Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Chisholm, William (d.1629)

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CHISHOLM, WILLIAM III (d. 1629), bishop of Vaison, was the nephew of William Chisholm the second, bishop of Dunblane and Vaison [q. v.], and succeeded his uncle, by the special license of Pope Gregory XIII, as bishop of Vaison, when the latter became a Carthusian monk in 1684. He took as keen an interest in the ecclesiastical affairs of Scotland as his uncle, and wrote a learned book against the Calvinists, of which, however, no copy is in the British Museum, and for this reason, as well as on account of his favour with the pope, he became the object of a curious intrigue in 1602, which was intended to secure his elevation to the cardinalate.

It seems that the small but influential body of catholics in Scotland wished to convince James VI of the desirability of having a representative to watch over his interests at Rome, and that they tried to induce him to write directly to the pope, requesting that Chisholm should be made a cardinal for this purpose. James, however, refused to compromise himself, but Elphinstone, the secretary of state, afterwards Lord Balmerino, managed to get the king's signature to a letter to the pope, by thrusting it among a number of other documents, when he was in a hurry to go hunting one day (Gardiner, History of England, ed. 1883, i. 80–1). Chisholm was accordingly spoken of at Rome for a cardinal's hat, and boasts were made that the king of Scotland was coming back to the faith; but Elizabeth, when she heard of it, remonstrated hotly with James for his intrigue, and he hastened to disavow his connection with the whole affair. Chisholm then retired to his diocese, and was made rector of the Venaissin, the pope's county in France, a post which he held until his death at Vaison in 1629.

[Sainte-Marthe's Gallia Christiana, xvii. 935; Gardiner's History of England, i.]

H. M. S.