Online Encyclopedia

GEORGE WISHART (c. 1513-1546)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 753 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GEORGE WISHART (c. 1513-1546), Scottish reformer, born about 1513, belonged to a younger branch of the \Visharts of Pitarrow. His early life has been the subject of many conjectures; but apparently he graduated M.A., probably at King's College, Aberdeen, and taught as a schoolmaster at Montrose. Accusedof heresy in 1538, he fled to England, where a similar charge was brought against him at Bristol in the following year. In 1539 or 1540 he started for Germany and Switzerland, and returning to England became a member of Corpus Christi College, Cam-bridge. In 1543 he went to Scotland in the train of a Scottish embassy which had come to London to consider the treaty of marriage between Prince Edward and the infant queen of Scots. There has been much controversy whether he was the Wishart who in April 1544 approached the English government with a proposal for getting rid of Cardinal Beaton. Roman Catholic historians such as Bellesheim, and Anglicans like Canon Dixon, have accepted the identification, while Froude does not dispute it and Dr Gairdner avoids committing himself (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII. vol. xix. pt. i., Introd. pp. xxvii-xxviii). There was another George Wishart, bailie of Dundee, who allied himself with Beaton's murderers; and Sir John Wishart (d. 1576), afterwards a Scottish judge, has also claims to the doubtful distinction. Sir John was certainly a friend of Creighton, laird of Branston, who was deeply implicated in the plot, but Creighton also befriended the reformer during his evangelical labours in Midlothian. The case against the reformer is not proven and is not probable. His career as a preacher began in 1544, and the story has been told in glowing colours by his disciple John Knox. He went from place to place in peril of his life denouncing the errors of Rome and the abuses in the church at Montrose, Dundee, Ayr, in Kyle, at Perth, Edinburgh, Leith, Haddington and elsewhere. At Ormiston, in December 1545, he was seized by the earl of Bothwell, and transferred by order of the privy council to Edinburgh castle on January 19, 1546. Thence he was handed over to Cardinal Beaton, who had him burnt at St Andrews on March 1. Foxe and Knox attribute to him a prophecy of the death of the Cardinal, who was assassinated on May 29 following, partly at any rate in revenge for Wishart's death. Knox's Hist.; Reg. P.C. Scotland; Foxe's Acts and Monuments; Hay Fleming's Martyrs and Confessors of St Andrews; Cramond's Truth about Wishart (1898) ; and Diet. of Nat. Biogr. vol. lxii. (248-251, 253-254). (A. F. P.)
End of Article: GEORGE WISHART (c. 1513-1546)
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