The son of a railway signalman from Sutherland, James Mackay won a scholarship to George Heriot’s School and was awarded first class degrees in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Edinburgh. After a brief academic career, Mackay switched to Law. He rose rapidly to become Lord Advocate and in 1987 he was appointed Lord Chancellor by Margaret Thatcher, a post he retained in John Major’s governments. In the latter office Lord Mackay saw through many radical reforms of the legal profession. It was his decision to remove divorce cases from the High Court to the local Sheriff Courts, thereby reducing their cost and inconvenience. Tom Phillips’ sympathetic, almost pointillist portrait shows James Mackay at home on the Black Isle with a view north over the Cromarty Firth.