WHICH DAY MAGISTER ALEXANDER GIBSON, CLERK OF SESSION TO OUR LORD THE KING, IS ADDED TO THE NUMBER OF THE BURGESSES AND BRETHREN OF THE GUILD OF DUNDEE, FOR HIS MERIT, AND HIS AID TO THE COMMONWEAL.
Magister ALEXANDER GIBSON, afterwards SIR ALEXANDER GIBSON, LORD DURIE Of Session, was the son of GEORGE GIBSON of Goldingstones, and was the representative of a Fifeshire family of great antiquity. Having chosen the Law as his profession, he studied with such assiduity and success that he ultimately rose to the very highest dignity attainable in his vocation, that of Lord President of the Court of Session. His first official post was that of Third Clerk of Session, to which position he was called in 1594. "On account of his merit and knowledge of the laws of his own and foreign countries," writes SIR ROBERT DOUGLAS, "he was appointed by KING JAMES VI. one of the Principal Clerks of Session. KING JAMES in person presented him to the Court, and desired he might be admitted into that office. The KING remained in the Court until SIR ALEXANDER was received, then, thanking them for their compliance, withdrew" 568). He rapidly amassed a very considerable fortune., and acquired several extensive estates in Fife and the Lothians, one of them being the barony of Durie in Fife, from which he took his title. He was nominated as a Senator of the College of Justice by the KING in 1621, and was appointed Lord President in 1642, in which office he remained until his death, in July, 1646. The favour which he enjoyed during the reign of KING JAMES was continued towards him by CHARLES I, who created him a Baronet in 1628, and bestowed some lands in Nova Scotia upon him, to enable him to support that dignity. He is described by one writer as having been "one of the most eminent men of his time;" whilst another refers to him as "a man of a penetrating wit and clear judgment, polished and improved by much study and exercise" , p. 28). "We may frame a rational conjecture," adds the latter writer, "of his great learning and parts, . . . from the following circumstance In a tract of more than twenty years, he was frequently chosen Vice President, and no other Lord in that time." His great literary work was a "Collection of the Decisions of the Session, from July, 1621, till July, 1642," which is still quoted, under the title of "DURIE'S Practicks," as an authority on points of law." There is a romantic story told of him, that on one occasion, when a case was before him upon which he was expected to give a judgment adverse to the EARL OF ROXBURGH, that nobleman engaged GEORGE MELDRUM of Dumbreck to kidnap him whilst he was riding with a friend and servant at the waterside opposite Dundee, and to carry him captive to England, where he was detained for some time, and eventually sent back, minus his purse, to his relations, who had mourned him as dead. From the manuscript abstract of the Books of Adjournal in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, it appears that MELDRUM was tried for this unusual crime, in 1604, and sentenced "to have his head stricken from his body"
(Tyler's Life of Sir Thomas Craig, p.344) A similar story is related as occurring to his son, SIR ALEXANDER GIBSON, but it is not so well authenticated.
SIR ALEXANDER GIBSON was doubly connected with Dundee, through the FOTHRINGHAMS Powrie, as his daughter, MARGARET, was married to THOMAS FOTHRINGHAM; whilst the wife his son, SIR ALEXANDER, Was CECILIA FOTHRINGHAM. The arms THOMAS FOTHRINGHAM, marshalled with those his wife, are still visible over a doorway in the church Murroes. LORD DURIE'S wife was a daughter the famous SIR THOMAS CRAIG Riccarton, one the foremost lawyers his time. Hiseldest son, SIR ALEXANDER, was Lord Clerk Register of Scotland, and a Senator the College Justice, and was admitted Burgess Dundee on 21st April, 1623; whilst two other sons, JOHN and GEORGE, had that honour conferred upon them at a later date.