STRACHAN, John SJ, Rector of Scots College in Rome 1
- Born: About 1632
- Died: 10 February 1671, Jesuit House of The Professed, Rome, Italy
- Buried: Chapel of St Francis of Assisi, Rome, Italy
John Strachan was born, probably in Aberdeenshire, about 1632. He was an outstanding student and became Regent at Aberdeen during the quadrennium 1651-1655, though he did not complete the fourth year. Instead, he left Aberdeen and, soon after, became a Roman Catholic. Through the Journals of Sir John Lauder, Lord Fountainhall it is known that he went to Europe, and was in the Society of Jesus at Naples where he studied theology. According to Brian Halloran, from whose article in the Innes Review this information is drawn, Lauder probably heard this about Strachan from the Jesuits in Paris. Lauder was also acquainted with John Strachan's uncle.
Between Aberdeen and Naples, Strachan was at Scots College in Paris. There was some competition for him between the colleges at Rome and in Paris where Robert Barclay, a cousin of Strachan, was Rector. He was received into the Society of Jesus on 13 May 1662. In 1667 he was ordained priest. He offered himself to the Scottish mission but the Jesuits, to whom he was obedient, had other plans for him.
He taught philosophy for two years at Cosenza in the south of Italy. Halloran remarks that
"Once again, his reports were good, describing him as sufficiently good in character and judgement, without equal in prudence, and fit to govern, but melancholic in temperament." While in Cosenza he corresponded in 1670 with Robert Barclay in Paris, and with his uncle Sir John Strachan, then in London, about family matters. His uncle, John Strachan, was definitely not the Tutor of Thornton, son of the Laird of Thornton, as some have suggested, for that man was already deceased by then.
His uncle's letter enlightens us on John Strachan's family situation. It refers to him having at least two married and two unmarried sisters, a brother by the name of Thomas, and a younger brother. His parents were then living, though his father was "now growing infirm." Father Strachan wanted to settle some money, that had been made available by him to his uncle, on his parents.
At some stage, before 28th March 1670, John Strachan became 'indisposed' in his health in some way. He was, nevertheless, appointed Rector of Scots College in Rome in November 1670. He died in the Jesuit House of the Professed in Rome on 10 February 1671. he was buried in the Chapel of St Francis of Assisi.
from John Strachan SJ Rector of the Scots College Rome 1670-1671 by Brian M. Halloran
From Lists of Officers University and King's College Aberdeen 1495-1860
'1651 Mr John Strachan
Graduates of 1650-51 (apparently succeeding Patrick Gordon) and 1654-55.
In 1659, Mr. Patrick Sandilands, Subprincipal, graduates " magistro Joanne Strachano regente in Gallias contendente Rector of the Scots College in Rome, 1670."
"The said Mr. Strachan was the best scholar that ever was in the College. But the Cants and the rest of the clergy in Aberdeen had prejudice at him, because he was a royalist; and because his uncle, Sir John Strachan, was with King Charles II.
At last, the said Strachan was to graduate his scholars of the magistrand class; and after he had printed his theses, and distributed them, and the day appointed for the graduation in the common school of the College, then Mr. Andrew Cant, regent in Marischall College, and the rest of the clergy, accused Mr. Strachan for his theses, and said he had set down popish positions in them. But Mr. Strachan told them he would defend all that was inserted in his thesis; whereupon the diet of graduation was altered, and a new diet to be at S. Machar's Church in Old Aberdeen.
When the day came, there was a great confluence of gentry from all places of the country, who came to S. Machar's Church. Thence came over the Cants, and Mr. Menzies, and all the rest of the clergy of Aberdeen, and with them Mr. Alexander Cant, minister of Nether Banchory, and placed themselves in the Marquess of Huntly's loft, opposite to the pulpit; for Mr. Strachan had taken the pulpit, and no person with him but Professor Douglas, who sat on the latron, and Principal Row sat alone in the college-loft. Mr. Strachan began with a prayer, and after had a long harangue; which, being ended, he invited them to impugn his theses. Then they began to object, and he answered their arguments readily; but to his solutions they all answered una voce which made a great confusion in the disputations. Yet learned men said that Mr. Strachan had the better of it that day. This dispute continued long; at last, when it was ended, and the people dismissed, coming out of the church door, Mr. Strachan accuses young Mr. Andrew Cant, regent, for some reflecting answer he had given him in the time of the dispute, and would have trampled him under his feet, if the gentry had not interposed, and taken Mr. Strachan away with them. For Mr. Strachan was a gentleman, and a pretty man both in parts and in body, and undervalued all the Cants. His father was Mr. Alexander Strachan, minister of Logie Durno, and parson of Fetterneir.
Before the dispute, Mr. Strachan graduated his class; and the Earl of Aberdeen, who became chancellor of Scotland, was first graduated; then the rest. And immediately thereafter, Mr. Strachan demitted in favours of Mr. George Gordon, with consent of the College, because he could not live at peace with the Covenanters. And thereafter, the said Mr. Strachan went abroad and studied physick. Then he came home to see his father and his friends; and after that he went again abroad, turned popish, and died abroad, etc." Orem, '
George Gordon became regent in 1659.
JOHN STRACHAN'S OPPONENT
Andrew Cant (1590 - 1663) was a Presbyterian minister and leader of the Scottish Covenanters. In 1638 he tried to persuade the university and the presbytery of Aberdeen to subscribe to the National Covenant. In 1640 he was Scottish army chaplain, then settled as minister at Aberdeen. In 1660 Cant's frequent and bitter attacks on members of his congregation led to complaints laid before the magistrates. He resigned his charge
UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN KING'S COLLEGE
1529 Gilbertus Strathauchin
1531 " "
1542 Jacobus Strathauchin (Rector of St Andrews in 1543)
1600-1619 John Strauchane
1600 James Strathauchin
1629 Andrew Strachan
1634 William Strachan
1651 John Strachan
PROFESSORS OF DIVINITY
1634 Andrew Strachan
from Calendar of the University of Aberdeen
John Strachan who was for a very short time the Rector of Scots College, Rome, was noted as being a "cousin" of Robert Barclay, Rector of the Scots College in Paris. At that time, the degree of relationship between two individuals who had grandparents in common was designated as "cousin germain", just as two full siblings, sharing the same parents were "brother germain" or "sister germain". This was the sort of term that legal documents would use, to be absolutely clear who was being referred to, for the word "cousin", without such a qualification, meant simply a kinsman or kinswoman, and could be used to describe a number of relationships, including relationship by marriage rather than blood. It indicated a bond of family between two people that others did not share, but did not have the precise meaning of "first cousin" it might today.