Adam Bothwell
Adam Bothwell was the Bishop of Orkney
Bishop of Orkney
The Bishop of Orkney was the ecclesiastical head of the Diocese of Orkney, one of thirteen medieval bishoprics within the territory of modern Scotland. It included both Orkney and Shetland. It was based for almost all of its history at St...


Bothwell was the eldest son of Francis Bothwell, Lord of Session, by his second wife Katherine Bellenden
Katherine Bellenden
Katherine Bellenden was a courtier working in the wardrobe of James V of Scotland. Her niece of the same name was similarly employed....

, daughter of Sir Thomas Bellenden. He was born about 1527; his epitaph
An epitaph is a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial...

 states that he died ‘anno ætatis suæ (at the age of ) 67.’

He is said to have been versed both in canon
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 and in civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

. The See of Orkney became vacant by the death of Robert Reid at Dieppe, 6 Sept. 1558, on his way home after attending, as a commissioner, the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots with Francis
Francis II of France
Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

 the Dauphin. On 11 (Grub) or 14 (Hew Scott) October 1559, Bothwell was put in possession of the temporalities of the vacant See.

He placed himself a few years later on the side of the Protestant party; but there is no reason to suppose that he had much interest in the reforming movement as such, or in the ministry for its own sake. His career is essentially that of one who trimmed his sails to suit the winds of fortune. He was not, however, a merely ‘tulchan bishop
A Tulchan was in Scotland a man appointed as bishop after the Reformation, who was a bishop in name only and whose revenue was drawn by his patron. The term originally referred to a calfskin stuffed with straw, and presented to a cow, as if living to induce her to give milk.Mr...

.’ He was duly elected by the new chapter of Orkney, constituted by charter on 28 October 1544 (confirmed 30 June 1545) through the wise exertions of his predecessor. Mary confirmed his appointment to the see on 8 Oct. 1562. This of itself may be taken as proof that he was in Roman orders. He was probably consecrated, as he says that he was ‘according to the order then observed, provided to the bishoprick of Orkney;’ 1558, the date he gives, is possibly that of his election by the chapter.

More to his taste, probably, was his next preferment. On 14 January 1563 he was made an extraordinary Lord of Session; as he puts it, he was required by the Queen to accept the office; the instrument of his appointment contains, for the first time, the clause ‘provided always ye find him able and qualified for administration of justice, conform to the acts and statutes of the college of justice.’ He began, however, to take part in ecclesiastical affairs. We find him at both the half-yearly meetings of the general assembly in 1563 (opened 25 June at Perth
Perth, Scotland
Perth is a town and former city and royal burgh in central Scotland. Located on the banks of the River Tay, it is the administrative centre of Perth and Kinross council area and the historic county town of Perthshire...

, and Christmas Day at Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

). At Perth he received a commission, for a year only, to plant within the bounds of his diocese kirk
Kirk can mean "church" in general or the Church of Scotland in particular. Many place names and personal names are also derived from it.-Basic meaning and etymology:...

s, &c.

At the Edinburgh meeting, memorable for the first communication (on a case of restitution of conjugal rights
Conjugal rights
Conjugal rights may refer to:*Rights and responsibilities in marriage*Conjugal visits...

) addressed by the assembly to the English archbishops, Bothwell was made one of the commissioners for revising the Book of Discipline
Book of Discipline
A Book of Discipline or Book of Order is a book detailing the beliefs, practices, doctrines, laws, organisational structure and government of many Christian denominations...

. He was not present at the meetings of assembly in 1564; at the December meeting (at which the use of the Book of Common Order
Book of Common Order
-Genevan Book of Order:The Genevan Book of Order, sometimes called The Order of Geneva or Knox's Liturgy, is a directory for public worship in the Reformed Church of Scotland. In 1557 the Scottish Protestant lords in council enjoined the use of the English Common Prayer, i.e. the Second Book of...

 was enjoined upon all ministers) ‘it was demanded by some brethrein’ whether the commissioner of Orkney (so he is called) ‘might both duelie exerce the office of a superintendent and office of a Lord of the Colledge of Justice.’ The decision was referred to ‘the superintendent of the bounds where the questioun ariseth [i.e. the superintendent of Lothian], and a certane number of ministers within his bounds, as he sall choose to assist him.’

