Material relating to Andrew Melville (1545-1622)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-429
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      7 poems or notes or miscellaneous, 3 manuscript volumes.
  • Location
      Dc.4.68, f.141; Dc.5.50/2, p.3; Dc.6.45; Dc.8.5; De.1.12/10, 11, 13-14; De.2.63; Df.7.72; JA 3817

Scope and Content

The material is composed of: Latin verses Melvinus ad H. Rollocum; Praefatio Magistri Andreae Melvini in poema de gestis Scotorum ad Henricum Principem; Latin poems in the hand of Melville written in fly leaves of Jvlii Caesaris Scaligeri Poemata; Epitaphium Alexandri Arbuthneti; Epitaphium D. Thomas Smetonii on fly leaf; letter to D. Hume of Godscroft about De unione insulae Britannicae tractatus; Epistolae Londino e turri carceris ad Jacobum Melvinum Novocastri exulentem scriptae, cum ejusdem Jacobi nonullis; and, A short confutation of Dr. Downames apologetick sermon maid for the dignitie of the episcopall office.

Administrative / Biographical History

The scholar and reformer Andrew Melville was born at Baldovie in Angus on 1 August 1545. He was educated in Montrose and then studied at St. Mary's College, St. Andrews, from 1559, and in Paris from 1564 and Poitiers from 1566. Now versed in Latin, Greek, and law, he went to Geneva where he was appointed to the Chair of Humanity by Theodore de Beze (1519-1605), Calvin's successor. While in Switzerland he published his first volume of Latin verse Carmen Mosis, Basel (1573). On his return to Scotland in 1574 he found that his reputation had gone before him, and such had been his involvement in Geneva among the reformation movement he was made Principal of Glasgow University. Melville then set about revising and enlarging the curriculum and the University was re-established with a new charter - Nova Erectio - in 1577. Earlier, in 1575 he assisted in the formation of a new constitution for King's College, Aberdeen. In 1580 he became Principal of St. Mary's College (or New College), St. Andrews. Melville was an active leader in ecclesiastical affairs and was opposed to episcopacy and absolute authority. He was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland several times, and was involved in the publication of the Second book of discipline (1578) which set the shape of Presbyterian government for the Church in Scotland. Because he believed in the separation of Church and State with God above both "kingdoms", Melville was always on a collision course with King James VI and I, and lived under the threat of imprisonment. He was in every way, Knox's successor. In 1606 he attended the Hampton Court Conference out of which came the proposal for the King James Version of the Bible. While in England he ridiculed Church of England worship and was sent to the Tower of London. He was released in 1611 and then went into exile and became Professor of Biblical Theology at the University of Sedan, in France. Andrew Melville died at Sedan in 1622.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


28 August 2002, item noted as at De.2.63 was not found.

The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994. (2) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 13. Masquerier-Myles. London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to Melville related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details) and include: Commentarius in divinam Pauli epistolam ad Romanos auctore Andrea melvino Scoto, 1601, and a translation and notes on Odyssey at La.III.94; transcript of Epistolae Londino e turri carceris ad Jacobum Melvinum Novocastri exulentem scriptae, cum ejusdem Jacobi nonullis, at La.III.373, and La.III.374; an acknowledgement signed by Melville while Professor at Sedan, 1612, at La.II.148; and a letter, 1873, about Anti-tami-cami-categoria, at La.IV.17.