Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Knox, Andrew

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KNOX, ANDREW (1559–1633), bishop of Raphoe, the second son of John Knox of Ranfurly in Renfrewshire, was born in 1559. He was educated at the university of Glasgow, where he graduated M.A. in 1579. In 1581 he was ordained minister of Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire, and in 1581 was translated to the abbey church of Paisley. On 6 March 1589-90 he was appointed on a commission of select clergymen to promote subscription to the confession of faith and covenant over the whole kingdom. In December 1592 he was instrumental in arresting George Kerr on the Isle of Cumray as he was on the point of sailing for Spain, and was thereby the means of bringing to light and frustrating on the eve of its execution the dangerous conspiracy of the Earls of Huntly, Errol, and Angus. In 1597 he was appointed a commissioner, with others whom he thought 'meitest to employ,' to seek and apprehend 'all excommunicated papists, jesuitis, preistis and suspect trafficquaris with the King of Spayne, and having in the execution of his office accidentally caused the death by drowning of Hew Barclay of Ladyland, who had intended to capture and fortify Ailsa Craig against the coming of the Spaniards, he was by parliament exonerated from all consequences arising therefrom, and commended for his 'loyall and gud service to his Majestie and his cuntry' (Acta Parl. Scot. iv, 148). About this time Knox, who appears to have been of a contentious disposition, was involved in several discreditable disputes with his fellow-citizens (Genealogical Memoirs of the Family of Knox, p. 11; Registers of the Privy Council, v. 171, vii. 52). During the course of one of them Knox so far forgot himself as to strike his adversary, George Stewart, burgess of Paisley, in public court. The outrage was reported to the presbytery. He was suspended 4 Oct. 1604, and was ordered to do public penance in his church on Sunday the 19th following. 'This being done, the bailies and sum of the honest men of the paroch sall receive him be the hand' (Genealogical Memoirs, p. 12). On 2 April 1606 (the episcopacy having been restored in Scotland) Knox was created bishop of the Isles, and having obtained leave from the presbytery he immediately proceeded to his diocese. On 31 July he was commissioned along with others 'to meit with David, Lord Scone, comptroller, and hear the offers made by the inhabitants of the Isles and the Highlands anent their obedience and suritie for his Majesties rents.' In January 1606-7 he was appointed constant moderator of the presbytery of the Isles, and on 4 June he took the oath of allegiance. His absence from his charge at Paisley causing some inconvenience, the presbytery sugggested the appointment of a colleague, but his parishioners would only accept the proposal if 'he would altogether denude himself of the bishopric and tak to the ministerie.' Knox preferred to resign, and on 12 Nov. 1607 he was relieved of his charge.

In accordance with King James's intention to reform the Western Isles and highlands, Knox was on 8 March 1608 joined in commission with Andrew, lord Stewart, of Ochiltree, to take the matter in hand. In May he visited the king at Greenwich, and brought back instructions for a military expedition against the Isles, of which Lord Ochiltree was to be commander, assisted by a council, of which Knox was to be the head with a salary and bodyguard of his own. The expedition sailed early in August, and the castles of Dunivaig and Lochgorme in Isla having been surrendered by Angus Macdonald, Ochiltree opened a court at the castle of Aros in Mull on 15 Aug. The chieftains showing come reluctance to come to terms, Ochiltree, acting on the advice of Knox, induced them to visit him on board his vessel on pretence of a dinner and a sermon from the bishop. Having thus succeeded in kidnapping them, Ochiltree sailed to Glasgow. On his return Knox accompanied Ochiltree to London, and was commended by the king for his zeal in the service.

The chief obstacle to a settlement of the Isles was thus removed, and Knox was in February 1609 appointed one of a commission to negotiate with the chieftains for the purpose of devising a scheme for the civilisation of the Western Islands. In May he was the bearer of a confidential message from his colleagues to the king. He returned in June with instructions for a fresh expedition, of which he himself was to be the head, and he conducted the business with great credit to himself. Before the end of July he met the principal chieftains at Iona, and with their consent enacted the statutes of Icolmkill. He returned to Edinburgh in September, but immediately proceeded to London. He seems to have been detained at court till the following July, when he returned to Edinburgh, and made formal redelivery of 'the Band and Statutes of Icolmkill' before the council. On 15 Feb. 1510 he was appointed a member of the court of ecclesiastical high commission for the province of Glasgow, and on 8 May steward of the whole Western Isles, with instructions to make the castle of Dunivaig his headquarters. In the same year he was preferred to the bishopric of Raphoe (patent 28 June 1611) 'to the effect that by his panes and travellis the ignorant multitude within that Diocis may he reclamed from their superstitioun and Papishe opinionis' (Laing, Original Letters, i. 427). He continued to hold both bishoprics till 22 Sept. 1619, when he resigned that of the Isles in favour of his eldest son, Thomas.

