The Lord President of the Court of Session is head of the judiciary in Scotland, and presiding judge (and Senator) of the College of Justice and Court of Session, as well as being Lord Justice General of Scotland and head of the High Court of Justiciary, the offices having been combined in 1836.
The office of Lord Justice General is derived from the justiciars who were appointed from the twelfth century (or even earlier). From around 1567 it was held heritably by the Earl of Argyll until the heritability was resigned to the Crown in 1607. Scotstarvet lists it as a Great Officer of State in his famous treatise of 1754.
The current Lord President, Lord Hamilton, was sworn in on 2 December 2005.
Their deputy is the Lord Justice Clerk.
In Scotland the Official Oath is taken before the Lord President of the Court of Session. In England that role is performed by the Clerk of the Privy Council.
(called Lord Chief Justices by Scot of Scotstarvet).
- Argadus, Captain of Argyll, in the reign of Ethodius
- Comes Dunetus; in the reign of King William the Lion (who d. 1214).
- Donnchad II, Earl of Fife
- William Comyn
- Richard Comyn
- David, Earl of Huntingdon (d. 1219)
- Walter Clifford, Justiciary of the Lothians
- 1216: Allan, Justiciary to King Alexander II
- 1224: William Cumin, Earl of Buchan (reign of Alexander III)
- Walter (d. 1241), son of Allan High Steward of Scotland
- 1239: William, Earl of Ross, "Lord Chief Justice of Scotland"
- 1243: David de Lindsay, Justiciary of the Lothians
- Alexander (d.1283), High Steward of Scotland to King Alexander II
- Hugo de Barclay, Justiciary of the Lothians
- 1253: Alexander Cumin, Earl of Buchan
- bef 1319: Sir Robert de Lawedre of The Bass (d. Sept 1337), Justiciary of the Lothians
- 1328: Sir Robert Lauder of Quarrelwood (d. between 1367-70), Justiciary North of the Forth
- 1366: Robert de Erskine, Justiciary South of the Forth for King David II
- bef 1372: Alan de Lawedre of The Bass, Whitslaid, & Haltoun, Justiciary South of the Forth, (he received a pension for holding this post in 1374).
- 1372: Sir William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas (d. May 1384), Justiciary South of the Forth.
- 1425: Sir Robert de Lawedre of Edrington & The Bass (d.1451), "Justiciario Scotia"
- 1446: Patrick de Ogilvy, Justiciary South of the Forth
- 1457: John, Lord Lindsay of the Byres, Justiciary South of the Forth
- William Sinclair, 3rd Earl of Orkney & Caithness (d.1480), Justiciary North of the Forth for King James II
- 1477: John Haldane of Gleneagles, Justiciary North of the Forth
- Patrick Hepburn, 1st Lord Hailes (d. after 1482), and Robert, 2nd Lord Lyle, Justiciaries South of the Forth
- Andrew, Earl of Crawfurd, and George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly, Justiciaries North of the Forth
- 1488: Robert, 2nd Lord Lyle d.c1497), "Lord Chief Justice"
- 1489: John Lyon, 3rd Lord Glamis (d. 1 April 1497), and John Drummond, 1st Lord Drummond: "Justice-General"
- 1492: Robert, 2nd Lord Lyle, and John Lyon, 3rd Lord Glamis
- 1494: John Drummond, 1st Lord Drummond (d. c1519)
- 1504: Andrew Gray, 2nd Lord Gray, and John Kennedy, 2nd Lord Kennedy
- 1514: Colin Campbell, 3rd Earl of Argyll
- 1526: Archibald Douglas of Kilspindie
- 1537: Archibald Campbell, 4th Earl of Argyll
- 1567: Sir Colin Campbell, 6th Earl of Argyll, (d.1584) (heritably)
- 1578: Sir Colin Campbell, 6th Earl of Argyll, (re-appointment?)
- 1589: Archibald Campbell, 7th Earl of Argyll, (who exchanged the heritable office of Lord Chief Justice in 1607, for the heritable Lieutenancy of Argyll and Lorn, and most of The Isles).
- 1628: William Graham, 7th Earl of Menteith, 1st Earl of Airth
- 1638: Sir William Elphinstone
- 1641: Sir Thomas Hope, younger of Kerse
- 1646: William Cunningham, 8th Earl of Glencairn
- 1649: John Kennedy, 6th Earl of Cassilis
(list may be incomplete)
- 1661: John Murray, 2nd Earl of Atholl
- 1675: Alexander Stuart, 5th Earl of Moray
- 1676: Sir Archibald Primrose of Carrington
- 1678: Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat (later 1st Earl of Cromartie)
- 1680: William Douglas, 3rd Earl of Queensberry
- 1682: James Drummond, 4th Earl of Perth
- 1684: George Livingston, 3th Earl of Linlithgow
- 1689: Robert Ker, 4th Earl of Lothian
- 1704: George Mackenzie, 1st Earl of Cromartie
- 1710: Archibald Campbell, Earl of Ilay
- 1761: John Hay, 4th Marquess of Tweeddale
- 1763: Charles Douglas, 3rd Duke of Queensberry
- 1778: David Murray, 7th Viscount Stormont, 2nd Earl of Mansfield
- 1795: James Graham, 3rd Duke of Montrose
The office was combined with that of Lord President on the death of the Duke of Montrose in 1836.
- 1661-1671: Sir John Gilmour of Craigmillar
- 1671-1681: James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount Stair
- 1681-1682: George Gordon, 1st Earl of Aberdeen (?)
- 1682-1685: Sir David Falconer of Newton
- 1685-1689: Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath
- 1689-1695: James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount Stair
- 1698-1737: Hew Dalrymple of North Berwick
- 1737-1748: Duncan Forbes of Culloden
- 1748-1754: Robert Dundas of Arniston
- 1754-1760: Robert Craigie of Glendoick
- 1760-1787: Robert Dundas of Arniston
- 1787-1789: Thomas Miller, Lord Glenlee
- 1789-1808: Sir Ilay Campbell of Succoth
- 1808-1811: Robert Blair of Avonhow
- 1811-1841: Charles Hope of Granton
- 1841-1852: David Boyle of Shewalton
- 1852-1867: Duncan McNeill, Lord Colonsay
- 1867-1891: John Inglis, Lord Glencorse
- 1891-1899: James Robertson, Lord Robertson
- 1899-1905: John Balfour, 1st Baron Kinross
- 1905-1913: Andrew Murray, 1st Baron Dunedin
- 1913-1920: Alexander Ure, 1st Baron Strathclyde
- 1920-1935: James Avon Clyde, Lord Clyde
- 1935-1947: Wilfred Normand, Lord Normand
- 1947-1954: Thomas Cooper, Lord Cooper
- 1954-1972: James Latham Clyde, Lord Clyde
- 1972-1989: George Emslie, Baron Emslie
- 1989-1996: David Hope, Baron Hope of Craighead
- 1996-2001: Alan Rodger, Baron Rodger of Earlsferry
- 2001-2005: William Cullen, Baron Cullen of Whitekirk
- 2005-Present: Arthur Campbell Hamilton, Lord Hamilton
- The Staggering State of the Scots' Statesmen, by Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet, Director of Chancery, Edinburgh, 1754, pps: 181-3.