Patton, George (DNB00)


PATTON, GEORGE, Lord Glenalmond (1803–1869), Scottish judge, third son of James Patton of the Cairnies, sheriff-clerk of Perthshire, was born at the Cairnies in 1803. He received the rudiments of his education at Perth, and proceeded thence to Oxford, where he does not seem to have matriculated. Returning to Scotland, he began his legal studies at Edinburgh University, and was admitted advocate in 1828. He made some figure at the bar as a pleader. But he was an ardent tory in politics, and it was not until Lord Derby's second government came into power in 1859 that Patton, after very many delays and disappointments, received official recognition. He then became solicitor-general for Scotland for a few weeks. In the spring of 1866 he entered the House of Commons as conservative member for Bridgewater, and a few weeks later, when Lord Derby's third administration was formed, he was made lord advocate. The appointment necessitated a new election at Bridgewater, and Patton was defeated by Mr. Vanderbyl. Reports were abroad that gross bribery had been practised at both these elections, and a commission was appointed to inquire into these charges. The dread of compromising disclosures preyed on Patton's mind, but he was relieved of the necessity of taking any part in the inquiry by becoming, in 1867, lord justice clerk. John Inglis (1810–1891) [q. v.] had resigned the post to take that of lord president. The choice of his successor lay with the lord advocate, and Patton conferred the office on himself. He assumed the title of Lord Glenalmond.

In August 1869 he succeeded to the estate and mansion at Glenalmond on the death of his elder brother, Thomas Patton, W.S. By some journalistic blunder the death of Thomas had been announced as the ‘demise of the lord justice clerk,’ and the error prejudicially affected Lord Glenalmond's mind. On Thursday, 16 Sept. 1869, he presided at the Ayr circuit, and on the following day he returned with Mrs. Patton to Edinburgh, proceeding thence to Glenalmond. On the morning of Monday, 20 Sept., he committed suicide. The body was interred in the family burying-ground of Monzie. He left a widow, but no family. Though possessed of considerable legal talents, he had no favourable opportunity for displaying administrative ability. In the management of his own small estate of the Cairnies he made many valuable experiments in arboriculture, and had projected elaborate trials of various conifers at Glenalmond.

[Marshall's Historic Scenes in Perthshire, p. 299; Hunter's Woods, Forests, and Estates of Perthshire, pp. 356 et seq.; North British Daily Mail, 23 Sept. 1869; Dundee Advertiser, 25 Sept. 1869.]

A. H. M.