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Patrick Hamilton

1503-1528. Generally regarded as the proto-martyr of the Scottish Reformation. Of aristocratic lineage, he was sent to Paris University about 1515 and graduated five years later, soon after Luther had posted his theses. He matriculated at St. Andrews University in 1523, fired up by the Lutheran opinions expressed by those for whom the Word of God had become a living force. Hamilton probably taught in St. Andrews, but in 1527 he fell foul of Archbishop Beaton and was compelled to flee to the land of Luther. Later that year he returned to Scotland, intent on preaching the Gospel. Early in 1528 Beaton summoned him to St. Andrews, ostensibly to debate, but in reality to put him to death hurriedly before influential friends could muster support. Sentence was passed by the ecclesiastical court, and Hamilton was burnt in St. Andrews, His murderers expected by summary treatment of one of high rank to intimidate others and suppress the rising tide of Reformation. The opposite effect was produced; great discussion ensued, and as one bystander said, “The reek [smoke] of Mr. Patrick Hamilton has infected as many as it did blow upon.”