Acts and Proceedings: 1566, December

Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618. Originally published by [s.n.], Edinburgh, 1839.

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Maitland Club, 'Acts and Proceedings: 1566, December', in Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618( Edinburgh, 1839), British History Online [accessed 25 July 2024].

Maitland Club, 'Acts and Proceedings: 1566, December', in Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618( Edinburgh, 1839), British History Online, accessed July 25, 2024,

Maitland Club. "Acts and Proceedings: 1566, December". Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618. (Edinburgh, 1839), , British History Online. Web. 25 July 2024.

In this section


The General Assemblie of the Kirk, haldin in Edinburgh, in the Nether Counsell House therof, upon the 25 day of December 1566. In the whilk were present the Superintendents, Ministers, and Commissioners of Shyres, Townes, and Kirks. The invocatioun of Gods name made be Mr Johne Craig minister of Edinburgh.

In the first, for ordour to be observit in reasoning, and that every brother speake to his purpose in sick measure as it becomes the minister of Gods word to doe, Johne Erskine of Dun, Superintendent of Angus and Mernes, was continewit moderator, wherof he was content.

[Beside the triell of the superintendents, James Knox, reader in Bathgate, was censured for baptizing of bairns and solemnizing of marriage, he being but a simple reader, and taking money for the same from such as were without the paroche. C.]

Sessio 2da. 26 December 1566.

Anent the assignatioun of the pensioun of money and victualls offerit be the Queens Majestie and her most honourable counsell, for the sustentatioun of the ministers within this realme; the haill brethren present requyreit the ministers being in the Sessioun to passe foorth of the Assemblie, and with mature deliberatioun to consult and advyfe with the said consignatioun, whether they sall think it good to accept the same for releife of ther present necessitie or not. After lang reasoning and mutuall conference anent the said assignatioun, returneing againe in the Assemblie, thought it good for support of the ministers necessitie to accept of the said offer of money and victualls, if they might be gottin hastielie: Nottheles, in consideratioun of the law of God, ordaines the persons who heirs the doctrine of salvatioun at the mouthes of his ministers, and thereby receives speciall food to the nourishment of ther saules, to communicat temporal sustentatioun on ther preachers, there ansuer is, that having just title to crave the bodily food at the hands of the forsaids persones, and finding na others bound unto them, they only requyre at ther awin flocke, that they will sustaine them according to ther bunden duetie; and what it sall please them to give them for ther sustentatioun, if it were but bread and watter, neither will they resuse it, nor desist from their vocatioun; but to take from uthers contrair ther will whom they serve not, they judge it not ther duetie, nor ȝet reasonable; alwayes they most heartlie thank the Lords that bestowit ther labours and pains in purchasing the forsaid assignatioun, most heartlie requeisting ther honours to persevere whill they bring it some perfection.

Neverthelesse, the haill Assemblie solemnlie protestit that this acceptation of the soirsaid assignatioun for the releife as said is, prejudges not the libertie of the Kirk to sute for that thing that justlie pertaineth to the patrimonie of the same, in tyme and place convenient, in any tyme heirafter.

[The Assemblie appointed Alexander, bishop of Galloway, Mr John Spotswood Superintendent of Louthian, the Lairds of Carden and Keir, to repair to Stirline, and to solicite for the extracts of the said assignation from the comptroller and clerk-register, that letters may be raised thereupon; and that they report their answer to the session at Edinburgh, that the commissioners which are to be appointed for division of the said assignation may be advertised. The commissioners were chosen and appointed to conveen at Edinburgh, within ten days after advertisement, to divide the said assignation of money and victuals among ministers, exhorters, and readers, according to their discretion. C.]

The same day were proponit thir questiouns underwryten, and ansuers givin therto as followes.

Whither if the teindis properlie pertaines to the kirk, and sould only be applyit to the ministers sustentation, to the poore, mantaining of schooles, repairing of kirks, and uther godlie uses at the discretioun of the Kirk?

Answerit affirmative without contradictioun.

Secondlie, if the teindis pertaines to the kirk, and aught to be imployit to sick godlie uses as said is, Whither if the ministers, who are the mouth of the kirk, may with safe conscience keip silence, seeing the patrimonie of the kirk most unjustlie tane up and wastit in vaine things be sick persones as beares no office in the kirk of God, and in the meanetyme the ministrie ceasand for necessitie, the poore perishing for hunger, schooles decayand, and kirks falland to the ground?

