top of page
Screenshot 2023-07-25 at 3.23.04 PM.png

Robert Baron (1596-1639)

Table of Contents



Robert Baron was highly regarded by friends and foes alike, despite lethal animosity which forced him into exile.



This page offers an annotated bibliography of Robert Barons works.


Secondary Sources

Coming Soon.

Donald Macmillan

(this text has been lightly edited and reformatted for stylistic purposes)

Robert Baron was a younger son of the family of Kinnaird in Fifeshire, and a brother of Dr. John Baron, Principal of St. Salvador’s College, St. Andrews, who did not show the same perseverance and consistency in resisting the Solemn League and Covenant all along manifested by his brother.

(Vita R. V. Joh. Forbesii à Corse, § xlii., prefixed to the Amsterdam folio edition of Forbes’ Works, 1702–3; Sibbald’s Hist. of Fife and Kinross, London, 1803, p.427, App; Gordon’s Hist. of Scots Affairs, published by the Spalding Club, Aberdeen, MDCCCXLI. v. ii. p. 5; Baillie’s Letters and Journals, Edin. MDCCCXLI. v. ii. p. 98.)


The learned Professor of Divinity at Aberdeen was educated at St. Andrews, where, as we learn from an anecdote preserved by Clementius, his early proficiency in learning attracted the notice of King James VI:—


“About the author himself and his life and passing, we may perhaps provide more information on another occasion if necessary aids are provided. For now, I am pleased to attach what I have learned from my relative B.M. when he was studying at the Andreapolitan Academy. He narrates in his notes that our Baron, still beardless and very young at that time, in the year 1617, in the presence of King James and a very crowded assembly of auditors, successfully engaged in a discussion of a diverse subject, mainly political matters. The King fixed his gaze on Baron, showing singular attention and admiration. Finally, the King burst into words, asking Baron if he would like to present a demonstration of a certain thesis (what it was, I cannot know). Having received it from the young man, he praised both him and it openly, adding more on the same topic, all in the Latin language. All present marveled, both at the unique affection and benevolence of the great King and at the remarkable sagacity and readiness of the young man at such a tender age.”

(Note by editors of Gordon’s Scots Affairs, v. 3:236.)


“After having for a short time professed Philosophy at St. Andrews, on the advancement of Patrick Forbes of Corse to the See of Aberdeen in 1618, Baron succeeded him in the care of the parish of Keith, in the district of Strathisla, in Banffshire, where he appears to have married, as his lady is described in a passage in Gordon’s Scots Affairs, as having been “borne” in Strathisla. In 1624 he was appointed one of the clergy of the city of Aberdeen, and was nominated the first Professor of Theology in Marischal College, on the institution of that chair in 1625.”

(Vita R. V. Joh. Forbesii à Corse, § xlii.; Kennedy’s Annals of Aberdeen, v. ii. p. 119.)

Having taken a very prominent part in the controversy against the leaders of the Solemn League and Covenant, as already mentioned, he only escaped formal expulsion from his chair, if not danger to his life, by voluntary exile. He fled to Berwick, and died there in the month of August 1639. Baron some time before his death had been elected to fill the See of Orkney, but was never consecrated. His death is thus with commendable feeling alluded to by the restless and conceited but acute and energetic Principal Baillie: “My heart was only sore for good Dr. Barron; after he had been in London printing a treatise for the King’s authoritie in Church affairs, I suspect too much to his country’s prejudice, he returned heavilie diseased of his gravell; he lay not long at Berwick till he died. Some convulsions he had, wherein the violent opening of his mouth, with his own hand or teeth, his tongue was somewhat hurt; of this symtome very caseable, more din was made by our people than I could have wished of so meeke and learned a person.”

(Spalding’s History of the Troubles in Scotland, Bannatyne Club edition, Edin. MDCCCXXVIII. vol. i. pp. 105, 106, 107; Keith’s Catalogue of Scottish Bishops, Bishop Russel’s edition, Edin. 1824, p. 227; Baillie’s Letters and Journals, Edin. MDCCCXLI. vol. i. p. 221.)

Baron is described by Bishop Sydserf in the preface to the Considerationes Modestæ et Pacifica of William Forbes, first Bishop of Edinburgh (sub fine / toward the end), as “vir in omni Scholastica Theologia, et omni literatura versatissimus (a man most accomplished in all Scholastic Theology and all literature),” and as he died before the rancor of political and religious animosity rose to its height, writers of all parties have united in praise of his virtues and learning. A number of these testimonies are collected in a copious biographical note by the editors of Gordon’s Scots Affairs, vol. iii, p. 235, where a list of his writings, both printed and in manuscript, will be found (Bishop Forbes’ Funeralls, p. 28). It will be of some use to the reader if we reproduce them here.


