James Law

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This article is about the Archbishop. For the architect, see James Law (architect). For the American politician, see James R. Law, Jr.
The Most Reverend
James Law
Archbishop of Glasgow
James Law d1632.jpg
See Archdiocese of Glasgow
Installed 1615
Term ended 1632
Predecessor John Spottiswoode
Successor Patrick Lindsay
Consecration 1610/1611
Personal details
Born ca. 1560
Died 12 November 1632
Denomination Church of Scotland
Parents James Law of Spittal and Unknown

James Law (ca. 1560 – 12 November 1632) was Archbishop of Glasgow. Entering the church after graduation from university, he rose to the position of Bishop of Orkney, reorganising the diocese, before rising to hold the position of Archbishop of Glasgow.[1]

Early life

Law was born to James Law of Spittal, portioner of Lathrisk in the county of Fife, and Agnes Strang of the house of Balcaskie. He graduated at the university of St Andrews M.A. in 1581 and was ordained and admitted minister of Kirkliston in West Lothian in 1585. During his incumbency there he, and John Spottiswoode, then minister of Calder[disambiguation needed] afterwards archbishop of St Andrews, were censured by the synod of Lothian for playing football on a Sunday.

Bishop of Orkney

In 1600 he was put on the standing commission of the church, in 1601 appointed one of the royal chaplains, in 1605 titular bishop of Orkney, and in 1608 moderator of the general assembly. He preached before the Glasgow assembly of 1610 in defence of episcopacy. He supported the cause of the people of Orkney against the oppression of Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney, and succeeded in getting the lands and jurisdiction of the bishopric separated from those of the earldom. He strengthened the rights and financial security of the bishopric of Orkney, and during his episcopate Scots Law replaced the earlier Norse Law for most purposes.

Archbishop of Glasgow

Through the influence of Archbishop Spottiswood, "his old companion at football and condiscipulus", he was promoted to the archbishopric of Glasgow in 1615, where he completed the leaden roof of the cathedral. In 1616 he was appointed by the general assembly as one of a commission to prepare a book of canon for the church.

He died in 1632 and was buried in the chancel of Glasgow Cathedral, where there is a massive monument to his memory erected by his widow. Law was a favourite of King James VI and a zealous promoter of his ecclesiastical policy. He was a man of some learning, leaving in manuscript commentary on a part of scripture, and was commemorated by Dr. Arthur Johnston in some Latin verses.

Marriage and family

He married on several occasions. His first marriage was to Marion, a daughter of James Dundas of Newliston, West Lothian. They had one child, a daughter called Margaret, who married Patrick Turner, minister of Dalkeith, in 1612. His second marriage was to Grissel Boswell, and by her he fathered six children, four sons and two daughters: James Law of Brunton, Thomas Law, who later became the minister of Inchinnan, George Law, John Law, Jean Law, and Isabella Law.


  1. James Law University of Glasgow
  • Keith, Robert, An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops: Down to the Year 1688, (London, 1824)
  •  Sprott, G. W. (1892). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FLaw%2C_James_%28DNB00%29 "Law, James" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 32. London: Smith, Elder & Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1892). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FLaw%2C_James_%28DNB00%29 "Law, James" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. 32. London: Smith, Elder & Co.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Religious titles
Preceded by
Adam Bothwell
Bishop of Orkney
Succeeded by
George Graham
Preceded by
John Spottiswoode
Archbishop of Glasgow
Succeeded by
Patrick Lindsay