Apparently the decision was given in the affirmative, for on 13 November 1565 Bothwell was promoted to be an ordinary Lord of Session. At the June assembly in 1565, Bothwell was one of a committee to decide certain ecclesiastical questions. They decided inter alia that no minister should be a pluralist unless able personally to discharge the accumulated duties, and ‘providing he be sufficientlie answered of one stipend,’ a rather ambiguous loophole. The same committee declined to order parish ministers to keep registers of deaths, on the ground that ‘none or few of the ministrie had manse
A manse is a house inhabited by, or formerly inhabited by, a minister, usually used in the context of a Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist or United Church...

s or gleebes
Glebe Glebe Glebe (also known as Church furlong or parson's closes is an area of land within a manor and parish used to support a parish priest.-Medieval origins:...

 for residence.’

At the December meeting Bothwell was not present. He attended both meetings of assembly in 1566; at the December meeting, which approved the Helvetic Confession
Helvetic Confessions
Helvetic Confessions, the name of two documents expressing the common belief of the Reformed churches of Switzerland.The First Helvetic Confession , known also as the Second Confession of Basel, was drawn up at that city in 1536 by Heinrich Bullinger and Leo Jud of Zürich, Kaspar Megander of Bern,...

, Bothwell was on a committee which decided that Protestant communicants who should become witnesses at the private celebration of baptism by a ‘papisticall preest’ should lie under church censure. He was also one of those appointed to revise the answer to Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger was a Swiss reformer, the successor of Huldrych Zwingli as head of the Zurich church and pastor at Grossmünster...

, ‘tuiching the apparell of preachers in England.’ This appears to be Bothwell's last attendance as a member of the assembly. We next meet him on the occasion which alone is enough to make him a conspicuous person in history.

On 15 May 1567 Mary was married to James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell
James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell
James Hepburn, 1st Duke of Orkney , better known by his inherited title as 4th Earl of Bothwell, was hereditary Lord High Admiral of Scotland. He is best known for his association with and subsequent marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, as her third husband...

, who on 12 May had been created Duke of Orkney
Earl of Bothwell
The title Earl of Bothwell has been created twice in the Peerage of Scotland. It was first created for Patrick Hepburn in 1488, and was forfeited in 1567. It was then created for Francis Stewart in 1587...

. The banns
Banns of marriage
The banns of marriage, commonly known simply as the "banns" or "bans" are the public announcement in a Christian parish church of an impending marriage between two specified persons...

 had been proclaimed, much against his will, by John Craig, minister of Edinburgh. The marriage was celebrated, after the Protestant form, by the Bishop of Orkney, in the council chamber at Holyrood House
Holyrood Palace
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the monarch in Scotland. The palace stands at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle...

. Calderwood says that ‘the Bishop of Orkney, at the marriage, made a declaratioun of the Erle of Bothwell his repentance for his former offen- sive life; how he had joined himself to the Kirk, and embraced the reformed religioun;’ he adds, ‘but they were married the same day, in the morning, with a masse, as was reported by men of credite.’ The authorities for this statement are Birrell's diary, which says that the marriage was performed by the Bishop of Orkney in the Chapel Royal; Murray's diary, which affirms that it was celebrated ‘efter baith the sortis of the kirkis, reformit and unreformit;’ and the representation of the confederate barons that it was ‘accomplished in baith the fashions.’

Malcolm Laing
Malcolm Laing
Malcolm Laing was a Scottish historian born to Robert Laing and Barbara Blaw at the paternal estate of Strynzia in Orkney, Scotland...

, who discusses the point, considers that ‘the reformed bishop was not so scrupulous as to refuse to officiate privately in his former capacity,’ and argues that ‘the improbability that Mary would acquiesce in a protestant marriage is alone sufficient to refute the assertion’ in the diary of Melville
Andrew Melville
Andrew Melville was a Scottish scholar, theologian and religious reformer. His fame encouraged scholars from the European Continent to study at Glasgow and St Andrews.-Early life and early education:...

