Extraordinary Lord of Session

Extraordinary Lord of Session

Extraordinary Lords of Session were lay members of the Court of Session in Scotland from 1532 to 1762.

When the Court of Session was founded in 1532, it consisted of the Lord President, 14 Ordinary Lords and three or four Extraordinary Lords. The Extraordinary Lords were nominees of the King, not necessarily qualified, unsalaried, and free to sit or not as they pleased. This may have been a device to conciliate the barons, but it facilitated royal interference in the work of the courts, and the Extraordinary Lords tended to sit only in cases where they had a personal interest.

The number of Extraordinary Lords rose to eight in 1553 but, after protest, was reduced to four and continued at around that level until 1723 when it was provided that no future vacancies should be filled.

Archbishop Burnet was the last cleric to hold judicial office, being an Extraordinary Lord from 1664 to 1668, and John Hay, 4th Marquess of Tweeddale was the last Extraordinary Lord, holding office from 1721 to 1762.

Extraordinary Lords of Session

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