Ansuerit, They ought not to keip silence, but earnestly to admonish every man of his duetie, and desyres all men to sute for that whilk pertaines justlie to the sustaining of the things foirsaids.

Thridlie, Whither if the kirk may justlie requyre of all possossours the teyndis to be payit to the kirk only, and inhibite all uthers to intromitt therwith; and in cace of dissobedience, what ordour sall be usit be the kirk agains them.

Ansuerit, After dew admonitioun usit, and no obedience found, to use the censures of the kirk.

Sessio 3a. 27 December 1566.

Anent Mr Knoxs requeist to passe to the realme of Ingland to visite his children, and to doe his other business, the haill Assemblie grantit gladly licence, with letters testimonialls of his honest conversatioun and godlie doctrine within this realme, with provision as is conteinit in the saids letters; the tenour wherof followes.

The Superintendents, Ministers and Commissioners of Kirks within the Realme of Scotland presentile assemblit, To all and sundrie faithful brethren to whose knowledge thir presents sall come, wischeth grace, mercie and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Chryst.

Witt ȝour Universities, that our loving brother Johne Knox, bearer of thir presents, hes bein and is and true and faithful minister of the Evangell of Jesus Chryst within this realme of Scotland, continually within thir viij ȝeirs by gane or therabout; in doctrine pure, and fincere in lyse and conversation, in our sights inculpable, and hes so fruitfully usit that talent grantit to him be the Eternal, to the advancement of the glorie of his godlie name, to the propagation of the kingdom of Jesus Chryst, and edisieing of them who heard his preaching, that of duetie we most heartilie praise his godlie Majestie, for that so great ane benefite grantit unto him for our utilitie and profite. And because he, for the naturall love and affectioun he beares to his childrein, now being within the realme of Ingland, and favour to uthers his brethren, requested us to grant him licence for ane season, to repaire toward the said realme of Ingland, for the causes above mentionat, We, after mutual conserence in full Assemblie, thoght this petitioun just and reasonable, and therfor all in ane voyce grants licence to our said brother, according to the Queens Majesties conduct, to passe to the said realme, for the purposes foirspoken and uthers his lawfull affaires, what time he sall think most comodious for his journey; provydeing allwayes that he returne to this realme of Scotland before the 25 of the moneth of Junij nixt insewing, to continue in his former vocatioun, and na utherwayes. And this we make knowin to all and sundrie to whom it effeirs, be thir our Letters Testimonialls, givin at Edinburgh in our General Assemblie, and thrid Session therof, subscryvit be the Clerk of the same, the xxvii of December.

Attour ordainit ane letter to be directit to the Bischops of Ingland, that they wald be content gentlie to handle the brethren preachers, touching the habits surp-cloathes and uthers abulȝements, whilk appeirantlie tends more to superstition nor to edificatioun; and requeists Master Knox to put the heads in write whilk he thinks necessar to be wryten to the saids Bischops. The tenour whereof followes.

The Superintendents, Ministers, and Comissioners of Kirks within the realme of Scotland, to there brethren the Bischops and pastours of Ingland, who hes renunced the Romane Antichryst, and does professe with them the Lord Jesus in sinceritie, desyres the perpetuall increase of the Holie Spirit.

By word and write it is come to our knowleage, Reverend Pastors, that diverse of our deirest brethren, among whom are some of the best learnit within that realme, are depryvit fra ecclesiastical functioun, and forbidden to preach, and so by ȝou are stayed to promote the kingdome of Chryst, because ther conscience will not suffer them to take upon them, at the comandment of the authoritie, sick garments as idolaters in the tyme of blindnes have usit in the tyme of idolatrie; whilk brute cannot be but most dolorous to our hearts, myndfull of that sentence of the Apostle, saying, If ȝe byte and devore ane another, take good heid least ȝe be consumit ane of another.

