ILLUSTRATIONS OF TME ECCLESIASTICAL AND
LITERARY HISTORY OF SCOTLAND,
DURING THE LATTER PART OF THE SIXTEENTH AND
BEGINNING OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
^V'1TH AN ^PFEMDIX, COXSISTIXG OF ORIGINAL PAPERS.
By THOMAS M'CRIE, D. D.
MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL, EDINBURGH,
PUIXTKD FOR VViLF.lAJI ULACKWOOD, EDINBURGH ; AND
JO»l>f MUURAA', .ALBEIVIARLB STREET, LONDON.
C^\r 6c Elber, Printer?.
The following work may be viewed as a contin-
uation of the account of ecclesiastical transactions
in Scotland which I some years ago laid before the
public in the Life of John Knox.
The period which it embraces, though not dis-
tinguished by any event so splendid as the Refor-
mation, is by no means destitute of interest. It
produced men who, in point of natural abilities,
were scarcely inferior, and in respect of acquired
talents were decidedly superior, to those who had
been instrumental in bringing about the great reli-
gious revolution. The dangers to which the re-
formed religion and the liberties of the nation were
exposed during the early administration of a youthful
prince — the contests which the church maintained
with the court in behalf of her rights — the esta-
blishment of the presbyterian polity — and its over-
throw after a long and eager struggle, — are events
important in themselves, and in the influence which
they had on the future affairs ot Scotland and of
In one respect the present work will be found
to differ considerably from tliat which I formerly
published. As Andrew i\lelville, besides the active
part which he took in the ecclesiastical transac-
tions of his time, was successively at the head of
two of our principal colleges, I have entered much
more fully into the state of education, and the
progress of literature, than I felt myself warranted
to do in writing the I^ife of the Reformer.
James ISIelville, a nephew of the subject of this
memoir, left behind him a Diary, or history of
his own life and times, extending from 1555 to
1600, in which he has embodied much interest-
ing information concerning his uncle. Several
copies of this work are extant in manuscript. I
quote the original copy, which is preserved in the
Advocates' Library, fairly written with the author's
own hand. In the same library is another manu-
script, entitled, Ilhtory of the Decl'ming Age of
the Church of Scotland, which I am satisfied was
also composed by James Melville, and brings down
the history of his times from 1600 to 1610. This,
with the Aj^ologetical Narration^ written by Wil-
liam Scot, minister of Cupar, furnishes ample in-
formation respecting the conduct of Melville when
calkd up to London, along with seme of his breth-
ren, before the introduction of episcopacy into Scot-
The greater part of James Melville's Diar}' has
been engrossed by Calderwood in his MS. History,
and by Wodrow in his Lives. I have seldom, if
ever, referred to the two last of these writers as au-
thorities when it appeared to ine that they merely
quoted from the first. It may be proper to mention,
that, in the first })art of this Life, the references are
to the copy of Calderwood's JMS. belonging to the
church of Scotland, but from page seventy-sixth of
the second volume I refer to the copy in the Advo-
cates' Library, which it was more convenient for me
to consult at the time.
The epistolary correspondence which passed be-
tween Melville and his nephew from 1608 to 1613,
has been preserved in the Library of the College of
Edinburgh. And in the Advocates' Library is a
series of letters written by Melville, to a friend at
Leyden, from 1612 to I6l6. Both these collec-
tions are of great value, as throwing light on his
character, and on some of the most interesting
events of his life.
In giving an account of ecclesiastical transactions,
I have, in addition to other sources of intelligence,
availed myself of various registers of provincial
synods, presbyteries, and kirk-sessions, which con-
tain many facts curious in themselves, and illustra-
tive of the internal history of the church. Several
of these ancient records have been deposited in our
public libraries ; and I was allowed the readiest
access to such of them as are in the possession of
the courts to which they originally belonged.
I\Iy best acknowledgements are due to Thomas
Thomson, Esq. for the facilities which he politely
afforded m.e in consulting the public records ; and
to Sir William Hamilton, Bart, for pointing out
to me various documents of great utility.
My inquiries relative to the state of education
have in every instance been met with the utmost
liberality by the Learned Bodies to which I applied.
