Pearce, Wayne. John Spottiswoode Jacobean Archbishop and Statesman. Available at: http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/a-s-wayne-pearce/john-spottiswoode-jacobean-archbishop-and-statesman/paperback/product-21652023.html.
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In 1583, at the age of eighteen, Spottiswoode was officially deemed qualified to assist his father in his pastorate. He duly succeeded to the incumbency after his father's death in December 1585, and in addition was advanced to the nearby charge of Calder-Cleres on 19 July 1594. He demitted this second charge two years later to make way for John Brown, who was presented to the vicarage by James VI on 31 January 1596. The frequency of his name in extant synod and general assembly registers is indicative of his high standing among fellow ministers. Although the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale records reveal that Spottiswoode encountered difficulties with regard to enforcing church discipline within the jurisdictional bounds of the Linlithgow presbytery, in comparative terms his problems were relatively minor and were not peculiar to his pastorate. Moreover, he continued to play a conspicuous role within the higher echelons of the church, which would indicate that his administrative and managerial talents were recognized at a relatively early date. He was among the commissioners nominated by the general assembly to undertake a visitation of the University of Aberdeen in 1593. He was elected moderator of the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale in October 1594, was assigned a prominent part in negotiations between church and state, and played a high profile role in the battle to extirpate Roman Catholic recusancy from Scotland. In May 1601 Spottiswoode, along with his future archiepiscopal colleague James Law, was instructed to effect the proselytization of William Douglas, tenth earl of Angus. However, he was unable to comply ‘because he was directit be his Majestie to awaite upon the Duke of Lennox in his ambassadrie to France’ (Booke of the Universall Kirk, 3.981). He was also appointed by the general assembly on visitations to Galloway in 1596 and Clydesdale in 1601 and 1602.
After the regal union Spottiswoode quickly emerged as the most authoritative and commanding episcopal figure of his generation. As archbishop of Glasgow (1603–15), his ascent was meteoric. Owing to the titular nature of his office and his involvement in more pressing matters on behalf of church and crown, the archbishop did not take up residence in Glasgow until January 1605. However, his acquisition of ecclesiastical, and magisterial authority within Glasgow and its archiepiscopal environs was swift and decisive. The Linlithgow assembly made him constant moderator of the Glasgow presbytery in December 1606, although in practice Spottiswoode rarely attended its meetings until the Glasgow assembly of 1610 restored episcopal ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In his protracted absences from his locality the archbishop relied on the highly competent Patrick Sharp, principal of the University of Glasgow and deputy moderator, to keep him informed of developments and oversee the smooth operation of presbyterial affairs. The same assembly similarly allegedly appointed Spottiswoode moderator of the synod of Clydesdale. Nevertheless, it was not until the following August that the injunction was put into effect after the synod was browbeaten into acceptance of the new constitutional arrangement by the earl of Abercorn at the behest of the king. In a similar manner the archbishop quickly established his grip on the archiepiscopal city as he filled the power vacuum left by the duke of Lennox, who had relocated in England with King James. As early as November 1606 Spottiswoode had gained control of the city administration through his ability to determine the complexion and composition of the burgh council. It was no coincidence that in April 1611 Glasgow was finally accorded royal burgh status through the endeavour of the archbishop.
Spottiswoode was elevated to the metropolitan see after the death of George Gladstanes in March 1615. As primate he continued to be the main channel through which James VI and later Charles I sought to Anglicize the Church of Scotland through the introduction of doctrinal, liturgical, and ceremonial modifications. Spottiswoode was the author of the Refutatio libelli de regimine ecclesiae Scoticanae, 1620, which was an episcopal riposte to the presbyterian polemics of David Calderwood. His forceful and erudite sermon on 1 Corinthians 11: 16, given in defence of the king's five articles at the Perth assembly on 25 August 1618, was similarly published in defence of the untimely and unwarranted alterations. Nevertheless Spottiswoode was no slavish sycophant. Although an advocate of the theory of divine right of kings, the archbishop was often working to a quite independent agenda to that of his royal master. The archbishop's extant sermons as primate clearly reveal that he was an orthodox Calvinist in theology if not ecclesiology. It is telling that he informed Isaac Casaubon that he greatly admired the works of the widely renowned Scottish covenant theologian, Robert Rollock, whom he described as ‘worthy of immortality’ (Burney MSS 366, fol. 197r).
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A. S. Wayne Pearce, ‘Spottiswoode, John (1565–1639)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26167, accessed 28 Jan 2014]