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James III of Scotland with St. Andrew

James III of Scotland with St. Andrew

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The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle

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The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, the Scottish order of knighthood whose modern period dates from King James VII of Scotland (James II of England), who revived it in 1687, and Queen Anne, who revived it again in 1703.

As with many orders of chivalry, its origins lie much further back in time. Tradition has it that at the end of the 8th century Achaius, King of Scots, founded a chivalric order and introduced the veneration of St. Andrew into Scotland, but few scholars accept this. More probable is that the Order of the Thistle relates to an order founded by King David I of Scots in the 12th century, as that king responded (as he did in so much else) to the Flemish influence in his court (the thistle was claimed as a Flemish emblem at that time). Later, James III of Scots (reigned 1460–88) created an order of knighthood and used the thistle as a royal emblem, so there are at least three possible founders of the ancient order. When the modern founder, James II of England, was deposed in 1688, the modern version fell dormant, but it was revived once more by Queen Anne in 1703.

The membership of the order established in 1687 comprised the Scottish sovereign and eight knights. Queen Anne increased the number of knights to 12, and in 1827 the number was raised to 16, which is its current number. The only foreigner admitted has been King Olaf V of Norway. Conferment of the order entails induction into knighthood, if the candidate is not already a knight, and the right to use the title “Sir.” Holders add KT (Knight of the Order of the Thistle) after their name. In order of precedence among knights, Knights of the Thistle are ranked just below Knights of the Garter, these two orders being the oldest and most honoured in Britain. (Knights of the Thistle and of the Garter rank as Knights Grand Cross when compared with other orders and thus may be granted the use of supporters with their arms.)

There are five officers—Chancellor, Dean, Secretary, Lyon King of Arms, and Gentleman Usher of the Green Rod. The order, dedicated to St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, celebrates its feast day on November 30th (St. Andrew’s Day). The beautiful Thistle chapel, built in 1911, is in St. Giles’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

The insignia comprise a star bearing St. Andrew’s cross, in the centre of which is a green thistle on a field of gold a badge portraying St. Andrew and his cross and a collar consisting of thistles alternating with sprigs of rue. All insignia are returned upon the holder’s death. The motto of the order, “Nemo me impune lacessit” (“No one provokes me with impunity”), is also the motto of all Scottish regiments, although more popularly rendered as “Wha daur meddle wi’ me?”

James Edward, the Old Pretender

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James Edward, the Old Pretender, in full James Francis Edward Stuart, (born June 10, 1688, London, Eng.—died Jan. 1, 1766, Rome, Papal States [Italy]), son of the deposed Roman Catholic monarch James II of England and claimant to the English and Scottish thrones. Styled James III of England and James VIII of Scotland by his supporters, he made several halfhearted efforts to gain his crown.

At his birth it was widely and erroneously believed that he was an impostor who was slipped into the queen’s bed in a warming pan in order to provide a successor to the Roman Catholic monarch. When the Protestant ruler William of Orange, stadtholder of Holland, deposed James II in 1688, the infant prince was taken to France, where his father set up a court in exile. Upon the death of James II in 1701, the French king Louis XIV proclaimed James king of England. James’s adherence to Roman Catholicism caused the English Parliament to pass a bill of attainder against him in 1701.

In 1708 the Pretender set out in French ships to invade Scotland, but he was driven away by the British before he could land. He distinguished himself fighting in the French army in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14). In 1714 he refused to accept suggestions by Robert Harley and Viscount Bolingbroke that he renounce Roman Catholicism and become an Anglican in order to be designated Queen Anne’s heir to the throne of England.

John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, raised a Jacobite (from the Latin equivalent of the name James) rebellion in Scotland in 1715, and the Pretender landed at Peterhead, Aberdeen, on December 22. By Feb. 10, 1716, the uprising had collapsed and James had returned to France. He passed the remainder of his life in or near Rome.

In 1719 James married Maria Clementina Sobieska, a granddaughter of John III Sobieski of Poland. They produced two sons, Charles Edward, called the Young Pretender, and Henry, later the cardinal duke of York. Charles Edward precipitated one last, futile Jacobite rebellion in Britain in 1745.

The Royal Arms of Scotland

King James VI of Scotland succeeded to the throne following the abdication of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, in the late July of 1567, then, while still only thirteen months old, was crowned at Stirling just three days later. On 13 March 1603, Elizabeth, Queen of England died and, touching on who should follow her as sovereign is reputed to have said “I will that a king succeed me, and who but my kinsman the king of Scots”. A few hours after her death, in accordance with arrangements made by the Privy Council, James was deemed to have entered into his heritage and thus became the first of his name to rule the southern kingdom. That night bonfires were lit in the streets of London and Sir Robert Carey rode with all speed to Edinburgh with the news.

The Royal Arms of Scotland

It has been said with some authority 1 that royal arms as “Ensigns of Public Authority” are governed by their own special rules. They are not hereditary, but pass by “ succession, election or conquest”: and this has been so in the case of the Royal Arms of Scotland throughout history, and likewise the Royal Arms of Great Britain as used in Scotland after 1603.

