Stair Society

Last updated

Stair Society
Formation17 September 1934;87 years ago (1934-09-17)
Type Learned society
PurposeEncouragement of study, and advancement of knowledge, of the history of Scots Law
Region served
Lord Stewart
Main organ

The Stair Society is a learned society devoted to the study of Scots law. It was instituted in 1934 "to encourage the study and to advance the knowledge of the history of Scots Law," [1] and is named for James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount of Stair, the seventeenth century Lord President of the Court of Session considered the most important of Scots Law's Institutional Writers. It is comparable to the Selden Society, an organisation devoted to the study of English legal history.



The Society has around four hundred and fifty members from Scotland and around the world. [2] The Society holds an annual general meeting in November, which includes a guest lecture. Recent distinguished figures to have addressed the Society included Alan Watson, Rogers Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, and John H. Langbein, Sterling Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale Law School. The Society is run by a Council, chaired by Professor John Cairns, Professor of Legal History at the University of Edinburgh School of Law. [3] The President of the Society is Lord Stewart.

As part of its aim of furthering study Scots legal history, the Stair Society produces printed and electronic publications, specifically an annual volume along with occasional other publications. The Society's Literary Director is Mark Godfrey, Professor of Legal History at the University of Glasgow School of Law.

The Society also provides a postgraduate scholarship to support someone undertaking doctoral research (i.e. leading to degrees of Ph.D. or D.Phil.) in the area of Scots legal history. The scholarship has had one successful graduate so far but is currently suspended. [4]

Viscount Stair

James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount of Stair, generally known as Viscount Stair, was an important political figure in seventeenth century Scotland and served as Lord President of the Court of Session from 1671 to 1681 and 1689 to 1695. The first edition of his "Institutions of the Law of Scotland", an account of the private law of Scotland according to the judgements of the Court of Session, was published in 1681, and the work is now considered the foundation of modern Scots law.

See also

Related Research Articles

Earl of Stair

Earl of Stair is a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created in 1703 for the lawyer and statesman John Dalrymple, 2nd Viscount of Stair.

James Mackay, Baron Mackay of Clashfern

James Peter Hymers Mackay, Baron Mackay of Clashfern, 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.

John Erskine of Carnock

John Erskine of Carnock was a Scottish jurist and professor of Scottish law at the University of Edinburgh. He wrote the Principles of the Law of Scotland and An Institute of the Law of Scotland, prominent books on Scots law.

James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount of Stair

James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount Stair, Scottish lawyer and statesman, was born at Drummurchie, Barr, Ayrshire.

Edinburgh Law School

Edinburgh Law School, founded in 1707, is a school within the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom dedicated to research and teaching in law. It is located in the historic Old College, the original site of the University. Two of the twelve currently sitting Supreme Court of the United Kingdom justices are graduates of Edinburgh, including the current President and Deputy President.

John Dalrymple, 1st Earl of Stair Scottish politician and lawyer (1648–1707)

John Dalrymple, 1st Earl of Stair PC was a Scottish politician and lawyer. As Joint Secretary of State in Scotland 1691-1695, he played a key role in suppressing the 1689-1692 Jacobite Rising and was forced to resign in 1695 for his part in the Massacre of Glencoe. Restored to favour under Queen Anne in 1702 and made Earl of Stair in 1703, he was closely involved in negotiations over the 1707 Acts of Union that created the Kingdom of Great Britain but died on 8 January 1707, several months before the Act became law.

Thomas Craig (jurist)

Sir Thomas Craig of Riccarton was a Scottish jurist and poet.

Strathclyde Law School was established in 1964 and operates within the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Hector Lewis MacQueen is a Scottish academic, a senior scholar of Scots law and legal history, and a former member of the Scottish Law Commission. He is Professor of Private Law at the University of Edinburgh and a former Dean of its Faculty of Law. He is author, co-author and editor of a large number books on Scottish law and legal history, including the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th editions of the standard text Gloag & Henderson Law of Scotland, and is former Literary Director of the Stair Society. Stetson University College of Law, Florida, appointedway. He is currently a member of the International Advisory Group for the JKLH-funded project, 'The Paradox of Medieval Scotland, 1093-1286'. In 1995 he became a Fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Events from the year 1703 in the Kingdom of Scotland.

Inter regalia (Scots law)

The inter regalia are the rights falling to the Crown in Scots Property law. The term derives from Latin inter (among) and regalia.

Events from the year 1695 in the Kingdom of Scotland.

The School of Law at the University of Glasgow provides undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Law, and awards the degrees of Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws, LLM by Research, Master of Research (MRes) and Doctor of Philosophy, the degree of Doctor of Laws being awarded generally only as an honorary degree.

Sir John Dalrymple of Cousland, 4th Baronet FRSE FSA(Scot) was a Scottish advocate, judge, chemist and author, best known for his Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland from the dissolution of the last parliament of Charles II until the sea battle of La Hogue, first published in 1771. A new edition of 1790 carried on to the capture of the French and Spanish navies at Vigo. The Dalrymples formed a dynasty in the Scottish legal profession. Though he was a central figure in the Scottish Enlightenment and a friend of persons like David Hume and Adam Smith, Dalrymple's writings were little appreciated – he has been seen as an irritating member of the Edinburgh literati.

University of Aberdeen School of Law

The University of Aberdeen School of Law is the law school of University of Aberdeen, located in Aberdeen, Scotland. Established in 1495, it has been consistently ranked among the top 10 law schools in the United Kingdom.

David Maxwell Walker was a Scottish lawyer, academic, and Regius Professor of Law at the University of Glasgow.

The Laws of Scotland: Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia is an encyclopaedia of law in Scotland. It incorporates law derived from every source and, while concentrating on the specialities of Scots law, it also covers law common to the whole of the United Kingdom. Each statement of law is supported by citation of authority, and there are references to sources of further information, both primary and secondary. The Encyclopaedia may be cited with approval before the courts.

Scots law Hybrid legal system of Scotland, containing civil law and common law elements

Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is a hybrid or mixed legal system containing civil law and common law elements, that traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. Together with English law and Northern Irish law, it is one of the three legal systems of the United Kingdom.

Aeneas James George Mackay About

Aeneas James George Mackay was a Scottish lawyer and academic, known as a legal and historical writer.

Events from the year 1681 in the Kingdom of Scotland.


  1. "Stair Society". Stair Society. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  2. "Membership Details". Stair Society. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  3. "Professor John W. Cairns". University of Edinburgh School of Law . Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  4. "Postgraduate scholarship". Stair Society. Retrieved 20 March 2010.