Where does the expression “the admirable Crichton” come from and What does it mean?

There was actually an individual who was called admirable Crichton, though not during his brief life.

His real name was James Crichton, a son of Robert Crichton, lord advocate of Scotland.

He is believed to have been born in 1560, and to have died at the early age of twenty-two, but his learning and athletic attainments were most remarkable, if the reports of Sir Thomas Urquhart and Aldus Manutius are to be credited.

Urquhart, who wrote seventy years after Crichton’s death, says that he held a dispute one time in the college of Navarre in twelve languages, and the next day won a tilting match.

Aldus, who was a contemporary, is slightly more modest in his claims for his hero, but says that he spoke ten languages, could compose Latin verse on any subject, was a mathematician and theologist, was extravagantly handsome and with the bearing of a soldier.

The epithet, “the Admirable Crichton,” was applied by John Johnston in his Heroes Scoti (1603), and is now sometimes bestowed upon any man of unusual grace and superior accomplishments.