Informally and widely described as “the ruddy lion ramping in his field of tressured gold”, this shield has been the symbol “of Dominion and Sovereignty of the Kings of Scotland” since at least the reign of Alexander II (1214-1249) and perhaps even earlier, and indicates “the authority of the Scottish Government, vested in the King of Scots as pater patriae”. 2

The design has not always been the same, however. Around 1244 Matthew Paris depicted the shield surrounded by a bordure with ten fleur-de-lis all pointing inwards, and it was not until the reign of Alexander III (1249-1286) that the border had become the now familiar double tressure flory counter flory. Even then there was a change, for in February 1471 an Act of Parliament stated that “the King, [James III] with the advice of the three Estates ordained that in time to come there should be no double tressure about his arms, but that he should bear whole arms of the lyoun without any more”. This curious state of affairs, possibly brought about to give the lie to any suggestion that Scotland was a French fief as a result of the king’s aunt Margaret having married the future Louis XI, did not last long, and for a short period the double tressure was re-introduced without a top, 3 before being fully re-instated.

The Royal Arms as officially used in Scotland.

The sovereignty of James VI and I over his two realms created a new situation necessitating consideration of the design of the Royal arms. As is often the case where circumstances conflict, an elegant compromise was reached, it being decided to have somewhat different arms for the two countries.

The Royal Arms 1541-1542 (James V)

The shield is surrounded by a collar consisting of thistle heads and knots, Scotland. There is no known evidence to regard this as being the Order of the Thistle. Some authorities believe it may represent an Order of Scotland later renamed the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle by King James VII and II in 1687. Other authorities assert the “revival” or re-naming was, in fact, the foundation of the Order, the insignia being based on collars, possibly of a personal nature, worn by a number of earlier monarchs.

Robert Gayre in his St Andrew Lecture of 1983 went so far as to suggest the insignia represented a French Order which “in some way or another became transferred from France to Scotland

For use in England the first and fourth grand quarters carried the three lions passant guardant as assumed by King Richard I (1189-1199) quartered with the three fleur-de-lis of France marking the ancient claim to that country. The second quarter was occupied by the rampant red lion of Scotland while the third depicted the harp of Ireland, regularly incorporated for the first time. For use in Scotland the rampant lion within the double tressure was granted the first and fourth quarters, England quartering France the second, and Ireland, as before, the third.

The crest on the Scottish version of the achievement was On an Imperial crown proper, a lion sejant affrontée gules, imperially crowned or, holding in the dexter paw a sword and in the sinister paw a sceptre erect and proper. For England the crest remained On an Imperial crown proper, a lion statant guardant or, imperially crowned proper, while the supporters became an English lion, crowned, on the dexter, and a Scottish unicorn on the sinister.

For the northern realm the Scottish unicorn was placed to the dexter, imperially crowned and holding a tilting lance flying the cross of St Andrew, while on the inferior side the English lion similarly crowned supported a tilting lance flying the Cross of St George.

The Great Seal of James VI from 1603 showing his sovereignty over both Scotland and England

The shield is surrounded by a collar of thistle heads and the Collar of the Order of the Garter, indicating that James became sovereign of the Order on succeeding to the English throne. The lion supporter is not yet guardant.

In 1672 a celebrated Statute provided for the establishment of a single Public Register of All Arms and Bearings which was to be “The True and Unrepeatable Rule of All Arms and Bearings” in Scotland. In conformity with the new legislation, King Charles II set a fine example by submitting the blazon of the Tressured Lion Rampant with its Lion crest and Unicorn Supporters. This was entered on folio 14 of the first volume, and recorded as the exclusive property of the sovereign as such it retained its “individual status, [there still being] many occasions on which both shield and crest are officially employed”. 4 In addition the king proffered “The Blason of the Atchivement of His Majestie of Great Britain”, which quartered coat occupied folio 18 of the new register. The text was as follows:

The most high and mightie Monarch Charles the Second Be the grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland defender of the faith. Etc. For his Majesties atchievement of Soveraigne ensignes armoriall Beares these most Royall Coats quarterlie quartered viz. First Or, a Lyon rampant within a duble tressur counterflowerdelised gules armed with langued azur. As the Royall armes of Scotland, Second quartered first and last azure three flowers de lis Or as the Royall arms of France. Second and third gules three Lyons passant guardant in pale or for the Royall ensignes of England, third azur an Irish harp or stringed argent for the ensigne of his Majesties Kingdom of Ireland, fourt and last in all points as the first. All within the orders of St. Andrew and of the Garter. Above the same ane Helmet answerable to his Majesties Soveraigne Jurisdiction and thereon a Mantle of cloath of gold doubled ermine. Adorned with ane Imperiall Crowne surmounted on the

top, for his Majesties Crest, of a Lyon sejant full faced gules crowned or, erected. Supported on the dexter be ane Unicorne argent crowned with ane Imperiall and Goarged with ane open Crowne to this a chaine affixed passing betwixt his fore-leggs and reflexed over his back or, and on the Sinister, the other. The first embraceing and bearing up a Banner azur charged with St. Andrews cross argent, and the last ane other Banner argent charged with a cross (called of St. George) gules: both standing on ane rich compartment placed underneath from the middle whereof issue a thistle and rose as the two Royall badges of Scotland and England. And for his Majesties Royall motto’s In ane escroll above all In defence for Scotland and in the Table of the compartment Dieu et mon droit, for England, France and Ireland.

