Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Laing, James

LAING, JAMES (1502–1594), professor of theology in the university of Paris, was born in 1502 at Auchterless in Aberdeenshire. Having shown much aptitude at school in Scotland, he continued his studies at the university of Paris, where he applied himself to theology and entered holy orders. He is inscribed on the records of that university as a Scotsman, of the diocese of St. Andrews, and of the German nation. On 20 Oct. 1556 he was elected procurator of his nation, whereby he had the right to represent it in the rector's court, the governing body of the university. This honour was conferred on him on many later occasions—on 27 Aug. 1558, on 10 Feb. and 27 Oct. 1560, on 21 Oct. 1568, and on 14 Jan. 1571. About this latter date he obtained the degree of doctor of theology. He preached during several years in Paris. Jean de Rouen, privy councillor, royal almoner, rector and censor of the university, in his treatise on the Sorbonne, mentions Laing in very laudatory terms. He was a violent enemy of the Reformation, and very abusive in his personal attacks on the reformers. In 1581 he wrote ‘De Vita et Moribus atque Rebus Gestis Hæreticorum nostri temporis.’ The notices of Calvin are translated from the French of the earlier treatise of Bolsec. Laing's first sentence regarding Knox concludes, ‘ab initio suæ pueritiæ omni genere turpissimi facinoris infectus fuit.’ In 1585 he wrote a second treatise of a similar character, ‘De Vita et Moribus Theodori Bezæ, omnium hæreticorum nostri temporis facile principis, et aliorum hæreticorum brevis recitatio. Cui adjectus est libellus de morte Patris Edmundi Campionis et aliorum quorundam Catholicorum qui in Anglia pro fide Catholica interfecti fuerunt, primo die Decembris, anno Domini 1581. Authore Jacobo Laingeo, Doctore Sorbonico,’ Paris, 1585. The book is dedicated conjointly to Queen Mary Stuart and to James VI. He is said to have written other unpublished works of a less polemical nature, including a commentary on Aristotle's philosophy, which Dempster relates he saw in manuscript with the author. His name is appended to a document drawn up in the form of an oath of fealty signed and addressed by the principal members of the Paris faculties to Henry IV on his accession, 22 April 1594. He died during this year, and was buried, according to his wish, in the chapel of the Sorbonne.

[Du Boulay's Histoire de l'Université, tome vi.; Dempster's Hist. Eccl. Gent. Scot.; Conæus's De Stat. Religione apud Scotos, ii. 167; Beza's Life of Calvin; Hist. de la Vie, Actes, Doctrine, et Mort de Jean Calvin, par Bolsec, Paris, 1582.]

J. G. F.