Gilbert Rule (c1629-1701)

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Gilbert Rule (c1629-1701) was Principal of Edinburgh University from 1690 to 1701.


Little is known of Rule's early life. At some point he studied either at University of Glasgow or St Andrews, but may have been both. He certainly became a distinguished Regent at the University of Glasgow before being appointed as sub-principal of King's College, Aberdeen in 1651. From there he went to Alnwich in Northumberland where he preached to a dissenting Presbyterian congregation. Rule married Janet Turnbull in 1655, to whom he had three children. In 1662 he was ejected from his charge with the Act of Uniformity of 1662 and returned to Scotland. Sir Alexander Grant suggests he preached at a meeting-house set up Lord Haddington before falling foul of the authorities by performing a Presbyterian baptism in St. Giles Church. For this he was sent to Bass Rock, but ill-health granted him a discharge but he also had to quit the Kingdom. He moved to Holland where he studied medicine at Leiden and obtained his MD degree in 1666. Rule returned to Berwick where he practised Medicine, but preached in private. He was still a wanted man in Scotland, so could only preach on the English side of the Tweed. A call from Dublin installed him as minister to the Wood Street Church. After the 1688 revolution, Presbyterianism was again restored and Rule was called to Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh. In 1690 he was appointed as part of a commission to purge the University of Edinburgh of Episcopalian supporters which included the Principal Alexander Monro (c1648-1698). The Town Council elected Rule to take Monro's position as Principal.


  • Regent of University of Glasgow
  • Sub-Principal of King's College, Aberdeen, 1651
  • Minister at Alnwick, Northumberland (ejected from his parish due to the Act of Uniformity 1662).
  • Went to Scotland, preached and baptised Protestant in Episcopal St Giles Church, Edinburgh, imprisoned in Bass Rock
  • MD, University of Leiden 1666
  • Minister, Wood Street Church, Dublin
  • Minister, Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh 1688
  • Principal, University of Edinburgh 1690


He published, besides two single sermons (1690 and 1701):

  • Disputatio de Rachitide, Leyden, 1665, 4to.
  • A Rational Defence of Non-Conformity, 1689, 4to.
  • A Second Vindication of the Church of Scotland: Answer to Five Pamphlets [1691], 4to.


  • Alexander Du Toit, 'Rule, Gilbert (c.1629-1701)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) [[1], accessed 27 Aug 2010]
  • Sir Alexander Grant, The Story of the University of Edinburgh during its First Three Hundred Years, 2 vols (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1884)