In 1707 the Treaty of Union established the Royal Arms under Chap XXIV of the Act and the foregoing was in every essential particular confirmed. Today, when all pretensions to the throne of France have long been consigned to history the Royal Arms of Great Britain as officially used in Scotland are simple, logical and attractive as shown below. The Royal Arms as used in England are equally so.

The author is grateful to Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records for a copy of the text extracted furth of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings.

James III

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James III, (born May 1452—died June 11, 1488, near Stirling, Stirling, Scot.), king of Scots from 1460 to 1488. A weak monarch, he was confronted with two major rebellions because he failed to win the respect of the nobility.

James received the crown at the age of eight upon the death of his father, King James II. Scotland was governed first by James’s mother, Mary of Gueldres (d. 1463), and James Kennedy, bishop of St. Andrews (d. 1465), and then by a group of nobles headed by the Boyds of Kilmarnock, who seized the king in 1466. In 1469 James overthrew the Boyds and began to govern for himself. Unlike his father, he was, however, unable to restore strong central government after his long minority. He evidently offended his nobles by his interest in the arts and by taking artists for his favourites. In 1479 he arrested his brothers, Alexander, Duke of Albany, and John, Earl of Mar, on suspicion of treason. Albany escaped to England, and in 1482 English troops entered Scotland and forced James to restore Albany to his domains. During this invasion dissident Scottish nobles hanged James’s favourites. By March 1483 the king had recovered enough power to expel Albany.

Nevertheless, even without English aid to his discontented subjects, James was unable to ward off revolts. In 1488 two powerful border families, the Homes and the Hepburns, raised a rebellion and won to their cause his 15-year-old son, the future king James IV. James III was captured and killed after his defeat at the Battle of Sauchieburn, Stirling, on June 11.

A Jacobite icon

Images of St Andrew are also found in our Jacobite collection, in particular on these badges of the Order of the Thistle, the greatest Order of Chivalry in Scotland. The Order was established by James VII and II in 1687, to reward Scottish peers who supported his political and religious aims. After his exile to France, the deposed King continued to use it to encourage loyalty among his supporters.

The Order continues today and you can find out more about it here.

Above: Oval badge of gilt brass, featuring images of a thistle head and the figure of St Andrew, associated with the Order of the Thistle. Made in the late 17th – early 18th century.

Above: Gold and enamel pendant badge of the Order of the Thistle, made by John James Edington, London, 1825–26.

You can find out more about the Collar of the Order of the Thistle in this short film.

The inscription on the blade of this broadsword , made around 1715, shows St Andrew and proclaims support for the Jacobite cause.

Above: The inscription on this Jacobite broadsword reads: ‘Prosperity to Schotland and no Union’ and ‘For God my Country and King James the 8’. Above it is an image of St Andrew.

This lavish travelling canteen or picnic set, presented as a gift to Prince Charles Edward Stuart by a Jacobite supporter, features St Andrew on the lid.

Above: Silver travelling canteen made by Ebenezer Oliphant c.1740-1749.

The canteen is emblazoned with symbols representing the Prince's position, including the three feathers of the Prince of Wales and a pattern of thistles – the Prince was made a Knight of the Thistle shortly after his birth in 1720.

Above: Thistle pattern on the travelling canteen.

Above: These paintings of Prince Charles Edward Stuart as a child show him wearing an Order of the Thistle badge.

Bonnie Prince Charlie was keen to emphasise his Scottish roots to encourage support, dressing in tartan during his ill-fated time in Scotland, which ended with his defeat at the Battle of Culloden.

Above: This rare Jacobite colour, or flag, was carried by the Appin Stewart Regiment at the Battle of Culloden, a battle which saw the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite cause.


It seems likely that Divinity has been taught in St Andrews since before 921, when the University first has record of a Culdee monastery. It is virtually certain that there is an unbroken tradition of teaching since 1140, when the Augustinian canons arrived and Bishop Robert established the extensive Priory Library.

That said, the real history of the School does not begin until 1410, when Bishop Wardlaw established his Studium Generale the Faculty of Divinity was incorporated at the same time as the University on 28 August 1413. Lawrence of Lindores was the first professor of theology in the new University, although he is remembered now more for his philosophical contributions John Mair (died 1550) is the most notable of the early theologians.

