ABSTRACT

It is difficult to reconstruct the typical functioning of Winram's superintendent's court. The court officially functioned from Winram's admission in April 1561 to March 1571/2, when John Douglas was admitted as archbishop of St Andrews. However, during many of these years the running of both the superintendent's court and the kirk session was either disrupted or a-typical. In 1561 and 1572 the superintendent's court did not meet for the full year. In 1566 and 1567 disruption surrounding the murders of David Riccio and Henry, Lord Darnley and Mary's abdication rendered the functioning of both courts virtually impossible. 1 In 1570 St Andrews was agam rocked by both national and local events. January saw the assassination of Lord James Stewart, then Regent Moray. In April the town witnessed the beginning of a long-running and acrimonious dispute between its minister, Robert Hamilton, and James Carmichael, which divided the church. 2 Then, in August Winram found himself accused of papistical practices for accepting the role of oeconomus of St Andrews priory. 3 Such a disturbed year was reflected in the running of the superintendent's court and the numbers of cases raised fell significantly. Things did not improve the following year. In April 1571, having made several unsuccessful attempts to demit his office before the General Assembly, Winram made a similar attempt before the kirk session. 4 Although technically this was also unsuccessful, in effect it marked his departure from office. Only two cases were heard before Winram's superintendent's court after that date. Thus of the 12 calendar years during which his court ran, only from 1562-65 and 1568-69 is it possible to examine any broad trends exhibited by the court.