Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lauder, William (1520?-1573)

LAUDER, WILLIAM (1520?–1573), Scottish poet, born in Lothian about 1520, was 'among the students who were incorporated in St. Salvator's College' at St. Andrews in 1537. Another student of the same name joined St. Leonard's College in the same university in 1542, and qualified himself for the degree of M.A. in 1544. The poet after leaving the university probably took priest's orders, but seems to have chiefly devoted himself to literary work, and obtained some celebrity as a deviser of court pageants. In February 1548–9 he received the sum of 11l. 5s. for 'making' a play to celebrate the marriage of Lady Barbara Hamilton, daughter of the regent Arran, with Alexander, lord Gordon, son of George Gordon, fourth earl of Huntly. When the queen-dowager, Mary of Guise, arrived in Edinburgh in 1554, 'the provost, baillies, and counsale' arranged for the performance in her presence of a 'litill farsche & play maid be William Lauder' (Edinb. Council Records, ii. 40 b). In July 1558, at the celebration of the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots with the dauphin, Francis, 10l. was paid to Lauder by the royal treasurer for composing a play. None of these dramatic efforts are extant. Lauder joined the reformers on the establishment of protestantism in Scotland in 1560, and about 1563 was appointed by the presbytery of Perth minister of the united parishes of Forgandenny, Forteviot, and Muckarsie. His name appears in the earliest extant lists of ministers dated 1567. He died in February 1572–3. He was married, and his wife survived him.

Lauder's published verse is more interesting from a philological than from a literary point of view. It consists mainly of denunciation of the immoral practices current in Scotland in his time. In his 'Tractate concerning the Office of Kyngis' he insists on the need of virtuous living among rulers, and he shows, whenever opportunity serves, a rancorous hatred of all papists. Their titles run:

  1. 'Ane compendious and breve Tractate concernyng ye Office and Dewtie of Kyngis, spirituall Pastoris and temporall Jugis, Laithe compylit be William Lauder. For the faithfull Instructioun of Kyngis and Prencis' [without printer's name or place]. The 'colophon' gives the date 1556. It may safely be attributed to the press of John Scot, who worked alternately at St. Andrews and Edinburgh. It was reprinted by Peter Hall [q.v.] in the 'Crypt' in 1827, and by the Early English Text Society in 1864. A long notice of Hall's edition appears in the 'Edinburgh Review,' vols. xciv. and xcv. Two copies are known; one belonging to Mr. Christie-Miller at Britwell, and the other formerly belonging to Dr. Thomas Leckie of Edinburgh, which passed to David Laing [q.v.], and was purchased at the sale of his library by Mr. Quaritch in 1879. The metre is throughout in rhymed eight-syllable lines.
  2. 'Ane Godlie Tractate or Mirrour. Quhair intill may be easilie perceauit qwho thay be that ar ingraftit in to Christ and qwho ar nocht … Compyled in Meter be William Lauder, Minister of the Wourd of God,' in 358 heroic couplets, printed by Robert Lekpreuik at Edinburgh about 1570. At the end is 'The Lamentatioun of the Pure twiching the miserabill Estait of this present Warld. Compylit be William Lauder at Perth. Primo Fabruarie 1568.' The 'Lamentation' is in alternately rhyming eight-syllable lines.
  3. 'Ane prettie Mirrour or Conference betuix the faithfull Protestant and the Dissemblit false Hypocrit. … Compylit be William Lauder, Minister of the Wourd of God,' in thirty-seven four-line stanzas alternately rhymed; printed by Lekpreuik. A man bearing a mirror is engraved on the title-page of this and the former work.
  4. 'Ane trew and breue Sentencius Discreption of ye nature of Scotland twiching the Interteinment of virtewus men that laketh Ryches. Compyled be William Lauder, Minister of God's Wourd,' three eight-line stanzas, concluding with 'Quod Lauder;' probably printed by Scot.
  5. 'Ane gude Exempill be the Butterflie instructing Men to hait all Harlottrie,' four eight-line stanzas concluding with 'Quod William Lauder, Minister;' probably printed by Scot. Unique copies of the last four works are in the library of Mr. Christie-Miller at Britwell. They were reprinted as Lauder's 'Minor Poems' by the Early English Text Society in 1870.

[Lauder's Compendious and Breve Tractate, ed. Fitzedward Hall, with life by David Laing (Early English Text Soc.), 1864; Lauder's Minor Poems, ed. Furnivall (Early English Text Soc.), 1870; Dickson and Edmond's Annals of Scottish Printing, i. 166, 268–9.]

S. L.