Calderwood, David

, a famous divine of the church of Scotland, and a distinguished writer in behalf of the presbyterians, was descended of a good family in that kingdom, and born in 1575. Being early designed for the ministry, he applied with great diligence to the study of the scriptures in their original tongues, the works of the fathers, the councils, and the best writers of church history. He was settled, about 1604, at Crailing, not far from Jedburgh, in the south of Scotland. James VI. of that country, and the first of Great Britain, being desirous of bringing the church of Scotland to a near conformity with that of England, laboured earnestly to restore the episcopal authority, and enlarge the powers of the bishops in that kingdom; but this design was very warmly opposed by many of the ministers, and particularly by David Calderwood, who, when James Law, bishop of Orkney, came to visit the presbyteries of the Merse and Teviotdale, declined his jurisdiction, by a paper under his hand, dated May 5, 1603. The king, however, having its success much at heart, sent the earl of Dunbar, then high-treasurer of Scotland, Dr. Abbot, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, and two other divines, into that kingdom, with instructions to employ every method to persuade both the clergy and the laity, of his majesty’s sincere desire to promote the good of the church, and of his zeal for the | Protestant religion, in which they succeeded. Calderwood, however, did not assist at the general assembly held at Glasgow, June 8, 1610, in which lord Dunbar presided as commissioner; and it appears from his writings, that he looked upon every thing transacted in it as null and void. Exceptions were also taken by him and his party, against a great part of the proceedings of another general assembly > held with much solemnity at Aberdeen, Aug. 13, 1616. In May following, king James went to Scotland, and in June held a parliament at Edinburgh; at the same time the clergy met in one of the churches, to hear and advise with the bishops; which kind of assembly, it seems, was contrived in imitation of the English convocation. Mr. Calderwood was present at it, but declared publicly that he did not take any such meetings to resemble a convocation; and being opposed by Dr. Whitford and Dr. Hamilton, who were friends to the bishops, he took his leave of them in these words: “It is absurd to see men sitting in silks and satins, and to cry poverty in the kirk, when purity is departing.” The parliament proceeded mean while in the dispatch of business; and Calderwood, with several other ministers, being informed that a bill was depending to empower the king, with advice of the archbishops, bishops, and such a number of the ministry as his majesty should think proper, to consider and conclude, as to matters decent for the external policy of the church, not repugnant to the word of God; and that such conclusions should have the strength and power of ecclesiastical laws: against this they protested for four reasons: 1. Because their church was so perfect, that, instead of needing reformation, it might be a pattern to others. 2. General assemblies, as now established by law, and which ought always to continue, might by this means be overthrown. 3. Because it might be a means of creating schism, and disturb the tranquillity of the church. 4. Because they had received assurances, that no attempts should be made to bring them to a conformity with the church of England. They desired, therefore, that for these and other reasons, all thoughts of passing any such law may be laid aside; but in case this be not done, they protest, for themselves and their brethren who shall adhere to them, that they can yield no obedience to this law when it shall be enacted, because it is destructive of the liberty of the church; and therefore shall submit to such penalties, and think | themselves obliged to undergo such punishments, as may be inflicted for disobeying that law. This protest was signed by Archibald Simpson, on behalf of the members, who subscribed another separate roll, which he kept for his justification. It was delivered to Peter Hewet, who had a seat in parliament, in order to be presented; and another copy remained in Simpson’s hands, to be presented in case of any accident happening to the other. The affair making a great noise, Dr. Spotswood, archbishop of St. Andrew’s, asked a sight of the protest from Hewet, one day at court and, upon some dispute between them, it was torn. The other copy was actually presented by Simpson to the clerk register, who refused to read it before the states in parliament. However, the protest, though not read, had its effect; for although the bill before-mentioned, or, as the Scottish phrase is, the article, had the consent of parliament, yet the king thought fit to cause it to be laid aside; and not long after called a general assembly at St. Andrew’s. Soon after, the parliament was dissolved, and Simpson was summoned before the high commission court, where the roll of names which he had kept for his justification, was demanded from him; and upon his declaring that he had given it to Harrison, who had since delivered it to Calderwood, he was sent prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh; and Calderwood was summoned to appear before the high commission court at St. Andrew’s, on the 8th of July following, to exhibit the said protest, and to answer for his mutinous and seditious behaviour.

