Duncan Forbes, Lord Culloden, lived from 10 November 1685 to 10 December 1747. He was an important figure in the legal establishment of Scotland for a number of decades and a staunch opponent of the Jacobites in two uprisings. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Duncan Forbes was the son of Duncan Forbes of Culloden, MP for Nairn and Inverness, and was born at Bunchrew, to the west of Inverness. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and then became an advocate in Edinburgh. He was appointed Sheriff of Midlothian (whose area included the city of Edinburgh) in 1709 at the age of 24. He opposed the Jacobites during the 1715 uprising and was elected Member of Parliament for Inverness Burghs in 1722.
He went on to become Lord Advocate in 1725 and was appointed to the post of President of the Court of Session in 1737, during the aftermath of the riots in Edinburgh which had led to the lynching by a mob of Captain John Porteous. Duncan Forbes is credited with doing much to stabilise the Scottish legal system in the decades following the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707. On a less serious level he was also a keen golfer and had a role in the formation of an early golf club, the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith.
In 1734 Forbes inherited from his brother the family estates around Inverness, including the family seat at Culloden Castle. When the 1745 Jacobite uprising took place, Duncan Forbes worked hard to persuade elements of the MacDonald and MacLeod clans not to support the cause of Charles Edward Stuart. The 1745 uprising ended in disaster for the Jacobites on 16 April 1746 at the Battle of Culloden, only a mile and a half from Culloden Castle. There is a certain irony in the Jacobites using the castle as their headquarters for several days before the battle. Although he had been an active opponent of the Jacobites, Duncan Forbes was also very outspoken in opposing the wave of genocide that swept across the Highlands in the aftermath of the battle. His contemporaries seemed to think he had gone soft on rebels, and he lost considerable influence as a result. He died the following year. Culloden Castle became Culloden House in the 1770s, and is today home to the magnificent Culloden House Hotel.