Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/348

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142


ROBERT PONT.


of honourable, if not noble 1 parentage. After receiving his elementary edu- cation at the school of his native place, he was, in 1543, incorporated a student of St Leonard's college in St Andrews, where he prosecuted the study of phi- losophy and divinity with great success. From the period of his leaving the university, no notice of him has been discovered, till 1559, when he is men- tioned as an elder in the kirk session record of St Andrews. His intimate know- ledge of law, renders the supposition probable, that the interval was employed in that branch of study at some of the continental universities. He seems to have early embraced the protestant party. He was an elder of St Andrew! from a very early period, and attended, as one of the commissioners from that place, the first General Assembly, by which he was declared qualified for minister- ing and teaching. In the year 1563, he competed for the office of superintendent of the diocese of Galloway. He appears to have failed in the attempt, but was shortly after appointed commissioner of the diocese of Moray. In 1566, he published, with the sanction and command of the General Assembly, a " Transla- tion and Interpretation of the Helvetian Confession." In January, 1571, he was, through the same influence, appointed to the provostry of Trinity college, Edin- burgh, and afterwards to the vicarage of St Cuthbert's church. At the same period he followed the directions of his party by excommunicating the bishop of Orkney, who had performed the marriage ceremony to Mary and Bothwell. Policy at this time dictated that the judicial dignities which had been conferred on the Roman catholic churchmen should be extended to the new church, of which the members, while their general principles were rather averse to the system, pos- sessed some share of personal ambition, and in 1571, the regent proposed that Pont should be appointed a senator of the College of Justice. The zealous churchman declined acceptance without the sanction of the assembly, and on the 12th January, 1572, that body gave license " to the said Mr Robert to accept and use the said place of a senator in the said College of Justice, what tyme he shall be required thereto, providing allwayes, that he leave not the office of the ministrie, but that he exercise the same as he sould be appoynted be the kirke, and this their license to the said Mr Robert to be no preparative to no uther minis- ter to procure sic promotione, unless the kirke's advyse be had of before, and license obtained thereunto." The natural consequence of such an appointment seems to have taken place, and in the following year, he was charged with neglect of duty in non-residence, and not sufficiently visiting the churches in Moray, an accusation to which he very naturally pleaded want of leisure from the pressure of his new duties. In 1574, Mr Pont was appointed colleague to William Harlaw, minister of St Cuthbert's church, Edinburgh. He was now- employed in all the more important business of the church : he was appointed, in 1574, to revise all books that were printed and published; about the same period he drew up the calendar, and rules for understanding it, for Arbuthnot and Bassandyne's edition of the Bible ; and he was engaged in the preparation of the Second Book of Discipline. In 1582, he was invited to become minister of St Andrews, and seems to have accepted the appointment, but he was soon obliged to abandon it; for at the General Assembly, held in April, 1583, he declared that, " with losse of his heritage and warldlie commoditie, he had pro- ponit to sit down in St Andrews, and had served athis awin charges ane haill geir,

1 Mr Crichton (Life of Mr J. Blackader, p. 15, note) says, that his father, John du Pont, or da Ponte, was a noble Venetian ; that he was banished his country for professing the re- formed religion, and came over to Scotland in the train of Mary of Guise, queen of James V. This statement seems irreconcilable with his son having been born at CuJross at the time above mentioned. (Buchanan de Illust. Scot Scriptor. MS. Adv. Lib.) It must also be remarked, that the name was common in Scotland long before this time.