In 1537 to 1538, Archbishop James Beaton received Pope Paul III’s bull founding the College of St Mary, and teaching began on the site of Wardlaw’s first teaching hall. The early history of the College was turbulent. James Beaton died within days of the papal bull arriving. He was succeeded by his nephew, David Beaton, who continued to work to establish the college but was himself killed in 1546 in the unrest following Wishart’s martyrdom. A year later, the founding Principal, Archibald Hay, died fighting the English at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. Despite such setbacks, the College gained an international reputation, attracting, for example, Richard Smyth, the first Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, when the progress of the English Reformation drove him from his former chair. In 1552, the first book printed in St Andrews was Archbishop John Hamilton’s Catechism, which was essentially written by the faculty of St Mary’s.

In 1579, when the University was reconstituted following the Reformation, St Mary’s College was made the home of the University’s Faculty of Divinity, which it remains today. Amongst the first few Principals of the reformed College were Andrew Melville and Samuel Rutherford, both major scholars and significant players in Scottish ecclesial history (some of Rutherford’s works remain in print to this day). Both were also politically controversial, Rutherford defending the legitimacy of subjects taking arms against a despotic monarch (i.e. Charles I) in his work Lex Rex. When he died in 1661, he was awaiting trial for treason against Charles II. Melville had also been charged with treason, in his case by James VI, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London 1607 to 1611 before being exiled to France.

From 1579 to about 1960 the role of St Mary’s was essentially to train ministers for the Church of Scotland. During those centuries, the College played full part in national and international ecclesial affairs (it was represented, for example, at the Synod of Dort and the Westminster Assembly, and supplied several capable leaders of the Moderate party of the Church of Scotland). The College also, of course, had difficult moments. In 1679, the Professor of Divinity, James Sharp, was ambushed and killed by Covenanters after accepting the Archepiscopacy of St Andrews from Charles II as far as the School is aware, he remains the only professor to have been murdered whilst in post. Rightly or wrongly, the College resisted incorporation into the United College in 1747. Probably the most troubled time in recent history, however, came in 1745 to 1746, when the death of James Hadow, who had been Principal of St Mary’s since 1707, coincided with several professors and a number of students siding with Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Jacobite Rising.

More recently (under Principal Struther Arnott), the St Mary's became constituted as a School as well as a Faculty and a College. In recent decades, the School has continued to train ministers for the Kirk, but this has become a very minor strand of its work. The School's undergraduates are increasingly drawn from school leavers finding Divinity an attractive option within the general humanities the School's postgraduates sometimes have a background in church ministry, but generally intend on going into a career in the academy.

Notable scholars in recent decades include:

  • Donald Baillie, Professor of Dogmatic Theology 1934-1954
  • Matthew Black, FBA, Professor of Biblical Criticism 1954-1978
  • Daphne Hampson, Professor of Post-Christian Studies (who pioneered feminist theology in the UK) 1977-2002
  • Richard Bauckham, FBA, Professor of New Testament Studies, 1992-2007
  • John Webster, DD, FRSA, Professor of Divinity, 2013-2016
  • N.T. Wright, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, 2010 – present.

The Place of St Marys in the Religious History of Scotland

The following is a more detailed history of the place of St Mary's College within the religious history of Scotland, written by the School's former Professor of Ecclesiastical History, James K. Cameron (with his kind permission).

Scotland and its religious culture

Since 1707 Scotland has formed part of the United Kingdom and as such is joined by many ties to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. While its culture and sense of nationhood is proud and distinct, its people, shaped by Roman, Irish, English, Scandinavian and Continental influences and themselves playing a prominent part in the development of other countries, are welcoming and hospitable to those from beyond its shores.

Scottish Christianity, born of the twin influences of the Celtic Church and Rome, is deep-rooted and expressed today in the national Church of Scotland (a Reformed and presbyterian body), in a strong Roman Catholic community, and in the presence of many other branches of the Christian faith. Modern demographic changes have also seen the emergence in Scotland in recent times of a multi-cultural, multi-faith society, especially in the larger urban centres.

St Andrews

St Andrews is in many respects an ideal place to study theology. As the seat of the primate of the mediaeval Scottish Church, the Archbishop of St Andrews, this small city was for many centuries the centre of church life in Scotland. Its origins as a Christian centre go back to the eighth century AD, to the time of the Pictish kings of eastern Scotland. To this day its position on a headland by the North Sea is dominated by the ruins of the great mediaeval cathedral and the fortified bishop's castle.

During the crucial dispute at the time of the Reformation St Andrews was at the heart of much of the action, witnessing the capture of John Knox by French Catholic forces and the martyrdom and murder of leading Protestants and Catholics. Since then religious struggle may have given way to more friendly rivalry as the town became the home of the international game of golf, but St Andrews remains a formidable intellectual centre with thriving contacts around the world.

The College of St Mary

St Mary's College was planned by Archbishop James Beaton shortly after his appointment to the See of St Andrews in a supplication sent to the Pope at Rome in 1525. As far as is known, nothing came of the proposal to establish within the metropolitan city and its University a College of 'clerks' for the benefit of those poor clerks and priests of the diocese who wished to pursue studies in Arts and Literature, Theology, Law and Medicine.

