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The Scottish Nation

GOODAL, WALTER, a literary antiquarian, eldest son of John Goodal, a farmer in Banffshire, was born about 1706. In 1723 he entered himself a student in King’s college, Old Aberdeen, but did not remain long enough to take a degree. In 1730 he obtained employment in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh, but had no formal appointment there till 1735, when he became under-librarian. He now assisted his principal, the celebrated Thomas Ruddiman, in the compilation of a catalogue of that library, upon the plan of the ‘Bibliotheca Cardinalis Imperialis.’ This catalogue was printed in folio in 1742. Warmly attached to the memory of Mary queen of Scots, he at one time entertained the design of writing the life of that beautiful and ill-fated princess, but this he afterwards relinquished for his work entitled ‘Examination of the Letters said to be written by Mary Queen of Scots to James Earl of Bothwell,’ in 2 vols, 8vo, published in 1754. In this work he satisfactorily proves, from intrinsic evidence, that the letters attributed to Mary are forgeries; but his prejudice and inordinate zeal weakened the general effect of his arguments. In the previous year he had edited a new edition of ‘Crawford’s Memoirs,’ which by no means conferred credit on his judgment or character for accuracy. In 1754 he published an edition of Sir John Scott of Scotstarvet’s ‘Staggering State of Scots Statesmen,’ a work which much required the emendatory notes that Goodal supplied. In the same year he wrote a preface and life to ‘Sir James Balfour’s Practicks.’ He also contributed to the ‘New Catalogue of Scottish Bishops,’ by bishop Keith, who, in his preface to that work, gratefully acknowledged the assistance he had received from him, particularly with regard to the preliminary account of the Culdees, &c. Goodal likewise published an edition of Fordun’s ‘Scotichronicon,’ with a Latin introduction, and a dissertation on the marriage of Robert the Third. An English translation of his introduction was published at London in 1769. He died July 28, 1766, in very indigent circumstances, caused by habits of intemperance, in which he had indulged during the later years of his life. To enable his daughter to pay off some of his debts, and proceed to her friends in Banffshire, the faculty of advocates, on petition, awarded her the sum of ten pounds.

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