On this day 1546: George Wishart was executed

ON THIS day in 1546, George Wishart, close friend and mentor of John Knox, was burnt at the stake after being branded a heretic by Cardinal Beaton.

The martyrdom of George Wishart. Picture: CC

Wishart had been investigated for heresy by the Bishop of Brechin in 1538. After which he fled to England, where a similar charge was brought against him in the following year by Thomas Cromwell. Wishart then travelled Europe before returning to Scotland in 1543.


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George Wishart. Picture: Getty


In 1544, he travelled the country as a preacher denouncing the errors of the Papacy, on his travels he met and inspired a young John Knox.

He was the first to translate the Helvetic Confession into English. At his trial he refused to accept that confession was a sacrament and denied free will.

On the day of his execution, the executioner was said to have kneeled at his feet begging him for forgiveness, which Wishart then supposedly granted.

Cardinal Beaton watched the execution from his window, an act that turned many Scots against him and eventually led to his death on the 29 May at the hands of an enraged protestant gang.