Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Durie, Robert

DURIE, ROBERT (1555–1616), presbyterian minister, was second son of John Durie (1537–1600) [q. v.] There is no real reason to doubt this relationship, although James Melville, who was son-in-law of John Durie, and an intimate friend and companion of Robert Durie, never explicitly mentions it. He studied at St. Mary's College, St. Andrews; visited Rochelle ; stayed with James Melville, whose wife is assumed to be his sister; accompanied Melville to the parliament of Linlithgow in December 1585, and to Berwick in September 1586; became subsequently assistant to the schoolmaster of Dunfermline, and minister of Abercrombie in Fife in 1588, and of Anstruther in 1590. He was one of those who, on the appointment of the church, visited the island of Lewis in 1598 to further a scheme for civilising and christianising the people there, hitherto little better than savages, and rearing ten parish churches among them. The attention of the church was at this time directed with much interest to the highlands, where an almost unlooked-for desire for protestant ordinances was manifesting itself. In 1601 Durie visited the Orkneys and Zetland, and gave an account of his journey to the assembly of 1602. In 1605 Durie attended as a member the general assembly at Aberdeen, which the king had prohibited, but which certain ministers, repudiating his jurisdiction, had persisted in holding. For this offence he was summoned before the privy council, and on 18 July sent to Blackness Castle. He and five others were tried at Linlithgow on 10 Jan. 1606 for treasonably declining the jurisdiction of the council, and being found guilty were banished from the kingdom. Durie, after landing at Bordeaux, proceeded to Holland, where he was admitted first minister of the Scotch church at Leyden, where he died in September 1616. He was one of the most intimate friends of Andrew Melville, who was in banishment at Sedan when Durie was at Leyden. At one time it was rumoured that a pardon had been accorded to Durie, but Melville warned him not to trust the rumour, having grounds for suspecting some foul play. He contributed a commendatory sonnet to James Melville's 'Spirituall Propine,' 1589. By his wife, Elizabeth Ramsay, Durie had five sons (John, Andrew, Eliezer, John, and James), and three daughters. The fourth son John is separately noticed.

[Scott's Fasti, pt. iv. 402, 406, pt. v. 144; Melville's Diary ; Calderwood's History : M'Crie's Life of Melville.]

W. G. B.