We purpose not at this present to enter upon the ground whilk we heare of either partie to be aggriet with greater vehemence then well lykes us; to witt, whither sick apparrell be to be countit amongs things that is simple and indifferent, or not. Bot in the bowells of Chryst Jesus we crave, that christian charitie may so farre prevail in ȝou, inȝou we say the Pastors and Leaders of the flocke in that realme, that ȝe doe not to uthers that whilk ȝe would uthers did not to ȝou; ȝe cannot be ignorant how tender a thing the conscience of man is; all that have knowledge are not alyke perswadit, ȝet conscience reclaimes not at the wearing of sick garments; bot many thousands both godly and learned are utherwayes perswadit, whose consciences are continually striken with thir sentences; Whatt hes Chryst Jesus to doe with Belial? What hes darknes adoe with light? If surp-claithes, cornett cap and tippet, has bein badges of idolaters in the verie act of ther idolatrie, what hes the preacher of Christian libertie and the oppin rebuiker of all superstitioun to doe with the dregges of that Romish beast; ȝea what is he that ought not to feare either to take in his hand or foirheid, the print and marke of that odious beast? Our brethren that in conscience refuses that unprositable apparrell, does neither damne nor molest ȝou that use sick vaine trisles: If ȝe sall doe the lyke to them, we doubt not but therein ȝe sall please God, and comfort the hearts of many whilk are woundit with the extremitie that is usit against these godlie and our belovit brethren. Colour of rhetorick or manly perswasion will we use none, bot charitablie we desyre ȝou to call that sentence of Peter to mynd, Feed the flocke of God whilk is committed to ȝour charge, careing for it not be constraint bot willinglie, not as thogh ȝe were Lords over Gods heritage, but that ȝe may be ensamples to the flocke. And farther, also, we desyre you to meditate that sentence of the Apostle, saying, Give none offence neither to the Jewes, nor to the Grecians, nor to the Kirk of God. In what conditioun of tyme ȝe and we both travell in the promoting of Chrysts kingdome, we suppose ȝou not to be ignorant, and therfor we are more bold to exhort ȝou to walke more circumspectly, then that for sick vanities the godly sould be troubled; for all things that may seime lawfull edifie not. If the comandment of the authoritie urge the conscience of ȝou and of our brethren farther than they can beare, we unsainedly crave of ȝou, that ȝe remember ȝe are callit the light of the world, and the salt of the earth. All civill auctoritie hes not the light of God alwayes shyning befor the eyis in there statutes and comandments; bot there affectiouns favour over meikle of the earth and of worldlie wisdom, and therfore we thinke ȝe sould boldly oppone ȝourselves to all that power that will or darre extoll itself, not only agains God, but also agains all sick as darre burdein the consciences of the faithful, farther then God hes burdeinit them be his awin word. Bot heirin we may confesse our offence, in that we have entrit farther in reasoning then we purposed and promised at the beginning; and therfor we shortlie returne to our former humble supplicatioun, whilk is, that our brethern who among you refuse the Romish ragges, may find of ȝou, the Prelates, sick favour as our Heid and Master comands every ane of his members to shaw to another; whilk we looke to receive of ȝour gentlenes, not only for that ȝe feare to offend Gods Majestie, in troubling of ȝour brethren for sick vaine trifles, but also because ȝe will not refuse the humble requeist of us, ȝour brethren and fellow preachers, in whom albeit there appeir not great worldlie pompe, ȝet we suppose that ȝe will not so sarre despyse us, bot that ȝe will esteime us to be of the number of them that fights agains that Roman Antichryst, and travell that the kingdom of Jesus Chryst may be universallie advanceit. The days are ill; iniquitie abounds; christian charity alas is waxen cold; and therfor we ought the more diligentlie to watch, for the houre is uncertaine when the Lord Jesus sall appeir, befor whom ȝe, ȝour brethren, and we, must give acount of our administratioun. And this in conclusion, we anes againe crave favours to our brethren, whilk grantit, ȝe in the Lord sall command us things of double more importance. The Lord Jesus rule ȝour hearts in true feare to the end, and give to ȝou and us victorie over that conjured enemie of all true religioun, to witt over that Roman antichryst, whose woundit head Satan preases by all means to cure againe. Bot to destructioun sall he and his mantainers goe, by the power of the Lord Jesus: To whose mightie protectioun we heartlie comit ȝou.

From Edinburgh, out of our Generall Assemblie, and 3 sessioun therof, the 27 of December 1566.
Your loving brethren and preachers in Chryst Jesus,
[Johne Craig.
James Melvill.
Robert Pont.
William Christeson.
Nicol Spittle.
John Row.
David Lindsay.
John Areskine.
John Winrhame.
John Spotswood. C.]

