Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 313 Sir Archibald died at Pinkie House on the 1st of June 1794. He was succeeded by his second son of the first marriage j on whose death, in 1801, without issue, John, eldest son of the second marriage, became the eleventh baronet. No. CXXVII. BOBERT BLAIR, ESQ., SOLICITOR-GENERAL, AND AFTERWARDS LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF SESSION. AMONGST the many eminent persons who have attained celebrity as Senators of the College of Justice, the late LORDP RESIDENBTL AIRo~c cupies a distinguished place. His father was the Rev. Robert Blair, minister of Atholstaneford, in East Lothian, author of " The Grave," and male representative of the ancient family of Blair in Ayrshire. He married Isabella Law, daughter of William Law, Esq. of Elvingston, East Lothian.' The third son-the subject of our sketch-was born in 1741. His elder brothers were destined to mercantile pursuits, but Robert was educated for the legal profession. He commenced his studies at the High School of Edinburgh, and from thence was transferred to the University, where he formed friendships which subsequently materially aided him in his progress through life. In particular he commenced an intimacy with Henry Dundas, afterwards Lord Melville, which only terminated with their lives. Mr. Blab was a year younger than his friend Lord Melville. The latter was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates in 1763, and the former the following year. This adoption of a profession in which so many fail of success was considered at least a bold if not an inconsiderate choice, by a young man without fortune ; but the extended practice, which his talents almost instantaneously commanded, dispelled the apprehensions of his friends. Blair rapidly rose to eminence as a lawyer; and in most cases of importance was retained as a leading counsel. The celebrated Henry Erskine and he were generally pitted against each other, as the two most eloquent as well as able members of the bar. However much Erskine might surpass his opponent in witty observation or ingenious remark, Blair was infinitely his superior as a clear reasoner and sound lawyer. Mr. Blair was for several years one of the Assessors of the city of Edinburgh, The prefixed full-length portrait, done in 1793, represents the Solicitor-General a few years after his appointment. ' This lady was sister of Mr. Law of Elviogston, who was Sheriff of Haddmgton for fifty years ; and, during that long period, was never known to be absent on a court day, either from aickneas or any other cause. 2 s
Volume 8 Page 439
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print