Reforming the Scottish Church: John Winram (c. 1492–1582) and the Example of Fife, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Reforming the Scottish Church

John Winram (c. 1492–1582) and the Example of Fife, 1st Edition

By Linda J. Dunbar


260 pages

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Hardback: 9780754603436
pub: 2002-11-20
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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.


'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

Table of Contents

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.

About the Series

St Andrews Studies in Reformation History

With the publication of its 100th book in 2012, the St Andrews Studies in Reformation Studies series celebrated an impressive publishing achievement. Since its establishment in 1995 the series has consistently offered high-quality, innovative and thought-provoking research in the field of early modern religious history. By encouraging authors to adopt a broad and inclusive interpretation of ’Reformation’, the resultant publications have done much to help shape current interdisciplinary interpretations of early-modern religion, expanding attention far beyond narrow theological concerns. Each title within the series has added to a body of international research showing how the ripples of the Reformation spread to virtually every corner of European society, both Protestant and Catholic, and often beyond. From family life, education, literature, music, art and philosophy, to political theory, international relations, economics, colonial ventures, science and military matters, there were few aspects of life that remained untouched in some way by the spirit of religious reform. As well as widening conceptions of the Reformation, the series has for the last fifteen years provided a publishing outlet for work, much of it by new and up-and-coming scholars who might otherwise have struggled to find an international platform for their work. Alongside these monographs, a complementary selection of edited volumes, critical editions of important primary sources, bibliographical studies and new translations of influential Reformation works previously unavailable to English speaking scholars, adds further depth to the topic. By offering this rich mix of approaches and topics, the St Andrews series continues to offer scholars an unparalleled platform for the publication of international scholarship in a dynamic and often controversial area of historical study.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General