Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Craufurd, James

CRAUFURD, JAMES, Lord Ardmillan (1805–1876), Scottish judge, eldest son of Major Archibald Clifford Blackwell Craufurd of Ardmillan, Ayrshire, by Jane, daughter of John Leslie, was born at Havant in Hampshire in 1805, and educated at the academy at Ayr, at the burgh school, Edinburgh, and at the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. In 1829 he passed his examination in Roman and Scotch law, and became an advocate. His progress at the bar was not at all rapid, but he nevertheless acquired a considerable criminal business both in the court of justiciary and in the church courts. He never had much civil business, although he could address juries very effectively. On 14 March 1849 he became sheriff of Perthshire, and four years later, 16 Nov. 1853, was appointed solicitor-general for Scotland under the administration of Lord Aberdeen. He was nominated to the post of a lord of the court of session 10 Jan. 1855, when he took the courtesy title of Lord Ardmillan, after the name of his paternal estate. On 16 June in the same year he was also appointed a lord of justiciary, and held these two places until his death. His speeches and other literary utterances are not great performances, and his lectures to young men on ecclesiastical dogmas are open to hostile criticism, but they bear the cardinal merit of sincerity and are not without literary polish. In the court of justiciary his speeches were effective and eloquent of expression, which he had cultivated by a rather discursive study of English and Scotch poetical literature. The best remembered of his judgments is that which he delivered in connection with the well-known Yelverton case, when, on 3 July 1862, acting as lord ordinary of the outer house of session, he pronounced against the legality of the supposed marriage between Maria Theresa Longworth and Major William Charles Yelverton (Cases in Court of Session, Longworth v. Yelverton, 1863, pp. 93–116; Shaw, Digest, p. 97, &c.). He died of cancer of the stomach at his residence, 18 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, on 7 Sept. 1876. He married in 1834 Theodosia, daughter of James Balfour. This lady, who before her marriage was known as Beauty Balfour, died on 29 Dec. 1883, aged 70.

[Journal of Jurisprudence, xx. 538–9 (1876); Scotsman, 8 Sept. 1876, p. 5; Law Times, 16 Sept. 1876, p. 344; Times, 9 Sept. 1876, p. 8; Graphic, 23 Sept. 1876, p. 308, portrait; Illustrated London News, 23 Sept. 1876, p. 284, portrait.]

G. C. B.