The Archbishop's plan to provide for a better-educated parish priesthood was renewed in 1537. This time he was successful and a Bull from Pope Paul III was issued on 12 February 1538, which was in effect the papal foundation of the College. It took, however, a further year before the Archbishop was able to take action.

The first recorded steps towards the foundation of the College were taken in the castle of St Andrews on 7 February 1539, and in the chapel of St John the Evangelist in South Street, three days later.

The College of 'doctore, regents, masters, chaplains and students' was intended to have both an academic and a religious purpose. The religious purpose entailed the daily offering of prayers for the soul of the late King James IV and those of his successors. Hence, the prominence of the royal coat of arms on the street frontage of the College building.

Archbishop Beaton did not, however, live more than a few days after the formal inauguration of the College. His successor, Cardinal David Beaton, immediately undertook the work of erecting the College and incorporating in it the chapel of St John, the ancient pedagogy, and the Canon Law schools. Much time and money was expended by the Cardinal on the rebuilding of the chapel and the erection of the north range of the present College buildings. It is unlikely that much teaching took place at this time, but what there was was in the hands of the regents of the former pedagogy.

The political and the religious events of the Spring and early Summer of 1546 - the death of Wishart and the murder of the Cardinal - had a shattering effect on the city and the University.

During the vacancy of the Episcopal See, as a result of Beaton's assassination, Archibald Hay, a most distinguished Scots scholar at Paris, who had been summoned by the Cardinal, was appointed Principal and took office on 13 July. he had already given full expression in publications at Paris to his hopes and aspirations for the new College. He in fact envisaged at St Andrews a trilingual College, whose future lay in the cultivation of the new learning by instruction in Greek, Latin and Hebrew. Hay was not, however, destined to occupy the Principalship for more than 14 months. Having obeyed the summons to arms to resist the English invasion in July 1547, he died at the disastrous Battle of Pinkie.

The new Archbishop, John Hamilton, who had also received some of his education in Paris, quickly showed an interest in the new College and set about recreating its fortunes. As Hay's successor, he chose John Douglas, who had been a regent in the University of Paris in the early 1530s and 40s, and had been supported by Archbishop James Beaton. Douglas was the natural successor to carry on the work of Hay. He was in fact to guide the fortunes of the College and the University without a break from October 1547 until March 1574.

The new Archbishop had far-reaching plans for the College. He continued the building activities of his predecessor and was responsible for all of the building south of the former Drawing Room of the Principal's House, and is commemorated by the Tower, into which is built his coat of arms. Hamilton, no doubt inspired by Douglas, made strenuous efforts to bring a number of distinguished Scottish scholars from abroad to augment and enhance its teaching, among them the celebrated philosopher, John Rutherford, and the distinguished lawyer, William Skene. Others who taught in the College at this time were Richard Smyth, the first Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, who subsequently became Head of the College at Douai, and Richard Marshall, another Doctor in Theology at Oxford and Dominican Prior of Newcastle.

At this time Hamilton was actively seeking to bring about a Catholic reformation in Scotland in which he envisaged St Mary's College should play a prominent part. It seems almost certain that the Catechism sanctioned by the Church Council in 1552 - the first book printed and published in St Andrews - was essentially the product of the theologians at that time working and teaching in St Mary's College.

The reforms proposed by the Scottish councils, the strengthening of the theological faculty in the University and the publication of the Catechism, acknowledging the needs of the Church for a better-educated priesthood, together form the back to yet another supplication to Rome and a subsequent charter or new foundation in February 1554.

According to the Archbishop's intention, the future of the College was to be as a vehicle of Catholic reformation, and for this purpose it was to be thoroughly reorganised and further endowed. A good start was made, but already time was running out for those who advocated Catholic Reform in Scotland. Other factors had begun to influence the Scottish scene the growing political dissatisfaction with the policy of the Queen Regent and the spread of the Protestant movement, particularly in the east coast towns. Those who supported the archbishop's ecclesiastical policy began to have grave doubts about its peaceful fulfilment.

In June 1559 the Protestant Reformation was accomplished in St Andrews. Principal Douglas, and many others who had been connected with the College in the previous decade, joined the reformers and, along with the sub-prior Winran, took their part in supporting the Reformation. Reform was henceforth to take a definitely Protestant form. Nevertheless, Douglas clearly saw the College as continuing in the service of the Church and consequently the transition could hardly have been accomplished more smoothly or with less dislocation. Although ecclesiastically deprived, the Archbishop continued, until his execution in 1571, to take an interest in the College of which he was the re-founded and patron, and to make appointments to the staff from amongst his kinsmen.

From 1560 until the death of Douglas, the College continued to thrive despite the uncertainties of the times. Building operations, however, ceased. Numbers of students remained high, although the College became somewhat of a Hamilton preserve. Douglas' successor in 1571, Robert Hamilton, was also minister of the parish church in St Andrews, and had been successively third and second master. He continued to hold his pastoral charge during John Knox's final stay in St Andrews.

