Henry Wemyss

Last updated

Henry Wemyss
Bishop of Galloway
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Diocese of Galloway
In office15261541
Predecessor David Arnot
Successor Andrew Durie
Consecrationafter 1 March 1526
Personal details
Died14 March × 21 May 1541
Previous post(s) Official of Galloway (1512 × 15171522 × 1526)
Archdeacon of Galloway (1513 × 15221531)

Henry Wemyss (died 1541) was a prelate from the 16th century Kingdom of Scotland. He appears in the sources in the bishopric of Galloway for the first time in 1517, and rose to become Bishop of Galloway in 1526, a position he held until his death in 1541.




He was said to have been the son of John Wemyss, fifth son of Sir John Wemyss of Wemyss, by a daughter of Sir John Arnot of Arnot (in Fife); if true, this would make him a relative of David Arnot, sometime Bishop of Galloway who resigned that bishopric in Wemyss' favour; [1] Robert Keith thought he may have been related to King James V, as a brother, [2] but this was a mistake based on textual misreading (mispunctuating) which resulted in Henry's name being confused with that of James Stewart, Earl of Moray, the King's actual brother. [3]

Earlier career

Henry is found as the Official of the diocese of Galloway on 8 February 1517, and again on 16 January 1522; the last known holder of this position occurred on 12 March 1512, so that Henry must have taken this position at some point between 1512 and 1517. [4] Henry was parson of the parish church of Auchterderran (Outherdekan), Fife, in the diocese of St Andrews, and is found to be Archdeacon of Galloway on 9 December 1522; like his position as Official, it is not known when he ascended the archdeaconry, and the last occurrence of a predecessor occurs on 9 November 1513. [5]

Bishopric of Galloway

The letter from Bishop Henry to Abbot William Kennedy of Crossraguel; Bishop Henry's signature is visible in the bottom-right. Henry Wemyss to William Kennedy.jpg
The letter from Bishop Henry to Abbot William Kennedy of Crossraguel; Bishop Henry's signature is visible in the bottom-right.

Henry Wemyss received provision to the bishopric of Galloway (with the position of Dean of the Chapel Royal, Stirling) when David Arnot resigned his bishopric on 23/4 January 1526; Arnot retained right of return upon any future vacancy and half of the revenue of the diocese. [6] Although Arnot also resigned his position as Commendator of Tongland for, once again, a lifelong pension and with right of return on vacancy, Arnot may have effectively held on to Tongland Abbey for a few more years; repeated crown nominations of Wemyss to Tongland failed, apparently because of Arnot, while William Stewart, a canon of Glasgow Cathedral, also got crown nomination until the Pope finally agreed to give Bishop Henry Wemyss Tongland Abbey in commendam in 1530, with Stewart resigning his rights. [7]

The commend of Dundrennan Abbey came into Wemyss' possession after a crown nomination on 11 December 1529, to which he was admitted on 24 April 1530. [8] Henry also retained the Archdeaconry of Galloway after becoming bishop, at least until he resigned the position to Patrick Arnot on 11 February 1531. [9] Bishop Wemyss was a frequent attender of parliament, and his name occurs frequently as a witness to charters under the Great Seal of Scotland. [10] He appeared for the last time in the latter capacity on 14 March 1541. [10] He died soon after this date, and was certainly dead by 21 May. [11] On 25 May, Andrew Durie, Abbot of Melrose, was put in charge of the vacant temporalities of Galloway and Tongland; Durie indeed succeeded Wemyss to these positions later in the year. [12]

There survive some correspondences between Bishop Henry Wemyss and William Kennedy, Abbot of Crossraguel, written in the English language. [13] Bishop Henry and Abbot William have been said to have been close friends. [14] Two letters sent by Bishop Wemyss, dated to 5 July, and to 5 December 1536, survive; the first was addressed to "Jhone Makmaister and maister Patrik Ryschert", officials at Crossraguel Abbey, and the second to Abbot William; they concern certain revenues pertaining to one Ninian Boyd and his land at Culmoyr (Cùl Mòr, "big back"), [15] over which the bishop may have had rights; [16] Culmoyr was in the now defunct parish of Clashant, later belonging to the MacDowall kindred of Garthland. [17] Bishop Wemyss' signature has survived on the letter to Abbot William. [18]


