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Significant Scots
Michael Geddes


GEDDES, MICHAEL, a distinguished divine of the church of England, and author of some admired works, was educated at the university of Edinburgh, where, in 1671, he took the degree of master of arts, in which he was incorporated at Oxford, on the 11th of July, in the same year. He was one of the first four natives of Scotland who were permitted to take advantage of the exhibitions founded in Baliol college, Oxford, by bishop Warner, with the view of promoting the interests of the Episcopal church in Scotland. Geddes, however, did not return to propagate or enforce the doctrines of that body in his native country. He went in 1678 to Lisbon, a chaplain to the English factory; the exercise of which function giving offense to the inquisition, he was sent for by that court in 1686, and forbidden to continue it. This persecution obviously arose from the attempts now making by king James at home to establish popery. The English merchants, resenting the violation of their privilege, wrote on the 7th of September to the bishop of London, representing their case, and their right to a chaplain, as established by the commercial treaty between England and Portugal; but before this letter reached its destination, the bishop was himself put into the same predicament as Mr Geddes, being suspended from his functions by the ecclesiastical commission. Finding that his case had become hopeless, Geddes returned to England, in May, 1688, where he took the degree of doctor of laws, and after the promotion of Burnet to the bishopric of Salisbury, was made by him chancellor of his church. [Birch’s Life of Tillotson, 334.] During his residence at Lisbon, he had amassed a great quantity of documents respecting Spanish and Portuguese history, which enabled him, in 1694, to publish a volume, styled "The Church History of Malabar." Of this work, archbishop Tillotson says in a letter to bishop Burnet, dated June 28th, 1694, "Mr Geddes’s book finds a general acceptation and approbation. I doubt not but he hath more of the same kind, with which I hope he will favour the world in due time." He was accordingly encouraged in 1696 to publish the "Church History of AEthiopia," and in 1697, a pamphlet entitled "The Council of Trent plainly discovered not to have been a free assembly." His great work, however, was his "Tracts on Divers Subjects," which appeared in 1714, in three volumes, being a translation of the most interesting pieces which he had collected at Lisbon, and of which a list is given in Moreri’s Grand Dictionnaire Historique, art, Geddes. The learned doctor must have died previous to the succeeding year, as in 1715 appeared a posthumous volume of tracts against the Roman Catholic church, which completes the list of his publications.

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