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Andrew Melville


1545 - 1622

Radical presbyterian who ensured the completion of Knox's Reformation in Scotland. Born at Baldovie (near Dundee), Melville's father died in 1547 at the Battle of Pinkie. He began his education in Montrose before enrolling at St. Andrews University in 1559, where he first met George Buchanan (1506-82), who became a life-long friend and mentor. Melville completing his education in Paris, where he studied Greek, mathematics and the law. He taught classics at Poitiers and was appointed to the Chair of Humanities at Geneva in 1568. He published a volume of Latin verse at Basle in 1573. He returned home to take up the position of Principal of the University of Glasgow in 1574 at a time when Scotland's ancient Universities were disassociating themselves from the influence of the Roman church. At Glasgow he taught the new divinity, greatly extended and modernised the curriculum and preached each Sunday at Govan. He also assisted in the reform of King's College, Aberdeen and returned to St. Andrews, his alma mater and the biggest University in the country at the time. He accepted the Principalship of St. Mary's College at St. Andrews in 1580.

Following the death of John Knox in 1572, it was Melville who ensured the Reformation in the Church was completed and the Presbyterian system of church governance installed. His Second Book of Discipline (1582) laid down the separation of church and state. He served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church on several occasions, the first in 1578. Melville believed utterly in the equality of church ministers and lay elders and abhorred the suggestion of the primacy of a Bishopry and the King, giving rise to clashes with James VI. This led to his imprisonment in the Tower of London (1606). On his release in 1611, he returned to France, where he was appointed to the Chair of Biblical Theology at the University of Sedan, which is where he died.


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