The History of Leith

December 20, 2003

The story of David Lindsay continues

Part 2 South Leith Records 1925. A record of a Commemoration Lecture given by Rev. William Swan The story of Esme Stewart.

David Lindsay attended over fifty General assemblies of the New Church of Scotland and being despatched by the General Assembly to visit Roman Catholic priests. While many accepted the new state of affairs some were to ignorant or inexpert in preaching to be of service and some who were unconvinced about the necessity for change. In 1595 he was associated with some others in the erection of North Leith Church. Whenever any mention is made of him, his peaceable spirit and suavity are commented with favour. As much as in him lay, he endeavoured to live peaceably with all men and that he maintained an even coarse in favour with bitterly opposed parties is a striking testimony to his honest and balance of judgement. If any weakness can be detected in him it is the excess of virtue for his desire to make peace sometimes led to him being hoodwinked and imposed by more designing and less scrupulous then himself. His residence abroad had made him very proficient in the French tongue.

In this connection Lindsay was of great service to the King, although it is feared that his good nature was imposed open, and he was credited with what did not happen. Esme Stewart came from France when the King was in his teens and speedily by his charm of manner gained great influence with him. But as he was trained in the Roman Catholic Church he was suspect and was checkmated in all his projects. Desiring to gain his ends however unscrupulous were the means he needed to employ he affected the wish to become a protestant. Accordingly knowing no English he was put under the tuition of Lindsay who soon had the satisfaction of a convert. Lennox had the unblushing effrontery to make public confession of his pretended change of religion in St Giles. The worthy minister was deceived as the supposed conversion had no spiritual reality in it. The real aim of Lennox was the restoration of Mary and Roman Catholicism. The French tongue was also of service to him when in 1589 he performed the marriage service of James VI and Anne of Denmark at Upsala and also afterwards he baptised Charles I at Stirling and addressed the assembled ambassadors from the continent. I find a record of a meeting between him and Mary, Queen of Scots. He was one of a deputation to the Queen about the payment of stipends a matter of constant trouble until the reign of Charles I, when a consistent method of fixing the teinds was introduced after the turmoil and unsettlement of ecclesiastical property at the Reformation. It is probable, however, that being of courtly disposition though firm in his principles he would avoid anything that would lead to a direct argument with the Queen. He was not of the calibre of John Knox.

While Lindsay accommodated himself indifferently to Presbyterianism or to a moderate Episcopacy he seems to have been consistent all along in preferring the latter. When arguments were arranged in the General Assembly before the polity of the Church was finally settled he was usually selected as one of those who put the Episcopal case.

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