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When the Court of Session was founded in 1532, it consisted of the Lord President, 14 Ordinary Lords and three or four Extraordinary Lords. The Extraordinary Lords were nominees of the Monarch of Scotland, and did not need to be legally qualified; Extraordinary Lords were unsalaried, and free to sit or not as they pleased. This may have been a device to conciliate the barons, but it facilitated royal interference in the work of the courts, and the Extraordinary Lords tended to sit only in cases where they had a personal interest.
The number of Extraordinary Lords rose to eight in 1553 but, after protest, was reduced to four and continued at around that level until 1723 when it was provided that no future vacancies should be filled. Archbishop Burnet was the last cleric to hold judicial office, being an Extraordinary Lord from 1664 to 1668, and John Hay, 4th Marquess of Tweeddale was the last Extraordinary Lord, holding office from 1721 to 1762. The practice of appointing Extraordinary Lords ceased in 1721, and the office of Extraordinary Lord was abolished by the Section 2 of the Court of Session Act 1723. Section 1 of the same restated that Orindary Lords of Session should be legally qualified.
^"When the four present Extraordinary Lords of Session shall become vacant, no Presentation shall be made by the King to supply such Vacancy.": "Court of Session Act 1732". Act of Parliament of the United KingdomNo. 10 Geo. 1 XIX.of9 October 1722.