Campbell, Alexander (d.1608) (DNB00)

CAMPBELL, ALEXANDER (d. 1608), bishop of Brechin, son of Campbell of Ardkinglass, Argyllshire, received through the recommendation of his kinsman, the Earl of Argyll, while still a boy, a grant from Mary Queen of Scots of the see of Brechin, of which he was the first protestant bishop. He was endowed with all the patronage formerly belonging to the bishops of Brechin (Reg. Priv. Sig.) The boy bishop was never consecrated, nor did he attempt to exercise any episcopal functions. According to Keith (Catalogue of Scottish Bishops, 1755, p. 98) the only use he made of his position was to alienate the greater part of the lands and tithes belonging to the see in favour of the Earl of Argyll, leaving barely sufficient for the support of a minister for the city of Brechin. This alienation was confirmed by parliament. In May 1567 he obtained a license from the queen to leave the realm for seven years, but his name appears on the list of those who personally attended the convention of Perth in 1569. In the ‘Book of Assumption’ the bishop is mentioned as being at the schools at Geneva in January 1573–4 (Keith, History, &c., p. 507, and App. p. 181). After his return to Scotland in the following July he for some time exercised the office of particular pastor at Brechin, retaining the title of bishop, but without exercising any episcopal authority. In 1574 he complained to the general assembly that the Bishop of Dunkeld had alleged that he had been compelled by the Earl of Argyll ‘to give out pensions,’ which he considered a slander. He was also present at the general assemblies of 1575 and 1576. In 1580 he and several other bishops were summoned to appear before the next general assembly to answer charges of having alienated the lands of their benefices, and in 1582 Campbell was directed by the general assembly to appear before the presbytery of Dundee to account for various negligences in the performance of the duties of his office. The process against him was duly produced to the general assembly in 1583, but there is no record of any further steps having been taken. He continued to sit in parliament on the spiritual side until his death, which took place in 1608. Keith gives the date as 1606, but the records of the Edinburgh Commissary Court (quoted by M'Crie) refer his death to February 1608. The deed appointing him to the bishopric of Brechin is printed in the ‘Registrum Episcopatus de Brechin’ (Bannatyne Club).

[Anderson’s Scottish Nation, p. 369; Registrum Episcopatus de Brechin (Bannatyne Club), 1850; Keith’s Catalogue of Scottish Bishops, 1824; Acts of the General Assembly, &c. mdlx.-mdcxviii. (Bannatyne Club); M‘Crie’s Life of Andrew Melville; Stephens’s History of the Church of Scotland, 1843, i. 157.]

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