Macdonald on Crimes is a title on Scots law that had a long life, as indeed did its author (1826-1908). It did not achieve lasting approbation, though it was clearly found useful enough by bench and bar. One of his contemporaries said that he was a man about whom little was known (see ODNB); but his great grandson, Norman Macdonald, a retired WS, has produced a readable and full biography of his distinguished ancestor.
Macdonald was born into the minor landed classes who dominated the professional classes of Edinburgh in the early nineteeth century. His father was a WS, descended from two distinguished lines of Highland gentry, his mother daugther of a baronet. His father was later to marry (as a third wife) the Hume heiress of Ninewells, making an interesting intellectual link.
The biography covers Macdonald's varied and interesting life, including politics; the bar; the Catholic Apostolic Church; motoring. The impression is of an engaging and active man, devoted to his family, interested in military and indeed practical, technological and mechanical pursuits. He wrote autobiography, childrens stories and much else.
The nicely written new biography is to be welcomed: Norman Macdonald, Sir John Macdonald, Lord Kingsburgh (ISBN 978-0-9566149-0-2), Lumphanan Press, £7.99