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in all twenty-one parishes, Tarbolton, Symington, and Dundonald lying north of the Ayr, while southward is Dalrymple, Coylton, Ochiltree, and Stair. Richly cultivated, beautiful in itself, and full of associations in romantic and legendary lore this old district of Kyle has an interest of a still higher order for the historical student wishful to enlarge his knowledge by adding to stores already collected one of the most interesting chapters in ecclesiastical annals concerning the great movement carried on against the Papacy by Reformers before the Reformation. The blood of martyrs has been affirmed on high authority to be the seed of the Church; and so, no doubt it has proved on many occasions; but Persecution, when relentless enough, and well directed, has also had its evil victories. A war distinguished, Macaulay writes, even among wars of religion by its merciless atrocity, destroyed the Albigensian heresy in the early part of the thirteenth century, and with so-called heresy perished the prosperity, the civilisation, the literature, and even the national existence of what was once the most opulent and enlightened part of the great European family. Then also arose as part of a system designed to strengthen the Church, that dreaded Inquisition, whose tribunals completed on system the destruction of such remnant as might by accident have escaped the sword. For about a century and a half, or till 1380, the Church did not judge itself to be seriously annoyed by heresy, and largely through the aid of her new order of Mendicant Friars, Rome became once more the mistress of the world, with kings for her vassals.
Next came the great Schism of the West, with two Popes, each having a doubtful title, and fulminating anathemas against each other from Avignon and Rome. By this time Wickliff, who was reared in the Church, and only kept from expulsion, if not a worse fate, through the help of powerful friends, had protested against Transubstantiation. He also declared that pilgrimages and monastic vows had no authority from Scripture. More important than all, the judicious, if not very courageous Rector of Lutterworth completed a translation of the Bible into the language of his countrymen in the year above-mentioned. Although known to a few only by manuscript fragments, there can be no doubt that it powerfully influenced the reforming movement among the common people in this country, as well as on the Continent. The most recent researches among such of his manuscripts as have escaped the destructive zeal of enemies show Wickliff to be justly entitled to dignity as Day Star of the Reformation; and such praise is now doubly deserved, as for more than two centuries after his death all that was recorded of him was set down by adversaries. The earliest, Netter of Walden, reputed author of the “ Zizaniorum,” published some years since in the “Rolls" series, was Wickliff's bitterest opponent, as might almost have been expected from his official position as Provincial of the Carmelite Order in England. Wodeford in his answer to the “Trialogus” was unwearied in setting down calumnies; and Nicholas Harpsfield used an Ecclesiastical History largely for the purpose of defaming his memory. Dr. James, the first librarian appointed by Sir Thomas Bodley to his newly-founded library at Oxford, 1602, was amongst the earliest scholars who undertook to vindicate the memory of the great divine.
The fears of the Church as to the effect of the new doctrines were not illfounded. The instinctive dread of Rome that Scripture knowledge in any other than her own form should be imparted to the people once more roused her “from idle torpor to unholy zeal. Laymen and even priests secretly discussed the new doctrines in England, while missionaries, in the guise of students or merchants, carried them to France, Saxony, Bohemia, and the distant towns of the Lower Danube.” A Council, as usual, was called—this time, however, for the threefold purpose of healing up schism, reforming ecclesiastical abuses, and condemning heresy as well as heretics. This important gathering, ranked among the great Councils of the Church, sat down to business in November, 1414, the place of meeting selected being the fortified but still beautiful City of Constance, on the Swiss side of the Lake bearing the same name. This Council, known in Church history as that of Constance, is said to have been reluctantly opened by the anti-Pope himself (John XXIII.), in presence of the Emperor Sigismund, 26 princes, 140 counts, more than 20 cardinals, 7 patriarchs, 20 archbishops, 91 bishops, 600 other prelates and doctors, and about 4000 priests. The Council lasted three
years and a-half, or till April, 1418, the anti-Pope having by that time abdicated, and been succeeded by Cardinal Colonna as Martin V. In the course of various sessions held during 1415, John Huss and Jerome of Prague were condemned to the stake, and suffered death for teaching the new doctrines, sometimes called after Wickliff, but more commonly known as “Lollard.” Forty-five articles said to have been extracted from the writings of Wickliff were condemned as heretical and erroneous, while the Reformer's dust, which for over 30 years had been lying within the quiet churchyard of Lutterworth, was with senseless malignity, ordered to be separated from the “faithful,” if possible, and cast upon a dunghill. Thirteen years later this sentence was executed by the Bishop of Lincoln, as demanded by Pope Martin. Instead, however, of being thrown on a dunghill, the disinterred bones were burned, and the ashes thrown into a neighbouring brook called the Swift, which, wrote Fuller in his quaint way, "conveyed them into the Avon, the Avon into the Severn, the Severn into the narrow seas, and they to the main ocean; and thus the ashes of Wickliff are the emblem of his doctrine, which is now dispersed all over the world.” The rage of the Council also fell heavily on such disciples as its far-reaching power could grasp. Some, it would appear, submitted; some fled; some sealed their faith with their blood; some received the wages of apostasy. Sawtrey was burnt; Repingdon died a cardinal (“Qr. Rev.," vol. 104, p. 148). The flame which Wickliff lighted is admitted by his enemies never to have been quite trampled out even by the iron heel of persecution. But to those who have examined the position most carefully, it seems that the flame kindled by Wickliff, which burnt so brightly, was nearly all but extinguished, because neither England nor Scotland, for a century and a-half following his death, were so well prepared as in his own time for shaking off the most corrupt form of the most corrupt church ever known to exist. So utterly had the new doctrines been trampled down, that in 1451, when Cade put himself at the head of a revolutionary population, not one of the demands made touched upon religious reform.
