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Scougal [Scougall], Patricklocked

  • David George Mullan

Scougal [Scougall], Patrick (1607–1682), bishop of Aberdeen, was the son of John Scougal of that ilk, Haddingtonshire. He graduated MA at Edinburgh in 1624. Twelve years later he became minister of Dairsie, near St Andrews, where the church had been rebuilt by Archbishop John Spottiswood as his 'private chapel' in a style 'determined by the archbishop's beliefs about the role of churches as houses for the kind of worship he thought was seemly' (Ash, 131). On 5 October 1641 Scougal reported to the provincial assembly 'that there was sindrie crosses in there kirk at Darsie', although he conceded that they 'be some wes not thoght to be superstitious'. He was a leader in purging his church of these popish vestiges, and 'earnestly desired' the assembly to appoint visitors (Ecclesiastical Records, Synod of Fife, 127).

In 1640 Scougal was on the leet to be chosen preacher to an army regiment under the command of Robert Balfour, Lord Balfour of Burleigh. He was admitted to another Fife parish, Leuchars, on 25 March or 2 April 1645 after presentation by King Charles I in December 1644. He attended the general assembly in 1648, and became involved in affairs outside his own parish. On 16 August 1649 he preached the sermon at the admission of the minister of Elie. In March 1650 he sat on a committee appointed to consider a problem of access to a parish church; in July he raised £100 for a regiment of horse to fight against the invading English; and in October and November 1650 he was one of those who presented a letter to Charles II about his siding with the ‘malignants’. In April 1654 he moderated the provincial assembly at St Andrews.

At some point during these years, possibly as early as 1645, Scougal married Margaret (or Jean) Wemyss. They had three sons and two daughters—John, later commissar of the diocese of Aberdeen and provost of Old Aberdeen; Henry Scougal (1650–1678); James, Lord Whitehill of Session (d. 1702); Catherine, who later married first William Scrogie, bishop of Argyll, second, Patrick Forbes, bishop of Caithness, and third, Roderick Mackenzie of Kinchullardrum; and Jane (or Joanna) who later married Patrick Sibbald, professor of divinity at Marischal College, Aberdeen. According to Robert Baillie, in 1658 Scougal was a candidate for the faculty of St Andrews University. Instead, apparently with his brother John's help, he went to Saltoun, east of Edinburgh, where he was admitted on 29 January 1659, though he was not replaced at Leuchars until 1661 and retained some connection with Fife. Following his first wife's death, on 6 January 1660 he married Anne Congalton (d. 1696).

On 3 February 1661 Scougal preached to the Scottish parliament, 'honestly' (Life of Robert Blair, 376), and on 28 May he received a parliamentary commission to try witches in Samuelstown, as part of the last great Scottish witch-hunt. In the autumn James Sharp, future archbishop of St Andrews, made efforts in Fife to persuade some, including Scougal, to avail themselves personally of the benefits of episcopacy. Some of his neighbours at Saltoun were already conforming. On 5 December 1662 Scougal was elected professor of divinity at the University of Edinburgh, but he refused the honour. By late 1663 his future path had clarified. On 14 January 1664 he was provided to the bishopric of Aberdeen; he was appointed to the see by the king on 25 February, and consecrated at St Andrews on 11 April by Archbishop James Sharp, Alexander Burnet, archbishop of Glasgow, and one other. John Lamont noted that the see's annual income was about 9000 or 10,000 merks. It is scarcely imaginable that Scougal's migration into the episcopalian camp did not generate controversy and hostility, though this is not highly visible in contemporary sources, perhaps because of his solid reputation of probity and piety.

In his first synod as bishop in October 1664, Scougal manifested his interest in the affairs of students. He and the synod appointed a general parochial collection for the support of two needy young Polish students living in Aberdeen, 'who left their awin cuntry, being troubled for ther professione of the true protestant religione', requesting every minister 'to add their awin charitie' to the appeal (Synod of Aberdeen, 275–6). Scougal also encouraged poorly paid ministers to seek augmentation. His competing desires of conformity and leniency in matters of religion resulted in synodal action against the Quakers of the north-east and other dissenters. Although Scougal initially showed his moderation in his dealing with Alexander Jaffray, who had been punished with house arrest by the high commission in 1665, on 11 September 1668 he had him imprisoned in the gaol in Banff; Jaffray wrote to Scougal that 'this present imprisonment, and the usage I am meeting with, may very warrantably be termed, cruel severity and oppression' (Diary of Alexander Jaffray, 282).

In 1664 Scougal also became chancellor of King's College, Aberdeen, where eight years later he had to fight the burgh council's claim to jurisdiction over students. Yet a letter of 1674 concerning his refusal to countenance the transfer of one of the ministers of St Machar's Cathedral reveals both a firmness of purpose and also a strong desire to get along with the burgh authorities. Both episcopal and academic office sometimes demanded he make unpopular decisions, however; in 1680 a regent at King's accused the bishop of having exercised undue influence over the election of a new principal. The privy council determined that he had done no wrong, and was merely exercising his legitimate powers. The same year he was party to the rigorous, if short-lived, prosecution of James Gordon, parson of Banchory-Devenick and author of the critical The Reformed Bishop (1679), a work which advocated more ‘catholic’ doctrines. According to Robert Wodrow, Scougal had a hand in the Aberdeen ministers' statement of opposition to the 1681 Test Act, a draconian and incoherent statement of the royal supremacy in the church.

