National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

James Dalrymple (1619-1695)

James Dalrymple (1619-1695)

Lawyer and politician

James Dalrymple was a signatory of the National Covenant. From 1641-7 he was Regent of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts at Glasgow, before being called to the Bar as an advocate in 1648. During Cromwell's occupation he served as one of the commissioners for the administration of justice and, after the Restoration in 1660, as a Lord of Session. He became Lord President in 1671 but resigned in 1681 due to his refusal to take the Test Oath which established in law the supremacy of the king over the church. He moved to Leiden in the Netherlands. After the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688-9, he was re-appointed Lord President. In 1690 he was elevated to the peerage as viscount Stair. Stair was the family seat in Kyle, Ayrshire. Viscount Stair's 'Institutions of the Law of Scotland' (1681) was one of the first attempts to codify Scots law and remains one of the most important legal publications. He is buried in the High Kirk of St Giles.

Testament of James, viscount of Stair

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/80 pp 481-482

The language of the testament is interesting. It reveals James religious convictions, trusting in God for 'pardoun of all my sines and acceptance of my persoune in the Covnenant of his grace'.

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