“Dr. Robert Baron, a cadet of the house of Kinnaird, in Fife, was one of the most erudite theologians of the seventeenth century.”

(Note by the editors of Gordon’s History of Scot’s Affairs.)

“Et quis,” asks Antonius Clementius, “Baronium ignoret, tot Theologorum pridem ac Philosophorum laudibus decantatum? Philosophiam Theologiae ancillantem quis est qui non efferat? utilitatem, perspicuitatem extollat?” (And who is ignorant of Baronius, long ago praised by so many theologians and philosophers? Who is there that does not laud his Philosophiam Theologiae ancillantem? Who does not extol its utility and perspicuity?)

(Baronii Metaph. Gener. praef.)

“Hic est ille mellitus Doctor,” a contemporary writes, “qui morum suavitate, & elegantiâ ad omnes promerendos natus est. Hic est ille qui subtilitatem Seraphicam cum summa perspicuitate posse conjungi ostendit. Hic est ille denique qui scriptis inclaruit: & recèns in vindicandis contra Adversarium negotiosissimum, Fidei, & divinae scientiae principiis, se eruditionis sacrae finem & perfectionem assequutum arguit.” (This is that sweet Doctor, who was born for winning over all men with the charm and elegance of his character. This is the one who demonstrated the ability to combine Seraphic subtlety with utmost perspicuity. This is, finally, the one who became renowned through his writings and recently proved that he had attained the pinnacle and perfection of sacred erudition in defending the principles of faith and divine knowledge against a most adversarial opponent [Trumbullius or Turnbell the Jesuit].)

(A. Strachani Panegyric. Inavg. in Avt. Acad. Aberd., p. 22.)

“Robert Baron,” says Middleton, “was a person of incomparable worth and Learning. He had a clear apprehension of things, and a rare facultie of making the hardest things to be easily understood.”

(Appendix to Archbp. Spottiswoode, p. 29.)

“Fuit Robertus Baronius,” Dr. Garden writes, “vir perspicacissimi ingenii, qui singulari praeditus facultate, obscuriora elucidandi, difficiliaque enodandi, difficultatis alicujus nodum ac facilem ipsius evolutionem expedite & acute perspiciebat. Ipse distinctos ac claros de rebus habens conceptus, eos methodica ac distincta expositione aliis intellectu faciles reddebat. In Theologia Scholastica versatissimus.” (Robert Baronius was a man of the most perspicacious intellect, endowed with a unique facility to illuminate obscure matters and unravel difficult knots, easily and sharply perceiving the essence of any difficulty. He himself possessed distinct and clear concepts about things, and through methodical and clear exposition, he made them easily understandable to others. He is most accomplished in Scholastic Theology.)

(Vita Johannis Forbesii, § xlii.)

“Dr. Baron,” says Dr. Irving, “was one of the chief ornaments of the University of Aberdeen at a time when it abounded with men of ingenuity and learning.”

(Lives of the Scotish Poets, vol. i., p. 135. See also Irving’s Lives of Scotish Writers, vol. ii., pp. 32, 49.)

Arthur Johnston, the celebrated Latin poet, addressed various of his pieces to him, and in the following well-turned epigram has celebrated his praises and those of William Forbes, Bishop of Edinburgh: “De Gulielmo Forbesio et Roberto Baronio, Theologis Abredonensibus”:—

Nil quod Forbesio, Christi dum pascit ovile 

Nil quod Baronio comparet, orbis habet. 

Eloquio sunt ambo pares; discrimen in uno est, 

Quò lubet, hic mentes pellicit, ille rapit.

(Eppigrammata Aberdoniæ, 1632, p. 14.)


None can be likened to Forbesius, 

while he tends to the bevy of his Lord,

None could be compared Baronius,

e’en if the whole world were scoured.

Theyre matched in rhetorical eloquence,

But betwixt them there’s this difference:

As one wishes, he seduces sound minds;

As the other speaks, he grabs and he binds.


The same poet has two epigrams on Baron's discussion with George Turnbull, a learned Jesuit. We subjoin the latter of the two: “De Diatriba Roberti Baronii D. Theologi adversus Trumbullium”:—

En sacra Baronius movet et Trumbullius arma, 

Pene sub Icariis natus uterque rotis, 

Ambo Sacerdotes, divinæ Palladis ambo 

Artibus et calami dexteritate pares, 

Hoc discrimen habes: magno molimine causam, 

Hic agit Ausonii Præsulis, ille Dei.

(Eppigrammata Aberdoniæ (1632), p. 13.)


See Baronius and Trumbullius 

ably armed in matters sacred!

Both born beneath the wheels of Icarus,

Both are in their priesthood guided

By Palladian craft and skillful pen;

Though one cause be labored in by both men,

Yet in Baron there’s still one thing to laud:

Turnbull serves his Pope; Baron serves his God.


