Cardinal David John Bethune

public profile

Is your surname Bethune, Archbishop of St Andrews?

Research the Bethune, Archbishop of St Andrews family

Cardinal David John Bethune's Geni Profile

Records for David Bethune, Archbishop of St Andrews

456 Records

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Cardinal David John Bethune, Archbishop of St Andrews (Betoun)

Birthdate: (52)
Birthplace: Balfour, Fife, Scotland
Death: May 29, 1546 (48-56)
St. Andrews Castle, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of John Beaton, 6th of Balfour and Hon. Elizabeth Monypenny
Husband of Marion Mariota Ogilvy
Father of Elizabeth Bethune, mistress; Margaret Bethune; Archdeacon of Lothian Archibald Bethune; David Bethune; Agnes Gordon and 4 others
Brother of John Bethune of Balfour; Elizabeth Beaton; Margaret Beaton; Walter Bethune; Thomas Bethune and 5 others

Occupation: Archbishop of Saint Andrews, Archbishop of St. Andrews
Managed by: Douglas John Nimmo
Last Updated:

About Cardinal David John Bethune

David Beaton (c. 1494 – 29 May 1546) was Archbishop of St Andrews and the last Scottish Cardinal prior to the Reformation.

He was a younger son of John Beaton of Balfour in the county of Fife, and is said to have been born in 1494. He was educated at the universities of St Andrews and Glasgow, and in his sixteenth year was sent to Paris, where he studied civil and canon law. He began his political career at the French court. He was Rector and Prebendary at Cambuslang from 1520. He became Commendator of Arbroath in 1524, bishop of Mirepoix in Languedoc in December 1537 on the recommendation of King Francis I, and in 1538 he was appointed a cardinal by Pope Paul III, under the title of St Stephen in the Caelian Hill. He was the only Scotsman named to that office by an undisputed right, Cardinal Wardlaw, Bishop of Glasgow, having received his appointment from the Antipope Clement VII about 160 years earlier. On the death in 1539 of Archbishop James Beaton, his uncle and patron who had given him the prebend of Cambuslang, the cardinal became Archbishop of St. Andrews. In 1544, he was made Papal legate in Scotland.

Between 1533 and 1542 he acted several times as King James V of Scotland's ambassador to France. He took a leading part in the negotiations connected with the King's marriages, first with Madeleine of France, and afterwards with Mary of Guise. He was naturalised a French subject. During 1542 he served as Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland for a matter of months.

Politically, Beaton was preoccupied with the maintenance of the Franco-Scottish alliance, and opposing Anglophile political attitudes, which were associated with the clamour for Protestant reform in Scotland ('the whole pollution and plague of Anglican impiety' as he called it). He was afraid that James V might follow Henry VIII's policy of appropriating monastic revenues. On the death of James in December 1542, Beaton attempted to assume office as one of the regents for the infant sovereign Mary, Queen of Scots, founding his claim on an alleged will of the late king; but the will was generally regarded as forged, and James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, heir presumptive to the throne, was declared regent. The cardinal, blamed by many for the war policy that led to the defeat at Solway Moss, was, by order of the regent, committed to the custody of Lord Seton. With Beaton out of power, the Anglophile party persuaded Arran to make a marriage treaty with England on behalf of the infant queen, and to appoint a number of Protestant preachers. In 1543 Beaton regained power, cancelled the treaty (having earlier drawn up the Secret Bond) and proceeded to prosecute a number of those whom he saw as heretics. Two English invasions followed - and for these many blamed Beaton.

In March 1546, perhaps to divert attention from these criticisms, Beaton arranged for the arrest, trial and execution by burning of George Wishart, who was prosecuted by Beaton's Private Secretary, John Lauder. Wishart, though, had many sympathisers, and this led to the assassination of the Cardinal soon afterwards. The conspirators, led by Norman Leslie, master of Rothes, and William Kirkcaldy of Grange, managed to obtain admission at daybreak of 29 May 1546, and murdered the cardinal in his own castle of St Andrews. At the time it was widely believed that his death was in the interests of Henry VIII of England, who regarded Beaton as the chief obstacle to his policy in Scotland.

