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John Spottiswoode

April 21, 2018

 

One of James' agents in Scotland was John Spottiswoode. He was born at Mid Calder, West Lothian, in 1565, a son of the manse. After attending Glasgow University, he succeeded his father as minister of Calder, at 18 years of age. In 1601, he went as chaplain to the Duke of Lennox on an embassy sent to France by King James. He was away for two years, and back just in time to accompany King James when he travelled south to take up the English throne. Spottiswoode belonged to the strict Presbyterian party which did not want bishops in the church, but in 1603, King James appointed him Presbyterian Archbishop of Glasgow. James, like many kings of his time, believed that they were hand-picked by God and anointed to do his bidding - the Divine Right of Kings - and he and his son, King Charles 1, all thought they knew how a church should be run, and imposed bishops on the Church of Scotland and Anglican-style worship. We should spare a thought for our brothers and sisters in the Church of Scotland - they had much to suffer at the hands of interfering monarchs. Spottiswoode, it can be fairly said, sold his soul to King James. He was one of James’ principal agents in Scotland, and he was suitably and regularly rewarded: in 1605, he was appointed to the Scottish Privy Council, and just after the martyrdom of Saint John, he was promoted to be Archbishop of St. Andrews. Later James’ son, King Charles I, made him Chancellor of Scotland. The more he climbed the greasy pole, the stickier it became for him, and his final years were not particularly happy ones.

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