Robert Wedderburn

c.1510 - 1556

Religious reformer and minor poet. Born in Dundee, the son of a prosperous merchant and younger brother of James (1495 - 1553) and John Wedderburn (c.1500-56). All three brothers were educated at the University of St. Andrews, with Robert entering St. Leonard's College in 1526 and graduating in 1530.

He assisted his brothers with the influential Compendious Book of Psalms and Spiritual Songs and is thought to have contributed much to the particularly controversial section known as the Gude and Godlie Ballates. This included a series of poems and songs which criticised the Catholic church and clergy, and provided further evidence for the need for church reform.

He was ordained a priest and was appointed Vicar of Dundee, succeeding his uncle, but was accused of heresy and forced to flee to the Continent. There he made contact with other reformers in the development of the Protestant church. In 1546, with the Reformation well underway, Wedderburn returned to Scotland and took up his post.

Wedderburn's other major work was The Complaynt of Scotland which was published anonymously c.1550. This was a well-crafted essay written in vernacular Scots which argued for a free and independent Scotland and against the iniquities brought by the nobility and clergy. It was produced in a climate of English propaganda following the 'Rough Wooing' of 1543-7 and the Scottish defeat at Pinkie, which intended to ensure union on English terms.

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