National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

John Knox (d 1572)

John Knox (d 1572)

Religious reformer

John Knox is regarded as the founding father of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, and of the Church of Scotland. His date of birth is uncertain varying from 1505 to 1514.  His father, William Knox of Haddingtonshire, fought at the Battle of Flodden;  his mother's maiden name was Sinclair. He publicly professed the Protestant faith in 1545, became a close associate of George Wishart and a Protestant minister in St Andrews. He travelled to Geneva where he met the reformer, John Calvin, and wrote 'The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women'. Protestantism was established as the national religion in Scotland by the parliament of 1560 and John Knox was appointed minister of St Giles, Edinburgh. Assisted by five other ministers, he formulated the confession of faith adopted at this time and drew up the constitution of the new Church - 'The First Book of Discipline' - which was organised on presbyterian lines.

His first wife, Marjorie Bowes, died early in his Edinburgh ministry. They had two sons - Nathanael died at Cambridge in 1580 and, Eleazer, vicar of Clacton Magna in the archdeaconry of Colchester, died in 1591. In 1564 John Knox married Margaret Stewart, aged 17 and daughter of Andrew, lord Stewart of Ochiltree. They had three daughters Martha, Margaret and Elizabeth - all of whom are mentioned in his testament. John Knox died in Edinburgh on 24 November 1572.

Testament of John Knox

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/2 pp 527-533

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