Beaton, James

, archbishop of St. Andrew’s in the reign of James V. was uncle to the preceding. We have no certain account of his birth, or of the manner of his education, except that, being a younger brother, he was from his infancy destined for the church. He had great natural talents, and having improved them by the acquisition of the learning fashionable in those times, he came early into the world, under the title of Provost of Both well; a preferment given him through the interest of his family. He received his first benefice in 1503, and next year was advanced to the rich preferment of abbot of Dumferling. In 1505, upon the death of sir David Beaton, his brother, his majesty honoured him with the staff of high-treasurer, and he was thenceforward considered as one of the principal statesmen. In 1508 he was promoted to the hishopric of Galloway, and before he had sat a full year in that cathedral chair, he was removed to the archiepiscopal see of Glasgow, on which he resigned the treasurer’s staff, in order to be more at leisure to mind the government of his diocese: and indeed it is universally acknowledged, that none mflffe carefully attended the duties of his functions than archbishop Beaton while he continued at Glasgow; and he has left there such marks of concern for that church, as have baffled time, and the rage of a distracted populace: the monuments of his piety and public spirit which he raised at Glasgow, still remaining to justify this part of his character. It does not appear that he had any hand in the counsels which drove king James IV. into a fatal war with England. On the death of this monarch in the battle of Flodden-field, the regent John duke of Albany appointed our prelate to be high-chancellor. In 1523 he became archbishop of St. Andrew’s, not only by the favour of the regent, but with the full consent of the young king, who was then, and all his life, much under the influence of the archbishop’s nephew David, the subject of the preceding | article. The power of the regent, “however, being abrogated by parliament, and the earl of Angus haying placed himself at the head of government, our archbishop was dismissed the court, and obliged to resign the office of chancellor; but when the Douglases were driven from court, and the king recovered his freedom, the archbishop came again into power, although he did not recover the office of chancellor. He now resided principally at the palace of St. Andrew’s, and, as some say, at the instigation of his nephew, the cardinal, proceeded with great violence against the protestants, and is particularly accountable for the death of Patrick Hamilton, the protomartyr of Scotland, a young man of piety, talents, and high birth, whom he procured to be burnt to death, although it is but justice to add that the same sentence was subscribed by the other archbishop, three bishops, six abbots and friars, and eight divines. He is even said to have had some degree of aversion to such proceedings. The clergy, however, were for stopping the mouths of such as preached what they disliked, in the same manner as they had done Hamilton’s. The archbishop moved but heavily in these kind of proceedings; and there are two very remarkable stories recorded to have happened about this time, which very plainly shew he was far enough from being naturally inclined to such severities. It happened at one qf their consultations, that some who were most vehement pressed for going on with the proceedings in the Archbishop’s court, when one Mr. John Lind$ey, a man in great credit with the archbishop, delivered himself to this purpose” If you burn any more of them, take my advice, and burn them in cellars, for I dare assure you, that the smoke of Mr. Patrick Hamilton has infected all that it blew upon.“The other was of a more serious nature; one Alexander Seton, a black friar, preached openly in the church of St. Andrew’s, that, according to St. Paul’s description of bishops, there were no bishops in Scotland, which being reported to the archbishop, not in very precise terms, he sent for Mr. Seton, and reproved him sharply for having said, according to his information,” That a bishop who did not preach was but a dumb dog, who feel not the flock, but fed his own belly.“Mr. Seton said, that tho.se vvho had reported this were liars, upon which witnesses were produced, who testified very positively to the fact. Mr. Seton, by way of reply, delivered himself thus:” My | lord, you have heard, and may consider, what ears these asses have, who cannot discern between Paul, Isaiah, Zachariah, Malachi, and friar Alexander Seton. In truth, my lord, I did preach that Paul saith, it hehoveth a bishop to be a teacher. Isaiah saith, that they that feed not the flock are dumb dogs; and the prophet Zachariah saith, that they are idle pastors. Of my own head I affirmed nothing, but declared what the Spirit of God before pronounced; at whom, my lord, t if you be not offended, you cannot justly be offended with me.“How much soever the bishop might be incensed, he dismissed friar Seton without hurt, who soon afterwards fled out of the kingdom. It does not appear, that from this time the archbishop acted much in these measures himself, but chose rather to grant commissions to others that were inclined to proceed against such as preached the doctrines of the reformation, a conduct which seems very fully to justify the remark of archbishop Spotswood upon our prelate’s behaviour.” Seventeen years,“says he,” he lived bishop of this see, and was herein most unfortunate, that under the shadow of his authority many good men were put to death for the cause of religion, though he himself was neither violently set, nor much solicitous (as it was thought) how matters went in the church."

In the promotion of learning, he shewed a real concern, by founding the New-college in the university of St. Andrew’s, which he did not live to finish, and to which, though he left the best part of his estate, yet after his death it was misapplied, and did not come, as he intended, to that foundation. One of the last acts of his life was the being present at the baptism of the young prince, born at St. Andrew’s the very year in which he died. His nephew Dieted for several years as his co-adjutor, and had the whole management of affairs in his hands; but the king retained to the last so great an affection for the archbishop, that he allowed him to dispose of all his preferments, by which means, his relation, George Drury, obtained the rich abbey of Dumferline, and one Mr. Hamilton, of the house of Roplock, became Abbot of Killwinning. Our archbishop deceased in 1539, and was interred in the cathedral church of St. Andrew’s before the high altar. He enjoyed the primacy of Scotland sixteen years, and his character is very differently represented, according to the dispositions of those who have mentioned him in their writings j but | upon the whole more favourably than that of his nephew, the cardinal. 1

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Biog. Brit.