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George Wishart: Protestant preacher burned at the stake


George Wishart was a powerful Protestant preacher, confidant and mentor of John Knox preached in Dundee on a number of occasions.

A Memorial to George Wishart

The Wishart Arch in the Cowgate of Dundee is named after the Protestant reformer who is reputed to have preached from the top of the gate during a period of plague in 1544.
This structure and the wall outside DCA are believed to be the only remaining part of the 16th century city walls of Dundee.
A commemorative plaque dedicated to George Wishart states:
During the Plague of 1544 George Wishart
Preached from the Parapet of this Port
The People standing within the Gate and
the Plague stricken lying without in Booths
“He sent his hand and healed them” Psalm CVII
Restored 1877

Wishart’s Betrayal

Two years later Wishart was betrayed to Cardinal David Beaton for preaching the popular Protestant Reform.
Hastily imprisoned in the bottle neck dungeon at the Castle in St. Andrews from which there was no escape.
Following a mock trial, Cardinal Beaton had George Wishart burned at the stake in front of St Andrews Castle on 1 March 1546.

The Captains Gesture

On the fateful day the Captain of the Castle invited Wishart to breakfast and gave him bags of gunpowder to hide in his clothing.
When the pyre was lit the gunpowder exploded but did not kill him outright and his agony was prolonged.
It is said the Cardinal Beaton enjoyed the unfolding scene from his window.

The Reformation

Public reaction to the death of a popular figure was hostile.
The martyrdom of George Wishart was the real trigger which set the Reformation in motion in Scotland.

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