunely favourable for demonstrating the young advocate's talents than this fortuitous circumstance. The extent of knowledge which he displayed as a feudal lawyer, in the management of these cases-some of them of the greatest importance-obt,ained for him a degree of reputation which soon became substantially apparent in the rapid increase of his general practice. The easy unaffected manners of Mr. M'Queen also tended much to promote success. At those meetings called consultations, which, for many years after his admission to the bar, were generally held in taverns, he " peculiarly shone" both in legal and social qualifications. Ultimately his practice became so great, especially before the Lord Ordinary, that he has been repeatedly The grammar-school of Lanark was at this period in considerable repute. was Thomson, a relative of the author of " The Seasons," and married to his sister. The teacher'a name
Volume 8 Page 237
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