Francis Garden

William Anderson, in Scottish Nation (1859-66) 2:281-82.

Francis GARDEN, Lord Gardenstone, an eminent judge, second son of Alexander Garden, Esq. of Troup, in Aberdeenshire, by Jane, daughter of Sir Francis Grant of Cullen, one of the lords of session, was born at Edinburgh, June 24, 1721. After passing through the usual course of liberal education at the university of his native city, and attending the law classes, he was admitted advocate 14th July 1744. In spite of his inclination for literary pursuits, and a strong taste for convivial enjoyments, he soon acquired eminence at the bar. In the celebrated Douglas cause he took a leading part, and was one of the counsel sent to France to inquire into the circumstances connected with with the case in that country. He made a distinguished figure before the parliament of Paris, where he was opposed by Mr. Wedderburn (afterwards lord chancellor), and astonished all present by his legal knowledge and fluency in the French language. In 1748 he was appointed sheriff depute of Kincardineshire, and on 22d August 1759 was nominated one of the assessors for the city of Edinburgh. On 30th April 1760 he was appointed conjunct solicitor-general with James Montgomery, afterwards lord chief baron, and 3d July 1764 he was raised to the bench, when he assumed the title of Lord Gardenstone.

In 1762 he had purchased the estate of Johnston in Kincardineshire, and in 1865, greatly added to the value of this property by laying down a plan for the extension of the adjoining village of Laurencekirk, then a mere hamlet, which, in 1779, he procured to be erected into a burgh of barony. He built a commodious inn, styled the Gardenstone Arms, for the reception of travellers, founded a library for the use of the villagers, and established manufactures of various kinds. Although some of his undertakings in connection with this village did not succeed, this did not in the least dishearten him, or cause him to abate in his philanthropic exertions, and he had at length the satisfaction of seeing the village of Laurencekirk, which afterwards became famous for its manufacture of snuff-boxes, attain to a degree of prosperity and importance which exceeded his most sanguine expectations.

In 1785, on the death of his elder brother, who was for some time M.P. for Aberdeenshire, he succeeded to the family estates in Banffshire, worth about 3,000 a year, when, in accordance with the natural generosity of his disposition, he remitted to the tenants all the arrears due to him as the heir of his brother. He had been appointed, in 1776, to a seat on the justiciary bench, in the room of Lord Pitfour, which he now resigned for a pension of 200 a year; and, in September 1786, he went to the Continent for the recovery of his health, which had been much impaired. After travelling through France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy, he returned home in the end of 1788. In 1791 he published the first volume of his Travelling Memorandums, made in a Tour upon the Continent of Europe in the years 1786, 1787, and 1788. In 1792 he added a second volume, and a third, supplied from his papers by his friends, appeared after his death. In 1791, a collection of satires and light fugitive pieces, entitled Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, which had been published by a person of the name of Callander, was, by general report, although erroneously, attributed to Lord Gardenstone, as partly his own, and partly the composition of some of the convivial friends of his youth. His lordship resided, during the latter years of his life, chiefly at Morningside, near Edinburgh. Having derived benefit from the use of the mineral spring, called St. Bernard's Well, in the vicinity of that city, he erected over it a massy building of freestone, surmounted by a temple, in which he placed a statue of Hygeia, the goddess of health. He died July 22, 1792, aged seventy-three.