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Bellenden

BELLENDEN (Ballantyne or Bannatyne), JOHN (fl. 1533-1587), Scottish writer, was born about the end of the 15th century, in the south-east of Scotland, perhaps in East Lothian. He appears to have been educated, first at the university of St Andrews and then at that of Paris, where he took, the degree of doctor. From his own statement, in one of his poems, we learn that he had been in the service of James V. from the king's earliest years, and that the post he held was clerk of accounts. At the request of James he undertook translations of Boece's Historia Scotorum, which had appeared at Paris in 1527, and the first five books of Livy. As a reward for his versions, which he finished in 1533, he was appointed archdeacon of Moray and a canon of Ross. He was a strenuous opponent of the Reformation and was compelled to go into exile. He is said by some authorities to have died at Rome in 1550; by others to have been still living in 1587. His translation of Boece, entitled The History and Chronicles of Scotland, is a remarkable specimen of Scottish prose, distinguished by its freedom and vigour of expression. It was published in 1536; and was reprinted in 2 vols., edited by Maitland, in 1821. The translation of Livy was not printed till 1822 (also in 2 vols.). Two MSS. of the latter are extant, one, the older, in the Advocates' library, Edinburgh (which was the basis of the normalized text of 1822), the other (c.1550) in the possession of Mr Ogilvie Forbes of Boyndlie. An edition of the work was edited for the Scottish Text Society by Mr W.A. Craigie (2 vols. 1901, 1903). The second volume of this edition contains also a complete reprint of the portions of the holograph first draft which were discovered in the British Museum in 1902. Two poems by Bellenden - The Proheme to the Cosmographe and the Proheme of the History - appeared in the 1536 edition of the History of Scotland. Others, bearing his name in the well-known Bannatyne MS. collection, made by his namesake George Bannatyne (q.v.), may or may not be his. Sir David Lyndsay, in his prologue to the Papyngo, speaks vaguely of:

"Ane cunnyng Clark quhilk wrythith craftelie

Ane plant of poetis callit Ballendyne,

Quhose ornat workis my wit can nocht defyne."

The chief sources of information regarding Belleriden's life are the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, his own works and the ecclesiastical records.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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