BALFOUR, Sir JAMES, lord president of the court of session, and author of an able book, Practicks of Scots Law, was a son 0: Sir Michael Balfour of Pittendreich and Mont quhany, in Fifeshirc. In early life, he was implicated in the conspiracy against cardinal Beaton, and being in the castle of St. Andrews when it surrendered, in 1547, he was carried prisoner to France in the same vessel with John Knox. About two years after, returning to Scotland along with other of his fellow-prisoners, he changed his religion, his apostasy gaining for him the appellation of the "Blasphemous Balfour" from Knox, but unusual honors and emoluments from the queen and court. B. was sagacious enough to notice the increasing influence of Bothwell, and he immediately insinuated himself into his confidence, joined the conspiracy for the assassination of Darnley, and framed the bond for mutual support, signed by the conspirators. Ile was afterwards accused by lord Lennox as an accomplice in the murder of Darnley, but the trial was hurried over before proof of his guilt could be brought forward. In 1567, at the instance of Bothwell, he was appointed governor of Edinburgh castle; and he repaid the kind ness of that nobleman and the queen, by over to the confederate lords the cele brated letters upon which they endeavored to'found Mary's guilt, and which had been pven him by Bothwell for safe custody. Ile afterwards surrendered the castle to
Murray, on certain conditions, in which his own safety and interests were the chief con siderations. The great object of B.'s life appears to have been self-aggrandizement, without regard to the means by which that was accomplished. Accordingly, we find him the recipient of favors under the regency, as he was under the queen. He was made a privy-councilor, commendator of the priory of Pittenweem; and in exchange for the clerk-registry, lie received the lord presidentship of the court of session, and a pension of L500. When Morton was made regent, B. contrived to curry favor with him, and received from him a commission to make a general digest of, the law. Not feeling himself safe in Scotland, however, he left it for France, where he remained for some lime. When the young king ascended the throne, he joined the party hostile to Morton, but again fled to France, when in 1579 Morton recovered his authority. In 1580 he returned, and was instrumental in obtaining Morton's death, by producing the deed compassing the murder of Darnley, which that nobleman, along with others, had signed. Ile died in 1583.