Ordaines ane humble supplicatioun to be made to the Lords of Secreit Counsell, anent the comission of jurisdictioun supponit grantit to the Bischop of St Androes, to the effect that ther honours stay the same, in respect that these causes for the maist pairt judgeit be his usurpit authoritie pertaines to the true kirk; and howbeit that for hope of good things the Kirk oversaw the Queens Majesties comissioun givin therintill to sick men, who for the most part was our brethren, ȝet can the Kirk no wayes be content that the Bischop of St Androes, ane comoun enemy to Chryst, to use that jurisdictioun; and als in respect of that colourit comissioun, he might usurpe againe his auld usurpit auctoritie, and the samein might be the meane to oppresse the haill kirk be his corrupt judgement.

The tenour of the said supplicatioun followes.

The Generall Assemblie of the Kirk of Scotland conveinit at Edinburgh the xxv of December 1566, To the nobilitie of this realme that professes the Lord Jesus with them, and hes renounceit that Roman antichryst, desyre constancie in faith and the spirit of righteous judgement.

Seing that Satan, be all our negligence, Right Honourable, hes so farre prevailit within this realme within these late dayes that we do stand in extreame danger, not only to lose our temporal possessiouns, but also to be depryvit of the glorious evangell of Jesus Chryst, and soe we and our posteritie to be left in damnable darknes; We could no longer contane ourselves, nor keep silence, least in so doing we might be accuseit as guiltie of the blood of sick as sall perish for lake of admonishment, as the Prophet threatens. We thersor in the feare of our God, and with greife and anguish of heart, complaines unto ȝour honours, ȝea we must complaine unto God, and all his obedient creatures, that that conjured enemie of Jesus Chryst, and cruell murtherer of our brethren most falslie stylit Archbischop of St Androes, is reponit and restoreit, be signatur past, to his former tiranie; for not only are his ancient jurisdictiouns (as they are termit) of the haill bischoprick of St Androes grantit unto him, but also the executioun of judgement, confirmation of testaments, and donation of his benefices, as more amplie in his signatur is exprest. If this be not to cure the head of that venemous beast, whilk once within this realme, be the potent hand of God, was so banished and brockin downe, and be curing it wold not hurt the faithfull, judge ȝe. His ancient jurisdictioun was, that he with certaine his collegues collaterals, might have dampnit of heresie as it pleasit him, and then to take all that were suspect of heresie. What they have judged to be heresie heirtofoir ȝe cannot be ignorant; and whither they remaine in ther former malice or not, ther plots and travells oppinly declares. The danger may be fearit, say ȝe, but quhat remedy? It is easie and at hand, Right Honorable, if ȝe will not betray the cause of God and leave ȝour brethren, whilks never will be more subiect unto that usurped tyrranie then they will unto the devil himselfe. Our Queine belyke is not well informit; scho aucht not, not may not justly break the lawes; and so consequentlie, scho may not sett up against us, nor without our consent, that Romane Antichryst againe: For in ane lawfull and most frie parliament that ever was in this realme before, was that odious beast depryvit of jurisdictioun, office and auctoritie within this realme. Her Majestie at her first arrivall, and be diverse her proclamatiouns sensyne hes expressly forbiddin all other forme and fact of religioun, but that whilk scho sand publickile astablished at her arriveal; therfor scho may not bring us, the greatest part of the subjects of this realme, back again to bondage, till that als lawfull and als frie ane Parliament as justlie damned that Antichryst and his usurped tyranie, have given decisioun betwixt us and him. Heirof and of uther things that no lesse concernes ȝour selves then us, ȝe plainly and boldly admonish our soveraigne, and without tumult only crave justice. The tyrants darre no more be sein in lawfull judgment nor darre the howlets in the day light. Weigh this matter as it is, and ȝe fall find it more weighty then to many it appears. Farther at this present we complain not, bot humblie craves of ȝour Honours ane reasonable ansuer quhat ȝe will do, incase that sick tyrrants, and invadeing wolves, be givin to devore the flocke of Jesus Chryst within this realme, under quhat title that ever it be; for this we boldly confesse, that we will never acknow ledge, neither pastors to our souls, nor ȝet judges to our cause. And if that, for denyall therof, we either suffer either in bodie or goods, we doubt not but we have not only a judge to punisch them that unjustlie trouble us, but also ane advocat and strong champioun in heavin, to recompence them who for his namesake suffer persecutioun: Whose holie spirit rule ȝour hearts in his true feare to the end. Your Lordships ansuer we againe crave. Givin in the Generall Assemblie and thrid Sessioun therof, at Edinburgh the 27 of December, 1566.

