« Carson, Alexander Carstares, William Carter, James »

Carstares, William

CARSTARES, WILLIAM: Scotch clergyman and political leader; b. at Cathcart (5 m. w.n.w. of Glasgow) Feb. 11, 1649; d. in Edinburgh Dec. 28, 1715. He studied at Edinburgh (graduated 1667) and at Utrecht, whither he went because of the political troubles at home, in which his father was implicated. Toward the close of 1674 he was arrested in London, being suspected of having a hand in the distribution of a seditious pamphlet and of being the bearer of despatches to the disaffected in Scotland from their sympathizers in Holland; he was kept in confinement till Aug., 1679. When released he entered actively into the plots which were then rife, and appears at different times in Ireland, England, Scotland, and Holland. After the discovery of the Rye House plot (a scheme to assassinate Charles II.) in July, 1683, he was caught in Kent, and was sent to Edinburgh and examined under torture before the Scottish Council, but displayed "great discretion" in the disclosures which he made. In 1686 or 1687 he settled at Leyden, and thenceforth was seldom separated from William of Orange, whom he had known from his student days in Utrecht and who trusted him implicitly and often took his advice, especially on Scotch affairs. After William became king of England, he made Carstares chaplain for Scotland, and the latter rendered valuable services both to his country and his king, especially in reconciling the Scotch Presbyterians to the new regime. His personal influence at court ceased with the death of William, and thenceforth he resided in Edinburgh, where he was made principal of the university in 1703; he also became minister of the Gray Friars' Church, and distinguished himself in both capacities. He retained his position as royal chaplain under Anne, and at the accession of George I. was chosen by the 427General Assembly to make the usual congratulatory speech. He was four times moderator of the General Assembly.

Bibliography: State-Papers and Letters Addressed to William Carstares, with life by J. M'Cormick, Edinburgh, 1774; R. H. Story, William Carstares, a character and career of the revolutionary epoch, 1649–1715, London, 1874; DNB, ix. 187–190.

« Carson, Alexander Carstares, William Carter, James »
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