 (who witnessed the Protestant marriage) that the ceremony was not performed in the chapel at the mass, as was the king's marriage. Burton, who speaks of the Bishop of Orkney as ‘a convert or an apostate
Apostasy , 'a defection or revolt', from ἀπό, apo, 'away, apart', στάσις, stasis, 'stand, 'standing') is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy is known as an apostate. These terms have a pejorative implication in everyday...

, according to the estimate people formed of his sincerity,’ says nothing of a double marriage, rejects the account which places the ceremony in the Chapel Royal, and thinks ‘the probability lies with the other authorities’ who describe it as taking place in the council chamber, ‘strictly in the protestant form.’

Mary's abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

 soon followed, on 24 July; and on the 29th, at Stirling, her son (born 19 June 1566, baptised ‘Charles James’ 17 December, according to the Roman rite) was crowned and anointed by the Bishop of Orkney. ‘Mr. Knox and other preachers,’ says Calderwood, ‘repyned at the ceremonie of anointing, yitt was he anointed.’ On 25 December the general assembly delated in his absence ‘Adam, called bishop of Orkney,’ on four charges. He had not lately visited ‘the kirks of his countrie;’ he ‘occupyed the rowme of a Judge in the Sessioun;’ he ‘reteaned in his companie Francis Bothwell, a Papist
Papist is a term or an anti-Catholic slur, referring to the Roman Catholic Church, its teachings, practices, or adherents. The term was coined during the English Reformation to denote a person whose loyalties were to the Pope, rather than to the Church of England...

, upon whom he had bestowed benefices;’ and he had ‘solemnized the mariage betwixt the queene and the Erle of Bothwell
Earl of Bothwell
The title Earl of Bothwell has been created twice in the Peerage of Scotland. It was first created for Patrick Hepburn in 1488, and was forfeited in 1567. It was then created for Francis Stewart in 1587...

.’ He appeared on the 30th; excused himself from residence in Orkney on account of the climate and his health; and denied that he knew F. Bothwell was a papist. For solemnising the royal marriage, ‘contrarie an act made against the mariage of the divorced adulterer,’ the assembly deprived him of all function in the ministry till such time as he should satisfy the assembly ‘for the slaunders committed by him.’ However, on 10 July 1568, the assembly restored him to the ministry, did not renew his commission to superintend the diocese of Orkney; but ordered him, as soon as his health permitted, to preach in the Chapel Royal (‘kirk of Halyrudhous’), and after sermon confess his offence in the matter of the ill-fated marriage.

Bothwell had probably had enough of his Orkney diocese, which he only visited twice; on the second occasion he was wrecked on a sandbank. In 1570 he exchanged the greater part of the temporalities
Temporalities are the secular properties and possessions of the Christian Church. It is most often used to describe those properties that were used to support a bishop or other religious person or establishment. Its opposite description would be the spiritualities.In the Middle Ages, the...

 of the See with Robert Stewart
Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney
Robert Stewart, Knt., 1st Earl of Orkney and Lord of Zetland was a recognized illegitimate son of James V, King of Scotland, and his mistress Eupheme Elphinstone....

, natural brother to Queen Mary, for the abbacy of Holyrood House. His own account of the matter, in his defence to the assembly in March 1570, is that ‘Lord Robert violentlie intruded himself on his whole living, with bloodshed, and hurt of his servants; and after he had craved justice, his and his servants' lives were sought in the verie eyes of justice in Edinburgh, and then was constrained, of meere necessitie, to tak the abbacie of Halyrudhous, by advice of sundrie godlie men.’ He still retained the title of the bishop of Orkney, and added to it that of abbot of Holyrood House.

Bothwell was present at the election of John, Earl of Mar
Earl of Mar
The Mormaer or Earl of Mar is a title that has been created seven times, all in the Peerage of Scotland. The first creation of the earldom was originally the provincial ruler of the province of Mar in north-eastern Scotland...

, as regent, by the parliament at Stirling
Stirling is a city and former ancient burgh in Scotland, and is at the heart of the wider Stirling council area. The city is clustered around a large fortress and medieval old-town beside the River Forth...

