The legal profession in Scotland has a long and distinguished history, with individuals employed as advocates, procurators, writers and notaries. The library has a wide range of publications that provide biographical and professional details of many of those who were employed in these professions.
The Faculty of Advocates, created in 1532 and based in Edinburgh, is an independent body of lawyers who have been admitted to practise in the courts in Scotland. Details of members can be found in ‘The Faculty of Advocates in Scotland, 1532-1943, with genealogical notes’, edited by Sir Francis J. Grant (1944); ‘The Faculty of Advocates, 1800-1986: a biographical dictionary of members admitted from 1 January 1800 to 31 December 1986′ by Stephen P. Walker (1987); and ‘The Faculty of Advocates directory’ which we hold for 1992, 1997, 1999 and 2001-2. There is also a Society of Advocates in Aberdeen and John A. Henderson’s ‘History of the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen’ (1912) includes lists of members with biographical information for 1549-1911.
Writers to the Signet originally acted as clerks to the courts but most members today are solicitors in private practice, mainly based in Edinburgh. There are several books providing details of those who were members of this body including ‘A history of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet with a list of the members of the Society from 1594 to 1890 and an abstract of the minutes’ (1890); ‘The Society of Writers to His Majesty’s Signet with a list of the members’ (1936); and ‘Register of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet’ (1983). There are also two publications that provide evidence of members that served during the two world wars: ‘Roll of Honour of Members of the Society of Writers to His Majesty’s Signet, and Apprentices 1914-1919′ (1920) and ‘Active Service Record: Members of the Society of Writers to His Majesty’s Signet, and Apprentices 1939-1945′ (1948). A similar organisation exists in Glasgow, called the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow. In John S. Muirhead’s ‘The Old Minute Book of the Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow 1668-1758′ (1948) there is a lengthy list of members of the Faculty between 1668-1758.
Notaries in Scotland were responsible for conveyancing and drafting and authenticating deeds, marriage contracts and testaments. They could also work in other branches of the legal profession but not always. A recent publication by John Finlay, ‘Admission Register of Notaries Public in Scotland, 1700-1799′ (2012) provides some biographical and professional information on those who followed this profession.
Finally, there are some general directories that published lists of lawyers and other legal professions in Scotland, including the ‘Scottish law list’ for 1848-49 and 1962-63 and ‘Index juridicus’ for 1848-51, 1853-65 and 1867-1961.