Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wedderburn, James (1585?-1639)

WEDDERBURN, JAMES (1585–1639), bishop of Dunblane, was the second son of John Wedderburn, mariner and shipowner, Dundee, and Margaret Lindsay. James Wedderburn (1495?–1553) [q. v.] was his great-grandfather. He was born at Dundee in 1585, and began his collegiate course at St. Andrews University, matriculating in 1604, graduating in 1608, and removing thence to one of the English universities. Wood states that Wedderburn studied at Oxford, but his name does not occur in the registers; and Heylyn, in his ‘Life of William Laud, Archbishop,’ gives Cambridge as the university. He was at one time tutor to the children of Isaac Casaubon, and among the Burney manuscripts in the British Museum there are several letters from him to Casaubon and to his son Meric, the latter having been Wedderburn's special pupil. Wedderburn took orders in the Anglican church, was minister at Harstone in 1615, and was closely associated with Laud in the preparation of the liturgy for the Scottish church. He was professor of divinity in St. Mary's College, St. Andrews, in 1617, and had obtained his degree of D.D. before January 1623, as at that time, in conjunction with Principal Howie, he introduced the liturgy at the college, in compliance with the orders of the king (Calderwood, Hist. of the Kirk, Wodrow Soc. vii. 569). In February 1626 he was appointed rector of Compton, diocese of Winchester, and was collated canon of Ely before Christmas 1626. On 12 Sept. 1628 the king presented him to the vicarage of Mildenhall, diocese of Norwich. He was appointed prebendary of Whitchurch in the bishopric of Bath and Wells on 26 May 1631 (Le Neve, Fasti, i. 203, 360). He became dean of the Chapel Royal, Stirling, in October 1635. On 11 Feb. 1636 he was preferred to the see of Dunblane, in succession to Adam Bellenden, promoted to the bishopric of Aberdeen. He must have retained the prebend of Whitchurch, as no successor was appointed until 1 July 1638 (Wells Cath. MSS. in Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. iii. 260). When the Glasgow assembly of 13 Dec. 1638 deposed the bishops, Wedderburn was expressly included in the excommunication, because ‘he had been a confidential agent of Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, in introducing the new liturgy and popish ceremonies.’ He fled to England, in company with other Scottish bishops, and found protection from his patron, Laud; but he did not long survive his deprivation. He died at Canterbury on 23 Sept. 1639, and was buried in the chapel of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral there. There is a portrait of the bishop, by Jamieson, at Birkhill, Fifeshire, reproduced in ‘The Wedderburn Book.’ In Scott's ‘Fasti’ he is said to have written ‘A Treatise of Reconciliation.’

[Keith's Catalogue of Bishops; Millar's Roll of Eminent Burgesses, p. 52; The Wedderburn Book (privately printed, 1898), i. 28; Millar's Compt Buik of David Wedderburn (Scottish Hist. Soc.); Lyon's Hist. of St. Andrews, ii. 418; Gardiner's Hist. of England, vii. 290, viii. 311; Scott's Fasti, ii. 840; Laud's Works; Rogers's Hist. of the Chapel Royal in Scotland, p. 190.]

A. H. M.