Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mylne, Alexander

1160577Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 40 — Mylne, Alexander1894Aeneas James George Mackay

MYLNE or MYLN, ALEXANDER (1474–1548?), abbot of Cambuskenneth and president of the court of session in Scotland, probably a native of Angus, was the son of John Mylne (d. before 1513), who in 1481 was appointed master-mason to the crown of Scotland, and served that office under James III and James IV. Alexander was educated at St. Andrews, where he graduated in 1494. Having taken orders, he became first a canon of the cathedral of Aberdeen and afterwards prebendary of Monithie in the cathedral of Dunkeld and rector of Lundie. He was also scribe of the chapter and official of the bishop, George Brown. Brown having divided his diocese into deaneries made Myln dean of Angus, and on 18 May 1510 he became master of the monks for the building of the bridge of Dunkeld, of which one arch was completed in 1513 (see his accounts preserved in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh). After the death of Brown in 1515, Myln wrote a history in Latin of the bishops of the see from its foundation to the death of Brown, which he dedicated to Gavin Douglas [q. v.] The work is well written, and contains a vivid description of the contest for the possession of the cathedral between Andrew Stewart, a brother of the Earl of Atholl, and Gavin Douglas. Myln was recommended by the regent Albany for the important abbacy of Cambuskenneth, vacant by the death of Patrick Panther [q. v.], and Leo X appointed him abbot in 1517. About the same time he was appointed master-mason to James V.

He was a diligent and reforming head of his chapter; collected the records of the abbey, which were falling into decay, and preserved them in a new register; made an agreement with the abbot of St. Victor in Paris for the better education of novices both in arts and theology, and enforced on the members a stricter observance of their rules. Richardson, one of these novices, afterwards a canon at Cambuskenneth, mentions in his ‘Exegesis of the Rule of St. Augustine’ that Myln specially required the reading of scripture during dinner, frequently preached himself, and gave the other monks an opportunity of preaching. He also erected the great altar and chapter-house of the abbey church, and two new cemeteries which were consecrated by the bishop of Dunblane in 1521. Like other leading churchmen, he took part in secular affairs, went in 1524 on an embassy to the English court to treat of the marriage of James V and Mary Tudor, and was one of the lords to whom parliament entrusted the custody of James V in 1525. James, after he obtained independence, gave Myln the administration of the abbey of Holyrood and the priory of St. Andrews during the infancy of the royal bastards, on whom the pope had conferred these rich preferments. Myln also served in successive parliaments from 1532 to 1542 as lord of the articles. When in 1532 the king instituted the court of session as the central and supreme civil court for Scotland, it was arranged that the president should be an ecclesiastic, partly because a large part of its revenues were supplied by the church, and partly because the clergy were the only class at that time thoroughly trained in law. Myln presided over the court until his death in 1548 or 1549, being succeeded on 24 Feb. 1549 by Robert Reid, bishop of Orkney.

Myln's capacity for judicial office was shown by the careful rules of court drawn up by him and embodied in the first Act of Sederunt. He was an example of the mediæval ecclesiastic who was a man of business and learning rather than a pastor or theologian. His brother Robert (d. 1549) became provost of Dundee, and was the father of Thomas Mylne (d. 1605), master-mason [see under Mylne, John, d. 1621].

[Vitæ Episcoporum Dunkeldensium, published by the Bannatyne Club in 1831 (the manuscript is in the Advocates' Library); Registrum Abbaciæ Cambuskennethensis, published by Grampian Club; Epistolæ Regum Scotorum, curante Ruddiman, ii. 72; R. Richardson's Exegesis, Paris, 1530; Acts of Sederunt of the Court of Session from 1532 to 1553, edited by Sir Ilay Campbell, 1811; Acts of Parliament of Scotland, Record edition, vol. ii.; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice; Mylne's Master Masons, pp. 2, 5, 8, 17–34.]

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