The Lollards in Scotland.
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
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
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
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.