Andrew Melville

Andrew Melville / Religious Figures

  • Name  : Melville
  • Born  : 1545
  • Died  : 1622
  • Category  : Religious Figures
  • Finest Moment : The Second Book of Discipline (1578)

Not only a long life, but one miraculously untouched by burning at the stake. Melville was born at Baldowie, near Melrose, on 1 August 1545. He learned Greek at Melrose Grammar, before going on to a dazzling academic career in the classical languages at St Andrews, Paris and Geneva. It was at Geneva that he was appointed to the Chair of Humanity by the Protestant Reformer Theodore Beza, the successor to Calvin.

He was invited to return to Scotland, where he became Principal at Glasgow University (1574-80), revitalising that University after the hard times following the Reformation. As Principal of St Mary's College at St Andrews, he taught the new educational theories he had learned in Europe, sending out many Scots to teach in Reformed institutions abroad.

Melville's main focus was on preserving the independence of the Church from state interference. His major involvement in the writing of the Second Book of Discipline (1578) was incorporated in the act of religious settlement of 1592. Through this publication, Melville can be seen as the true father of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

All this stirring led to inevitable confrontation with monarchy, in this case James VI of Scotland. Melville had to flee Scotland for a while, in 1584-5. In 1606 Melville was summoned to London by James VI (now also James I). There, the proposal for the new Bible, the King James Version, was made. But a satirical poem in Latin, mocking the Church of England services ensured Melville a five-year stay in the Tower of London.

On his release, in 1611, he left for France, to become Professor of Biblical Theology at Sedan. He remained there, an exile, until his death in 1622.

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