Innes, Cosmo (DNB00)

INNES, COSMO (1798–1874), antiquary, born on 9 Sept. 1798 at the old manor-house of Durris on Deeside, was the youngest child but one of the sixteen children of John Innes by his wife Euphemia (née Russell). John Innes, who belonged to the family of Innes of Innes, had sold his property in Moray to buy Durris. He resided at Durris for many years, but was afterwards ejected by a legal decision, a leading case in the Scottish law of entail. Cosmo was sent to the high school, Edinburgh, under Pillans, and studied at the universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow. He afterwards matriculated at Balliol College, Oxford, on 13 May 1817, graduating B.A. 1820, and M.A. 1824. In 1822 he became an advocate at the Scottish bar. His practice was never large, but he was soon employed in peerage and other cases demanding antiquarian and genealogical research. His first case of this kind was the Forbes peerage case, about 1830–2. In the Stirling case he was crown advocate. For several years, from about 1833, he was advocate-depute. In 1840 he was appointed sheriff of Moray, and while in office had to deal with the Moray mobs, who at the time of the Irish potato famine resisted the export of produce from their own district. In 1845 he was a member of the municipal corporation (Scotland) commission. In 1852 he resigned his sheriffdom, and succeeded his friend Thomas Thomson as principal clerk of session.

About 1830 Innes had assisted Thomson in arranging the ancient documents in the Register House (cp. Innes, Memoir of T. Thomson, 1854, 8vo). He was afterwards officially engaged in editing and preparing for the press the ‘Rescinded Acts,’ and in partly editing the folio edition of the ‘Acts of the Scots Parliament’ (1124–1707). He wrote an introduction to vol. i. (1844) of the ‘Acts,’ and in July 1865 began to compile with his assistants the ‘General Index’ to the whole work. This was published in 1875 after his death. Innes was an acute and learned student of ancient Scottish records, and singularly skilful as a decipherer. He was an active member and editor of the Bannatyne, Spalding, and Maitland clubs. He edited the chartularies of numerous Scottish religious houses, as well as various academical and municipal works of importance. In his ‘Scotland in the Middle Ages,’ 1860, and ‘Sketches of Early Scotch History,’ 1861 (the latter selected from his ‘Introductions to the Chartularies’), he displayed a sympathetic interest in the pre-Reformation period, and was accused of being a Roman catholic, though he was a member of the episcopal church. From 1846 till his death Innes held the post of professor of constitutional law and history at the university of Edinburgh. His lectures were attractive. He also gave valuable lectures on Scottish legal antiquities before the Juridical Society. While on a highland tour he died suddenly at Killin on 31 July 1874. His body was removed to Edinburgh, and buried in Warriston cemetery on 5 Aug. In appearance Innes was tall and handsome. He suffered from shyness, which sometimes took the form of nervous volubility in conversation. He was a keen sportsman, and amused himself with gardening. He had a great contempt for the mere bookworm, and said that more was to be learnt outside books than in them. As an antiquary he had no rival in his own line. In politics he was a whig. He advocated the claims of women students of medicine to graduate at the university of Edinburgh.

Innes married in 1826 Miss Rose of Kilravock, by whom he had nine children. The eldest son entered the Indian army, but died at twenty-four. The eldest daughter married in 1855 John Hill Burton [q. v.] the historian. During his married life Innes lived chiefly in or near Edinburgh, first at Ramsay Lodge; then at No. 6 Forres Street (where he was intimate with Francis Jeffrey [q. v.] and his family); subsequently at the Hawes, South Queensferry, and finally at Inverleith House, Edinburgh.

The following are Innes's principal publications (S. and B. indicate the publications of the Spalding and Bannatyne clubs respectively): 1. ‘Two Ancient Records of the Bishopric of Caithness,’ 1827, &c., 4to; also 1848, 4to, B. 2. ‘Registrum Monasterii de Passelet’ (Paisley), 1832, 4to, Maitland Club. 3. ‘Liber Sancte Marie de Melros,’ 1837, 4to, B. 4. ‘Registrum Episcopatus Moraviensis,’ 1837, 4to, B. 5. ‘Liber Cartarum Sancte Crucis. Munimenta Eccles. Sanct. Crucis de Edwinesburg,’ 1840, 4to, B. 6. ‘Registrum de Dunfermelyn,’ 1842, 4to, B. 7. ‘Registrum Episcopatus Glasguensis,’ 1843, 4to, B. 8. ‘Liber S. Marie de Calchou’ (Kelso Abbey), 1846, 4to, B. 9. ‘Liber Insule Missarum: Abbacii Canonic. Regul. … de Inchaffery registrum,’ 1847, 4to, B. 10. ‘Carte monialium de Northberwic’ (North Berwick Priory), 1847, 4to, B. 11. ‘Liber S. Thome de Aberbrothoc’ (Arbroath Abbey), ed. by C. Innes and P. Chalmers, 1848, &c., 4to, B. 12. ‘Registrum S. Marie de Neubotle’ (Newbattle Abbey), 1849, 4to, B. 13. ‘Origines Parochiales Scotiæ,’ 1850, 4to, B (a work of much research). 14. ‘Registrum Honoris de Morton,’ ed. completed by C. I., 1853, 4to. 15. ‘Fasti Aberdonenses,’ 1854, 8vo (selections from the records of the university and King's College of Aberdeen). 16. ‘The Black Book of Taymouth,’ 1855, 4to, B. 17. ‘Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis,’ 1856, 4to, S. 18. J. Barbour's ‘The Brus,’ 1856, 4to, S. 19. ‘The Book of the Thanes of Cawdor,’ 1859, 4to, S. 20. ‘Scotland in the Middle Ages,’ Edinburgh, 1860, 8vo (adapted from his university lectures). 21. ‘Sketches of Early Scotch History and Social Progress,’ Edinburgh, 1861, 8vo. 22. ‘An Account of the Familie of Innes’ (by Duncan Forbes (1644?–1704) [q. v.], with additions by C. I.), 1864, 4to, S. 23. ‘Ledger of A. Halyburton, 1492–1503,’ 1867, 8vo. 24. ‘Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Scotland. Edited, with Introduction, by C. I.,’ 1867, &c., fol. 25. ‘Ancient Laws and Customs of the Burghs of Scotland,’ 1868, &c., 4to. 26. ‘Lectures on Scotch Legal Antiquities,’ Edinburgh, 1872, 8vo. 27. ‘Memoir of Dean Ramsay’ in the 22nd (1874) ed. of Ramsay's ‘Reminiscences.’ 28. Contributions to the ‘Quarterly Review’ and the ‘North British Review.’ (For Innes's work connected with the Scotch statutes, see above.).

[Memoir of Innes, Edinburgh, 1874, partly founded on obituary notices in the Scotsman, Courant, Glasgow Herald, Athenæum, and Pall Mall Gazette; Dr. J. A. H. Murray in the Academy for 15 Aug. 1874, p. 181; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

W. W.