[The Assemblie appointed the bishops of Galloway and Orkney, the Justice-Clerk, and David Forrest, Mr John Row, David Lindsay, Robert Pont, William Christeson, to reconsider and revise the answer made be Mr William Ramsay, one of the masters of Sanct Salvators colledge, to Henrie Bullingers book anent abulȝiements of preachers in England.

The Assemblie being advised with the interpretation of the Confession of the kirk of Zurich, be Mr Robert Pont, ordained the same to be printed, togither with ane epistle sent be the Assemblie of the Kirk of Scotland, approving the same, providing a note be put in the margin, where mention is made of the remembrance of some holy days.

This consession was penned be the pastors of Zurich, and is otherwise called the latter Confession of Helvetia: It is allowed and subscribed, not only be the Tigurins themselves and their consederates of Berne, be Schaphausen, Sangallia, Rhetia, Millan, and Viemid, but also Geneva, Savoy, Polonia, and Hungaria. In this confession, superioritie of ministers above ministers is called ane humane appointment; confirmation is judged to be a device of man, which the kirk may want without damnage; baptism by women or midewives condemned: Item, prolix and tedious publict prayers hindering the preaching of the word; canonical Hours, that is, prayers to be chanted and often repeated at sett times, as the popish manner is; heaping up of ceremonies in the kirk, to the prejudice of Christian libertie; observation of saints days: But this Assemblie would not allow the days dedicat to Christ, the circumcifion, nativitie, passion, resurrection, ascension and pentecost days, but took exception against that part of the Confession.

The bischops of Galloway and Orknay, the Justice Clerk, Mr Robert Pont, David Lindsay, William Cristeson of Dundie, George Lesley of Stramigloe, William Ramsay and David Forrest were appointed to receive and decide questiouns, and report their decisions. C.]

Questiouns and ther Ansuers.

Ane certaine maried man past to the wares of Denmark about four ȝeirs syne; his wyfe hes joynit her selfe within this twa ȝeir to ane uther man in whooredome; now they desȝre to be maried, because they have the attestatioun of twa unsuspectit witnesses, wha spake with Captaine Clark that her husband was slaine in the Castell of Barronburgh in Denmark, upon Pasch day bygane ane ȝeir. Queritur, Whither if the parties may be joynit in lawfull mariage or not?

Ordaines the names of the man and woman to be givin up to the sessioun of the kirk wher they dwell, to be accusit criminallie for ther offences, givin in tyme of her husbands lyfe, or before the knowledge of his death, scho joynit her bodie to the uther man, that they both may be punischit accordinglie.

Ane man forwarnit that he might not marie his father brothers daughter, past in contempt of the kirk, and was maried in the Chappell Royall December 1566. Queritur, What ordour salbe tane therwith?

Ordaines, To delate the proces to the Justice Clerk and kirk, and declare ther names to the effect they may be punishit.

And farther, because diverse persons, alsweill women as men, who are separate for adultery, the partie offendand joynes themselves in marriage againe, contrair to the law of God, wherthrow great slanders and inconveinients followes.

Ordaines the superintendents to admonisch all ministers within ther jurisdictiouns, that none joyne any partie separatit for adulterie in mariage, under paine of removeing from the ministrie.

[It was asked, What order should be taken with such as have communicated at the Lords table, and afterwards became witnesses at the baptism of children baptized by a papistical priest in a private place? It was answered, After admonition, let the censures of the kirk be used. C.]

Sess. 4ta. 28 Dec. 1566.

Anent bischops, abbots, pryors, and uthers persons benefices being of the kirk, who receives teinds and awaites not upon the feiding of the flocke comittit to ther cure, neither presents themselves to the General Assemblie.

Ordains all superintendents to sumound and warne all bischops, abbots, &c. that receives teyndis within ther jurisdictiouns, and wher no superintendents are, that the superintendent neirest send his letters to the ministers nixt adjacent therto, to sumound the foirsaids persons to compeir at the nixt Generall Assemblie, to give ther assistance and counsell to the said Assemblie in sick things as appertaines to Christian religion and preaching of the true word, and farther to know the ordinances of the kirk to be made theranent, &c.

[The superintendent of Angus desired to be exonered of his burdensome calling, in respect of the weakness and debilitie of his bodie, whereby he was unable to execute that charge as was required; but the Assemblie wold not altogether exoner him, but permitted him to appoint some of the best qualified within his bounds, to visit when he found himself unable. C.]