The Lollards in Scotland.

In Scotland, the Lollards were quite strong in numbers within the districts of Kyle and Carrick, in Ayrshire, where the proprietors of the estates of Carnell, Kinzeancleuch, Ochiltree, Cessnock, Barr, Gadgirth, and Terinzeon  were supporters of the sect’s beliefs. Lollards were also in Fife. The appointment of Robert, Duke of Albany as Governor of Scotland in 1405 saw a persecution of the Lollards. His rule also saw the martyrdom of  James Resby, an Englishman and a follower of Wyckcliffe.  Resby was challenged on points of doctrine and a list of some 40 items produced by his accuser Master Laurence Lendores, Abbot of Scone. Resby was sent to the stake in 1407. In 1416 at the new St Andrew`s University, applicants for the Master`of Arts degree had to take an oath that they would resist all adherents of the sect of Lollards.

That the Lollards had increased dramatically in Scotland is testified by the passing of the Act of Heretics and Lollards, in March 1424. In 1411 the first inquisitor had been appointed in Scotland, named Laurence of Lindores, for the persecution of Bible believers. He was the first Professor of Law at the university and  "Haereticae Pravitatis Inquisitor"  (Inquisitor of heretical improprieties).  In 1432 he was elected Dean of the Faculty of Arts  where among his titles was "Inquisitor for the Kingdom of Scotland" . As an organisation the Lollards were pursued throughout the fifteenth century during which time another high profile martyrdom for religion was that of Paul Craws, a Bohemian who was seized at St Andrews about 1432. It seems that they finally faltered when the martyrdom of George Wishart in 1546 signified another period of repression. But by then there were already signs of the `Evangel` taking hold among some noble and influential families who would become the Lords of the Congregation.

The Lollards’ reasons for opposing Romish practice were similar to the arguments made throughout the Scottish Reformation by John Knox and Andrew Melville (1545-1622). The Lollards condemned the doctrine of transubstantiation (the belief that bread and wine change into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ during the Communion ceremony), the use of images in churches, pilgrimages, the rite of the mass, the use of holy water, the sacrament of penance, the veneration of relics, and prayers for intercession.  Perhaps the most heinous act in Romish eyes was the fact that the Lollards preached in English and proclaimed that the faithful need only the Scriptures to gain salvation. This destroyed the mysticism of the Bible and exposed the priests who had hitherto been the only means of interpreting and delivering the Word of God - in whatever manner, or cost, they felt appropriate.

 Howie in his Biographia Scoticana and Calderwood in his History relate that in 1494 Robert Blackatter, first Archbishop of Glasgow, summoned George Campbell of Cessnock, Adam Reide of Barskimminge, John Campbell of Newmiles, Adam Shaw of Pockemmet, Helene Chalmers Ladie Pokellie, N. Chalmers Ladie Stairs, and many others to about thirty in number before King James IV. They were admonished and dismissed.] At least two of the men found in Howie’s Scots Worthies, John Nisbet of Hardhill and William Gordon of Earlstoun, had ancestors who were involved with the Lollards of Kyle. The Campbell's of Cessnock were another such family who suffered for their faith and reputation.

 John Knox and Mary of Guise, Queen Regent.

 Return to English Reformation - introduction.


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