The murder of Beaton was certainly a significant point in the eventual triumph of Protestantism in Scotland, and yet even at the time it was not necessarily condoned even among his opponents. His contemporary Sir David Lyndsay, statesman, poet and strong critic of Beaton, wrote soon after The Tragedie of the Cardinal, which concluded:

As for the Cardinal, I grant,

He was the man we weel could want'

And we’ll forget him soon!

And yet I think, the sooth to say,

Although the loon is well away,

The deed was foully done.

Beaton was little interested in Church reform, living, like many pre-Reformation prelates, in open concubinage, providing lavishly for his children from ecclesiastical property. Certainly, he was an able statesman, and some saw his stance against Henry VIII as patriotic, but others, recalling his assets and interests in France called him 'the best Frenchman' in Scotland. Cardinal Beaton's assassination was the Spark that led to subsequent Religious warfare from the middle of the Sixteenth Century .

He was succeeded as Archbishop of Saint Andrews by John Hamilton

Sir John Melville laird of Raith in Fife was early impressed by the principles of the Reformation, and associated himself closely with the movement ; and he was one of the three hundred noblemen and gentlemen whom Cardinal Beaton pressed James V to pursue as heretics. As a friend of those who assassinated Cardinal Beaton of St Andrews, he was subsequently executed by Cardinal Beaton's successor , Archbishop John Hamilton .

During the minority of Queen Mary, Melville was a steady favourer of the policy of the ' English Party ' in Scotland, who sought to consolidate the interests of the two nations by uniting the crowns in the marriage of Edward VI and Mary, Queen of Scots . Melville had a natural son in England, John Melville, with whom he regularly corresponded while the two countries were at war. One of his letters fell into the ' hands of the Scottish governor, Arran, and he was arrested, carried prisoner to Edinburgh, and, being convicted of Treason, was executed there on 13 Dec. 1548. His estates were forfeited.(d. 1548).

His illegitimate daughter married David Lindsay, 10th Earl of Crawford.[1]



See Sanderson, Cardinal of Scotland: David Beaton c.1494-1546, 2001 (not online)


Name: David /Bethune/[1][2][3] Birth

Birth: Date: ABT 1494 Place: Kingsbarns, Fife, Scotland Death

Death: Date: 29 MAY 1546 Place: Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland Sources

Source: S122 Author: Title: Chalmers' General Biographical Dictionary Publication: Name: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.Original data - Chalmers, Alexander. The General Biographical Dictionary. London: J. Nichols and Son, 1812-1; Repository: #R1 Repository: R1 Name: Address: E-Mail Address: Phone Number: Source: S2 Title: Ancestry Family Trees Publication: Name: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Original data: Family Tree files submitted by Ancestry members.; Repository: #R1 Source: S59 Author: Title: Dictionary of National Biography, Volumes 1-20, 22 Publication: Name: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.Original data - Stephen, Sir Leslie, ed. Dictionary of National Biography, 1921–1922. London, England: Oxf; Repository: #R1 Notes

Note N2221 Note N2222 Note N2223 ↑ Source: #S122 Data: Text: Birth date: 1494Birth place: Death date: 29 May 1546Death place: Note: @N2221@ ↑ Source: #S59 Data: Text: Birth date: 1494Birth place: Death date: 1546Death place: Note: @N2222@ ↑ Source: #S2 Page: Ancestry Family Trees Data: Text: Note: @N2223@ Acknowledgements

WikiTree profile Bethune-16 created through the import of Main Tree_2011-07-30_2011-08-30.ged on Aug 30, 2011 by Sharryn Hopgood. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Sharryn and others. WikiTree profile Bethune-14 created through the import of Andy Askey Family Sandbox_2011-08-20_01_01.ged on Aug 20, 2011 by Andy Askey. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Andy and others.

view all 13

Cardinal David John Bethune's Timeline

Balfour, Fife, Scotland
Age 24
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Age 24
Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
Age 31
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Age 32
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Age 34
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Age 46
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Age 46
Crawford, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Age 48
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland