Abbot of Fearn Abbey

As the effects of the defeat at Flodden reverberated around the country and rippled through the Scottish Church, Hamilton obtained first-hand experience of the manner in which ecclesiastical offices were ripe for exploitation.

Although not a monk, he was made titular abbot of Fearn Abbey in 1517. This practice of transferring ecclesiastical benefices to be held in commendam by a patron had become common, and was subject to widespread abuse.

There is no evidence that Hamilton ever renounced the title, but his position as commendatory abbot perhaps shaped his thoughts on the state of the Church and ignited the hatred of ‘monkish hypocrisy’ ascribed to him by his contemporary Alexander Alane.

Fearn Abbey today
Fearn Abbey today

Further Reading

Rev. Peter Lorimer, Patrick Hamilton: The First Preacher and Martyr of the Scottish Reformation, (London, 1857), p. 62.