John Ogilvie (Ogilby), Societas Jesu, 1615
Engraving from Mathias Tanner, Societas Jesu usque ad sanguinis et vitae profusionem Militans...Prague: Typis Universitatis Carolo-Ferdinandeae, 1675
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress
A Jesuit Disemboweled
Jesuits like John Ogilvie (Ogilby) (1580-1615) were under constant surveillance and threat from the Protestant governments of England and Scotland. Ogilvie was sentenced to death by a Glasgow court and hanged and mutilated on March 10, 1615. John Ogilvie
(c. 1580-1615), English Jesuit, was born in Scotland and educated mainly in Germany, where he entered the Society of Jesus, being ordained priest at Paris in 1613. As an emissary of the society he returned to Scotland disguised as a soldier, and in October 1614 he was arrested in Glasgow. He defended himself stoutly when he was tried in Edinburgh, but he was condemned to death and was hanged on the 28th of February 1615.
A True Relation of the Proceedings against John Ogilvie, a Jesuit (Edinburgh, 1615), is usually attributed to Archbishop Spottiswoode. See also James Forbes, L'Eglise catholique en Ecosse: martyre de Jean Ogilvie (Paris, 1885); and W. Forbes-Leith, Narratives of Scottish Catholics (1885).
Unknown artist, Fr John Ogilvie, of the Society of Jesus, Alumnus of the Scots College at Douai, Suffered [martyred] in Scotland, 10th March 1615
John Ogilvie, Jesuit, born about 1580, was the eldest son of Walter Ogilvie of Drum, near Keith. At the age of twelve he went to the continent, and was there converted to Catholicism. About 1596 he entered the Scots College at Louvain, and subsequently visited the Benedictines at Ratisbon, and the Jesuit College at Olmütz, where he was admitted a member of the Society of Jesus. He spent two years of novitiate at Brunn, and between 1602 and 1613 lived at Gratz, Vienna, Olmütz, Paris, and Rouen. At Paris he was ordained priest in 1613.
Towards the close of the year he and two other priests, Moffat and Campbell, were ordered by the superior of the Scottish mission of the Society of Jesus to repair to Scotland. Ogilvie landed in the disguise of a soldier, under the assumed name of Watson, and, having separated from his companions, proceeded to the north, probably to his native district.
In six weeks he returned to Edinburgh, where he remained throughout the winter of 1613-14, as the guest of William Sinclair, advocate. Shortly before Easter (30 March) 1614 he set out for London on some mvsterious business. It has been alleged that lie had then a private interview with King James, but the story is probably one of the many rumours of Romanist intrigue which troubled the public mind after the excitement of 1592, and which laid the blame of the 'damnable powder-treason ' of 1605 on the English Jesuits Garnet and Oldcome.
Ogilvie paid a hurried visit to Paris at this time ; but his superior, Father Gordon, thought his action ill-advised, and ordered his immediate return (see letter printed in James Forbes's Life of Ogilvie, p. 12n.) He was back in Edinburgh in June 1614, where he continued his propaganda under the protection of his friend Sinclair, saying mass in private and holding intercourse with many, including the notorious Sir James Macdouald of Islay, then a prisoner in the castle of Edinburgh.
He went to Glasgow in August, where he was discovered and arrested by order of Archbishop Spotiswood (4 Oct. 1614). A few Romish books and garments, a chalice and an altar, some relics, including a tuft of the hair of St. Ignatias, and some incriminating letters, 'not fit at that time to be divulgate,' were found in his possession. He was examined by a committee, consisting of the archbishop, the Bishop of Argyll, Lords Fleming, Boyd, and KiUyth, the provost of the city of Glasgow. Sir Walter Stewart, and Sir George Elphinston. The narrative. of the proceedings appeared in the 'True Relation' ascribed to Archbishop Spotiswood.
Ogilvie refused to give information ('his busines,' he said, 'was to saue soules'), and was sent to a chamber in the castle, where he remained till 8 Dec., lacking nothing 'worthy of a man of his quality,' and having the constant attention of sundry ministers of the Kirk, who could not, however, argue him into a confession. Spotiswood had meanwhile informed the council of the capture and of the examination of Ogilvie's Glasgow accomplices; and they had on 11 Nov. issued a commission to him and to the treasurer-depute, the clerk of register, and Sir William Livingston of Kilsyth, or any three of them, the archbishop being one, to proceed to Glasgow to try all suspected persons, and generally to clear up the whole conspiracy (Register of Privy Courtcil, x. 284-6).
Ogilvie was, however, taken to Edinburgh, and brought before five of the council. He refused to explain the contents of the letters which had been seized in Glasgow, and conducted himself as before, until, under the painful torture of denial of sleep and rest, his 'braines became lightiiome,' and he gave up the names of some of his accomplices. The proceedings were suspended for the Christmas recess, and the archbishop obtained permission to 'keep him in his company' till his return to Eainburgh.
Meanwhile the king sent down a commission to Spotiswood and others to make a special examination of Ogilvie's tenets on royal and papal prerogative. The king's questions were put to Ogilvie on 18 Jan., but to little purpose ; for, despite the endeavours of the archbishop and the arguments of Robert Boyd, principal of the college, and Robert Scot, a Glasgow minister, he not only maintained his obstinate attitude, but aggravated his Sosition by the statement 'that he condemned the oaths of supremacie and allegeance proponed to be swome in England.'
The catholic writers maintain that Ogilvie was put to severe torture during this examination. Spotiswood himself admits that he suggested the infliction of it as the only means of overcoming the prisoner's obstinacy, but that the king 'would not have these forms used with men of his profession.' If they merely found that he was a Jesuit, they were to banish him ; if they proved that he had been stirring up rebeUion, the ordinary course of justice was to be pursued. This examination may have been confused with a subsequent commission on 11 June against the Jesuit Moffat and his friends, in which the power of torture was given to the judges (Register of Privy Council, p. 336).
Ogilvie's answers were sent to the king, who ordered the trial to proceed. A commission was issued on 21 Feb., and the trial was fixed for the last day of the month. Mr. Struthers returned to his persuasive arguments, though to no purpose ; 'if he stoode in neede of their confort,' replied Ogilvie, 'he shoulde advertise.' The trial took place in Glasgow before the provost and three bailies, who held commission from the privy council, and seven assessors, including the archbishop. In the indictment and prosecution Ogilvie was told that it was not for the saying of mass, but for declining the king's authority, that he was on trial. This was in keeping with the king's list of questions, which to the presbyterian Calderwood 'seemed rather a hindrance to the execution of justice upon the persons presently guiltie then to menu in earnest the repressing of Papists.'
Ogilvie provoked his judges by saying : 'If the king will be to me as my predecessors were to mine, I will obey . . ., but, if he doe otherwise, and play the runneagate from God, as he and you all doe, I will not acknowledge him more than this old hatte.' The archbishop's account of his subsequent conduct during the trial, at the swearing of the jury, and in his speech after the prosecution was closed shows that Ogilvie maintained his stubbornness to the last.
He was found guilty and was sentenced to be hanged and quartered. Three hours later he was led to the scaffold, where he had the ministrations of William Struthers and Robert Scot, the latter reiterating that it was not for his religion but for his political offence that he had been condemned. The quartering was not carried out.
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900 Volume 42 by George Gregory Smith