Archibald Johnston

Born in Edinburgh in 1611, Johnston has been described by Thomas Carlyle as a 'canny, lynx-eyed lawyer.' He was trained in law, and was a principal author of the Scottish National Covenant (1638), denouncing Charles I's attempts to impose Anglican services on the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. His several positions included being a Lord of Session (1641), a commissioner to the Westminster Assembly (1643), Lord Advocate (1646), and Lord Clerk Register (1649, and again in 1657, for Cromwell).

Johnston was one of three judges appointed by Cromwell, to help administer justice in Scotland, but on the Restoration in 1660 he evaded a warrant for his arrest by fleeing to Germany then France. Three years later he was captured at Rouen. After rotting in the Tower of London for six months, he was moved to the Tolbooth in Edinburgh. He was tried for his co-operation with the Cromwell regime and found guilty he was beheaded on 22 July 1663.

If wondering why one so clever could be so short-lived, various descriptions of him as being 'petulant, quarrelsome, a man walking on the dizzy edge of madness, and with one foot in fanaticism', will probably supply the necessary clues. Shame, really.