The account which 1 have given of the University
of St Andrews is chiefly taken from copies of papers
and notes kindly furnished me by Dr Lee, Profes-
sor of Church History and Divinity in the College
of which Melville was formerly Principal. In ac^
knowledging the great obligations I am under to
Dr Lee, I cannot refrain from expressing my earnest
wish that he would favour the public with a history
of the literature of Scotland, or at least of the uni-
versity to which he belongs, for either of which tasks
he is eminently qualified by his extensive acquaint-
ance with the subject, and his habits of patient and
discriminating research. Could I have obtained as-
8ura4ice of his engaging in such a work, I would
have felt little difficulty in resisting a temptation
which has proved too powerful for me, and has
led me into literary details, particularly in the first
volume, which may appear but remotely connected
with the immediate object of my undertaking.
To make room for more important matter, I have
been obliged to omit one or two papers referred to
in the course of the work as to be inserted in the
Appendix. For the same reason several letters
and unpublished poems of JMelville, which I in-
tended to add, have been kept back. Prefixed to
the work is a plate, containing fac-similes of the
hand- writing of Melville, and some of the principal
persons referred to in his Life.
November 2. 1819.
Page 4-4, line 4, fiom botUMo, 452, read 439.
— — — 6, for nominem, read nomine.
77. Note, for Gib -on s History of Glasgow, read Memorial for
— - 212, — 8, uom bottom, for 1513, read 1413.
— — 226, — 5, from bottom, for Fandatis, read Fundaiio.
293, — 1), from bottoju, for twcntxjfoary read ten.
392, — 15, dele to.
H^ Mch'^nm >'v t^i ^ i^j:^ ^ ^^ ' [^
''a-^'>^ ' Jiiiii.
h^s U -;^^r(ltv/T^^^^^
1 L-. (
^ht ^pnetc^K. ' \^\^
/U4 \x)ayvYYiCS ^
EOiabxTi^G,-^ PnblisliecL by 'W.Blac.Vwooa 1819.
Zi-Lzars Sc uJp *
Origin of the family of Melville — parentage and
birth of Andrew Melville — death of his parents
— dutiful conduct of his eldest brother — his edu-
cation at Montrose — mode of instruction in gram-
mar schools — remarhs on the progress of the
Reformation — early attachment of the Melvilles
to it — Andrew Melville acquires the Gh^eek lan-
guage — his academical education at St An-
drews — his connection tvith Buchanan — compli-
ment paid him by an Italian poet — he goes to the
university of Paris — state of that university —
Royal Trilingual College — Mercerus — RamMs
— Jesuits' College — Edmund Hay — Melville
distinguishes himself in the public exhibitions —
his employment in the university of Poictiers —
incidents there — he goes to Geneva — teaches in
the academy there — prosecutes Oriental studies
under Bertramus — learned men with whom he
became acquainted at Geneva — Franciscus Por-
tus — Bexa — Henry Scrimger — Joseph Scaliger
— Hottoman — connection between the studies of
Law and Theology — wtitings in favour of civil
hberty — influence which Melville's residence at
LIFE OF ANDREW MELVILLE.
Geneva had upon his political sentiments — his
epigrams on the massacres in France — he resolves
to return to his native country — his testimonials
from the academy of Geneva — Ms poetical encom-
ium upon that city — occurrences in his journey
through France and England to Scotland.
JMelville or Maleville was the name of a
family, which is said to have come originally from
Normandy, and had settled in Scotland as early
as the twelfth century. It spread into numerous
branches, which, at the beginning of the sixteenth
century, flourished in the shires of Fife, Angus,
Kincardine, and the Lothian s. The principal of
these were Melville of Melville and Raith, from
whom the Earl of Leven and Melville is descended ;
Melville of Carnbee ; and Melville of Dysart *.
Though none of them were raised to the peerage
until a late period, the Melvilles of Fife had long
held a distinguished place among the gentlemen or
lesser barons ; they were allied by intermarriages to
the principal families in the kingdom, and accus-
tomed to claim affinity to the royal house f .
Richard Melville, the father of the subject of this
* See Note A.
t And. Melvini Prosopopela Apologetlca, in Melvini Epist.
MSS. in Bibl. Coll. Edin. p. 22. Appendix Comment. In Apoca-
lyps. Aiitore Patricio Forbesio a Corse, p. 275. Amstsel, 1646.
— The passages referred to shall be afterwards quoted.
