Scotland's First Martyr
February 29, 1528
St. Andrews, Scotland
Tragedy Of A Young Reformer
Patrick Hamilton was born in 1504 in the country of Scotland. He attended the University of Paris in France, and while there became aware of the teachings of Martin Luther. After, he received his Master of Arts in 1520. Upon returning to Scotland, he settled in the center of Catholicism in Scotland, St. Andrews; acquiring a position of teaching at the University of St. Andrews.
The practicing head of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland at the time was Cardinal James Beaton. He was the Archbishop of St. Andrews. It was early in 1527 that Beaton heard of the "heretical" teachings of the young college professor. When Beaton attempted to have him arrested, Hamilton fled to Germany, where he enrolled as a student in the new University of Marburg. In the autumn of that year he returned to Scotland and began preaching Lutheran ideas.
The following year he began a publication, Patrick's Places, where he introduced Luther's theology. In it he taught against celibacy, and even pressed the point by marrying. He was accused of preaching against pilgrimages, purgatory, prayers to the saints, and prayers for the dead. He was finally summoned before the council of bishops, and clergy, headed by the Archbishop James Beaton. The council condemned his teachings as heresy against the church, and he was ordered to be burned at the stake outside St. Salvator's Chapel in St. Andrews, literally upon the campus of the University of St. Andrews. The sentence was to be carried out immediately. His last words were, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." He was burned from noon until 6pm. According to witnesses, the fire went out once before he died, and the young man writhed in pain, much to the despise of the people. The fire was reset. It was said by some that the fire burned so intensely hot that an impression of the face of the young reformer was burned into the rock facing of the building, only a few feet away. For centuries, people have been to the place where Scotland's first martyr was burned at the stake.
Location of Patrick Hamilton's Demise
St. Salvator's Chapel lies at the southern entrance of the University of St. Andrews. Located on North Street, the chapel is easily seen. The actual spot where Hamilton was burned at the stake is at the entrance of the Chapel access into the grounds of the college. Its location leaves little doubt as to its intended purpose to disuade students from any thoughts that would take them away from the accepted religion at the time, Roman Catholicism.
or D.d. 56.341283,-2.794704
The initials on the pavement nearby mark the spot where
Patrick Hamilton, Member of the University, was burned at
the stake on 29 February, 1528, at the age of 24.
On the continent he had been greatly influenced by Martin
Luther, and on his return to St. Andrews he began to teach
Lutheran doctrines. Having been tried and found guilty
of heresy, he was condemned to death, thus becoming the
first martyr of the Scottish Reformation
Photos Taken November, 2006
Courtesy of Scott Harp
Special thanks to Graham McDonald, Scotland citizen and missionary. He and his family were hosts to the Harps in November, 2006. Graham very kindly drove us around the country to various locations of the Reformation & Restoration Movement.