About this time, dissension arose and St Mary's College became the object of repeated enquiry by parliamentary commissions headed by the regent Morton. Parliamentary and ecclesiastical concern result in the Act of Parliament of 1579 'refounding' and 'reorganising' the entire University of St Andrews. From that date onwards St Mary's College was destined to become the home of the University's Faculty of Theology and to be the principal College of Theology for the education of candidates for the ministry of the national church.

Andrew Melville was brought by the joint efforts of Crown and Kirk to St Andrews in 1580. A former student of the College, Melville, by his own scholarship and by those whom he secured as its masters, sought to re-establish the College as a centre of high academic learning. In the last decade of the century a constant stream of students from abroad continued to flow into St Andrews. Melville's activity in supporting the presbyterian cause against the King resulted in a royal summons to London and his subsequent deprivation of the Principalship in 1607.

His successor, Robert Howie, who had been the first Principal of Marishcal College, Aberdeen, and subsequently one of the ministers of Dundee, was academically well-suited to follow Melville. he also showed himself from this time forward more favourably disposed to the King's plans for the Church.

During his Principalship the earlier building operations were renewed. He linked up the Beaton and Hamilton buildings by that part now represented by the College offices and former Drawing Room. he also completely rebuilt the eastern sections of the South Street frontage and was largely responsible for the erection of the University Library on the probably site of the College chapel of St John. His arms and initials are frequently found on the east frontage.

During Howie's Principalship, the College continued to enjoy an international reputation and to draw students from all parts of the Protestant world. Howie, having guided the fortunes of the College and University throughout the first half of the 17th century, was succeeded in 1647 by Samuel Rutherford, one of the most distinguished of St Andrews divines and whose portrait, painted during his attendance at the Westminster Assembly of Divines in London, is undoubtedly the finest in College Hall.

In the 18th century her most distinguished members were Principal James Hadow and Professor Archibald Campbell, both of whose portraits adorn the College Hall. Hadow is best remembered for his opposition to the 'Marrow men', and Archibald Campbell for the way in which he sought to employ the benefits of the enlightenment in the service of theology.

George Hill, who was Principal from 1791 to 1819 was leader of the Moderate Party and a theological teacher of the young Thomas Chalmers.

Towards the end of the century one of the most colourful members of the College was Principal John Tulloch, a Moderator of the General Assembly and a man who was much admired by Queen Victoria. He was succeeded in the Principalship by John Cunningham, a forebear of Admiral Cunningham.

The 20th century is represented by the portrait on the west side of the fireplace in St Mary's College Hall of Principal Galloway (last of the ex officio Principals), who was Professor of Divinity from 1915 to 1933, and on the east side by the fine portrait by Alberto Morocco of Principal G.S. Duncan (1940-1954), who was Professor of Biblical Criticism from 1919 to 1954.

Unfortunately the university does not have a portrait of one of its most highly celebrated theologians of the last century, Donald M. Baillie (1887-1954), Professor of Dogmatic Theology from 1934 to his death.

James III of Scotland with St. Andrew - History

Templar Roots

The Order of the Knights of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, or the Knights of the Temple was established in 1119. The Templars were the first priestly order of armed knights. The order was created to provide safe transit for Christian Pilgrims visiting the Holy Land from Europe.

Knights swore allegiance to the Pope and took vows of poverty, loyalty and chastity. The order grew in numbers and popularity as they fought to keep the Holy Land open. Their business acumen made the most of the gifts granted them by their grateful patrons in Europe.

One of the true supporters of the Templars was Bernard de Clairvaux (later canonized as Saint Bernard) who described them in 1135 as, “A Templar Knight is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armour of faith, just as his body is protected by the armour of steel. He is thus doubly armed, and need fear neither demons nor men."

Despite the sacrifice and devotion of the Templars, in 1307 the order was declared heretical by Pope Clement V acting on the insistence of Phillip the Fair of France. On Friday, October 13, 1307, members of the order in France were arrested. Imprisoned, many were executed, more tortured, and all impoverished. In most of Europe, the Estates of the Order were confiscated and divided between the sovereign, the Knights Hospitalers (Knights of St. John of Jerusalem or Knights of Malta) and the Pope.

When the Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay and the Preceptor of Normandy, Geoffrey de Charney were burned alive, on March 18, 1314, the Templars no longer had a common head, nor could anyone maintain their organization under their old name, which had become so famous.

Their possessions stolen, their leaders incarcerated for life or put to death, the brethren were persecuted in every way. The survivors were compelled to leave their homes to save their lives. They laid aside the garb of the Temple and mingled in the world. Many former Templars joined other orders.

Dispersal to Scotland

In Portugal, they were announced as innocent and the name of the order was changed to the Order of Christ. In England, King Edward proscribed them and forbade them to remain in the realm, unless they entered the Commandries of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. In Scotland, they found protection and joined the army with which King Robert Bruce met the invasion of his country led by Edward II of England.

The Battle of Bannockburn was being fought on the 24th day of June, 1314 when a group of exiled Templars rode into the fray and turned the tide of battle. This intervention may well have tipped the scales in favor of Scottish independence.