Among the disciples who fled northward, and sought to propagate the new doctrines, the two best known are John Reseby, and Paul Crawar, a Bohemian, both executed for holding Lollard principles—the first at Perth, 1407, the other at St. Andrew's, where he had taken up his residence, 1433. The opening sentence of Knox's “ History of the Reformation” is to the effect that in one Record, vaguely described, in some now unknown Register, as the “Scrollis of Glasgu,” mention is made of one “whais name is not expressed, that in the year of God, 1422, was burnt for heresye; bot what war his opinions, or by what ordour he was condempned, it appearis not evidentile.” Historians have frequently fixed upon Reseby as the name intended to be “expressed,” but the dates vary so widely that it is safer to conclude reference is made to some other poor Lollard, nameless, no doubt, but doubtless also, like so many of his brethren, zealous and venturesome.
Where or when the term “Lollard" came to be first applied to those who held the new doctrines, or even how the word itself came to be so applied, are points far from clear. Antwerp would seem to have been the early home of the sect, and the word may be taken from Low-German “lollen,” as expressive of a lullaby or chanting of prayers. It has, however, affinities with the English “loll”. and “lollers," equivalent to loungers or idle vagrants. In this sense “ Lollard” might be used by orthodox Churchmen as a term of reproach towards the followers of Wickliff. From such terms in the language of scorn it is known we have “Puritan,” “ Quaker,” and even “ Christian " itself, the disciples being first so called in derision by the nimble-witted citizens of Antioch. But how originated or when first applied need not occupy more space. By the early part of the fifteenth century the name had come to express in Scotland a well-defined set of religious principles hostile to the Church as it existed, and also to the priests who ministered at her altars. Wyntoun, in his “Metrical Chronicle," composed about 1420, writes of Robert, Duke of Albany, appointed fifteen years earlier Governor of Scotland, as “a constant Catholike, all Lorrard he hatyt, and Hereticke.” The execution of Reseby at Perth during his exercise of power, shows that the compliment such as the worthy Prior of Lochleven intended was not ill merited. The prevalence of Lollard opinions is still more evident from the terms of an oath framed for the newly-founded University of St. Andrews in June, 1416, requiring that all who commenced Masters of Arts should swear, among other things, that they would resist all adherents of the sect of Lollards. Again, in 1424, and suggestively enough in Perthi, the city of Reseby's martyrdom, a Parliament of James I. passed an Act “Anentis Heretikis and Lollardis,” providing that “Ilk Bischop sall ger inquyr be the Inquiscione of Heresy, quhar ony sik beis fundyne, and that thai be punnyst as lawe of Haly Kirk requiris ;” and, finally, that secular power be called in for helping of the Kirk.
It is under the conditions provided for in this Act of Parliament that we are brought face to face with the Lollards of Kyle. In 1494, the sixth year of the reign of James IV., when Luther was a lad at Mansfeldt School, and 23 years before he had nailed his famous challenge thesis to the church door of Wittenberg, information was conveyed to Robert Blackadder, Archbishop of Glasgow, that about 30 people within his jurisdiction, most of them in Kyle, but a few in Cunningham, were infected with the Lollard leprosy, introduced into that quiet pastoral district, it was unknown by whom, but spreading with alarming haste. Blackadder, of the house of Tulliallan, who had been Prebendary of Cardross and Bishop of Aberdeen before his elevation to the see of Glasgow, was much engaged in his day in missions to the Papal Court, and must have known well all about the rise and progress of Lollardism in his native country as well as on the Continent. The daring heretics were instantly summoned to answer for their offence at a Council, held in presence of the King. Among those who answered to the charge were George Campbell of Cessnock, Adam Reid of Barskimming-of “Blaspheming," Vautroullier transcribes in his very defective edition of Knox's
History") - John Campbell of Newmilns, Andrew Shaw of Polkemmit, the Lady Polkellie, related to Cessnock, and Marion (or Isabella) Chalmers, Lady Stair, from whom descended Lord-President Stair.
The charges made before the Council against these early Worthies of Kyle amounted to 34 in number. Briefly stated, they were accused of believing that neither images nor the relics of saints were to be worshipped; that the power of the keys" ended with the Apostle Peter himself ; that tithes ought not to be paid;