Mill or Mylne, 1558

Walter Mill
was born about 1476 and brought up under the cloak of
Romanism to become a priest at Lunan in Angus. He was
accused by the Archbishop of St Andrews in 1538 of failing
to administer the Mass. He avoided punishment  by
fleeing to Germany where he married and also became aware
of the emerging Protestant movement. Returning to Scotland
about 1556 he preached discretely for a couple of years
before he was found at Dysart, Fife, by two priests – Sir 
George Strauquhen and Sir  Hugh Turrey (or Terry),
and imprisoned in the castle at St Andrews. Here priests
spent much effort on trying to get him to recant , in the
course of which they offered him a comfortable position in
the abbey of Dunfermline. Mill was constant and faithful
and rejected all the sweet words and inducements.

On 20th
April 1558 he was brought to the metropolitan church where
he was placed in the pulpit before the assembled throng of
bishops and their minions. At the time of his trial he was
so old, feeble and lame, that it was feared he would not
be heard. However, Mill surprised them all by speaking in
ringing tones and demonstrating a quick  and lively

his defence on his knees in  prayer, Mill was berated
by a priest  Sir Andrew Oliphant, for taking too long
and demanded he rise and answer the charges. Oliphant`s
words were

 ” Sir
Walter Mill ,arise, and answere to the articles, for you
hold my lords heere over long ”

which drew
from Mill the retort that :

” I
ought to obey God rather than man. I serve a mightier Lord
than your lord is; and whereas ye call me now Sir Walter,
call me now Walter: I have been  too long one of the
Pope`s Knights”

as the official accuser, ran through the charges against
Mill, including  that he rejected the seven
sacraments of the (Catholic) Church, that he was married;
he had called  the mass idolatry;  the usual
debate on transubstantiation; that he denied the role of
bishops; and preached against pilgrimages. It is possible
to sense the sarcasm in Mill`s reply to the charge ” You
preach privately in houses and sometimes in the field? “,
to which Mill replied ” Yea, and on the sea also; when
sailing in a ship.”

Walter Mill
was another martyr who was subject of illegal action by
the priests. Having been condemned the authority to
execute was sought from the Provost Patrick Learmonth –
who refused to provide it and promptly left town. Mill`s
execution was also delayed for one day as it was much
opposed by the populace of St Andrews who refused to
supply ropes and combustible materials for the fire. The
prelates would not, however, be denied their spectacle and
a servant of the Archbishop, a man called Alexander
Somerville,  acted the part of the temporal judge.
The  ropes of the Archbishop`s pavilion were used to
bind Mill to the stake.

Mill was
taken by Somerville and an armed guard to the appointed
place of execution  where he was greeted with cries
to recant. These people he regarded as hypocrites and told
them so. Oliphant then urged him to go to the stake but
Mill turned upon him saying

No, I
will not go, except thou put me up with thy hand, for by
the law of God I am forbidden to put hands to myself; but
if thouwill put to thy hand, and take part of my death,
thou shall see me go up gladly”

led Mill up to the stake and in a final spiteful act
refused him permission to speak, saying that he had said
enough already and that “the bishops were exceedingly
displeased with him for what he had said.”

But some
boys intervened and demanded that Mill speak, which he did
standing among the coals of his pyre:

friends, the cause why I suffer this day is not for any
crime laid to my charge, though I acknowledge myself a
miserable sinner before God; but only for the defence of
the truth of Jesus Christ set forth in the Old and New
Testaments. I praise God that he hath called me, among the
rest of his servants, to seal his truth with my life; as I
have received it of him; so I willingly offer it up for
his glory; therefore as ye would escape eternal death, be
no longer seduced by the lies of bishops, abbots, friars,
monks and the rest of that sect of anti-christ, but depend
only upon Jesus Christ and his mercy, that so ye may be
delivered from condemnation.”

fortitude and  constancy of Mill had a deep and
moving effect on the crowd, with many admiring his
strength and spirit, and other decrying the cruel
punishment on an eighty two year old man. After the deed
was done the people heaped stones on the place of
execution as a memorial to the bravery of the martyr. But
in a further spiteful act the memorial stones were later
removed by the clergy during the night, and reused
elsewhere in the building of a house.

It has been
long held that the martyrdom of Mill was the turning point
in the Reformation and brought down Popery in Scotland.