Despite the universal reverence paid to Dr. Baron, there was some concern regarding his orthodoxy in specific theologic matters, all the more hotly controverted owing to the political situation. The suspicion to which Baron was subject only increased after his death. The following notices relating to his person are very characteristic of the excited state of religious feeling in Scotland after the well-known Glasgow Assembly of 1638:—

Baillie writes to Spang in September 1640: “Our Assemblie at Aberdeen was kept with great peace. We found great averseness in the hearts of manie from our course albeit little in countenance … Poor Baroun, otherways ane ornament of our Nation, we found has been much in multis the Canterburian way; great knavery and intercourse with his Grace (Archbishop Laud) we found among them, and yet all was hid from us that they could.”

(Baillie’s, Letters and Journals, Edin. MDCCCXLI. v. i. p. 248.)

“Umquhile doctor Barron’s wife was, by command of this Assembly, be ane rott of muskattiers brought out of her own house in Strylay, with her husband’s preaching papers; whilk being sein be the Assembly, were not found sound. Ther was also brought ther ane missive letter direct be the archbishop of Canterbury to the said umquhill doctor Barron, with two other missives direct to him and umquhill Mr. Alexander Ross, from the bishop of Ross, all tending to the mentainance of Arminianisme, promiseing therfor reward, and withall willing them to cause Raban imprint in the Book of Common Prayer some passages of Arminianisme; whilk papers and letters they carried with them, and suffered the gentlewoman to goe.”

(Spalding, Hist. of Troub., vol. i., p. 234.)


The Parson of Rothiemay tells us when narrating the proceedings of the same Assembly at Aberdeen:

“Dr. Robert Barron was deade the yeare befor, yet somewhat must be done concerning him. They thought him not orthodoxe in some of his tenents; therfor, such of his papers as wer unprinted they must see them, and they must be censurd and purgd. His widdow had reteered to the Strayla, wher she was borne; therfor order was sent to (General) Monroe with all expeditione, for to searche the place wher she stayd, and send herselfe, and such papers of her husbands as she had besyde her (if ther should be any founde), to Aberdeen under a sure gward. This was readily obeyd by Monroe, who made the gentlwoman prisoner at the Assemblyes instance, and sent her, and all such papers as could be founde besyde her, under a safe convoy to Aberdeen; whither she was no sooner come but she must delyver the key of her husbands key of her husband's librarye, that it might be searched for manuscripts and letters. Some letters wer founde wryttne by the Bishopp of Rosse, concerning the printing of the Booke of Canons, and a timber piece of tailly du pierre, whereupon was cut the Kings armes, to be printed into the frontispeece of that booke.


Thes letters wer publickly reade in that Assemblye, as if they had imported something very extraordinar; but ther was none present to ansuer for them. Only the printer, Edward Raban, ane Englishman, was calld upon; but because they could not formally challendge him for printing the Bishopps canons, therfor it was objected that he had manked ane common prayer in a new editione of the psalm booke, which some yeares befor he had printed in a large octavo. It was a forme of ane evning prayer, whence he had tackne of the conclusione for want of paper, it being the closure of the last sheete of the booke. Ther wer other coppyes of that prayer readde, and they wold needs have the printer confesse that he had throwne away all that clause out of designe, or by warrant of some of the ministers of Aberdeen. The printer protested solemnly that what he did was of himself, and was done for want of paper; and simply that if they wer offended, he craved them humble pardone; that he could instance that, except in that coppy, he had never omitted to print the conclusione of that evning prayer in any other editione of the psalmes in meeter, and should never omitte it againe. So, after a rebooke for his rashnesse in curtailing a prayer, he gott licence to be gone, without furder censure.”

(Gordon’s Scots Affairs, vol. iii. pp. 235–239.)


At the Restoration, the merits of Baron were not forgotten: two hundred pounds were presented by Parliament to his “relict and children.”

(Acts of Parliament of Scotland, Edin. folio. MDCCCXXX., vol. vii. App. p. 78.—E.)


The following is as complete a list of Dr. Baron’s writings as can be furnished:

1) Philosophiæ Theologiæ Ancillans, hoc est, Pia et sobria explicatio Quæstionum Philosophicarum in Disputationibus Theologicis subinde occurrentium. Avctore Roberto Baronio, Philosophiæ Professore, in illustri Collegio S. Salvatoris. Andreapoli, Excudit Eduardus Rabanus, Universitatis Typographus, 1621. Cum Privilegio. 8vo. Oxoniæ, 1641. 8vo. Amstelodami, 1649. 12mo. 


