Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Chisholm, William (d.1593)

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CHISHOLM, WILLIAM II (d. 1593), bishop of Dunblane and bishop of Vaison, was a son of Chisholm of Cromlix, and nephew to William Chisholm, bishop of Dunblane fom 1527 to 1564 [q.v.], to whom he was appointed coadjutor by a brief of Pope Pius IV dated 1 June 1561. He is spoken of by Knox as ‘one of the chief pillars of the Papisticall Kirk’ (Knox, History, ed. D. Laing, ii. 88), and in the very highest terms the by the pope's legate, Nicolas de Gouda, in his despatch from the Scotch court in 1562. The legate, after commenting on the incapacity of the Scotch bishops generally, goes on to say: ‘The only exception is the coadjutor bishop of Dunblane; though holding but a secondary position during the lifetime of his superior, he has already made his influence felt, both in public an in private, having succeeded in confirming a great many people in the faith, and being justly held in high esteem and regard by all good men’ (Leith, Narratives of the Scottish Catholics under Mary Stuart and James VI, p. 75). This bishop was much employed by Mary Queen of Scots in diplomatic missions, of which the most important were in 1565 to Rome to obtain the pope’s leave for her marriage with Darnley in spite of their consanguimty, and in 1567, when she sent him as special envoy to France to convey the intelligence of her marriage with Bothwell, and to explain the circumstances attending that event (Burton, History of Scotland, iv. 229). He was also one of the commissioners for the divorce of Bothwell from Lady Jane Gordon. He is said to have still further dilapidated the income of his bishopric, and was declared to have forfeited it for non-compliance with the new arrangements after the fall of his royal mistress, and on 3 July 1573 a license was issued by the four regents for the choice of successor. Chisholm had before this retired to France, where he was well known, and in 1570 he was instituted by the pope to the bishopric of Vaison, near Avignon, as some recompense for the loss of his position in Scotland and his exile. This bishopric, however, he resigned in 1584 in favour of his nephew, William Chisholm III [q. v.], when he retired to the convent of Grande Chartreuse. He took the vows only of a simple monk, but was soon made prior of the Chartreuse at Lyons, and eventually at Rome. He continued to busy himself greatly with Scotch affairs until his death at Rome on 26 Sept. 1593, and is buried in the church of the Carthusians there.

[Keith’s Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops, ed. 1824, p. 180; Leith’s Narratives of the Scottish Catholics; article on Chisholm, under the ‘Bishopric of Vaison,’ in Sainte-Marthe’s Gallia Christiana, i. 935.]

H. M. S.