1st Edition

Reforming the Scottish Church John Winram (c. 1492–1582) and the Example of Fife

By Linda J. Dunbar Copyright 2002

    As Superintendent of Fife, John Winram played a pivotal role in the reform of the Scottish Church. Charting his career within St Andrews priory from canon to subprior, Linda Dunbar examines the ambiguity of Winram's religious stance in the years before 1559 and argues that much of the difficulty in pinning down Winram's views stems from the mis-identification of John Knox's un-named reforming sub-prior with Winram. In fact, as the book shows, this early reformer was probably Winram's own sub-prior, Alexander Young. The various reforming influences on Winram, and the gradual change in his religious stance is charted, together with his robust attempts at Catholic reform with St Andrews and his profound effect upon John Knox during the siege of the castle. In 1559, Winram eventually decided to side with the Protestants. The book concludes with an analysis of the difficulties experienced by Winram and the preponderance of accusations against him which led to his final relinquishing of office in 1577. In his transition from a Catholic to a Protestant reformer, Winram's experience is typical of that of many of his contemporaries in Scotland and in Europe.

    Contents: Introduction; St Andrews' Priory before 1560; Changing religious convictions; Superintendency: the theory of the First Book of Discipline; Superintendency: the developments of the General Assembly; The practice of superintendency in Fife; The superintendent's court; Clerical admissions; The problems of superintendency; St Andrews' Priory after 1560; St Andrews University; Friends; Family; Conclusion; Appendixes; Bibliography; Index.


    Linda J. Dunbar

    'Working with scanty original sources Dunbar has given us an insightfully sympathetic biography of Winram, and in the process allows the reader to glimpse the complexity of reforming an already existing church.' Presbyterian History '... a very tidy and efficient book, like the life of its subject.' Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 'Dunbar's fresh examination of primary sources, some previously neglected or unknown, is commendable, and her attention in detail to the ways in which Winram's life, both public and personal, reveals the continuities present amidst the change from the Catholic Church to the Reformed Kirk provides new and valuable insights.' Parergon '... sheds very welcome light on the movement from Catholic reform to Protestant Reformation in the university town that proved such a hotbed of Scottish Protestantism.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History