James Spottiswood

1567-1645 [Spottiswoode]; grad. Glasgow Univ., 1583; travelled to Denmark with James VI, 1589; persuaded to Anglican orders by Whitgift; bishop of Clogher, 1621; instrumental in destruction of Lough Derg sites of Catholic pilgrimage; fled to England during Rebellion, 1641; bur. Westminster.


Bishop Spottiswoode, the Protestant bishop of Clogher, ignored pleas of Henrietta Maria, who was the queen of Charles I, in throwing down the sacred sites on St Patrick’s Island. Spottiswoode visited the island on 8 June 1632, and ‘observed 431 persona doing such fooleries there as is not be be imagined could be done by Christians’; gained order from Lord Justices to ‘cause the Chapel, and all the Irish houses now situate [sic] on that island called St. Patrick’s Purgatory, and all buildings, pavements, walls, works, foundations, circles, caves, cells, and vaults thereof of lime or stones to be thrown in th lough or water’; on eventually raising a party to assist the purpose, he found the cave to be ‘a poor beggarly hole, made with some stones laid together with men’s hands without any great art, and after covered with earth, such as husbandmen make to keep a few hogs from the rain.’ ‘[We] undermined the chapel, which was well covered with shingles, and brought all down together. Then we brake down the Circles and Saints beds, which were like so many coalpits, and so pulled some some great Irish houses. We effected that for which we came hiter ... which hath wonderfully displeased them that were bewitched with these fooleries.’ [Bishop Spottiswoode, letter to Archbishop of Armagh, 31 Oct. 1632; quoted in Bishop Henry Jones, St. Patrick’s Purgatory, 1647 ; cited in Michael Dames, Mythic Ireland, 1992, p.40.]

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