, on 5 September 1571; and he was one of the commissioners appointed by the regent and privy council at the Leith convention, on 16 January 1572, to frame a revised ecclesiastical settlement. The result of their labours ‘is remarkable,’ says Grub, ‘for its general resemblance to the external polity of the Church, as it existed before the Reformation in Scotland, and as it was at that time sanctioned by law in England.’ In accordance with the new policy Bothwell was appointed on 3 November 1572 one of the consecrators of James Boyd as archbishop of Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...


In 1578, shortly before the fall of Morton (12 March), Bothwell was imprisoned in Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle, located in Stirling, is one of the largest and most important castles, both historically and architecturally, in Scotland. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusive crag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep...

, for protesting against that regent's measures. He was quickly liberated, and became one of the council of twelve who formed the provisional government, overthrown on 10 June. Four years passed, and in October 1582 the general assembly appointed Andrew Melville
Andrew Melville
Andrew Melville was a Scottish scholar, theologian and religious reformer. His fame encouraged scholars from the European Continent to study at Glasgow and St Andrews.-Early life and early education:...

 and Thomas Smeaton
Thomas Smeton
Thomas Smeton, Smeaton or Smieton was a Scottish minister and Principal of Glasgow University.-Life:He was born at Gask, near Perth, was educated at the school at Perth, and in 1553 incorporated a student in St. Salvator's College, St. Andrews. A promising scholar, he was made a regent of the...

 to confer with the bishop of Orkney on his having ceased from the exercise of the ministry. He pleaded age (he was about fifty-five), weakness of memory, and continual sickness; and alleged that his preferment was scarce worth 500 merks (under 28l. sterling) at his entry. The assembly evidently had their doubts about the case, for they directed the Edinburgh presbytery
Presbyterian polity
Presbyterian polity is a method of church governance typified by the rule of assemblies of presbyters, or elders. Each local church is governed by a body of elected elders usually called the session or consistory, though other terms, such as church board, may apply...

 to try his ability, to appoint him to a particular flock, if he were fit for it, and ‘to tak order with anie other complaints that sould be givin in against him’ before the next assembly. The next assembly appointed a fresh commission upon him; but, after the king's escape from the restraint which followed the Raid of Ruthven
Raid of Ruthven
The Raid of Ruthven was a political conspiracy in Scotland which took place on 22 August 1582. It was composed of several Presbyterian nobles, led by William Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, who abducted King James VI of Scotland. He was seized while staying at the castle of Ruthven , and kept under...

, the power of the assembly was abated, and the king protected the bishops.

Bothwell was one of the lords of the articles at the parliament in May 1584, the reactionary parliament which re-established episcopal rights ‘flatt contrare the determinatioun of the kirk.’ His later years seem to have been spent in quiet and comfort. By royal charter he received the baronies of Whitekirk (11 March 1587) and Brighouse
Brighouse is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale, in West Yorkshire, England. It is situated on the River Calder, east of Halifax in the Pennines. It is served by Junction 25 of the M62 motorway and Brighouse railway station on the Caldervale Line and Huddersfield Line. In the...

 (3 August 1592). He died 23 August 1593, and was buried near the high altar of the Chapel Royal at Holyrood House. Appended to his epitaph, on a tablet fixed to the third south pillar from the east end, are some fulsome elegiac
Elegiac refers either to those compositions that are like elegies or to a specific poetic meter used in Classical elegies. The Classical elegiac meter has two lines, making it a couplet: a line of dactylic hexameter, followed by a line of dactylic pentameter...

s, subscribed M. H. R. (Master Hercules Rollock).

He married Margaret, daughter of John Murray of Touchadam, by whom he had (1) John, Lord of Session, commendator of Holyrood, advanced to the Peerage of Scotland
Peerage of Scotland
The Peerage of Scotland is the division of the British Peerage for those peers created in the Kingdom of Scotland before 1707. With that year's Act of Union, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England were combined into the Kingdom of Great Britain, and a new Peerage of Great Britain was...

, 20 December 1607, as Baron Holyroodhouse, the district belonging to the abbey being erected into a temporal lordship in his favour; (2) Francis, of Stewarton, Peeblesshire; (3) William; (4) Jean, married Sir William Sandilands, of St Monans.
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