Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Burnet Gilbert

Burnet, Gilbert, was born in Edinburgh in 1643, being descended from an old Aberdeen family. He was at first educated at the Marischal College for his father's profession of the law, but soon took to divinity and was ordained at the age of eighteen. In 1663 he visited England, spending six months at Oxford and Cambridge, and he then made a stay of several months in Holland and France, where he imbibed broad principles of toleration from association with men of all creeds. On his return he was presented to the living of Saltoun, and in 1669 he obtained the professorship of divinity in the University of Glasgow. It was then that he wrote his Modest and Free Conference between a Conformist and a Nonconformist, and began the Memoirs of the Dukes of Hamilton, which led to his being invited by Lauderdale to London. Here he remained as preacher at the Rolls chapel and lecturer at St. Clement's until the accession of James II., bringing out the first two volumes of his History of the Reformation of the Church of England, for which he received the thanks of Parliament. He travelled next in France, Holland and Switzerland, visiting also Rome, where he injudiciously mixed himself up in religious controversies. William of Orange attached him to his cause, and James thereupon prosecuted him for high treason. In 1688 he came over as the stadtholder's chaplain, and under the new regime obtained the bishopric of Salisbury. His moderation as much as his change of masters provoked strong animosities, and he was more than once violently attacked in Parliament, especially for his Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, published in 1699. His last efforts were devoted to the promotion of the Act for the augmentation of small livings, passed in the second year of Anne, and he died in 1715. The most famous of his works, The History of his own Times, was not printed till 1724, and then appeared in a mutilated form. It is a trustworthy and valuable record of contemporaneous events, though written, as might be expected, from his own point of view.