Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Knox, John (1555?-1623)

KNOX, JOHN (1555?–1623), Scottish presbyterian divine, born about 1555, appears to have been third son of William Knox, a merchant of Preston, the reformer's brother (Rogers, Geneal. Memoirs of Knox, p. 70). But there is some ground for the belief that his father was the Preston merchant's eldest son, William Knox, minister of Cockpen from 1567 till his death in April 1592 (Hew Scott, Fasti Eccl. Scot. pt. i. pp. 271–2, pt. ii. p. 519). John graduated M.A. at the university of St. Andrews in 1575, and in the following year became minister at Lauder. He was a member of the general assemblies in October 1581 and October 1582, and in 1584 was transferred to the ministry of Melrose. Knox was a resolute champion of the ecclesiastical principles of his great kinsman and namesake, and gained great influence in the twelve general assemblies of which he was a member. In 1585 he declined to subscribe the articles of religion promulgated by Secretary Maitland. He was elected moderator of the synod in October 1586, and on 6 March 1589 he was one of the commissioners appointed by the privy council to secure the preservation of religion in the sheriffdom of Edinburgh. In 1596 he was one of the commissioners for the south who were directed to meet daily the Edinburgh presbytery in order to consult means of resistance to the actions of the excommunicated popish earls and their adherents. His uncontrolled zeal is said to have led to his discharge from the assembly on 7 March 1597. He was, however, a member of the assembly in 1601, when he refused to vote for the royal recommendation concerning the translation of ministers. He was accordingly regarded as hostile to the government. When nominated moderator of the assembly of 1606 he declined to accept the office, and was accordingly put to the horn. In 1608, however, he had regained favour with the government, and was appointed to visit the kirks of Annandale, Ewesdale, and Eskdale with the Archbishop of Glasgow. On 4 May 1609 he also attended the conference at Falkland. He led the resistance to the re-establishment of episcopacy, admonishing the Archbishop of St. Andrews in the assembly of 1617; and in a sermon delivered by him at the synod of Perth (November 1618), which had been called to acknowledge obedience to the Articles of Perth, he exhorted his hearers to uphold the liberty and government of the church as it was before the introduction of bishops. He died in 1623, aged about 68. Livingston mentions him and others as ‘eminent for grace, gifts, faithfulness, and success.’

John Knox (fl. 1621–1654), who was laureated at St. Andrews about 1613, and was minister of Bowden, on the presentation of James VI, from 22 Nov. 1621 till 26 July 1654, is said to have been son of the above. He gave 10l. towards building the library of the college at Glasgow on 1 Aug. 1632, was member of the assembly in 1638, and of the commissions of 1646 and 1648 (Hew Scott, Fasti Eccl. Scot. pt. ii. pp. 544–5).

[Hew Scott's Fasti Eccl. Scot. pt. ii. p. 559; Wodrow's Miscellanea; Calderwood's Historie of the Kirk; James Melville's Autob. (Wodrow Soc.); Livingston's Characters.]