Gibson, William (fl.1540) (DNB00)

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GIBSON, WILLIAM (fl. 1540), lord of session, was the second son of Thomas Gibson of Durie in Fifeshire, who lived in the reign of James IV of Scotland. He was educated for the church at the university of Glasgow, where he was incorporated in 1503 and graduated in December 1507. He afterwards became vicar of Garvock, Kincardineshire, and in 1518, when present at a meeting of the Glasgow University council, was designated rector of Inverarity Forfarshire. On 17 April 1526, when witnessing a document, he is styled ‘that venerable and circumspect man Master William Gibson, dean of Restalrig.’ His predecessor was Patrick Covyntre, who had presided at his graduation, one of thirteen ambassadors for negotiating a peace with England in 1516, who died about 1524. Gibson must, therefore, have become dean about 1525. On 27 Aug. 1527, after Gibson had become dean, James V added the rectory of Ellem to Restalrig.

In 1532 Gibson was appointed a lord of session. To remedy defects in the administration of justice in civil causes, which had rested with the nobility, James V had resolved to institute the College of Justice, of which the first idea is said to have been suggested by the parliament of Paris. This court was to consist of fourteen judges and a president. Ten thousand ‘golden ducats of the chamber’ were to be levied from the Scottish bishoprics and monastic institutions, and in return for this it was stipulated that one half of the judges should be ecclesiastics, and that the president should always be a churchman.

According to Sir Robert Douglas, followed by Brunton and Haig, Gibson was, on account of his extensive abilities, frequently employed in embassies to the pope. Contemporary history does not record many such embassies at that period, but there was one connected with the dispute between James V and the prelates about the expenses of the College of Justice, and probably Gibson had some credit for the amicable settlement of that matter. For some reason he was in favour with the pope, who bestowed on him an armorial bearing of three keys, with the motto ‘Cœlestes pandite portas.’ This has been retained by representatives of the family ever since, but they do not now possess the estate of Durie.

In 1539 James Beaton, archbishop of St. Andrews, died, and the charge of all ecclesiastical affairs was committed to his nephew the cardinal, David Beaton [q. v.], who in 1540 desired to associate Gibson with himself as suffragan. He was to hold his other preferments and to receive a pension of 200l. a year from the cardinal and his successors. To this arrangement the pope's sanction was needful, and in letters dated 4 May 1540 James V and Cardinal Beaton answer for Gibson's knowledge of law and theology, and for his high moral character. It was probably in connection with this appointment that the king gave him the title of ‘Custos Ecclesiæ Scoticæ.’ The precise date of his death is uncertain, but it appears to have been before 1545. On 27 April 1540 Dr. John Sinclair was appointed a lord of session, while abbot of Snaw, which designation he still held in 1542. From that date there is a blank in the register till 1545, when the name of Gibson has disappeared, and Sinclair is on the list of judges as dean of Restalrig.

[Douglas's Baronage of Scotland, p. 568; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice, p. 13; Reg. Univ. Glasguensis, ii. 18, 124, 138, 285; Charters of the Collegiate Churches of Midlothian (Bannatyne Club), pp. 273, 280, 290, and preface thereto, pp. xliii–v; Epist. Reg. Scot., printed 1724, pp. 63–6; Tytler's Hist. of Scotland, v. 198; Spotiswood's Church Hist. pp. 67–8, fol. London, 1666.]

J. T.