Fragments relating to Scottish religion

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Two paper leaves, formerly pastedowns and much mutilated, relating to Scottish religion. The date of the fragments is uncertain, and Professor Gordon Donaldson of the University of Edinburgh, who examined these two fragments in Jan 1965, inclined to a date in the 1630s for both items - his opinion is contained in a letter now accompanying MS 610.

The first fragment is part of a letter from 'your disciples & se[rvants?] to suffer with you: EL, AD [Andrew Duncan?], IC [Isaac Casaubon?], et cet.', which may have been written to Andrew Melville while he was imprisoned in England, which would date the documents to c 1609. Donaldson states that the text makes reference to what seems to be the Act of Revocation of 1625 and could relate to the opposition of Scottish Presbyterians to Charles I in that year.

The second fragment is part of a draft of a petition from Scotland against the attempt to re-establish episcopacy in Scotland, c 1609. Donaldson's view is that the terminology used associates it with the National Covenant of 1638.

Administrative / Biographical History

Andrew Melville (1545-1622) was a Scottish religious reformer and scholar, who was ardent in his support of civil and ecclesiastical liberty, following in the tradition of John Knox. Melville was Principal of the University of Glasgow, 1574-1580, and the University of St Andrews in Edinburgh. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1607-1611, then exiled to France, where he spent his last years.

One of the first acts of Charles I when he acceded to the throne was the Act of Revocation of 1625, which annulled all gifts made since 1540 of properties which the crown could claim, including the vast ecclesiastical revenues which had fallen into lay hands during the Reformation. In a further attempt to revive the fortunes of the episcopy, Charles insisted on the acceptance of the new Prayer Book in 1637. Many Scots actively opposed the Prayer Book, and a riot at St Giles on 23 July 1637 soon led to widespread and organised agitation. The various grievances against Charles coalesced into the National Covenant of 1638. This Covenant professed loyalty to the crown but asked for a return to ecclesiastical and constitutional practice as it was before Charles' reforms. A General Assembly met in November 1638 in Glasgow and it was decided to abolish Episcopal government. This led to a military confrontation but the kings forces were no match for experienced Scottish veterans and the government army refused to fight. A temporary peace was arranged at Berwick in June 1639.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to this collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the supervised environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Uncatalogued material may not be seen. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

Given by Alistair Duke in 1963.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

8½" x 13½". Mutilated.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.

Custodial History

The donor of the two leaves, Mr Alistair Duke, says that they were taken from the spine of a copy of Jean Calvin's Sermons...sur le livre de Job (1569), which was bound in the 17th century and bears a 1612 bookmark.

Geographical Names