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The death of Walter Mill

Walter Mill was the last Protestant martyr in Scotland before the Reformation. He was born in 1476 and became a Roman Catholic priest, but like John Knox [link to First Reformation – Reformers – John Knox] later on, he became convinced that the Roman Catholic mass was idolatry, so he stopped holding it and ran away to Germany. He returned to Scotland in 1556, aged eighty years old, and was arrested two years later. He was arrested not just because of his beliefs, but because he had got married, which priests weren’t allowed to do.

He was sentenced to be burnt at the stake in St Andrews, but the people refused to provide the wood and rope needed for the execution. The burning eventually went ahead, but his death horrified people everywhere and helped bring about the end of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. People didn’t usually live to be as old in those days, so the death of an 82-year old priest upset people even more than the death of younger men such as Hamilton and Wishart. Before he went to the stake he warned the people not to believe the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, but to ‘depend only upon Jesus Christ and His mercy, so that you may be delivered from condemnation’.

Further Reading
John Howie ‘Walter Mill’ in The Scots Worthies (Edinburgh, 2001 [1775]), pp 33-7
DSCHT: Milne, Walter
Richard L. Greaves, ‘Mylne, Walter (c.1476–1558)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/19704]


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