Bishop of Moray

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The Bishop of Moray or Bishop of Elgin was the ecclesiastical head of the Diocese of Moray in northern Scotland, one of Scotland's 13 medieval bishoprics. If the foundation charter of the monastery at Scone is reliable, then the Bishopric of Moray was in existence as early as the reign of King Alexander I of Scotland (1107–1124), but was certainly in existence by 1127, when one Gregoir ("Gregorius") is mentioned as "Bishop of Moray" in a charter of king David I of Scotland. The bishopric had its seat (Latin: Cathedra) at Elgin and Elgin Cathedral, but was severally at Birnie, Kinneddar and as late as Bishop Andreas de Moravia at Spynie, where the bishops continued to maintain a palace. The Bishopric's links with Rome ceased to exist after the Scottish Reformation, but continued, saving temporary abolition between 1638 and 1661, under the episcopal Church of Scotland until the Revolution of 1688. Episcopacy in the established church in Scotland was permanently abolished in 1689. The Bishops fortified seat for over 500 years was at Spynie Palace.

List of known bishops of Moray

Tenure Incumbent Notes
fl. x 1114-1127 x 1131 Gregoir of Moray
fl. 1152 x 1153-1162 William
fl. 1166 x 1171 Felix of Moray
1171-1184 Simon de Tosny
1184-1185 Andrew
1187-1203 Richard de Lincoln
1203-1222 Bricius de Douglas He was Prior of Lesmahagow before ascending the bishopric of Moray. In this period, the name Bricius is more often a Latinization of the Gaelic names Máel Brigte and Gilla Brigte than a real name; but it is still possible that Bricius was indeed the bishop's real name. He is sometimes called "Bricius of Douglas".
1222-1242 Andreas de Moravia
1244–1251 Simon de Gunby Dean of the cathedral from 1232 until his election as bishop. He was buried in the choir of the cathedral.
el. 1252 Radulf of Lincoln Radulf was a canon of the Bishopric of Lincoln; all we know about him was that he was elected. How Archibald came to consecrated in 1253 instead of Ralph is not known.
1253-1298 Archibald He rebuilt the palace of Kinneddor and made it his main residence. He died in December 1298.
1299-1326 David de Moravia Consecrated at Anagni in Italy on the vigil of the holy apostles Peter and Paul in 1299. He founded the Scots College in Paris by donating the land on which it was built. The foundation confirmed by Charles le Bel, King of France in August 1326.
1326-1362 John de Pilmuir The son of a Dundee burgess, he was consecrated by Pope John XXII. He continued what his predecessor began with the Scots College of the University of Paris. Its administration was to remain the responsibility of the Bishops of Moray until the Reformation.
1362-1397 Alexander Bur Consecrated by Pope Urban V at Avignon in December 1396. Bar suffered at the hands of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan when Stewart burned the cathedral along with the city's two monasteries, the church of St Giles and the hospital Domus Dei.
1397-1406 William de Spynie Before his consecration by the anti-pope Benedict XIII in 1397, he was the Chantor of Moray. He died on 2 August 1406.
1407-1414 John de Innes
1414-1422 Henry de Lichton
1422-1435 Columba de Dunbar
1436-1460 John de Winchester
1460-1462 James Stewart
1462-1476 David Stewart
1477-1482 William Tulloch
1482-1501 Andrew Stewart
1501-1514 x 1516 Andrew Forman
1516-1524 James Hepburn
1525-1527 Robert Shaw
nom. 1528 Alexander Douglas (elder) Had crown nomination, but failed to obtain consecration because of political circumstances.
1529-1537 Alexander Stewart
1538-1573 Patrick Hepburn
1573-1589 George Douglas Temporalities annexed to the crown after 1587, which were largely granted to Alexander Lindsay, 1st Lord Spynie in 1590, until surrendered back to crown in an arrangement with Bishop Alexander Douglas.
1602-1623 Alexander Douglas (younger)
1623-1638 John Guthrie Episcopy abolished on 13 December 1638.
1662–1677 Murdoch MacKenzie Epicopy restored in 1661. Became Bishop of Orkney.
1677–1680 James Aitken Became Bishop of Galloway.
1680-1686 Colin Falconer Previously Bishop of Argyll.
1687 Alexander Rose Became Bishop of Edinburgh.
1688 William Hay The Revolution of 1688 led to the abolition of Episcopy in Church of Scotland.


  • Dowden, John, The Bishops of Scotland, ed. J. Maitland Thomson, (Glasgow, 1912)
  • Keith, Robert, An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops: Down to the Year 1688, (London, 1924)
  • Lawrie, Sir Archibald, Early Scottish Charters Prior to A.D. 1153, (Glasgow, 1905)
  • Watt, D.E.R., Fasti Ecclesiae Scotinanae Medii Aevi ad annum 1638, 2nd Draft, (St Andrews, 1969)

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