First name

Text source

John Forbes was a Scotsman enrolled at Heidelberg University in 1613. He was noted as a nobleman, and it was undoubtedly he who went on to become Professor of Divinity at King's College Aberdeen. Dr John Forbes proved to be of great interest and relevance to the networking of John Durie. Forbes had studied divinity at Heidelberg and Sedan, partly under David Pareus, author of the famous Irenicum in 1615, which deeply influenced both Forbes and his fellow divines who came to be collectively called the Aberdeen Doctors. Forbes had been deeply influenced by his mentor and his earliest published work, also entitled Irenicum, reached print in Aberdeen in 1629. It was dedicated to both Pareus and the lovers of truth and peace in the Scottish Kirk. Gunnar Westin, writing in the 1930s, established that John Forbes and John Durie were friends but does not develop any theory as to the influence of Forbes on Durie’s theological stance. One printed pamphlet from 1657 noted the University of Aberdeen as one of the places with which Durie maintained contact during the early phase of his irenicist career, 1628-1641, thus linking John Forbes directly to John Durie. Another Aberdonian, William Forbes (first Bishop of Edinburgh), also sought ecclesiastical reconciliation, but he went further than most of his colleagues by repeatedly preaching, between 1624-1634, to bring the various Protestant and Catholic churches together. Just at the same period that William and John Forbes embarked on their campaigns in search of religious tolerance, John Durie preached to the British congregation in Elbing as an ordained Calvinist minister. He must surely have been aware of the work of these men before 1628, albeit that William Forbes operated on the Episcopalian centre of the Church of Scotland, rather than the exile Presbyterian tradition to which John Durie belonged. Whatever the actual nature of the relationship with the two irenical Forbes’s, the release of John Forbes’ Irenicum in 1629 occurred at a time when John Durie had become well-placed to further the ideal of ecclesiastical pacification through his fledgling confessional association bolstered by his interesting familial network and ecclesiastical contacts.

T. Fischer, The Scots in Germany, (Edinburgh, 1902), p.314; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.281-282.

Service record

Capacity STUDENT, purpose ACADEMIC