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1545-1622. Scottish Reformer. He was born near Montrose and was well educated in Scotland and France. He came under the influence of Beza* in Geneva and was appointed there to the chair of humanity. He returned to Scotland in 1574, soon becoming principal of Glasgow University and later of St. Mary's College, St. Andrews. His academic career was most distinguished, but of greater importance was his influence on the Scottish Church. He had returned to Scotland just two years after the death of John Knox, when Regent Morton was forcing the so- called Tulchan* bishops on an unwilling Kirk. Melville was strongly Presbyterian in conviction and rejected all attempts to “buy” him for episcopacy, including the offer of the archbishopric of St. Andrews.
He was regarded for many years as the leader of the Scottish Presbyterians and in 1582 was moderator of the general assembly. He led the assembly in its ratification of the Second Book of Discipline,* written in 1578, which has been described as the “Magna Charta of Presbyterianism.” King James (VI of Scotland and I of England) was a staunch Episcopalian and was keen to impose this system of church polity on the Scots. Because of a sermon, Melville was summoned to appear before the Privy Council, but refused to accept its jurisdiction and fled to Berwick, across the border in England. In less than two years he was back in Scotland continuing the fight. James tried both conciliation and opposition in the attempt to deal with him. Eventually in 1606 he and seven other Scottish ministers were summoned by the king to Hampton Court. Melville's frankness at this interview led to his detention in the Tower of London for four years. He became professor of divinity at the university of Sedan, where he died. His nephew James undoubtedly expressed the feelings of many of's Presbyterian contemporaries when he wrote, “Scotland never received a greater benefit at the hands of God than this man.”