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James Melville


1556 - 1614

Diarist, church leader and educator. Born near Baldovie (by Dundee), Melville was educated in Montrose and then at St. Leonard's College, St. Andrews. He was the nephew of radical church reformer Andrew Melville (1545 - 1622) and, like his uncle, he was a radical Presbyterian noted for his religious fervour. He followed his uncle to the University of Glasgow, taking up a teaching post in 1574. He was appointed to a Chair of Oriental Languages at St Mary's College, St. Andrews when his uncle became Principal (1580). Melville also served as Minister at Kilrenny (1583) and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (1589). Despite accompanying his uncle, Andrew, to London in 1606 to argue with James VI (1566 - 1625) against patronage and the introduction of hierarchy in the Scottish Presbyterian Church, the younger Melville held his King's respect. He therefore escaped the fate of the elder, being instructed only to remain within 10 miles of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

He died at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Melville is best remembered for his diary, written in Scots, with direct and sometimes racy descriptions of his contemporaries.


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