John Preston, Lord Fentonbarns

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Sir John Preston, Lord Fentonbarns (died 1616), of Penicuik, was a Scottish lawyer and judge who became lord president of the court of session.


The son of John Burgess, a town councillor of Edinburgh and dean of guild, he was admitted advocate at the Scottish bar before 20 October 1575. He frequently appeared in cases before the privy council. On 8 March 1595 he was elected an ordinary lord of session.[1]

Preston's name first appears on the privy council on 24 November 1596. The same year he was, along with Edward Bruce, named king's commissioner to the general assembly of the kirk. Several further royal commissions followed. On 2 October 1601 he was named one of eight commissioners to assist the treasurer in the administration of his office. In recognition of his services James VI, on 10 February 1602, conceded to him and his wife, Lilias Gilbert, the lands of Guthrie in Midlothian, and on 30 March 1604 the lands of Penicuik with others lands in the same shire.[1]

Preston was one of the assessors at the trial in 1606 of the ministers concerned in holding the Aberdeen assembly. He was elected vice-president of the court of session on 23 October 1607, to act in the absence of Lord Balmerino, the president; was one of the assessors at the trial of Balmerino in 1608; and, on Balmerino's removal from the presidency, was, on 6 June 1609, chosen to succeed him.[1]

About the end of April 1611 Preston was appointed one of a council of eight—the New Octavians—in whom the financial offices of the treasurership, the collectorship, and the comptrollership were vested. He died on 14 June 1616.[1]


By his wife, Lilias Gilbert, Preston left a son John, on whom a baronetcy of Nova Scotia was conferred in 1628. By his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of William Turnbull, the younger John Preston became possessor of the lands of Auchie, Fife, on which a mansion-house was erected, named Prestonhall. The baronetcy is now extinct.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Preston, John (d.1616)". Dictionary of National Biography. 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Preston, John (d.1616)". Dictionary of National Biography. 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co.