Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tyrie, James
TYRIE, JAMES (1543–1597), jesuit theologian, born in 1543, was a younger son of David Tyrie of Drumkilbo, Perthshire. His family was connected by marriage with that of Lord Gray and of Lord Hume (Douglas, Peerage, i. 670; Cal. Hatfield MSS. iv. 122). His eldest brother, David, married Margaret Fotheringham, embraced the reformed religion, and in 1567 signed the bond of association connected with the abdication of the queen and the appointment of Moray as regent. He died in March, and his son David was served heir of his father on 20 May 1572 (Retours, Perth, No. 27, apud Laing's Knox).
James Tyrie was educated at St. Andrews University, and was, with other young Scotsmen, carried abroad by Edmund Hay [q. v.], who was acting as the companion and guide of the jesuit Nicolas de Gouda, papal envoy to Mary Stuart in 1562. He made a short stay at Louvain, where he conceived the idea of entering the Society of Jesus, into which he was admitted at Rome on 19 Aug. 1563, when he was twenty years of age. Meanwhile he had been sent from Rome to Paris to assist in the establishment there of the jesuit college of Clermont, where he resided for some twenty-five years as professor of philosophy and divinity, and subsequently as rector. From Paris he had corresponded with his brother David, with the object of winning him back to the Roman church. One of these controversial letters, dealing with the question of the visibility of the church, was submitted at the close of 1566 to John Knox in order that he might write a reply to it. This Knox did at once, but for some unexplained reason he set aside his manuscript until shortly before his death in 1572, when he printed it at St. Andrews under the title ‘An Answer to a Letter of a Jesuit named Tyrie, be Johne Knox.’ In this little treatise the whole text of Tyrie's letter is printed paragraph by paragraph, each of which is followed by Knox's reply. The jesuit immediately published a rejoinder, the preface of which is ‘daitit at Paris the 8 of Merche 1573,’ that is, after the death of Knox, and twelve months after that of David Tyrie, to whom the original letter was written. Tyrie's book was entitled ‘The Refutation of ane Answer made be Schir Johne Knox to ane Letter send be James Tyrie to his vmquhile brother. Sett furth be James Tyrie, Parisiis, 1573.’ It appears to have created some stir (Leslie, Historie, ii. 470). The general assembly in 1574 appointed a committee to revise and report upon an answer to it drawn up by John Duncanson, and three years later George Hay (d. 1588) [q. v.] submitted to the assembly another answer; but neither came to light; and, according to the Roman catholic controversialist John Hamilton (fl. 1568–1609) [q. v.], William Christison, the minister of Dundee, had the jesuit's book burnt at the market cross. In the spring of 1574 Andrew Melville, on his road from Geneva to Scotland, was induced by Lord Ogilvy at Paris to meet Father Tyrie, and Melville was persuaded by him to enter upon a public disputation, which continued for several days (McCrie, Life of Melville, ed. 1856, p. 26). At Clermont College Tyrie had at one time for his colleagues two other prominent Scotsmen, his former friend Edmund Hay and James Gordon. During the siege of Paris in 1590 he was rector of the college, but apparently he did not take any conspicuous part in the political agitation of his jesuit brethren. In that same year he was sent by the French province to Rome, where he was appointed assistant for France and Germany to the general of the order, Aquaviva, an appointment which was confirmed by the fifth general congregation of the society in 1593.
The name of Father Tyrie's nephew, Thomas, a zealous catholic layman, frequently appears in the political correspondence of the time, and in 1593 Father Tyrie himself was brought in connection with the mysterious affair of the Spanish Blanks, as one who, with Father William Crichton [q. v.], was to have filled up the papers signed by the catholic lords (Calderwood, v. 229). On the other hand, according to Mackenzie (Scots Writers, iii. 424), it was through his influence that the fifth congregation passed the decree which strictly prohibited members of the society from any intermeddling with affairs of state. Although he published little, Tyrie earned a great reputation abroad for learning and ability, while his protestant countryman David Buchanan [q. v.] (De Scriptoribus Scotis, Bannatyne Club) speaks also in high terms of his personal character and virtues, extolling particularly his singular modesty, gentleness, and charity. He died at Rome on 20 March 1597, leaving behind him several manuscripts, among them a commentary on Aristotle.
On the doubtful and contradictory evidence of Dempster (cf. Mendicabula Repressa, 1620, p. 50; Apparatus, 1622, p. 55; Hist. Eccles. 1627, p. 626), a short treatise ‘De Antiquitate Christianæ Religionis apud Scotos,’ published under the name of George Thomson, first at Rome in 4to in 1594, and again in the same year in 12mo at Douai, and afterwards inserted by Possevinus in the third edition of his ‘Bibliotheca Selecta’ (Cologne, 1607), has been attributed to Father Tyrie. To a manuscript copy of this treatise at Blairs College is added a report on the state of religion in Scotland, presented to Clement VIII by the jesuit priests in Scotland (first printed by Father Stevenson in an English translation made from a Latin copy in the Barberini MSS. for his History of Mary Stuart, p. 105); and this also has in consequence been attributed to Tyrie without sufficient grounds.[Best and fullest account in Laing's Knox, vi. 474; Ribadeneira, Bibliotheca S. J.; Bellesheim's History, ed. Hunter Blair, ii. 344, iii. 225, 243; Forbes-Leith's Narratives of Scottish Catholics, p. 57; Foley's Records S. J., iii. 726; Cal. State Papers, Scotland, pp. 424, 596, 615, 683, 715; Piaget's Jésuites en France, p. 140; Prat's Maldonat, pp. 375, 462, 463.]