Bishop of Caithness

The Bishop of Caithness was the ecclesiastical head of the Diocese of Caithness, one of Scotland's 13 medieval bishoprics. The first referenced bishop of Caithness was Aindréas, a Gael who appears in sources between 1146 and 1151 as bishop. Aindréas spent much if not all of his career outside his see.

Other bishops before Aindréas are possible, but none is documented. King David I of Scotland, is credited with founding many bishoprics, and it is possible that Caithness was one of them. Little documented history exists before the reign of King David.

The earliest bishops resided at Halkirk, with a castle at Scrabster. Bishop Gilbert de Moravia moved the episcopal seat to Dornoch in what is now Sutherland (then regarded as part of Caithness), and the bishopric remained at Dornoch Cathedral for the remainder of its existence. The Bishopric of Caithness' links with Rome ceased to exist after the Scottish Reformation, but continued, saving temporary abolition between 1638 and 1661, under the episcopal Church of Scotland until the Revolution of 1688 led to the permanent abolition of episcopacy in the established church in Scotland (now Presbyterian in government) in 1689.

Tenure Incumbent Notes
-See leftSome lists give Angerius Brito; this is in fact Bishop Angerius of Catania in Sicily. Catania and Caithness were often written identically. See G. W. S. Barrow, "Angerius Brito, Cathensis Episcopus", in Traditio, xxvi, (1970), p. 351.
1147 x 1151-1184Aindréas of CaithnessFirst known bishop of Caithness; famously, Aindréas is named as a source by the writer of de Situ Albanie.
1184 x 1199-1202John of Caithness
1213-1222Adam of MelroseFormerly Abbot of Melrose; was burned to death in his kitchen, at Halkirk, by the husbandmen of Caithness, in a tithe revolt.
1222 x 1223-1245Gilbert de MoraviaMoved the seat of the diocese to Dornoch
1246 x 1247-1255William
1263-1270Walter de Baltrodin
1272 x 1273NicholasNicholas had been abbot of Scone. Pope Gregory X refused to confirm his election because of his "intolerable lack of learning".
1274-1275 x 1278Archibald Heroch
1278-1279RichardRichard had been Dean of Caithness. Richard was old and infirm by the time of his election; Pope Nicholas III persuaded Richard to resign his election rights.
1279-1282Hervey de DundeeHervey was elected to the see after the resignation of Bishop Richard. Hervey died on his way for confirmation at the Papal court.
1282-1291Alan de St Edmund
1291 x 1296John
1296Adam de Darlington
1296-1297 x 1304Andrew de Buchan
1304-1321 x 1327Fearchar Belegaumbe
1328-1329 x 1341David
1341-1342Alan de Moravia
1342-1365 x 1369Thomas de Fingask
1369-1379 x 1380Maol Choluim de Drumbreck
1381-1412Alexander Man
1414-1422Alexander Vaus
1422-1426John de Crannach
1427-1445 x 1446Robert de Strathbrock
1446-1447 x 1448John Innes
1448-1477William Mudy
1478-1484Prosper Camogli de' MediciAlso known as Prosper Camulio de Janua.
1484John Sinclair
1501-1517Andrew Stewart (elder)
1517-1540 x 1541Andrew Stewart (younger)
1544-1548Alexander GordonProvided by crown to replace Stewart; resigned claim in 1548.
1542-1586Robert StewartSecond son of John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Lennox, and brother of Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox. He spent many years as "bishop postulate" in England. He became a reformer, although he retained the title of bishop until his death in 1586.
1586-1587Robert Pont
1600-1604George GledstanesTranslated to Archbishopric of St Andrews.
1604-1616Alexander Forbes
1616-1638John Abernethy
1638Robert HamiltonEpiscopacy abolished in Scotland until Restoration of 1661.
1662-1680Patrick Forbes
1680-1688/9Andrew WoodEpiscopacy permanently abolished in the Church of Scotland. He died aged 76 years old, in 1695.


  • Broun, Dauvit, "The Seven Kingdoms in De Situ Albanie: A Record of Pictish political geography or imaginary Map of ancient Alba", in E.J. Cowan & R. Andrew McDonald (eds.), Alba: Celtic Scotland in the Medieval Era, (Edinburgh, 2000, rev. 2005).
  • Crawford, Barbara, "The Earldom of Caithness and the Kingdom of Scotland, 1150-1266" in Keith Stringer (ed.), Essays on the Nobility of Medieval Scotland, (Edinburgh, 1985), pp. 25-43
  • Dowden, John, The Bishops of Scotland, ed. J. Maitland Thomson, (Glasgow, 1912)
  • Jackson, Kenneth H. (ed), The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer, (Cambridge, 1972)
  • Keith, Robert, An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops: Down to the Year 1688, (London, 1924)
  • Lawrie, Sir Archibald, Early Scottish Charters Prior to A.D. 1153, (Glasgow, 1905)
  • Watt, D.E.R., Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae Medii Aevi ad annum 1638, 2nd Draft, (St Andrews, 1969)
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.