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Rev. Robert Blair


1593 - 1666

Covenanting preacher. Born Irvine (North Ayrshire), Blair was educated at the University of Glasgow and shortly after his graduation was appointed as a Professor of Philosophy in the same institution. However, he resigned when he could not support his Principal and James Law, Archbishop of Glasgow (1560 - 1632), over their enthusiasm for the Episcopalian system of church government. In 1623, he became a Minister in Bangor (Northern Ireland), but left when he disagreed with the Bishop of Down again over the issue of the Episcopalian hierarchy. He returned to Scotland in 1638, initially to a parish in Ayr and then to St. Andrews the following year. An enthusiastic supporter of the National Covenant, Blair assisted in the prosecution of the Royalist leaders captured at the Battle of Philiphaugh (1645), principally Sir Robert Spottiswoode (1596 - 1646) who paid for the 'sins' of his father Archbishop John Spottiswoode (1565 - 1639), architect of the Scottish Episcopacy.

In 1646, Blair served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He went as a Commissioner to see Charles I (1600-49) at Newcastle to try persuade the King from his Episcopalian views. His conciliatory tone was favoured by Charles, who appointed Blair the King's Chaplain in Scotland.

In 1648, Blair was sent to negotiate with Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1654). Despite his dislike of Cromwell and distrust of his extreme Puritan views this act, together with his desire to try to work within Cromwell's new order, condemned Blair to imprisonment when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660. Blair became an outspoken critic of Archbishop Sharp, who had removed him from his post in St. Andrews and indeed had prohibited Blair from coming within 20 miles (32 km) of the town. Thus he lived out the remainder of his life at Couston Castle, in S Fife, and was buried in the nearby Old Kirkyard of Aberdour.

The poet Robert Blair (1699 - 1746), author of The Grave, was his grandson.


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