Scougal died of asthma on 16 February 1682 in Aberdeen and was buried in his cathedral. His wife, who survived him by nearly fifteen years, subsequently remarried and became Lady Gunsgreen. According to his epitaph Scougal bequeathed money to St Machar's Cathedral, King's College Library, and the public hospital of Old Aberdeen. The same source claimed that he was 'a man deserving all praise, as being piously peaceable, modestly prudent, the honour and pattern of learned probity; neither morosely sullen, nor proudly learned; while he lived, a present sanctuary to the needy' (Monteith, 82). John Lauder of Fountainhall described him 'a moderat man, and but half Episcopall in his judgement' (Lauder, Historical Observes, 61), and when Robert Blair wrote of the three episcopal consecrations which had taken place in 1664 he described two as 'prelates', but referred only to 'Mr Patrick Scougal of Aberdeen' (Life of Robert Blair, 467), avoiding the pejorative. Bishop Gilbert Burnet, in the preface to his Life of William Bedell, wrote of Scougal's 'endearing gentleness … to all that differed from him, his great strictness in giving [holy] orders, his most unaffected humility and contempt of the world'. He was especially concerned for younger men, 'so that a set of men grew up under his labors, that carry still on them clear characters of his spirit and temper'. In his famous History Burnet again praised Scougal, though 'I thought he was too much under Sharp's conduct, and was at least too easy to him' (Bishop Burnet's History, ed. Burnet and Burnet, 1.217). Alexander Brodie was less sanguine, writing in 1678 that Henry Scougal had 'vented' various unorthodox doctrines, including the equal authority of Plato and Seneca with Peter and Paul, and that Bishop Patrick 'does not disclaim or discountenanc it' (Brodie, 404).


  • L. B. Taylor, ed., Aberdeen council letters, 6 vols. (1957), 5.159
  • APS, 1661–9, appx, 76
  • M. Ash, ‘Dairsie and Archbishop Spottiswoode’, Records of the Scottish Church History Society, 19 (1975–7), 125–32
  • The letters and journals of Robert Baillie, ed. D. Laing, 3 vols., Bannatyne Club, 73 (1841–2), 3.365
  • Diary of Alexander Jaffray, ed. J. Barclay, 2nd edn (1834), 282
  • G. Burnet, The story of Quakerism in Scotland, 1650–1850 (1952), 54–5, 65, 66
  • Bishop Burnet’s History of his own time, 1, ed. G. Burnet and T. Burnet (1724), 217
  • G. Burnet, The life of William Bedell, D.D. Bishop of Kilmore in Ireland (1685)
  • A. Dalzel, History of the University of Edinburgh, 2 (1862), 189, 334
  • A. Brodie, The diary of Alexander Brodie of Brodie, ed. D. Laing (1863), 404
  • J. Dowden, The bishops of Scotland … prior to the Reformation, ed. J. M. Thomson (1912), 402
  • Ecclesiastical records: selections from the minutes of the presbyteries of St Andrews and Cupar, 1641–1698 (1837), 52, 57, 125
  • Ecclesiastical records: selections from the minutes of the synod of Fife (1837), 123, 127, 130, 133, 156, 164, 171, 177, 210, 221
  • Fasti Scot., new edn, 1.392; 5.148, 222; 7.331, 383
  • G. Grub, An ecclesiastical history of Scotland, 4 vols. (1861), 3.266–75
  • R. Keith and J. Spottiswoode, An historical catalogue of the Scottish bishops, down to the year 1688, new edn, ed. M. Russel [M. Russell] (1824), 133
  • J. Lamont, The chronicle of Fife; being the diary of J. L. of Newton, from 1649 to 1672, ed. A. Constable (1830), 8, 67, 111, 148, 167
  • J. Lauder, Historical observes of memorable occurrents in church and state, from October 1680 to April 1686, ed. A. Urquhart and D. Laing, Bannatyne Club, 66 (1840)
  • B. P. Levack, ‘The great Scottish witch hunt of 1661–1662’, Journal of British Studies, 20 (1980), 90–108
  • The life of Mr Robert Blair … containing his autobiography, ed. T. M’Crie, Wodrow Society, 11 (1848)
  • R. Monteith, An theater of mortality, or, A further collection of funeral-inscriptions over Scotland, 8 vols. (1713)
  • J. Nicoll, A diary of public transactions and other occurrences, chiefly in Scotland, from January 1650 to June 1667, ed. D. Laing, Bannatyne Club, 52 (1836), 409
  • P. J. Anderson, ed., Officers and graduates of University and King's College, Aberdeen, MVD–MDCCCLX, New Spalding Club, 11 (1893)
  • J. Stuart, ed., Selections from the records of the kirk session, presbytery, and synod of Aberdeen, Spalding Club, 15 (1846), 274
  • R. Wodrow, The history of the sufferings of the Church of Scotland from the Restoration to the revolution, ed. R. Burns, 3 (1829), 304, 308


  • T. Trotter, line engraving, BM, NPG; repro. in J. Pinkerton, Iconographia Scotia (1797)
  • portrait, U. Aberdeen
Camden Society
H. Scott, , 3 vols. in 6 (1871); new edn [11 vols.] (1915–)
, 12 vols. in 13 (1814–75)