LIFE OF ANDREAV MELVILLE. 3
memoir, was brother-german to John Melville of
Dysart *. He was proprietor of Baldovy, an estate
pleasantly situated on the banks of the South
Eske, about a mile to the south-west of the town of
Montrose, and which continued in the possession of
his descendants imtil the beginning of the eighteenth
century f . By his wife, Giles Abercrombie, daugh-
ter of Thomas Abercrombie, a burgess of INIon-
trose, and descendant of the house of Murthlie,
he had nine sons. Richard, the eldest, succeeded
to the family estate, and, after the establishment of
the Reformation, officiated as minister of the neigh-
bouring parish of Maritoun t. Thomas, an accom-
plished scholar, and improved by travelling, rose to
be Secretary-depute of Scotland. Walter settled
in Montrose, and frequently discharged the office of
a magistrate in that town. Roger, a man of great
natural talents, became a burgess of Dundee, where
he was held in the highest respect by all his fellow-
citizens 11. James and John devoted themselves to
* James Melville's Diary, MS. p. 26.
t See Note B.
X " Richard Melvill" was declared " apt and able to minyster,"
by the first General Assembly, 1560. Keith, 498 — 9. " Rich-
ard Melvill, minister of Inchbraock and Maritoun," was a mem-
ber of the General Assembly which met in June 1562. Buik
of Universail Kirk, p. 4.
II William Christison, minister of Dundee, and Robert Bruce
of f^dinburgh, were among his intimate acquaintances, and the
latter used to say, that if Roger Melville had enjoyed the educa-
tion of his brother Andrew, he would have been the ragst singu-
lar man in Europe. Melville's Diary, p. 27.
4 LIFE OF ANDREW MELVILLE.
the ministry in the reformed church ; the former in
Arhroath *, and the latter at Crail f . Rohert and
David, after being kept for some time at school,
chose mechanical professions if.
Andrew, the youngest of the family, was born at
Baldovy on the 1^ of August, 1545. When only
two years old he was bereaved of his father, who fell
in the battle of Pinkie, along with the principal
gentlemen of Angus and INlearns, who fought in
the van-guard of the Scottish army, under their
chief the Earl of Angus. His mother died in the
course of the same year, and left him an orphan ||.
The disaster at Pinkie, with the events that fol-
lowed upon it, proved ruinous to many families of
considerable rank and opulence. And as the estate
of Baldovy was small, as the family was numerous,
* He was a graduate of St Andrews. See List of Persons
who were educated, or who taught, in the University of St An-
drews J inserted in the Appendix. — April 27. 1591, Thomas
Ramsay in Kirkton bound himself" to pay to the richt worchipfuU
Mr James Melvill, minister of Aberbrothock, 4 bolls beir wf. ane
pek to the boll and twa bolls ait maill w'. the cheritie, guid and
sufficient stuff— the mail to be for the s** Mr James awin acting*
all guid and fyne as ony gentill man sail eat in the countrie adja-
cent about him—or failzeing deliverie to pay for every boll 4 lib.
money." Register of Contracts of the Commissariot of St An-
drews. He was alive in March 1596, when he obtained decreet
against John Richardson " for the few farme of the kirk lands
of Aberbrothock, assigned to him by the Lords of Counsel j viz.
2 bolls wheat, 28 bolls bear, and 20 bolls ait meal."
t " Johanne Malwyll, minister of Crystis kirk in Crayll" is
mentioned in the Register of the Kirk Session of St Andrews,
October 8. 1561. Comp. Keith, Hist. p. 553.
t Melville's Diary, p. 27. || Ibid. pp. 26, 27.
LIFE OF ANDREW MELVILLE. 5
and several of the sons were yet unprovided for, the
sudden and premature death of his parents threatened
to be an irreparable loss to young Melville. It was,
however, greatly alleviated by the dutiful conduct
of his oldest brother, who kept him in his house,
and acted in every respect the part of a father to
him. The kind intentions of Richard INIelville
might have been of little benefit, had they not been
zealously seconded by the exertions of the excellent
woman whom he had married, and who took as
great an interest in her young relation as in her own
children. This kindness was not thrown away;
for Andrew continued always to cherish the memory
of his sister-in-law with the warmest gratitude, and
after he came to manhood, took pleasure in men-
tioning the endearing marks of affection which he
recollected to have received from her when he was
a boy *.
