David Hume of Godscroft - Life


He was the second son of Sir David Hume or Home, seventh baron of Wedderburn, Berwickshire. Receiving preliminary training at Dunbar grammar school, he entered the University of St Andrews in 1578, and after a course of study there travelled on the continent. From France he proceeded to Geneva, intending to go to Italy, but he was recalled by the serious illness of his elder brother. He returned about 1581. On the recovery of his brother, Hume for a time continued to manage his affairs, but in 1583 he was residing as private secretary with his relative, Archibald Douglas, 8th Earl of Angus, who was ordered, after James VI withdrew his confidence from the Ruthven lords, to remain in the north of Scotland.

During the exile of the Ruthven party at Newcastle, Hume was in London, ostensibly studying, but actively interesting himself in Angus and his cause. The lords returned to Scotland in 1585, and between that date and 1588, when Angus died, Hume supported his patron's policy in a series of letters (preserved in the History of the Houses of Douglas and Angus) on the doctrine of obedience to princes. A discussion of a sermon on the same theme by the Rev. John Craig is the subject of an elaborate Conference betwixt the Erle of Angus and Mr. David Hume, which is printed in David Calderwood's History of the Kirk of Scotland. He was probably in France again in 1593. According to the True Travels of Captain John Smith, Smith about that year grew acquainted at Paris with a Master David Hume, who gave Smith letters to his friends in Scotland to prefer him to King James.

From 1604 he was pastor at Duras, Guienne, in south-west France. He was replaced by 1614, after an absence, when he returned to Scotland and brought messages from King James to the synod of Tonneins in the same part of France. Hume had been given a delicate and ultimately unsuccessful mission by the king, to bring about reconciliation within the Protestant camp at this national Huguenot council. This paragraph is in error. Hume of Godscroft was not a pastor and was not in France from 1604 to 1614. The cited passage from W. B. Patterson confuses David Hume of Godscroft with David Hume of Duras. The name is common in Scotland. See the article on Hume in the Oxford DNB.

In later life Hume devoted himself to literature on his property of Gowkscroft, a farming hamlet 2 miles to the north of Abbey St. Bathans, in the Lammermuir Hills, Berwickshire, which he renamed Godscroft, and styled himself Theagrius when he figured as a Latin poet. His daughter Anna Hume was known as an editor, and his son James Hume (fl. 1639) as a mathematician.

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