July 12, the king came to that city in person, and soon after Hewet and Simpson were deprived and imprisoned. After this, Calderwood was called upon, and refusing to comply with what the king in person required of him, James, after haranguing at some length on his disobedience, committed him to prison; and afterwards the/ privy-council, according to the power exercised by them at that time, directed him to banish himself out of the king’s dominions before Michaelmas following, and not to return without licence; and upon giving security for this purpose, he was discharged out of prison, and suffered to return to his parish, but forbid to preach. Having applied to the king for a prorogation of his sentence without success, because he would neither acknowledge his offence, nor promise conformity for the future, he retired to Holland in 1619, where his publications were securely | multiplied, and diffused through Scotland, particularly one entitled “The Perth Assembly,” which was condemned by the council. In 1623 he published his celebrated treatise entitled “Altare Damascenum, seu ecclesiae Anolicanse politia, ecclesiae Scoticanae obtrusa a formalista quodam delineata, illustrata, et examinata,” The writer of the preface prefixed to Calderwood’s “True history of the church of Scotland” telis us, that “the author of this very learned and celebrate 1 treatise (which is an answer to Lin wood’s ‘ Description of the Policy of the church of England’) doth irrefragably and unanswerably demonstrate the iniquity of designing and endeavouring to model and conform the divinely simple worship, discipline, and government of the church of Scotland to the pattern of the pompously prelatic and ceremonious church of England; under some conviction whereof it seems king James himself was, though implacably displeased with it, when, being after the reading of it somewhat pensive, and being asked the reason by an English prelate standing by and observing it, he told him he had seen and read such a book; whereupon the prelate telling his majesty not to suffer that to trouble him, for they would answer it he replied, not without some passion, < What would you answer, man There is nothing here but scripture, reason, and the fathers’.” This work was in fact an enlargement, in Latin, of one which he wrote in English, and published in 1621, under the title of “The Altar of Damascus,” and which is uncommonly rare. It concludes with noticing a rumour spread by bishop Spotswood, that Mr. Calderwood had turned Brownist, which rumour it denies in strong language, and with the following intemperate and unbecoming threat: “If either Spotswood, or his supposed author, persist in their calumny after this declaration, 1 shall try if there be any blood in their foreheads.” Calderwood having in 1624 been afflicted with a long fit of sickness, and nothing having been heard of him for some time, one Patrick Scot (as Calderwood himself informs us), took it for granted that he was dead; and thereupon wrote a recantation in his name, as if before his decease he had changed his sentiments. This imposture being detected, Scot went over to Holland, and staid three weeks at Amsterdam, where he made diligent search for the author of “Altare Damascenum,” with a design, as Calderwood believed, to have dispatched him: but Calderwood had privately returned | into his own country, where he remained for several years. Scot gave out that the king furnished him with the matter for the pretended recantation, and that he only put it in order.

During his retirement, Calderwood collected all the memorials relating to the ecclesiastfcal affairs of Scotland, from the beginning of the reformation there, down to the death of king James; which collection is still preserved, that which was published under the title of “The true History of Scotland,1680, fol. being only an extract from it. He probably returned to Scotland about 1636, and in 1643 we find him one of those who were appointed to draw up the form of the “Directory for the public worship of God” by the General Assembly; and when the English army lay at Lothian, in 1651, he went to Jedburgh, where, we are told, he sickened and died in a good old age, but the date is not given.

It may be necessary to say somewhat more of his manuscript history, which is contained in six large folio volumes, in the Glasgow library.*


There are three other transcripts of it, one in the Advocates library at Edinburgh; another in the possession of general Calderwood Durham of Largo, the representative of Mr. Calderwood, and of Mr. James Durham, formerly minister of Glasgow; and the third belongs to the General Assembly of the church of Scotland, to whom it was presented by Mr. Wodrow, a more recent ecclesiastical historian of Scotland.

