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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Archbishop Burnet and the "Fanatics"


FAIRFOUL was succeeded. in the office of Archbishop of Glasgow, in 1664, by Alexander Burnet, then Bishop of Aberdeen. His feeling towards Presbyterians is stated to have been expressed in this sentence :— "The only way to deal with a fanatic was to starve him."

Among his earliest acts was to summon James Hamilton of Aitkenhead, in Cathcart parish, before the High Commission Court for failing to attend the church; and under this and a number of other charges, for the most part believed to have been trumped up, Aitkenhead bad to pay heavy fines, and suffer several periods of imprisonment. On the 18th December, 1664, John Spreul, the late town-clerk of Glasgow, was, by an Act of the Privy Council, banished the country for his Presbyterianism; while George Porter-field and John Graham, late provosts of the city, were similarly dealt with in 1665.

The Town Council, on the 22nd April, 1665, ordered the inhabitants of the city to bring their arms to the magistrates, to be kept in the Tolbooth, and those who failed to obey this disarming Act were to be held as disaffected. In his zeal for the advancement of Episcopacy, Burnet informed the city authorities that he intended to employ the King’s militia to collect certain fines which had been imposed for nonconformity; but the Council thought it better to do so. by their own officials. At length his zeal so outran his prudence, that in a document which he and his synod issued, in September, 1669, he remonstrated against the indulgence granted to Presbyterians, in such a way as to be considered subversive of His Majesty’s authority, and he was set aside in December, Robert Leighton, Bishop of Dunblane, being appointed commendator of the diocese.


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