James Mackay, Baron Mackay of Clashfern
James Peter Hymers Mackay, Baron Mackay of Clashfern, KT, PC, QC (born 2 July 1927) is a British advocate. He served as Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Lord Advocate, and Lord Chancellor (1987–1997). He is an active member of the House of Lords where he sits as a Conservative.
Early life and education
Mackay was born in Edinburgh, the son of railway signalman James Mackay (who came from Claisfearn near Tarbet in Sutherland) and his wife Janet Hymers. He won a scholarship to George Heriot's School, and then studied mathematics and physics at the University of Edinburgh, receiving a joint MA in 1948. He taught mathematics for two years at the University of St Andrews before moving to Trinity College, Cambridge on a scholarship, from which he obtained a BA in mathematics in 1952. He then returned to Edinburgh University where he studied law, receiving an LLB (with distinction) in 1955.
Mackay was elected to the Faculty of Advocates in 1955. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1965. He was Sheriff Principal for Renfrew and Argyll from 1972 to 1974. In 1973 he became Vice-Dean of the Faculty on Advocates and from 1976 until 1979 served as its Dean, the leader of the Scots bar.
In 1979, Mackay was appointed Lord Advocate, the senior law officer in Scotland, and was created a life peer as Baron Mackay of Clashfern, of Eddrachillis in the District of Sutherland, taking his territorial designation from his father's birthplace, a cottage beside Loch na Claise Fearna. Since his retirement, Mackay has sat in the House of Lords and was Commissary to the University of Cambridge until 2016. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Halsbury's Laws of England, the major legal work which states the law of England, first published in 1907; the post is usually held by a former Lord Chancellor. He is also a Senior Fellow of The Trinity Forum, a Christian nonprofit that supports the renewal of society through the development of leaders.
Mackay was raised a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland; as an adult he was an elder of the church. The church forbids its members to attend Roman Catholic religious services; nevertheless Mackay attended two Catholic funeral masses for members of the judiciary (for Charles Ritchie Russell in 1986, and again for John Wheatley in 1988). Following the second mass Mackay was called before a church synod where he denied that he had broken the church's prohibition of showing "support for the doctrine of Roman Catholicism", saying "I went there purely with the purpose of paying my respects to my dead colleagues." The church suspended Mackay from the eldership and from membership. The synod met again in Glasgow in 1989 to review the decision; the meeting asked Mackay to undertake not to attend further Catholic services, but he announced "I have no intention of giving any such undertaking as that for which the synod has asked", and later withdrew from the church. The dispute precipitated a schism, leading to the formation of the Associated Presbyterian Church. Mackay did not, however, initially join the new communion, but now worships with their Inverness congregation.
As a Presbyterian, Mackay was a firm believer in moderation. At a gathering for the Faculty of Advocates, Mackay had laid on a spread of tea and toast, complete with a tiny pot of honey. One of the lawyers in attendance contemplated the pot and remarked, "I see your Lordship keeps a bee." Mackay is also the Honorary President of the Scottish Bible Society. He supported the society's programme to send a Bible to every court in Scotland and wrote in support of "The Bible in Scots Law", a pamphlet it distributed to Scottish lawyers which described the Bible as a "foundational source book for Scotland's legal system". He is a strict sabbatarian, refusing to work or travel on a Sunday, or even to give an interview if there is a chance it could be rebroadcast on the sabbath.
Honours and styles
The Lord Mackay of Clashfern
|Reference style||His Lordship|
|Spoken style||Your Lordship|
Mackay was appointed a Knight of the Thistle by the Queen Elizabeth II on 27 November 1997. In 2007 the Queen appointed Lord Mackay to the office of Lord Clerk Register, replacing David Charteris, 12th Earl of Wemyss. Mackay became a Fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1984. In 1989, Mackay was elected Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Mackay also received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1990  In 1994, he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) by the University of Bath.
Styles of address
- 1927–1965: Mr James Mackay
- 1965–1979: Mr James Mackay QC
- 1979–1997: The Rt Hon The Lord Mackay of Clashfern PC QC
- 1997–: The Rt Hon The Lord Mackay of Clashfern KT PC QC
- J J O'Connor and E F Robertson (April 2006). "James Peter Hymers Mackay". The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews.
- "James Mackay, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, b. 1927. Judge and Lord Chancellor". National Galleries of Scotland.
- Cal McCrystal (12 December 1993). "Profile: Never on a Sunday: The Lord Chancellor is a tireless legal reformer, but only six days a week". The Independent.
- "Halsbury's Laws : History". LexisNexis.
- "British Lord Goes to Funerals, Loses Church Post". Associated Press (Los Angeles Times). 6 November 1988. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
- "British official quits church over its curbs". Toledo Blade. 28 May 1989. p. 5.
- Jenny McCartney (2008-05-18). "How little Leo Blair was conceived is definitely too much information". Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
- "Bibles for the courts". Scottish Bible Society. July 2010. Archived from the original on 29 August 2010.
- Hector L MacQueen and Scott Wortley (22 August 2010). "The Bible in Scots law". Scots Law News. School of Law, University of Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012.
- "No. 24306". The Edinburgh Gazette. 28 November 1997. p. 3025.
- "Lord Clerk Register appointed". Scottish Executive.
- "Lord James Peter Hymers Mackay of Clashfern KT PC QC FRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
- "Trinity College, Cambridge – Honorary Fellows". Trinity College, Cambridge. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- firstname.lastname@example.org. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
- "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". bath.ac.uk. University of Bath. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at PublicWhip.org
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou.com
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Works by or about James Mackay, Baron Mackay of Clashfern in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Lord Mackay of Clashfern – Jurist, Reformer und Staatsmann
- Merk, "Lord Mackay of Clashfern", Bonner Rechtsjournal, Sonderausgabe 1/2012, S. 28 ff.
| Lord Advocate
The Lord Cameron of Lochbroom
The Lord Havers
| Lord Chancellor
The Lord Irvine of Lairg
The Lord Irvine of Lairg
| Shadow Lord Chancellor
The Lord Kingsland
The Earl of Wemyss
| Lord Clerk Register