Borthwick, David (DNB00)


BORTHWICK, DAVID (d. 1581), of Lochill, lord advocate of Scotland in the reign of James VI, was educated at St. Leonard's College, St. Andrews, where his name occurs among the determinants in 1625. He was called to the bar in 1549. He is mentioned by Knox as at first in favour of the Congregation, but afterwards as one of the many whom the queen dowager 'abusit, and by quham sche corrupted the hartis of the sempill.' In 1552 he served on the commission appointed to treat with the English commission on border affairs (Register of Privy Council of Scotland, i. 150). For some time he acted as legal adviser to Bothwell, whose counsel he was both in reference to Queen Mary's abduction to Dunbar, and to the murder of Damley. Along with Crichton of Elliock, he was in 1573 appointed king's advocate, and, as was then customary, also took his seat as a lord of session. In 1574 he served on the commission for framing a constitution for the church of Scotland. He died in January 1581-2. According to Scot of Scotstarvet, he acquired 'many lands in Lothian and Fife, as Balnacrieff, Admiston, Balcarras, and others, but having infeft his son Sir James therein in his lifetime, he rested never till he had sold all.' Hearing on his death-bed that his son had just sold another estate, he, according to the same authority, exclaimed, 'What shall I say ? I give him to the devil that gets a fool, and makes not a fool of him,' words which afterwards became proverbial as 'David Borthwick's Testament.

[Sir John Scot's Staggering State of Scottish Statesmen, ed. 1872, p. 108; Works of Knox, ed. Laing, i. 106, 414, ii. 44, vi. 667; Register of Privy Council of Scotland ; Haig and Brunton's Senators of the College of Justice, pp. 154-5; Omond's Lord Advocates of Scotland, i. 37.]

T. F. H.