Burne, Nicol (DNB00)

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BURNE or BOURN, NICOL (fl. 1581), controversialist, published in 1581, at Paris, a volume which supplies the main particulars of his life which are now known. This work is entitled ‘The Dispvtation concerning the Controversit Headdis of Religion, haldin in the Realme of Scotland, the yeir of God ane thousand fyue hundreth four scoir yeiris, betuix the pretendit ministers of the deformed kirk in Scotland and Nicol Burne, Professor of Philosophie in S. Leonardis College, in the citie of Sanctandrois, brocht up from his tender eage in the peruersit sect of the Calvinistis and nou, be ane special grace of God, ane member of the halie catholic kirk, Dedicat to his Souerane the Kingis M. of Scotland, King James the Saxt.’ There is a copy of the book in the British Museum, and a copy was sold at the Rev. Fuller Russell's sale on 20 June 1885 for 25l. In the epistle to the reader Burne states that he was brought up from his youth in the Calvinistic doctrines, and followed them with equal affection and zeal until ‘the time it pleased God through reiding of sum catholik orytharis to illuminate my hairt.’ He declared to ‘a minister called Smeton, in Paisley,’ his desire to defend the catholic doctrines before the general assembly of Scotland, expressing his willingness to suffer punishment unless he performed that which he ‘had tane in hand;’ but Smeton, after admitting the reasonableness of his proposal, proceeded, without any warning, to excommunicate him, upon which he was apprehended and confined in the castle of St. Andrews, whence he was conveyed to the Tolbooth, Edinburgh. Here he remained from 15 Oct. 1580 till the last day of the ensuing January. He complains of his treatment in the Tolbooth, and especially of the removal of a purse which he had hung out of the window to obtain alms. The register of the privy council of Scotland contains an entry on 29 Jan. of a ‘caution in 500l. by Andrew Burne, in Leith, for Mr. Nicoll Burne, that he shall, within a month hence, depart this realm, and in the mean time do nothing in prejudice of the present religioun presentlie professit,’ George Burne in Gogar, brother of Nicol, being cautioner in relief. The work of Burne repeats some outrageous calumnies against Knox, and also against the foreign reformers, the assertion being even gravely made that Luther was begotten of the devil as to his carnal as well as to his spiritual generation.

[Work as above; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, iii. 328, 355; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.]

T. F. H.