Patrick Hamilton

by Joshua Horn

Originally posted here. Part of the series, Blogging the Reformers.

Patrick Hamilton was born in 1504 in Scotland. He was in the royal line of the kings of Scotland, and his father was one of the last great knights of the Middle Ages. When he was fourteen his father sent him to Paris to be educated. He was saved there through the beginning of the Reformation in the university at Paris, and his sadness over the death of his father in a sword battle. He returned to Scotland in 1522 after getting the Master of Arts degree. When he returned he went to the University at St. Andrew’s, which was called the “Scottish Rome”. He explained and taught the Bible to those around him. He was not a great preacher such as Luther or Farel, but he knew the scriptures and could teach them ably. In 1527 he was declared a heretic by Archbishop James Beaton, and fled back to the continent. After studying the scriptures there for some time, he returned to Scotland. He began preaching to the common people in his home-country and many accepted the gospel. In 1528 he married, although he was a priest. Bishop Beaton invited him to St. Andrew’s to discuss the gospel, but really he wanted to kill him. There he continued to preach, and at length the bishop summoned him before a council, which convicted him as a heretic. At noon on February 28th, 1528 he was brought out to be burned at the stake. The fire did not burn well, and there were six hours of slow torture before he died. As he was about to die, he raised his hand, off which two fingers were already burnt, as a signal that he held true to the gospel to the last. His death was the start of the Reformation in Scotland. The university and all of Scotland were inspired by his example, and he strikingly fulfilled that saying, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” 1

The castle in St. Andrew’s, where Hamilton lived and was martyred.


The cathedral in St. Andrew’s


The collage in front of which Hamiton was martyred


The letters in front of St. Andrew’s collage marking where he was burned

1 J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 2000) volume 3, book x, p. 70