1 March 1546 – George Wishart

George WishartA keen advocate behind the early rise of Protestantism in Scotland was executed on this day in 1546.

George Wishart became a martyr to the Protestant cause when he was put to death today in the mid-16th century. The priest had been shopped by Cardinal Beaton. The cardinal is said to have had him arrested to deflect criticism away from himself. Many held Beaton responsible for two English invasions.

Stake and ail

Nevertheless, 33-year-old Wishart was the one that was tried for heresy and found guilty. He was burned slowly and painfully at the stake for preaching Calvinist theories as a forerunner to the Reformation.


Apparently a kindly captain wanted to prevent him from suffering, so he gave Wishart gunpowder to secret about his person. When the flames caught hold the gunpowder exploded but just added to the pain. Bu eventually he died.

Wishart’s single most impressive legacy rose out his ashes. In response to his execution, friends of his broke into St Andrews Castle and murdered Cardinal Beaton, before stringing Beaton’s body up from the castle parapets. It is said that Wishart’s friends then assembled at St Andrews to form the first congregation of the Church of Scotland that very night.

The exact place where he was burned alive is engraved with the letters GW and he is also commemorated by the Martyr’s Monument at St Andrews.

Also on this day

1 March 1910 – George Perry

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