Archbishop of St Andrews. Born in Perth, Adamson was educated at the University of St. Andrews. By the age of twenty he was minister in Ceres (Fife), with considerable responsibilities, reflecting the shortage of ministers in the new Protestant church. By 1565, he had left for Paris to study law. He had become closely associated with the Scottish Court and published a patriotic poem which proposed that Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), was the rightful monarch of not just Scotland, but England and France too. This caused a minor political storm and resulted in six months in prison for Adamson. It would have been longer had it not been for the personal intervention of Mary. Having returned to the study of law and theology at Bourges, Adamson narrowly escaped the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, which was a reaction against Protestantism.
He returned to Scotland somewhat of a hero and entered into a controversy over the appointment of the Archbishop of St Andrews. This post was an anachronism, given the Presbyterian system of church governance, but was politically motivated to ensure a jealous nobility, principally the Earl of Morton (c.1516-81), had access to the money and land owned by the church. He became minister at Paisley and Commissioner of Galloway, the latter post having the duties of Bishop in the new church without the status.
Morton, who was now Regent, continued to enrich himself and set about bringing the Scottish and English churches together on the Episcopal model, as part of a process to allow the young James VI to accede to the English throne. Adamson persuaded Morton to appoint him Archbishop of St Andrews. Adamson endeared himself to the young James VI, who appointed him an ambassador to England. Adamson again pushed for the Episcopal system of church government to be retained. Despite his loyalty, his fickle king did not support him and, despite a humble 'recantation', he was excommunicated from the church.