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Craig, Sir Thomas

CRAIG, SIR THOMAS (c. 1538-1608), Scottish jurist and poet, was born about 1538. It is probable that he was the eldest son of William Craig of Craigfintray, or Craigston, in Aberdeenshire, but beyond the fact that he was in some way related to the Craigfintray family nothing regarding his birth is known with certainty. He was educated at St Andrews, where he took the B.A. degree in 1555. From St Andrews he went to France, to study the canon and the civil law. He returned to Scotland about 1561, and was admitted advocate in February 1563. In 1564 he was appointed justice-depute by the justice-general, Archibald, earl of Argyll; and in this capacity he presided at many of the criminal trials of the period. In 1573 he was appointed sheriff-depute of Edinburgh, and in 1606 procurator for the church. He never became a lord of session, a circumstance that was unquestionably due to his own choice. It is said that he refused the honour of knighthood which the king wished to confer on him in 1604, when he came to London as one of the Scottish commissioners regarding the union between the kingdoms - the only political object he seems to have cared about; but in accordance with James's commands he has always been styled and reputed a knight. Craig was married to Helen, daughter of Heriot of Lumphoy in Midlothian, by whom he had four sons and three daughters. His eldest son, Sir Lewis Craig (1569-1622), was raised to the bench in 1604, and among his other descendants are several well-known names in the list of Scottish lawyers. He died on the 26th of February 1608.

Except his poems, the only one of Craig's works which appeared during his lifetime was his Jus feudale (1603; ed. R. Burnet, 1655; Leipzig, 1716; ed. J. Baillie 1732). The object of this treatise was to assimilate the laws of England and Scotland, but, instead of this, it was an important factor in building up and solidifying the law of Scotland into a separate system. Other works were De unione regnorum Britanniae tractatus, De jure successionis regni Angliae and De hominio disputatio. Translations of the last two have been published, and in 1910 an edition of the De Unione appeared, with translation and notes by C. S. Terry. Craig's first poem, an Epithalamium in honour of the marriage of Mary queen of Scots and Darnley, appeared in 1565. Most of his poems have been reprinted in the Delitiae poëtarum Scotorum.

See P. F. Tytler, Life of Craig (1823); Life prefixed to Baillie's edition of the Jus feudale.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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