Dictates of praelectiones by Samuel Rutherford, 1648

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Dictates of praelectiones on the Holy Scriptures, from the lectures of Samuel Rutherford taken down by William Tullideph.

Administrative / Biographical History

Samuel Rutherford (c.1600-1661) was a controversial figure within the Church of Scotland, as the leading political theorist behind the covenanters. He was born in Nisbet around 1600, studied divinity at Edinburgh and became regent of humanity, involving himself with radical presbyterians there until a sexual scandal lost him his post. He then worked as a Church of Scotland minister in Anwoth, Kirkcudbrightshire. He continued his nonconformist activities, organising a campaign against royal ecclesiastical policy, until ousted by a new bishop in 1636. He was confined to Aberdeen, disputing with local ministers and writing letters to notable men all over Scotland, many of whom would later join him in the leadership of the Covenanters. Just after the signing of the national covenant, he returned to Anwoth, and in 1639 was appointed professor of divinity at St Mary’s College at St Andrews University. Here he worked to remove all vestiges of the episcopacy so recently abolished, until commissioned to attend the Westminster Assembly in 1643. He passionately defended the use of force against Charles I in Lex, rex, or The Law and the Prince (1644) and was an advocate of the right to persecute heretics and sectarians.

However, four years in London left him disillusioned about the state of Presbyterianism in England. On returning to Scotland in 1648 he opposed the moderate covenanters in their agreement with Charles I, creating a militant wing of the kirk against those allied with the king, drafting an act for the abolition of patronage, and spurring on the convenanting army against Cromwell, only to see it suffer ignominious defeat. In 1650 further deep divisions split the Church after the crowning of Charles II at Scone, leading Rutherford to deny the lawfulness of the general assemby in St Andrews the following year. He continued to preach and rail against the moderates from his position as principal of St Mary's College. After the Restoration Lex,rex was denounced and burned by the public hangman. Rutherford was deposed from all his official posts and only his death prevented him being tried on a charge of treason.

Robert Blair (1593-1668) trained as a minister at the University of Glasgow and worked in Ayrshire and then Ulster. He courted controversy but was reluctant to be the focal point of organised opposition. He was persecuted for his opposition to the episcopacy both in Scotland and Ireland whilst working as a minister and was appointed to St Andrews University along with Rutherford at the general assembly of 1639. Here he was involved in various negotiations to reach agreement with royalists and worked for reconciliation when the Church of Scotland split into factions in 1650, siding with the moderates.

William Tullideph became Principal of St Leonard’s College, University of St Andrews, 1691-1695.

Arrangement

Single item

Conditions Governing Access

By appointment with the Keeper of Manuscripts. Access to records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

Offered for sale in 1861 from the library of Dr John Lee as lot 48. The Forbes copy of the sale catalogue, held in the library, notes the sale price of two guineas.

Other Finding Aids

Individual Manuscripts and Small Collections database available as part of Manuscripts Database.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Binding: calf with three line fillet round outside edge of boards on spine (blind).

Paper: 14.7x18.9cm

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Maia Sheridan, Archives Hub project archivist, based on material from the Manuscripts Database

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Manuscripts. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Accruals

None

Related Material

St Andrews University: msCS479.R8: Notes of the Rutherford family of Nisbet, Roxburghshire.

St Andrews University: msBX8915.R8L4C37: Letter book of transcriptions of letters of S Rutherford, 1637.