In the first volume, immediately after the title-page, there is the following note. “This work, comprehended in pages, is collected out of Mr. Knox’s History, and his Memorials gathered for the continuation of his History, out of Mr. James Melvil’s Observations, Mr. John Davidson his Diary, the Acts of the General Assemblies, and Acts of Parliament, and out of several Proclamations, and Scrolls of diverse; and comprehendeth an History from the beginning of the reign of king James V. to the death of king James VI. but is contracted and digested in a better order, in a work of three volumes, bound in parchment, and is comprehended in 2013 pages. Out of which work contracted, is extracted another, in lesser bounds, but wanting nothing in substance, and comprehended in pages, which the author desireth only to be communicated to others, and this with the other, contracted into three volumes, to serve only for the defence of the third, and preservation of the History, in case it be lost.” The first of the six volumes gives a | large introduction, in which the author undertakes to inform us of the time when, and the persons by whom the island of Great Britain was first inhabited; and afterwards brings down the Scottish Civil History as well as the Ecclesiastical, from the first planting of Christianity to the end of James the Fourth’s reign. After his account of the affairs of the state and the church, we have a view of all the most considerable wars and battles (domestic and foreign) wherein the people of Scotland have been engaged before the said period, as also of the ancient honorary titles, and their institution. On this last head he quotes an old manuscript, sent from Icolmkill to Mr. George Buchanan, which testifies that a parliament was held at Forfar, in the year 1061, wherein surnames are appointed to be taken, and several earls, barons, lords, and knights, were created. After this general preface he begins his proper work, The History of the Scottish Reformation. And in this volume advances as far as the marriage of queen Mary with the lord Darnley, in 1565. In his story of Mr. Patrick Hamilton, the protomartyr in this cause, he gives a copy of the sentence pronounced against him, together with a congratulatory letter from the doctors at Louvain to the archbishop of St. Andrew’s, on the occasion of his death. Amongst those learned men, who upon the first persecution fled into Germany, he reckons Mr. George Buchanan. In his large account of the disputes and sufferings of the reformers, under the administration of cardinal Beaton and the queen regent, we have the particulars of the contentions at Frankfurt, which are mostly taken out of a book entitled “A brief discovery of the Troubles of Mr. John Knox, for opposing the English Service Book, in 1554.” After which we have Knox’s Appeal from the sentence of the clergy, to the nobility, estates, and community of Scotland, with a great many letters from the nobility to the queen-regent and him, on the subject of religion. All this part of the history, which in the printed book makes no more than thirteen pages, ends at page 57 1; from whence (to the end of the book at page 902) there is a good collection of curious letters, remonstrances, &c. which are not in the prints, either of Knox or Calderwood. The second volume contains the history from 1565 to the arraignment of the earl of Moreton for treason, in December 15 So, and contains 614 pages, wherein are many valuable discoveries | relating to the practices of David Rizzio, the king’s murder, Bothweil’s marriage and flight, &c. and a more periect narrative of the proceedings in the general assemblies, than the printed history will afford us. The third volume comprehends the entire history of both church and state, from the beginning of January 1581 to July 1586, when queen Mary’s letter to Babington was intercepted. Under the year 1584, there is a severe character of Mr. Patrick Adamson, archbishop of St. Andrew’s; which, in the conclusion, refers us for a farther account of him to a poem made by one Robert Semple, and entitled “The Legend of the Limmer’s Life.” Here is also “An account of the State and Church of Scotland to the Church of Geneva,” which was written by Andrew Melvil, in answer to the misrepresentations of the Scottish discipline scattered in foreign countries, by the said archbishop Adamson. The fourth gives the like mixed history of affairs, from July 1586 to the beginning of 1596. Here we have a full collection of papers relating to the trial, condemnation, and execution, of the unfortunate queen Mary, with abundance of others, touching the most remarkable transactions of this Decennium. In 1587 there is a large account of the coming of the sieur du Bartas into Scotland; of his being carried by king James to the university of St. Andrew’s, his hearing of the lectures of Mr. A. Melvil there, and the great opinion he had of the abilities of that professor, &c. In 1590 there are some smart reflections on Dr. Bancroft’s sermon at Paul’s Cross, censuring the proceedings of J. Knox, and others of the northern reformers, with the assembly’s letter to queen Elizabeth about that sermon. The fifth volume reaches from the beginning of January 1596, to the same month in 1607. After the accounts of the proceedings of the assembly in 1596, the author subjoins this pathetic epiphonema: “Here end all the sincere assemblies general of the kirk of Scotland, enjoying the liberty of the gospel under the free government of Christ.” The new and constant Platt of Planting all the Kirks of Scotland (written by Mr. David Lindsay, one of the Octavians) is here inserted at large, as it was presented to the king and states in the said year 1596. The history of the conspiracy of the Cowries, and the manner of its discovery, is likewise here recorded at length, in the same order, wherein the king commanded it to be published. The new form of ojmination to bishoprics, the protestation in parliament | against the restitution of episcopacy, and the reasons offered against it by others, are the remaining matters of consideration in this book. The sixth concludes with the death of king James VI.

Besides what we have already mentioned, Calderwood was the author of many other works relating to the church discipline of Scotland, which are now of rare occurrence, and prized only by collectors. These were printed in. Holland, but imported into Scotland, notwithstanding the most severe prohibitions. 1


Biog. Brit Biog. Scoticaua. Baillie’s Letters and Journals. Laing’s History of Scotland. Brewster’s Edinburgh Encyclopaedia.