There is something peculiarly interesting, though
it does not always meet with the attention which it
merits, in the reciprocations of duty and affection
* " 1 have often heard Mr Andrew say, that he, being a bairn
vai-y sickly, was most lovingly and tenderly treated and cared for
by her j embracing him, and kissing him oftentimes, with these
words, * God give me another lad like thee, and syne take me to
his rest.' Now she had two lads before me, whereof the eldest
was dead, and between him and the second she bare three lasses :
so in the end, God gave her one, who, would to God he were as
like Mr Andrew in gifts of mind, as he is thought to be in pro-
portion of body and lineaments of face j for there is none that is
not otherwise particularly informed but takes me for Mr Andrew's
brother." James Melville's Diary, p. 4.
b LIFE OF ANDllEW MELVILLE.
between persons placed in the relation and circum-
stances now described. By means of instinct, and
by identifying the interests of parent and child, Pro-
vidence has wisely secured the performance of duties
which are equally necessary to the happiness of the
individual and of the species. But, without wish-
ing to detract from the amiable virtue of parental
attachment, we may say, that its kind offices,
when performed by those who stand in a remoter
degree of relationship, may be presumed to par-
take less of the character of selfishness. And they
are calculated to excite in the generous breast of
the cherished orphan, a feeling which may be viewed
as purer, and more enthusiastic, than that which is
merely filial — a feeling of a mixed kind, in which
the affection borne to a parent is finely combined
with the admiration and the gratitude due to a dis-
Perceiving that his youngest brother was of a
weakly constitution, and that he evinced at an early
age a capacity and taste for learning, Ilichard Mel-
ville resolved to gratify his inclination, by giving
him the best education that the country afforded.
He accordingly placed him at the grammar school
of Montrose, then taught by Thomas Anderson,
who, at a subsequent period became minister of that
parish. Though his learning was slender, Anderson
was esteemed one of the best teachers of his time ;
and under his tuition young Melville acquired the
principles of the Latin language, in which he after-
LIFE OF ANDREW MELVILLE. 7
^Vcards became so great a proficient *. It was the cus-
tom in the schools of that period to combine bodily
exercises with the improvement of the mind. By
means of these, joined to the attention paid to him
at home, Andrew recovered from his early debility,
and gradually attained that health of body which he
enjoyed with very little interruption to an advanc-
The slightest hints respecting the state of educa-
tion in Scotland, during the infancy of learning, are
interesting. In this view the curious reader may
wish to peruse the particulars inserted in the notes f.
They relate to the plan of instruction pursued in
the schools of Logie and Montrose, when James
Melville, a nephew of Andrew, attended them.
This was ten years posterior to the time of which
we are now writing. But, with the exception of
what concerned religion, it is probable that very lit-
tle change took place in the management of schools
during that interval ; and we will not materially
err in supposing^ that the education of the uncle and
the nephew was conducted in the same manner, at
least as to the elementary books which they used,
and the exercises to which they were trained in the
house and in the fields.
Some of the most distinguished masters of schools
were at this time secretly attached to the doctrines
of the Reformation, and upon its establishment be-
came ministers of the church. As Anderson was
* Melville's Diary, p. 27. Comp. p. 10.
t See Note C.
8 LIIE OF ANDREW MELVILLE.
one of these, it might be presumed that Melville was
indebted to him for instruction in the principles of
religion, as well as of secular learning. But he had
a more able instructor in his pious and intelligent
brother, who for many years had been a convert to
the protestant faith.
We have been accustomed to suppose that Patrick
Hamilton was the first who introduced the reformed
opinions into Scotland, that he acquired them abroad,
and that they were embraced by very few of his coun-
trymen previously to his martyrdom. This opinion
requires to be corrected. Before that youthful
and zealous reformer made his appearance, the errors
and corruptions of Popery had been detected by
others, who were ready to co-operate with him in
his measures of reform. The more the subject is
investigated, the more clearly, I am persuaded, it
will appear that the opinions of Wicliffe had the
most powerful and extensive influence upon the Re-
formation. Even in Scotland they contributed
greatly to predispose the minds of men to the pro-
testant doctrine. We can trace the existence of the
Lollards in Ayrshire from the time of Wicliffe to
the days of George Wishart. And in Fife they
were so numerous as to have formed the design of
rescuing Patrick Hamilton by force on the day of
his execution *.
