Clan Forbes People
William Forbes (c1671-1745)
Becoming an advocate in 1696, by 1714 he became Glasgow University’s first Regius Professor of Law.
His presence there was to benefit the University’s standing and increase its number of law students. He wrote books on Scottish law and the duties of Justices of the Peace. His 1722 work, “Institutes of the Law of Scotland”, became a reference for students.His greatest work, “Great Body of the Law of Scotland”, sits unpublished in Glasgow University.
Duncan Forbes of Culloden (1685-1747)
Also with a career in law, Lord Advocate Forbes was involved with events shaping Scottish history and became well known and respected on all sides. From becoming Sheriff of Midlothian in 1709 he went on to Lord Advocate by 1725.
After the Jacobite Rising of 1715, he called for clemency towards those arrested, even though he was a government supporter himself. He continued to appeal on their behalf when their trials were in England and their sentences severe.
His popularity went down through his part in the aftermath of the Shawfield Riots when he brought in General Wade, then back up through his part in the aftermath of the Porteous Riots when he had Edinburgh’s chastisement reduced. His skilful diplomacy convinced many Highland chiefs to keep out of the Rising of 1745. As in 1716 he appealed for tolerance towards captured Jacobites but the evil Duke of Cumberland would not be distracted from his bloody agenda.
Working at Edinburgh University he studied the polarisation of radiant heat, then in Norway and the Alps he researched glacier compositions.
He helped reform the structure of Scottish degree courses and was first to climb several of the Cuillin peaks on Skye.