Balfour, James, Sir, of Pittendreich -1583)
Sir James Balfour, Lord Pittendreich, the Scottish judge, was the son of Sir Michael Balfour of Montquhanny in Fife. He was trained as a cleric and canon lawyer. Having taken part, with his brothers, in the plot which led to the assassination of Cardinal Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrews, the event which started the Scottish Reformation, he shared the fate of the conspirators, and was allowed by the French to save his life by serving in the galleys. His fellow prisoner, John Knox, records his release in 1549, probably as a result of abjuring his profession. Soon afterwards he became Official of the Archdeaconry of Lothian and Chief Judge of the Consistorial Court of the Archbishop of St Andrews. Thus he supported the cause of Mary of Guise for many years, then turning coat, served the Lords of Congregation, was admitted to their councils, and betrayed their secrets, and was rewarded with the Parsonage of Flick, in Fife. Soon after Mary's return to Scotland, he was made an extraordinary Lord 12 November 1561, and on 15 November 1563, an ordinary Lord of Session. The abolition of the Ecclesiastical Courts caused confusion, and it was found necessary to set up Consistory Courts to try causes which had previously been their province. Balfour was the chief of the four consistories of Edinburgh. He was believed to have been guilty of complicity in the murders of Rizzio and Darnley. He was at any rate a tool in Bothwell's hands, under whom he was Governor of Edinburgh Castle. He made his peace with the Earl of Moray by surrendering the Castle, in return for the gift of the Priory of Pittenweem, a pension for his son, and a free pardon for himself. Having surrendered the post of Lord Clerk Register he received that of Lord President. During Moray's regency he conspired with the Queen's friends, and was deprived of the Lord Presidency for his treachery. He eventually fled to France where he remained from 1573 to 1580. He married Margaret, daughter and heir of Michael Balfour of Burleigh, his eldest son, Michael, being created Lord Balfour of Burleigh in 1606 by King James.