It is observed by a celebrated historian, and the
observation has been commonly received as correct,
♦ See Note D
LIFE OF ANDREW .MELVILLE. 9
that the reformed preachers in Scotland, '' gained
credit, as happens generally on the pronudgation of
every new religion, chiefly among persons in the
lower and middle ranks of life *." This sentiment
appears to be as objectionable as the preceding.. It
rests not npon proper evidence, but upon analogical
reasoning from what happened at the first promul-
gation of Christianity, and from the manner in which
many sects have arisen in modern times. The fact
of the first preachers of the Christian religion, and
the converts to their doctrine, being found chiefly
among the lower and middle ranks of society, is
connected with its miraculous propagation. And
it does not follow from this that it should always
be propagated in the same way. Tl^e divine au-
thority and truth of Christianity having been once
completely established, it was fit that external
means of a more ordinary kind should be employed
to facilitate its future diffusion, and that these
should be varied according to the circumstances of
the people among whom it was to be introduced or
restored. Accordingly, the reformation of religion
was preceded by the revival of letters throughout
Europe : the principal reformers were men of su-
perior talents and education ; and their cause was
espoused and essentially promoted by persons who
possessed secular authority and influence. We are
extremely apt to transfer to a former period ideas
which belong only to our own. If we duly attend
* Robertson's History of Scotland.
10 LIFE OF ANDREW MELVILLE.
to the state of society in Scotland at that time —
the almost unhoundcd power of the harons, the
vassalage of the people, the ignorance which reigned
among the lower and the rarity of education among
the middle ranks, with other peculiar hinderances
to the communication of knowledge, we shall be
convinced that the Reformation, humanly speaking,
and without a miracle, could not have spread as it
did — the truth could not have obtained a fair hear-
ing, nor have come to the knowledge of the com-
mon people, if it had not been embraced and pa-
tronized by persons of rank and superior means of
information. The fact exactly corresponds to this
vievv\ The opinions of WiclifFe were preserved in
some of the most respectable families both in the
western and eastern corners of the kingdom ; Ha-
milton and Wishart were themselves of honourable
descent ; and the sermons of the latter were attend-
ed by the principal persons in Ayrshire, the Lo-
thians, Fife, and Angus.
The Melvilles of Fife were among the early ad-
herents of the protestant doctrine. The family of
Baldovy had embraced it before the birth of Andrew
Melville. His eldest brother, Ricliard, having
received a learned education, and being trained by
his father to the knowledge of country affairs, was
chosen to accompany John Erskine of Dun, on his
travels to the continent. It is probable that the
young baron and his tutor were instructed in the
protestant doctrine before they left home. For
they repaired to Wittemberg, and studied for two
LIFE O] ANDREW MELVILLE. 11
years under that distinguished reformer and scholar,
Phili]) Melaiichthon. They also visited Denmark,
and attended the lectures of their countryman
Maccabeus, who had been recently admitted pro-
fessor of divinity in the university of Copenhagen *.
On their return to Scotland, they exerted themselves
in imparting the knowledge whicli they had acquir-
ed. AVith George Wishart they cultivated tlie most
intimate acquaintance ; and the houses of Dun and
Ealdovy became the resort of the friends of religion
and letters f . Andrew IMelville was eleven years
old in 1556, when Knox paid a visit to Dun, and
when the sermons which he preaclied there were
attended by most of the gentlemen in the neigh-
I have elsewhere mentioned tlie im])ortant ser-
vice which John Erskine of Dun rendered to the
literature of Scotland by establishing a Greek school
in Montrose ^. Pierre de Marsilliers, a native of
France, taught in it, when Melville had finished
his course of Latin at the grammar school. This
was an opportunity not to be neglected by one who
was passionately fond of knowledge. Instead of
goiiig to the university, as was usual for young men
of his age and progress, he put himself under the
care of this learned Frenchman ; and, supporting
himself on his patrimony, prosecuted the study
of Greek during two years with great avidity |).
* Melville's Diary, p. 2, 3. t Ibid. p. 3.
:}" Life of John Knox, vol. i. p. 177 — 180.
§ Ibid, vol. i, p. a, 1| Melville's Diary, p. 27.
12 LIFE OF ANDREW MELVILLE.
From Marsilliers he had also the opportunity of
acquiring a more perfect acquaintance with the
French language, the first principles of which were
at this time con:imonly taught to young men along
with Latin grammar *.
In the year 1559 he went to the university of St
Andrews, and entered the college of St Mary, or,