From the Book of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee 1513 to 1885.

Magister Alexander Hepburne - 17th January 1564



ALEXANDER HEPBURN is the second of the schoolmasters of Dundee entered upon this Roll, the first being Magister WALTER SPALDING, who was admitted a Burgess in 1539 [vide page 22]. Though few references to him are found in the records of the period, his life was an eventful one. He had studied at St Andrews and taken his degree as Master of Arts there before he settled in Dundee, and it was probably through the influence of the relatives of his wife, CHRISTIAN SCRYMGEOUR, that he obtained preferment to the high ecclesiastical dignity which he afterwards enjoyed. Previous to 1571 he was placed in charge of the Kirks of "Litill Dunkeld," "Dowalie," "Logyrait," "Logyallowy," "Mwlin" (Moulin); and in the latter year was promoted to the Protestant Bishopric of Ross. Many writers on the history of the time have been perplexed by the fact that JOHN LESLY, Roman Catholic Bishop of Ross, the well known defender of QUEEN MARY, retained his episcopal title long after his deposition, and consequently there were both a Protestant and a Romanist Bishop of Ross living at the same time.

Hence many of the acts of these two persons axe confused and credited to the wrong party. ALEXANDER HEPBURN was not popular in the North as Bishop of Ross, since the Roman Catholics naturally regarded him as an intruder; and it appears from the lamentable complaint laid by his widow, CHRISTIAN SCRYMGEOURE, before the Privy Council, that his death was brought about by the cruel oppression of his neighbours. In December, 1578, whilst he was confined to his dwelling in the Channonrie of Ross by his last sickness, COLIN MACKENZIE of Kintail prevented his wife and servants from obtaining either fuel or victuals, "usand sic inhumane and cruell dealing aganis him that for displesour thairof he fell seek and nevir recoverit quhill he depairtit this life."

When MACKENZIE learned that the BISHOP was nigh unto death, he surrounded the house with armed men, and entered the Castle with violence, expelled the unfortunate wife ere her husband's body was cold, and drove her out with her children and the few servants whom MACKENZIE had not already imprisoned, and took forcible possession of all her property. Nor did his cruelty end here, for having put them "furth of the said hous, he constrynit thame to leif the cuntrie and to cum away by sey, not suffering thame to get meit, drink, or lugeing, within the toun, nor lettand sa meikle exim away with thame of thair owin geir as a plaid or blankat to keip the bairnis fra cauld within the boit." For this barbarous deed MACKENZIE and his accomplices were justly denounced as rebels and put to the horn.


Iain D. McIntosh, Friends of Dundee City Archives