Balfour, Sir James, d. 1583, Scottish judge and politician. Captured (1547) at St. Andrews after the murder of Cardinal Beaton, he served a sentence in the French galleys and on his release (1549) abjured Protestantism. He became an adviser to Mary Queen of Scots and was involved in the murder of Lord Darnley. He was made governor of Edinburgh Castle, but when the Scottish lords rose against the queen, he surrendered it to them. Balfour repeatedly changed his political allegiance in succeeding conflicts. Eventually he withdrew to France, but he returned to Scotland (1580) to help secure the conviction of the earl of Morton for Darnley's murder. He was long a jurist, but, despite its name, the early law text, Balfour's Practicks of Scots Law, is only partially of his authorship.
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