John Ogilvie was born into a Calvinist family in 1579 in Drum, near Keith in the present-day District of Moray in the North-East between Aberdeen and Inverness. At thirteen years of age he was taken to the continent to advance his education so that on his return he could take his place in polite society. He came into contact with the Church and was received into it, four years later. He joined the Jesuits and after spending a typically lengthy time of preparation in various Jesuit communities in Austria, the present-day Czech Republic and France, he was ordained in Paris in 1610. He was appointed to Rouen in Normandy and after petitioning his superiors on at least three occasions, he was eventually allowed to go and work in his native land in 1613.