Having established a garrison in the castle of Dunivaig, he immediately proceeded to Ireland, and in April 1611 transmitted to Lord Salisbury a report of the state of religion in his diocese. In consequence of his report the king instructed Sir Arthur Chichester to require the Archbishop of Armagh to convene a meeting of the bishops of his province in order to consider the reformation of ecclesiastical abuses in the north of Ireland (the report of their proceedings will be found in Russell and Prendergast, Calendar of Irish State Papers, iv, 142). On 13 Oct. 1611 Chichester wrote of Knox: 'He is a good bishop for that part of the kingdom, and zealously affected to correct and reform the errors and abuses of the priests and people, and has done more good in church government in the short time of his being among them than his predecessor in all his time' (ib. iv. 149). It was probably in consequence of Chichester's report that on 13 Feb. 1612 the king authorised his admission to the privy council. As a reward for his good success in reforming the Western Isles, James addressed a letter to the council of Scotland on the 24th of the same month, requiring them (1) to make payment to him of all arrears of a pension formerly granted to him out of the duties of the Isles, in compensation for his expense in maintaining a garrison at Dunivaig; (2) to grant him a charter in feu farm for life of the Isle of Barra; (3) to restore as far as possible all the lands belonging to his bishopric that had by chance been alienated; (4) to reannex to his bishopric the abbey of Icolmkill and the priory of Ardchattan, formerly held in commendam with it. In 1614 the castle of Dunivaig was surprised by the Macdonalds, and Knox, attempting to retake it with insufficient force, was defeated and compelled to treat. He consented to solicit a lease of the crown lands of Isla for Angus Oig Macdonald, together with the proprietary rights in the castle of Dunivaig, and a free pardon for all crimes up to date, and to leave his son Thomas and his nephew John Knox of Ranfurly as hostages for his good faith. The council, however, refused these terms, and prepared to reduce the Macdonalds by force. Knox, who was alarmed for the safety of his hostages, openly counselled the employment of deceit in dealing with the Macdonalds, to be followed by their total extirpation, and the plantation of their lands by honest men from the north of Ireland and the west of Scotland. His scheme was in part realised. The Earl of Argyll desired to drive the Macdonalds into desperate courses on behalf of his kinsman, John Campbell of Calder, who had undertaken their reduction on condition of succeeding to their inheritance. One John Graham, who acted, it was supposed, at Argyll's instigation, contrived that Thomas and John Knox should be set at liberty, and on 6 Jan. 1616 Campbell of Calder, with the assistance of Sir Oliver Lambart [q. v.], captured Dunivaig. Some time during his lifetime Knox had carried off the two principal bells from the abbey of Icolmkill to Raphoe. These his successor, Bishop John Lesley, was by royal edict compelled to restore on 14 March 1635 (Collectanea de rebus Albanicis, p. 187).

Knox resigned the bishopric of the Isles in 1618, but continued bishop of Raphoe till his death on 27 March 1633. He married his cousin-german Elizabeth, daughter of William Knox of Silvielaod (though, by another account, the daughter of John Knox, merchant, in Ayr). By her he had three sons, Thomas, James, and George, and two daughters, Margaret, who married John Cunningham of Cambuskeith, son of James, seventh earl of Glencairn, and another, who married John Hamilton of Woodhall. The three sons took orders in the church. Thomas, the eldest, was educated at Glasgow University, where he graduated M.A. in 1608. He became incumbent of Sorabie in Tiree, and on 4 Aug. 1617 he was constituted dean of the Isles. In February 1619 he succeeded his father as bishop of the Isles, and in 1622 was appointed non-resident rector of the parish of Clandevadock in the diocese of Raphoe. He was B.D,, and died in 1626 without issue, and is reported to have been a man of learning and piety.

Knox's house, 26 High Street, Paisley, is said (Genealogical Memoirs of the Family of Knox, 1870) to be still standing, and in an oak panel over the chimney of the principal room are engraved his initials and those of his wife.

[C. Rogers's Genealogical Memoirs of the Family of Knox (Grampian Club), 1879; Collectanea de rebus Albanicis (Iona Club), 1830; Laing's Original Letters (Bannatyne Club), 1851; Book of the Thanes of Cawdor (Spalding Club), 1849; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vols. v-ix.; Donald Gregory's Hist. of the Western Highlands; Collections upon the lives of the Reformers {Maitland Club), 1834; Calderwood's Hist, of the Kirk; Spotiswood's Hist. of the Church; George Crawford's Hist. of Renfrewshire; Bishop Keith's Cat. of Scottish Bishops; Cotton's Fasti Eccl. Hib.; Reid's Hist. of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; Russell and Prendergast's Cal. of State Papers, Ireland.]

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