  1. Brunton & Haig, Historical Account, p. 42; their authority is cited as "Douglas Peer ii 619", which represents John Philip Wood's The Peerage of Scotland: Containing an Historical and Genealogical Account of the Nobility of that Kingdom, from their Origin to the Present Generation, Collected from the Public Records, Ancient Chartularies, the Charters and Other Writings of the Nobility, Works of our Best Historians, &c., 2nd ed. revised and corrected, with a continuation to the present period, 2 vols, (Edinburgh, 1813), vol. ii, p. 619; this is a self-proclaimed revision of Sir Robert Douglas of Glenbervie's earlier work. See below for bishopric of Galloway.
  2. Keith, Historical Catalogue, p. 278.
  3. Dowden, Bishops, p. 373, n. 1.
  4. Dowden, Bishops, p. 373; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 140.
  5. Dowden, Bishops, p. 372; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 138.
  6. Dowden, Bishops, pp. 372–3; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 132.
  7. Watt & Shead, Heads, pp. 211–2.
  8. Watt & Shead, Heads, p. 66.
  9. Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 138.
  10. 1 2 Dowden, Bishops, p. 373.
  11. Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 132.
  12. Dowden, Bishops, pp. 373–4; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 132; Watt & Shead, Heads, p. 212.
  13. Blair & Morris (eds.), Charters, vol. i, pp. 98–9; Dowden, Bishops, p. 373.
  14. Paul, Scots Peerage, vol. ii, p. 469.
  15. Blair & Morris (eds.), Charters, vol. i, pp. 98–9.
  16. Blair & Morris (eds.), Charters, vol. i, p. 98, n. 2.
  17. Blair & Morris (eds.), Charters, vol. i, p. 99, n. 1.
  18. See illustration in Blair & Morris (eds.), Charters, vol. i, between p. 98 and p. 99.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Archbishop of St Andrews</span> Office in the Episcopal Church of Scotland

The Bishop of St. Andrews was the ecclesiastical head of the Diocese of St Andrews in the Catholic Church and then, from 14 August 1472, as Archbishop of St Andrews, the Archdiocese of St Andrews.

The Abbot of Tongland was the head of the Premonstratensian monastic community of Tongland Abbey in the historical county of Kirkcudbrightshire in Dumfries and Galloway. The following is a list of abbots and commendators:

Donald Campbell was a 16th-century Scottish noble and churchman. He was the son of Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of Argyll and Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of John Stewart, 1st Earl of Lennox. From 1522, he was a student of St Salvator's College, at the University of St Andrews. After graduation, he became a cleric in his home diocese, the diocese of Argyll.

Robert Crichton was a 16th-century Scottish Catholic cleric.

Simon de Wedale was a 14th-century Augustinian canon who rose to become Abbot of Holyrood and then Bishop of Galloway. Little is known of Simon until he appears on 27 February 1321 as Abbot of Holyrood Abbey near Edinburgh. His accession to this abbacy had only been recent, since either in January of this year or in January 1320, his predecessor Elias, ruling the abbey since at least 1309 and probably earlier, was still abbot. Abbot Simon occurs again in the records on 10 June 1326.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry of Holyrood</span>

Henry was a 13th-century Augustinian abbot and bishop, most notable for holding the positions of Abbot of Holyrood and Bishop of Galloway.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gilbert of Glenluce</span>

Gilbert was a 13th-century Cistercian monk, abbot and bishop. His first appearance in the sources occurs under the year 1233, for which year the Chronicle of Melrose reported that "Sir Gilbert, the abbot of Glenluce, resigned his office, in the chapter of Melrose; and there he made his profession". It is not clear why Gilbert really did resign the position of Abbot of Glenluce, head of Glenluce Abbey in Galloway, in order to become a mere brother at Melrose Abbey; nor is it clear for how long Gilbert had been abbot, though his latest known predecessor is attested last on 27 May 1222. After going to there, Gilbert became the Master of the Novices at Melrose.

Odo Ydonc was a 13th-century Premonstratensian prelate. The first recorded appearance of Odo was when he witnessed a charter by Donnchadh, Earl of Carrick, on 21 July 1225. In this document he is already Abbot of Dercongal, incidentally the first Abbot of Dercongal to appear on record.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Arnot (bishop)</span> Scottish prelate of the Catholic Church from 1509 to 1526

David Arnot was a Scottish prelate of the Catholic Church. He was the Bishop of Galloway (Scotland) from 1509 to 1526. He was from the Arnot family of Arnot, Fife.