In gratitude for the assistance of that group of former Templars, Robert the Bruce created the Order of Saint Andrew du Chardon (of the Thistle) of Scotland.

King Robert reserved the title of Grand Master for himself and his successors forever. He granted a charter of land to the members of his new Order. Prince Charles Edward Stuart was the last Grand Master of the Scottish Order and exercised his powers by establishing a Chapter of Rose Croix at Arres, France.

Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite

When the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite was organized in the early 1730s, explanatory degrees were added to those of the Blue Lodge. Degrees of the Rites of Heredom and Perfection along with other degrees and rites from Scotland, France, and Germany were added. The 29th Degree became the “Scottish Knight of St. Andrew.” Exemplifying the qualities of the Knights Templars and those of the Order of St. Andrew du Chardon, this degree remains with us today.

James III of Scotland with St. Andrew - History

The "Order of Saint Andrew" or the "Most Ancient Order of the Thistle" is an order of Knighthood which is restricted to the King or Queen and sixteen others. It was established by James VII of Scotland in 1687.

A disciple of Jesus and the brother of Simon Peter . The two are pictured as fishermen working beside the sea when Jesus summons them to follow him and become, "fishers of men." Although less prominent than his brother, Andrew is present at the miracle of the bread and the speech on the Mount of Olives. In the list of the Twelve, Andrew is listed second in Luke and Matthew and fourth in the books of Mark and Acts. In all accounts he was one of the first, as a follower of John the Baptists, to be "called" a disciple.

According to later traditions , Andrew became a missionary to Asia Minor, Macedonia, and southern Russia. In 70 AD he was martyred in Patras, Greece. Having many coverts, he was feared by the Roman governor who had him cruxified on an X-shaped cross known as a Saltire Cross. (One of the many Medievil customs of torture). It is this shape that is reflected in the Scottish flag. ( for culture buffs who attribute the southern "bubba or redneck" culture to early Scottish settlers, take note of the similiar designs between the Scottish flag and the Confederate flag).

He was the patron saint of Greece, Russua and Of course Scotland. St. Andrew is also invoked against gout and a stiff neck.

St. Andrews bones were entombed, and around 300 years later were moved by Emperor Constantine (the Great) to his new capital Constantinople. Legend suggests that a Greek Monk (although others describe him as an Irish assistant of St. Columba) called St. Rule (or St. Regulus) was warned in a dream that St. Andrews remains were to be moved and was directed by an angel to take those of the remains which he could to the "ends of the earth" for safe-keeping. St. Rule dutifully followed these directions, removing a tooth, an arm bone, a kneecap and some fingers from St. Andrew's tomb and transporting these as far away as he could. That place was Scotland and it is here the association is believed to have begun. It was here that St. Rule was shipwrecked with his precious cargo.

St. Rule is said to have come ashore at a Pictish settlement on the East Coast of Scotland and this later became St. Andrews.

Another story is that Acca, the Bishop of Hexham, who was a reknown collector of relics, brought the relics of St. Andrew to St. Andrews in 733. There certainly seems to have been a religious center at St. Andrews at that time, either founded by St. Rule in the 6th century or by a Pictish King, Ungus, who reigned from 731 - 761. Whichever tale is true, the relics were placed in a specially constructed chapel. This chapel was replaced by the Cathedral of St. Andrews in 1160, and St. Andrews became the religious capital of Scotland and a great center for Medieval pilgrims who came to view the relics.

There are other legends of how St. Andrew and his remains became associated with Scotland,but there is little evidence for any of these, including the legend of St. Rule. The names still exist in Scotland today, including St. Rules Tower, which remains today amongst the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral. It is not known what happened to the relics of St. Andrew which were stored in St. Andrews Cathedral, although it is most likely that these were destroyed during the Scottish Reformation.

The Protestant cause, propounded by Knox, Wishart and others, won out over Roman Catholism during the Reformation and the "idolatry of catholism", that is the Saints, relics, decoration of churches, were expunged during the process of converting the Roman Catholic churches of Scotland to the harsh simplicity of Knox's brand of Calvanism.

The place where these relics were kept within the Cathedral at St. Andrews is now marked by a plaque, amongst the ruins, for visitors to see.

The larger part of St. Andrew's remains were stolen from Constantinople in 1210 and are now to be found in Amalfi in Southern Italy. In 1879 the Archbishop of Amalfi sent a small piece of the Saint's shoulder blade to the re-established Roman Catholic community in Scotland. During his visit in 1969, Pope Paul VI gave further relics of St. Andrew to Scotland with the words "Saint Peter gives you his brother" and these are now displayed in a reliquary in St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh.

St Andrew
Scotland's Patron Saint

In most Christian countries and for many centuries the last day in November has been observed as the feast day of St Andrew. The Church Calendar begins with Advent (defined as the nearest Sunday to St Andrew’s Day), and it seems fitting that Andrew, the first of Christ’s disciples, should have the distinction of coming first in the Church Year. In Scotland - and wherever else Scots are gathered - November 30th is celebrated as our national day, for St Andrew is Scotland’s patron saint and the St Andrew’s Cross (or Saltire) is Scotland’s flag. But who was St Andrew, and how did he become our patron saint?


