Dalrymple, James

, the seventh baron and first viscount Stair, was born in 1609, studied at the college of Glasgow, and passed all the regular degrees of learning in that university. On the commencement of the rebellion in the reign of Charles I. he accepted a captain’s commission from the parliament, in the earl of Glencain.‘s regiment, but was soon called off to a more suitable province, that of filling a philosophy chair in the university of Glasgow. Having applied himself particularly to the study of the laws, he entered as an advocate in 1648, and became eminent for his judgment and skill, if not for his integrity. When the estates of the nation sent commissioners to Breda to invite Charles II. to Scotland, he was appointed secretary to the embassy, and acquitted himself entirely to his majesty’s satisfaction. He then resumed his practice at the bar, but could not be prevailed upon to take any oaths to the government during the usurpation. When Charles II. was restored to the throne, he conferred on Mr. Dalryrnple the honour of knighthood, appointed him a senator of the college of justice, and in 1671, lord president of the session, in which office his conduct was very unpopular; and in 1682, being dismissed from all his offices, he retired to Holland, where he became such a favourite with William prince of Orange, that when advanced to the throne of these kingdoms, his majesty restored him to his place of lord president, and raised him to the dignity of viscount Stair, lord Glenluce and Stranrawer. His lordship continued to enjoy his high legal office, and the favour of his prince, till his death, Nov. 25, 1695 4 His character as a politician has not been favourably drawn by some historians, particularly Mr. Laing, in. his lately -published “History of Scotland.” His personal character seems liable to less objection, and of his learning no doubt can be justly entertained. He wrote: 1. “The Institutions of the Law of Scotland,” second edit. fol. 1693. | 2. “Decisions of the Court of Session from 1661 to 1681,’” 2 vols. fol. 3. “Philosophia nova experimentalis,” published in Holland during his exile, and much commended by Bayle in his Journal. 4. “A Vindication of the Divine Perfections, &c. by a Person of Honour,1695, 8vo. 5. “An Apology for his own Conduct,” 4to, the only copy of which extant is said to be in the advocates’ library at Edinburgh. Had lord Orford read much of his history, he needed not have added that “it is not known on what occasion-he published it.1


Park’s edition of the Royal aud Noble Authors. Laing’s Hist. of Scotland.