Alexander Bayne

Alexander Bayne of Logie and Rires (1685 -1737). First Professor of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh.

Bayne was the son of John Bayne of Logie, Fife, Sheriff Clerk of Fife, descended from the old minor noble family of ‘Bayne/ Bain of Tulloch’, Dingwall, the county town of Ross. He was admitted advocate on 10 July 1714, but does not appear to have practiced. In January 1722 Bayne was appointed curator of the Advocate’s Library, and on the establishment of the chair of Scots law in the university of Edinburgh in the same year the town council elected him to fill it. Early in 1726 he retired from the office of curator of the Advocates’ Library at the expiry of his term.

In 1726 Bayne published an edition of Sir Thomas Hope’s Minor Practicks. He appended a Discourse on the Rise and Progress of the Law of Scotland and the Method of Studying it. In 1730 he published Institutions of the Criminal Law of Scotland (Edinburgh), for the use of students attending his lectures, and in 1731 Notes for the Use of Students of the Municipal Law in the University of Edinburgh, being a Supplement to the Institutes of Sir George Mackenzie.

In 1737, his health began to fail and he determined on a course of treatment at the waters in Bath. On the journey south on the 10th May 1737, accompanied by his daughter(s), the coach from Edinburgh arrived in Alnwick at the Angel Inn in Fenkle Street to spend the night. Climbing the stairs to go to bed, Professor Bayne slipped on the stairs, and died from his injuries, aged 52.

William Davison reports this event on p. 195 (A Descriptive and Historical View of Alnwick 1822)

 ‘Dr. Alexander Banus (or Bayne), in his way to Bath from Edinburgh, when he was much reduced, was in such high – spirits that he got out of his carriage a little before he came into Alnwick, and walked and sung for some way. But making a slip upon the stairs of the Angel Inn as he went to bed, he instantly expired. He was interred in the church, and this elegant monument was erected to his memory. His daughter or daughters accompanied him, and are represented in sorrowful attitudes on the monument.’

The Alnwick Mercury of March 1873 gives –

‘To the memory of Dr. Alexander Bayne, or Banus. The deceased was in search of health, and journeying between Edinburgh and Somersetshire he met with an accident which proved fatal whilst staying for the night in Alnwick. He stayed at the Angel Inn; and it would appear in ascending the stairs to his bedroom, he slipped his foot, and expired almost immediately. It is said that he was accompanied in his journey by one of his daughters. He was endowed with remarkable powers, both as a scholar and also as an inventor; and for a number of years he was professor in law in the University of Edinburgh. He was buried in the east end of the chancel; and his surviving wife caused the present monument to be erected to his many virtues. At the top of the stone is a brass plate which has engraved upon it the figure of a man; and there are also figures of two females in mournful attitude. The whole is surmounted by the armorial bearings of the deceased, which consist of a wheat sheaf and three thistles.’

Alexander Bayne is buried in St. Michael’s Church, and on the south side of the chancel is a wall monument in his memory, erected by his wife Mary Carstairs. (Pictures below)

A portrait of Alexander Bayne, now within the National portrait Gallery, was engraved in copper for the monument, likely by Richard Cooper the Elder, a well-known English engraver working in Edinburgh, at the time.