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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes

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Lord (1726-1792), Scottish lawyer and historian, was born at Edinburgh on the 28th of October 1726. His father, Sir James Dalrymple, Bart., of Hailes, in the county of Haddington, auditor-general of the exchequer of Scotland, was a grandson of James, first Viscount Stair; and his mother, Lady Christian Hamilton, was a daughter of Thomas, 6th earl of Haddington. David was the eldest of sixteen children. He was educated at Eton, and studied law at Utrecht, being intended for the Scottish bar, to which he was admitted shortly after his return to Scotland in 1748. As a pleader he attained neither high distinction nor very extensive practice, but he rapidly established a well-deserved reputation for sound knowledge, unwearied application and strict probity; and in 1766 he was elevated to the bench, when he assumed the title of Lord Hailes. Ten years later he was appointed a lord of justiciary. He died on the 29th of November 1792. He was twice married, and had a daughter by each wife. The baronetcy to which he had succeeded passed to the son of his brother John, provost of Edinburgh. Another brother was Alexander Dalrymple (1737-1808), the first admiralty hydrographer, who distinguished himself in the East India Company's service and as a geographer. Lord Hailes's younger daughter married Sir 1 " Hail," a call of greeting or salutation, a shout to attract attention, must, of course, be distinguished. This word represents the Old Norwegian heill, prosperity, cognate with O. Eng. hat, whence " hale," " whole," and heel, whence " health," " heal."' James Fergusson; and their grandson, Sir Charles Dalrymple, 1st Bart. (cr. 1887), M.P. for Bute from 1868 to 1885, afterwards came into Lord Hailes's estate and took his family name.

Lord Hailes's most important contribution to literature was the Annals of Scotland, of which the first volume, " From the accession of Malcolm III., surnamed Canmore, to the accession of Robert I.," appeared in 1776, and the second, " From the accession of Robert I., surnamed Bruce, to the accession of the house of Stewart," in 1779. It is, as Dr Johnson justly described this work at the time of its appearance, a " Dictionary " of carefully sifted facts, which tells all that is wanted and all that is known, but without any laboured splendour of language or affected subtlety of conjecture. The other works of Lord Hailes include Historical Memoirs concerning the Provincial Councils of the Scottish Clergy (1769); An Examination of some of the Arguments for the High Antiquity of Regiam Majestatem (1769); three volumes entitled Remains of Christian Antiquity (" Account of the Martyrs of Smyrna and Lyons in the Second Century," 1776; " The Trials of Justin Martyr, Cyprian, &c.," 1778; The History of the Martyrs of Palestine, translated from Eusebius," 1780); Disquisitions concerning the Antiquities of the Christian Church (1783); and editions or translations of portions of Lactantius, Tertullian and Minucius Felix. In 1786 he published An Inquiry into the Secondary Causes which Mr Gibbon has assigned for the Rapid Growth of Christianity (Dutch translation, Utrecht, 1793), one of the most respectable of the very many replies which were made to the famous 15th and 16th chapters of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. A " Memoir " of Lord Hailes is prefixed to the 1808 reprint of his Inquiry into the Secondary Causes.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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