Burnet, Gilbert

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Burnet, Gilbert

Gilbert Burnet (bûr´nĬt), 1643–1715, Scottish bishop and writer. He studied in Scotland, England, and abroad, held minor ecclesiastical office in Scotland, and was appointed (1669) professor of divinity at Glasgow Univ. He went to London in 1673 and was lecturer at St. Clements until his defense of his friend Lord William Russell made it unsafe for him in England after the Rye House Plot executions. During James II's reign Burnet's anti-Catholic writing and preaching barred him from court, and he found favor and friendship with William of Orange at The Hague. Accompanying William to England, he was a trusted adviser to William III and Mary and was made bishop of Salisbury. His celebrated History of My Own Times (published only 1723–24; ed. by M. J. Routh, 6 vol., 1833) is fiercely biased against James II, but it is also an informative contemporary source for the period. Burnet made a translation of Sir Thomas More's Utopia. He also wrote History of the Reformation in England (3 vol., 1679–1714; abridged ed. 1719), notable for its understanding of the economic, social, and cultural causes and effects of the Reformation, and many lesser works on history and theology.

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