CRAIG, JOHN (1512?-1600), Scottish reformer, born about 1512, was the son of Craig of Craigston, Aberdeenshire, who was killed at Flodden in 1513. After an education at St Andrews, and acting as tutor to the children of Lord Darcy, the English warden of the North, he became a Dominican, but was soon in trouble as a heretic. In 1536 he made his way to England, but failing to obtain the preferment he desired at Cambridge, he went on to Italy, where the influence of Cardinal Pole, who was himself accused of heresy, secured him the post of master of the novices in the Dominican convent at Bologna. For some years he was busy travelling in the Levant in the interests of his order, but a perusal of Calvin's Institutes revived his heretical tendencies, and he was condemned to be burnt. Like the English scholar and statesman, Thomas Wilson, he owed his escape to the riot which broke out on the death of Paul IV. on the 18th of August 1559, when the mob burst open the prison of the Inquisition. After various adventures he reached Vienna, where he preached, and was protected by the semi-Lutheran archduke (afterwards the emperor) Maximilian II.
In 1560 he returned to Scotland, where in 1561 he was ordained minister of Holyrood, and in 1562 Knox's colleague in the High Church. His defence of church property and privilege against the predatory instincts of the nobles and the pretensions of the state brought him into conflict with Lethington and others; but he seems to have condoned, if he was not privy to, Riccio's murder. At first he refused to publish the banns of marriage between Mary and Bothwell, though in the end he yielded with a protest that he "abhorred and detested the marriage." He had been associated with Knox in various commissions for the organization of the church, but he wished to compromise between the two extreme parties. From 1571-1579 Craig was in the north, whither he had been sent to "illuminate those dark places in Mar, Buchan and Aberdeen." In 1579 he was appointed chaplain to the young James VI., and returned to Edinburgh. In 1581 episcopacy was abolished as a result of the report of a commission on which Craig had sat; he also assisted at the composition of the Second Book of Discipline and the National Covenant of 1580, and in 1581 compiled "Ane Shorte and Generale Confession" called the "King's Confession," which was imposed on all parish ministers and graduates and became the basis of the Covenant of 1638. He approved of the Ruthven raid, and admonished James in terms which made him weep, but produced no alteration in his conduct, and before long Craig was denouncing the supremacy of Arran. But he was averse from the violence of Melville, and was willing to admit the royal supremacy "as far as the word of God allows." James VI., like Henry VIII., accepted this compromise, and the oath in this form was taken by Craig, the royal chaplains and some others. In 1592 was published Craig's Catechism. He died on the 12th of December 1600.
See T. G. Law's Pref. to Craig's Catechism (1885); Bain's Cal. Scottish State Papers; Reg. P. C. Scotl.; Hew Scott's Fasti Eccles. Scot.; Knox's, Calderwood's and Grub's Eccles. Histories; McCrie's Life of Melville; Hay Fleming's Mary, Queen of Scots; Bannatyne's Memorials.
(A. F. P.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)