Reinald Macer [also called Reginald] was a medieval Cistercian monk and bishop, active in the Kingdom of Scotland during the reign of William the Lion. Originally a monk of Melrose Abbey, he rose to become Bishop of Ross in 1195, and held this position until his death in 1213. He is given the nickname Macer in Roger of Howden's Chronica, a French word that meant "skinny".

Symeon is the second known Bishop of Ross in the 12th century. His predecessor Mac Bethad occurred as bishop in a document datable between 1127 and 1131.

James Hay O. Cist. was a Cistercian abbot and bishop important in the early 16th century Kingdom of Scotland. At some stage in his life he achieved a doctorate in decrees, enabling him to be styled D. D..

John Fraser [also, more commonly then, Frisel or Frisell] was a late medieval Scottish prelate. Born about 1429, or 1430 if later tradition can be believed, with strong connections to the burgh of Linlithgow, Fraser held a variety of high-level ecclesiastical positions in Scotland, including being the first Dean of Restalrig collegiate church before becoming Bishop of Ross in 1497, a position he held until his death in 1507.

John Woodman [Wodman] was a 15th-century churchman based in the Kingdom of Scotland. Woodman was a canon of the diocese of St Andrews, and as such was locally made Prior of Pittenweem on the death of the previous prior, James Kennedy, Bishop of St Andrews; however, he was opposed by one Walter Monypenny, while the new bishop, Patrick Graham, desired the position for himself. Woodman had lost litigation for this post to Monypenny by 17 September 1466, and possession to the bishop, though Woodman was still claiming this priory as late as 1477 when he became Bishop of Ross.

Henry Cockburn was a 15th-century Scottish prelate. Between 1461 and 1476, he was the Bishop of Ross.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nicholas de Balmyle</span> Roman Catholic bishop

Nicholas de Balmyle, also called Nicholas of St Andrews, was a Scottish administrator and prelate in the late 13th century and early 14th century. A graduate of an unknown university, he served his earliest years as a clergyman at St Andrews, moving on to hold churches in Lothian as well as deputising to two archdeacons of Lothian.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nicholas of Arbroath</span>

Nicholas O. Tiron, Abbot of Arbroath and Bishop of Dunblane, was a late 13th-century and early 14th-century churchman in the Kingdom of Scotland. Little is known about Nicholas until he appeared on 21 November 1299, holding the position of Abbot of Arbroath in a charter of that abbey; the last attestation of his predecessor Henry can be dated to 16 October 1296, so that Nicholas must have become abbot sometime in between these two dates.

William O. Tiron. was a late 13th-century Tironensian abbot and bishop in the Kingdom of Scotland. He appears in the extant sources for the first time on 25 April 1276; he is Abbot of Arbroath. According to the Scotichronicon, the work of the 15th-century historian Walter Bower, William's predecessor Adam de Inverlunan had died in 1275, so William probably became abbot in either that year or in 1276.

Jonathan was a churchman and prelate active in late twelfth- and early thirteenth century Strathearn, in the Kingdom of Scotland. He was the Bishop of Dunblane during the time of Gille Brigte of Strathearn, and it was during Jonathan's episcopate that Gille Brigte founded an Augustinian priory at Inchaffray.

Bernard was a Tironensian abbot, administrator and bishop active in late 13th- and early 14th-century Scotland, during the First War of Scottish Independence. He first appears in the records already established as Abbot of Kilwinning in 1296, disappearing for a decade before re-emerging as Chancellor of Scotland then Abbot of Arbroath.


Religious titles
Preceded by
David Abercrombie
Official of Galloway
1517 1522 × 1526
Succeeded by
Andrew Arnot
Preceded by
Alexander Shaw
Archdeacon of Galloway
1513 × 1522 1531
Succeeded by
Patrick Arnot
Preceded by Bishop of Galloway
1526 1541
Succeeded by
Dean of the Chapel Royal
1526 1541
Preceded by
David Arnot/
William Stewart
Commendator of Tongland
1530 1541
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John Maxwell
Commendator of Dundrennan
1529 1541
Succeeded by
Adam Blackadder