Biography of James Beaton
James Beaton (1524-1603) was Archbishop of Glasgow, a Royal Ambassador and a confidant of Mary, Queen of Scots. He was Chancellor of the University from 1551 to 1560, and a benefactor.
Beaton was educated in France and became a leading churchman and Royal ambassador. He became Archbishop of Glasgow 1551 and in 1558 he bestowed the vicarage of Colmonell on the University, providing it with a significant source of income.
In 1560, at the time of the Reformation, Beaton fled to France taking the treasures and muniments of Glasgow Cathedral. He also carried with him the mace and important charters and other documents belonging to the University, including the Papal Bull of 1451. He was ambassador to France for the remainder of Queen Mary's reign and for much of the reign of her son, James VI.
The mace was restored to the University in 1590 but the University archives and many of the Cathedral's treasures were lost during the French Revolution in the late 18th century.
In 1598, by an Act of Parliament, Beaton was restored to the temporality of the See of Glasgow and he remained as Archbishop until his death in 1603. Although he did not return to Scotland, he was also recognised as the Chancellor of the University during these years.