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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


20 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. mutual improvement in public speaking, formed themselves into a debating club, called the Speculative fiociety, which met in one of therooms of the College. This association soon became more extensive, and assumed an aspect of stability and eminence, which it still continues to maintain. Mr. Maconochie was then in his seventeenth year, and his associates were all nearly of a similar age.’ In 1768, after having completed his studies at the University, he went to the Continent, and resided some time at Paris. On his return the following yea?, he entered himself a student at Lincoln’s Inn, and kept several termshis object being to attend the Court of King’s Bench, in order to observe the decisions of the great Lord Mansfield. Retnrning to Scotland, Mr. Maconochie was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates upon the 8th of December 1770 ja but, being still desirous of increasing his general and practical knowledge, he soon after made a second journey to France, where he remained till 1773. During his stay there he chiefly resided at Rheims; but the greater portion of his time was spent in visiting various parts of the country. In 1774 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Wellwood, Esq., of Garvock, in the county of Fife. Through the influence of this connection it is supposed he owed his return to the General Assembly of that year, as layrepresentative of the burgh of Dunfermline-a point of considerable importance to a young barrister j as, should he be fortunate enough to make a successful debut in the ecclesiastical court, his future success is generally looked upon as certain.a From this period the reputation of Mr. Maconochie began gradually to be established. In addition to the practice of law, and a thorough acquaintance with the Statute-book, he had studied deeply the philosophy of law ; and such was the character which his talents and acquirements had secured for him, that, in 1779,’ on the resignation of Mr. Balfour, he was elected Professor of the Law of Nature and Nations in the University of Edinburgh. Much to the regret of the public, however, he gave lectures only during two sessions, his It is curious to notice the contemptuous opinion entertained of the Speculative Society at its commencement. For instance, one publication says-“ A trifling club is set up under the name of the SpeculatiTe Society.” He was examined on Tit. xiv. Lib. xxxvii. Pand. de jure Patronatus, and found “sufficiently qualXed.”-MX. Miiiutm of Fac. of Advocates. Probably the earliest appearance made by the subject of this sketch waa in the important case of Hinton w. Donaldson and others, in which his father was mandatory for the pursuer, where the question of copyright, and the exclusive right of authors to their works, was discussed. The six counsel for the parties were heard at great length before the whole Court, and Mr. Maconochie distinguished himself on this occasion a8 an able pleader. The Court, with the exception of Lord Monboddo, was against the claims advanced for the authors ; and, on the 28th of July 1773, decided against Hinton. A Report of the Speeches of the Judges was printed by James Boswell (afterwards the biographer of Johnson), one of the counsel for the defenders. ‘ On the 18th December 1779, upon the resignation of Mr. James Balfour, Mr. Maconochie was elected treasurer of the Faculty of Advocates. Edinburgh, 1774. &o.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 21 practice at the bar having become so great that he was unable to continue the duty of the chair. In 1788 he was appointed Sheriff-Depute of the county of Renfrew; and, on the death of Lord Abercromby in 1796, promoted to the bench by the title of Lord Meadowbank In 1804, on the resignation of Lord Methven, he was constituted one of the Lords of Justiciary. In both of these judicial capacities he conducted himself with the greatest ability. In politics, Lord Meadowbank was decidedly of the Pitt and Dundas school, or, in other words, a Tory; but his was an enlightened attachment to the constitution, springing from judicious and comprehensive views of social and political economy.' When trial by jury-the bulwark of the subject's libertywas proposed to be introduced into Scotland, Lord Meadowbank evinced the soundness and liberality of his sentiments by warmly advocating the measure. He wrote an excellent pamphlet on the subject, entitled '' Considerations on the Introduction of Trial by Jury in Scotland ;'I and in 1815, when the Jury Court was instituted, he was appointed one of the Lords-Commissioners. Amid the multifarious duties arising from official engagements, Lord Meadowbank still found leisure to continue his acquaintance with literature and the progress of the sciences, of which he was a warm promoter. He was one of the earliest members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, to which he contributed several valuable papers, and was for many years Vice-President. He was likewise one of the Directors of the Astronomical Institution. Like many of his contemporaries, Lord Meadowbank was a keen agriculturist; and to his ingenious speculations and inquiries into this important science the country is indebted for the invention of moss mhure, now extensively employed in various counties in Scotland.' The character of Lord Meadowbank as a judge has been recently given by one in every way qualified to form a just and impartial estimate of his merits. " Above all," said Lord Brougham, in deciding a recent cme in the House of Lords (Inglis v. Mansfield, 10th April 1835), " we have, what with me is of the highest authority and of the greatest weight, the very valuable opinion of the late Lord Meadowbank, one of the best lawyers-one of the most acute men-a man of large general capacity, and of great experience-and with hardly any exception, certainly with very few exceptions, if any-the most diligent judge one can remember in the practice of the Scotch Lord Meadowbank died on the 14th of June 1816, in the sixty-ninth year of his age.' In 1792, prior to his elevation to the bench, he resided in what was then No. 33 Hanover Street. His lordship left several children, the eldest of whom was raised to the bench under the same title of Lord Meadowbank. ' . See his opinion in the case of Andrew w. Murdoch, 1806. His lordship printed, for private distribution, a tract on the subject. Shaw an4 Maclean's Reports in the House of Lords, 1835. For interesting notices of this judge see Cockbum's MmOriaZs of hi9 Time, and his fife of Buchanan's Reports. Jofrey.
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