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Beginnings: Early times to 1560


Bishop Robert Wishart

By Norman F Shead

Bishop Wishart's Memorial Robert Wishart (fl. 1273–1316) is important as a major figure in the political life of Scotland and in the early stages of the war of independence. The first graduate to be bishop, he was archdeacon of Lothian when elected. He quarrelled with the chapter over the reallocation of endowments, but continued some building at the cathedral for which he received gifts of timber, one of which he was later accused of using for siege engines. He built a castle on the episcopal estate at Carstairs. He promoted relatives to the deanery and both archdeaconries.

Bishop Wishart's counter seal After the death of Alexander III in 1286, Wishart was chosen as one of six Guardians. He helped to negotiate the Anglo-Scottish treaties at Salisbury (1289), Birgham and Northampton (1290). Wishart supported the Bruce family (e.g. as auditor in the Great Cause, 1291-2); as a result, his loyalty to Edward I of England fluctuated, swearing loyalty on several occasions, but supporting the alliance with France (1296) and fighting Edward in 1297. However, he was consulted by Edward on the Ordinance for the Government of Scotland (1305) and his proposed exile in England was commuted to a fine.

Bishop Wishart Wishart was quick to absolve Bruce of the murder of Comyn and produced robes and a royal banner from the cathedral treasury for his inauguration as king in 1306. He was imprisoned in England, but under papal pressure, Edward II allowed him to visit the papal court in 1308. Now blind, he returned to Scotland in an exchange of prisoners after Bannockburn (1314).

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