George Meldrum (1634?-1709)

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George Meldrum (1634?–1709) was Professor of Divinity at Edinburgh University from 1701 until his death.


Meldrum was the fourth son of Andrew Meldrum, an Aberdeen dyer. He studied divinity at Marischal College, Aberdeen, and in 1651 graduated MA. Two tears later, he was appointed Regent by Marischal College. In March 1658, he served as Moderator of the Synod of Aberdeen, and on 2 February 1659 was ordained as one of the city's Ministers. His Presbyterian stance led, however, to his deposition by Act of Parliament and Privy Council in October 1662. He was restored to his ministry after appearing before the Scottish Privy Council on 16 December 1662 and subscribing to the oath of allegiance. In 1663 Meldrum was elected rector of Marischal College. In 1681 he was deprived of all of his offices for refusing to take the Scottish Test Act, whereby all holding public office in Scotland were to acknowledge the King's supremacy in civil and ecclesiastical matters. He became Minister of Kilwinning Parish, Ayrshire in 1688, and following the 'Glorious' Revolution of 1688, accepted a call to be Minister of Tron Kirk, Edinburgh. Under the Revolution settlement, he took an increasingly prominent role in Kirk affairs, serving as Moderator of General Assembly on 11 January 1698.

Professor of Divinity

Following the death of George Campbell, Meldrum was elected Professor of Divinity, 24 December 1701. He initially agreed to serve for only one year, but following the appointment of an assistant at the Tron Kirk, accepted the post on a permanent basis. The University's historians have little to say on Meldrum's teaching. Sir Alexander Grant writes: 'Meldrum was said to have a "sweet, plain, pathetic way of preaching” and “a large compass of solid knowledge"'. His spell in office was dominated by a controversy provoked by a sermon preached on 16 May 1703 (later published) in which he attacked the Episcopal wing of the Church of Scotland and inveighed against the granting of toleration and the restoration of lay patronage. This sparked a pamphlet war, in which Meldrum himself enthusiastically participated, doing much to unite the Church of Scotland behind the principle of Presbyterian self-government. Meldrum was one of the Masters of the Tounis College present when the Town Council conducted a visitation of the University on 15 February 1703. He died in office on 18 February 1709 and was succeeded in the Chair of Divinity by William Hamilton.

Meldrum Manuscripts in New College Library

In New College Library, Edinburgh, there is a manuscript volume of sermons preached by Meldrum between 16 June 1706 and 15 August 1708 (Shelfmark: MEL 1). They are not in his handwriting, but were copied from the original. The sermons expound upon the Decalogue and the succeeding questions in the Shorter Catechism up to the petition in the Lord's Prayer.


  • Andrew Dalzel, History of the University of Edinburgh from its Foundation (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1862)
  • Sir Alexander Grant, The Story of the University of Edinburgh during its First Three Hundred Years, 2 vols (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1884)
  • T. F. Henderson, 'Meldrum, George (1634?–1709)', rev. John Callow, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) [[1], accessed 27 May 2014]
  • John Warrick, The Moderators of the Church of Scotland, from 1690 to 1740 (Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1913)