The Bible tells us that Andrew, a fisherman from Bethsaida in Galilee, was the ‘first called’ of Christ’s disciples and that he brought his brother Simon Peter to become a follower of Jesus. After the Crucifixion, as tradition relates, Andrew travelled the countries bordering the Black Sea and preached the Gospel in Scythia (as the Ukraine and Southern Russia were anciently known) and in Greece. (For a link between Scythia and the Scots, see the part of the Arbroath Declaration quoted overleaf). His missionary work is still remembered in that part of the world: to this day Andrew is patron saint in Greece, Russia and the Ukraine. It was in Greece, in the city of Patras, that he suffered martyrdom. Possibly because he felt himself unworthy to meet his death on a cross of the same shape as his Lord’s, he was crucified on a diagonal cross.

Part of the tradition is that St Andrew wore blue, and so the white of the wooden cross against the blue of his robes gave us the colours of our national flag. However, there is another legend to explain the white cross on a blue background, a legend which had its birth a long way from Greece, in the village of Athelstaneford in East Lothian.


According to this legend, an army of Picts under Angus mac Fergus, High King of Alba, and aided by a contingent of Scots, had been on a punitive raid in Northumbrian territory, but were pursued and then confronted by a larger force of Angles and Saxons under one Athelstan. Defeat seemed almost certain, but after Angus and his men had prayed for deliverance, the appearance in the blue sky above them of a white cloud in the shape of a saltire or St Andrew’s Cross seemed to promise that their prayers had been heeded. Thereupon Angus vowed that if they were victorious that day, St Andrew would forever after be their patron saint. Victory was indeed theirs, Angus remembered his vow, and so Andrew became our patron saint and his cross our flag. The date is believed to have been 832AD.

The battle is commemorated by a monument in the churchyard at Athelstaneford. Attached is a tall flagpole on which a Saltire is flown permanently, even during the hours of darkness when it is floodlit, as a reminder of the flag’s origins.


Far though he travelled on his missionary journeys, St Andrew never set foot in the most westerly of the countries which adopted him as patron saint. But four centuries after his death, some of his bones arrived here. Quite how they did so is uncertain. One version of the story is that St Regulus (St Rule) was homeward bound from the Mediterranean lands with the relics of the saint he had acquired there when his ship was wrecked on the coast of Fife. Regulus settled where he had been shipwrecked, at Kilrymont, and the church which he founded there became an important place of pilgrimage and the seat of the Bishop of St Andrews. Another version, favoured by historians, is that some relics of St Andrew found their way from Constantinople, where the Emperor Constantine the Great had a collection, via the Italian town of Amalfi to Scotland. But whatever the truth of the matter, it is clear that the rise to prominence of St Andrew and the cathedral city bearing his name was closely linked to changes taking place in Scotland between the 9th and the 12th centuries. During this period Celtic influences coming from Ireland and associated with local saints such as Columba had led to the creation of religious centres at Dunkeld, Abernethy and elsewhere but the influence of Rome coming via England was, to prove stronger in the end, and St Andrews, named after an apostle of the universal church, became its headquarters. The strength of St Andrews was shown in the stubborn resistance it offered to the pretensions of the See of York, which was seeking to extend its jurisdiction over Scotland. The resistance was successful, and in the end the independence of the Scottish Church was recognised by the Pope.

The country’s political independence, restored by the heroic efforts culminating in Bannockburn, was given its most eloquent expression in the Declaration of Arbroath, and in 1385 an Act of Parliament established the statutory position of the St Andrew’s Cross as the national flag which any Scot is entitled to fly or display.

The Arbroath Declaration (1320) relates with pride the country’s link with St Andrew and the scene of his missionary labours:

"Among other distinguished nations our own nation, namely of Scots, has been marked by many distinctions. It journeyed from Greater Scythia . but nowhere could it be subjugated by any people it acquired, with many victories and untold efforts, the places which it now holds, although often assailed by Norwegians. Danes and English.

"Our Lord Jesus Christ . called them . almost the first to his most holy faith. Nor did he wish to confirm them in that faith by anyone but by the first apostle by calling. . namely the most gentle Andrew, the blessed Peter’s brother, whom he wished to protect them as their patron for ever".

St Andrew

St Andrew, one of the 12 Christian apostles, 65 AD © St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, whose saint's day is celebrated annually on 30 November.

Andrew was one of the original 12 apostles of Christ, and the brother of another apostle, Simon Peter. Both lived and worked as fishermen in Galilee. Very little else is known about Andrew's life.

He is said to have travelled to Greece to preach Christianity, where he was crucified at Patras on an X-shaped cross. This is represented by the diagonal cross, or 'saltire', on Scotland's flag.

Andrew's connection with Scotland relates to the legend that some of his remains were kept at the site that is now the town of St Andrews. A chapel was built to house the remains and became a place of pilgrimage.