Robert Macqueen, Lord Braxfield (1722-1799)

Robert Macqueen, Lord Braxfield (1722-1799)

Judge

Robert Macqueen was from the small estate of Braxfield near Lanark. He was called to the Bar in 1744, created Lord Braxfield in 1776 and promoted to the office of Lord Justice Clerk in 1788. He was known as the 'hanging judge'. His statement "Let them bring me prisoners, and I will find them law", was his legal theory. Henry Cockburn claimed that this 'used to be openly stated as his suggestion, when an intended political prosecution was marred by anticipated difficulties'. He sentenced Thomas Muir, one of the founders of the Society of the Friends of the People, to transportation to Australia in 1793; and Deacon Brodie to be hanged on gallows Brodie himself had designed. He has been viewed as the inspiration for Lord Weir in Robert Louis Stevenson's unfinished novel 'Weir of Hermiston' (1896). Henry Cockburny described Braxfield, his contemporary, as 'strong built and dark, with rough eyebrows, powerful eyes, threatening lips, and a low growling voice, he was like a formidable blacksmith. His accent and his dialect were exaggerated Scotch; his language, like his thoughts, short, strong, and conclusive.' He also enjoyed a drink and the Jolly Judge pub off Edinburgh's high street is named, ironically, in his memory.

Testament of Robert McQueen of Braxfield

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/131 pp 1374-1382

View transcript (13 KB PDF)

The images of the original document are in jpeg format (approximately 150 KB):

View page 1 of the actual document
View page 2 of the actual document
View page 3 of the actual document
View page 4 of the actual document
View page 5 of the actual document
View page 6 of the actual document
View page 7 of the actual document
View page 8 of the actual document
View page 9 of the actual document