William Nairne - 5th Bart of Dunsinnan

William Nairne

Born ca. 1731
Died 1811


5th Baronet of Dunsinnan


Nairne was admitted advocate in 1755. Appointed Conjunct Commissary-Clerk of Edinburgh in 1758. Sometime Sheriff-Depute of Perthshire. Appointed to the Court of Session in 1786 as Lord Dunsinnan. 5th Bart of Dunsinnan (1790). He eventually became Lord Commissioner of the High Court of Justiciary. Member of The Poker Club.

"He was a man of scrupulous integrity. When sheriff depute of Perthshire, he
found upon reflection, that he had decided a poor man's case erroneously; and as
the only remedy, supplied the litigant privately with money to carry the suit to
the supreme court, where his judgment was reversed."

Life with Boswell: 

On November 4, 1762, having spent the evening with Nairne, George Dempster and others, Boswell describes him as "an honest upright fellow; somewhat stiff in his manner, but not without parts in a moderate degree". They met a few times more, before Boswell left for London on November 15, 1762 - it seems clear, that they were already on good footing at the time. In 1763 we hear of Nairne when he accompanies Dr. Hugh Blair and Boswell to Covent Garden in London. On June 1, 1764, Boswell and Nairne met at The Hague, during a visit to Holland by Nairne and Andrew Stuart in connection with the Douglas cause. Boswell on this occasion referred to Nairne as "just the old man, quiet, sensible, worthy".

Nairne later became one of Boswell's closest professional associates, and he accompanied Boswell and Dr. Johnson for a short while at the beginning of their 1773 tour of the Scotland.