Saturday 17 May 2014

A Gentleman of Law: Sir Ilay Campbell, Lord Succoth FRSE

Sir Ilay Campbell, Lord Succoth FRSE (Ellerslie, Scotland, 23rd August 1734 – Garscube, Glasgow, Scotland, 28th March, 1823) 

Sir Ilay Campbell, Lord President of the Court of Session by David Martin
Sir Ilay Campbell, Lord President of the Court of Session by David Martin

I am currently working on a little fictional something that requires some measure of input from the Scottish judiciary. To this end, Ilay Campbell, Lord Succoth, has been called upon to make a brief yet pivotal appearance in the narrative. Since he and I have therefore become acquainted, I thought I would share something of his life with you.

Campbell was born in Ellerslie to Helen and Archibold Campbell, one of the principal clerks of session. The young man was, therefore, raised in a household where legal business was very much the order of the day and as he went through his education first at Mundell's School and then Glasgow University, where he would later serve as rector, he set his sights on a life in the legal profession. 

At the age of 23 he was practising at the bar and made his name through high profile cases that saw him celebrated among his profession. Noted for the eloquence and flow of his writing, in speech Campbell was less confident and considered a somewhat dry speaker, yet this did no harm to his career! Indeed, as his professional life flourished so too did his domestic life and at the age of 32 he married Susan Mary. The couple had eight children including two sons who followed their father into the legal profession.

Campbell rose swiftly through the ranks to assume the position first of Solicitor-General, Lord Advocate and eventually, that of Lord President. However, he also found time to sit in parliament as the Member for the Glasgow Burghs, albeit without a particularly distinguished career. His main efforts were made on behalf of the legal profession, though plans to increase salaries for judges whilst cutting their numbers were not at all popular with his judicial colleagues! Naturally their cynicism was not related to his plans for a salary increase...

He served as Lord President for just shy of two decades and retired at the age of 72 in July 1808. In retirement he produced a number of reference works and as the years drew on he settled happily into life at his country estate in Garscube. Here he presided over the business of running the estate until the end of his life, receiving some most illustrious visitors and celebrated for his intelligence, humility and good character by those who had the fortune to know him.


Gem Twitcher said...

Hrmmm! We will wait to see how the "said Gentleman"is woven into your works,Madam?

Catherine Curzon said...

I can assure you sir, that it is a most flattering portrayal!