Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/23

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Beaton
Beaton
19

was hanging in the balance between France and England. Both countries were eager to secure Scotland, and each made offers of finding a bride for the young king. Margaret Tudor, the queen mother, and Angus, favoured England. Beaton threw all his weight into the French scale, and it was chiefly due to him that the old league with France was maintained, and James wedded to Magdalen of France instead of to Mary of England. The 'greatest man both of lands and experience within this realm, and noted to be very crafty and dissimulating,' was the report of Beaton which the English ambassador sent home, and Wolsey, who well knew that all his schemes concerning Scotland were futile as long as Beaton was at large, laid many a crafty plot for getting hold of him. He suggested diets on the border and conferences in London, at which the chancellor must represent the kingdom of Scotland, having an understanding with Angus that he was to be kidnapped on the way; but Beaton was too wary for him. Secure in his sea-girt castle of St. Andrews, he pursued a policy of his own, and would not pledge himself to either party. He kept up direct and independent communication with France through his nephew David, who was Scottish resident at the French court. During the latter years of his life this nephew acted as his coadjutor.

As primate, Beaton was constant in his efforts to assert his superiority over the see of Glasgow. The strife between the two archbishops led to unseemly brawls at home, and pleas carried to the court of Rome, whereof the expenses, the estates complained, caused 'inestimable dampnage to the realme.' He also strove to smother the seeds of the new religious doctrines by burning their most diligent sower, Patrick Hamilton, lay abbot of Fern in Ross-shire. He is called the proto-martyr, as being the first native-born Scot who suffered death for teaching the doctrines which afterwards became those of the established kirk. He died at the stake in St. Andrews in 1628. His death proved even more persuasive than his living words, insomuch that a shrewd observer counselled the archbishop to burn the next heritics in the cellar, for the 'smoke of Mr. Patrick Hamilton had infected as many as it blew upon.' Nevertheless, Henry Forest was burned at St. Andrews, and Daniel Stratton and Norman Gourlay at Edinburgh, during Beaton's primacy. Beaton founded the new Divinity College at St. Andrews, and built bridges and walls at Glasgow. He died in 1539 at St. Andrews.

[Register of the Diocese of Glasgow, edited by Cosmo Innes; Keith's History of the Church of Scotland; Spottiswood's History; Keith's Catalogue of Bishops; State Papers, Henry VIII; Chambers's Biographies of Eminent Scotchmen.]

M. M'A.


BEATON or BETHUNE, JAMES (1517–1603), archbishop of Glasgow, second son of John Bethune of Balfour, and nephew of the cardinal, was the last Roman catholic archbishop of Glasgow, and was consecrated at Rome in 1552. At fourteen he was sent to Paris to study, and at twenty was employed by Francis on a mission to the queen dowager of Scotland. On the death of his uncle, the cardinal, he was in possession of the abbacy of Arbroath, but was required to give it up to George Douglas by the governor. Beaton was the faithful friend and counsellor of the queen regent all through her struggles with the lords of the congregation. He was a determined opponent of religious reform, and protested in the parliament of 1542 against the act allowing 'that the halie writ may be usit in our vulgar tongue.' It was to Beaton the regent handed the lords' remonstrance when it was presented to her, with 'Please you, my lord, to read a pasquil,' and in the civil war which followed he shared with the French auxiliaries all the hardships and privations of the siege of Leith. On the death of the regent Beaton went to France with the French allies, taking with him the muniments and treasures of his diocese, to keep them safe out of the hands of the reformers. Among them was the Red Book of Glasgow, which dated from the reign of Robert III. He deposited these documents in the Scotch college at Paris, and continued to live in that city till his death in 1603. He acted during the whole of that time as Scottish ambassador at the French court, and still took a lively interest in the affairs of Scotland. He also administered the queen's revenues as dowager of France, and received a salary of 3,060 livres for his services.

Mary kept up an active correspondence with Beaton, and was anxious to keep his good opinion. She wrote to him herself giving the first news of Darnley's murder, dwelling strongly on the merciful interposition of Providence that had prevented her sharing her husband's fate. Beaton in his reply points out to her that to find out and punish the murderers is the only way in which she can prove her innocence before the world. In 1598, on account of the 'great honours done to his majestie and the country by the said archbishop in exercising and using the office of ambassadoir,' he was restored to his 'heritages, honours, dignities, and benefices, notwithstanding any sentences affecting him.' He was as much respected and liked by the