“Et,” says Antonius Clementius, “in Belgio sæpius, in 12.”—The first part of the work is dedicated to the Archbishop of St. Andrews; the second to Alexander Gladstane, Archdeacon of St. Andrews; and the third to Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet. Prefixed to the volume are two commendatory poems; the one addressed: “Dr. R. Baronio, quondam discipulo suo,” and subscribed, “H. Danskinus, amoniorum literarum professor Andreap;” the other signed “Iacobus Glegius, humaniorum literarum professor Taoduni.” Henry Danskin is one of the Contributors to the Delitia Poetarum Scotorum.


​2) Disputatio de Authoritate S. Scripturæ, seu de Formali Objecto Fidei. Abredoniæ, 1627, 4to. 


This treatise, says Dr. Garden, “ediderat Baronius cum S.S.Theologiæ Doctor renunciatus est (Baronius had published when he was declared a Doctor of Sacred Theology)” (Vita Johannis Forbesii, § xliii). It was assailed by George Turnbull, a learned member of the Society of Jesus, and professor of theology at Pont-a-Mousson, in a work published at Rheims, in 1628, with the title of De Imaginario Circulo Pontificio, contra Baronium

3) Ad Georgii Turnbulli Tetragonismum Pseudographum Apodixis Catholica, sive Apologia pro Disputatione de Formali Objecto Fidei. Abredoniæ, 1631, 8vo. 

This work is dedicated to Bishop Patrick Forbes, and commendatory verses by Dr. Arthur Johnstone and Dr. William Johnstone are prefixed to it. Turnbull published in reply, Sententia Juris in Calumniatorrem contra Baronium. Reims, 1632. “How much,” says Sir Thomas Urquhart, “the Protestant faith oweth to Doctor Robert Baron for his learned treatises (against Turnbull the Jesuite), de objecto formali fidei, I leave to be judged by those that have perused them.” Tracts, p. 122. Arthur Johnstone has two copies of verses, “De diatriba Roberti Baronii D. Theologi adversus Trumbullium,” in Art. Jonstoni, Poemata, p. 376.

4) Disputatio Theologica, De vero discrimine peccati mortalis et venialis et venialis deque impossibilitate implendi legem Dei ob quotidianam peccatorum venialium incursionem. Cui Annexa est Appendix de possibilitate præstandi legem consideratam secundum ἐπεικειαν Evangelicam. Authore Roberto Baronio, Ecclesiaste Abredonensi, S.S. Theologia Doctore, et ejusdem in Academia Marescallana Professore. Abredoniæ, Excudebat Edwardus Rabanus, 1633, 8vo. Amstelodami, 1649, 12mo. 

This treatise is dedicated by the author to Sir Paul Menzies of Kynmundie, the Provost, and to the other magistrates and the Town Council of Aberdeen. It was printed at their charge; the expense, it appears, amounting to nearly one hundred and eleven pounds Scots, of which twenty-one pounds were paid for the paper, “sevyn rym coft from Robert Cruickshank,” and the City Treasurer's Accounts for 1633. The work called forth an answer from William Chalmers or Camerarius, a member of the Society of Jesus.

5) A sermon, Preached at the Funerall of the R.R. Father in God, Patricke Forbes, Late Lord Bishop of Aberdene, in the Cathedrall Church of that Dioces, the 9 of Aprill 1635, by Robert Baron, Doctor and Professor of Divinitie, and one of the ministers of God's Word in the Burgh of Aberdene

This is printed in Bishop Forbes’ Funeralls, pp. 1–58.

6) Rob. Baronii, Theologi ac Philosophi celeberrimi, Metaphysica Generalis. Accedunt nunc primum quæ supererant ex Parte Speciali. Omnia ad Usum Theologiæ accommodata. Opus Postumum Ex muséo Antonii Clementii Zirizæi. Londini, Ex Officina J. Redmayne, n. d., 12mo. 

The preface is dated from Ziriczee in Zealand, the fifteenth of February, 1657, and the work was doubtless published in that year. Dr. Irving refers to an edition in 8vo. published in Leyden also in 1657. And a third, in 12mo., appeared at London in the following year, bearing this imprint: “Londini, Ez Officina R. Danielis et væneunt apud Th. Robinson et Ri Davis Bibliopolas Oxonienses. 1658.” Dr. Watt in his Bibliotheca Britannica, enumerates a fourth edition, at Cambridge, in 1685. 8vo.


There is preserved in a volume of tracts, in the library of The Marischall College (N. 5, 10) a fragment consisting of sixteen pages in small quarto, evidently printed by Edward Raban, and, so far as can be determined from internal evidence, written by Dr. Baron. It is entitled:

7) An Epitaph or Consolatorie Epistle, upon the death of the sayd young man; Written to his mother, by M. R. B., Preacher of the Evangel.


The works which Baron left behind him in manuscript seem to have been numerous. The following are enumerated by Dr. Garden:

8) Disputationes Theologica de Triplici Hominis Statu. 


This is preserved in the library of The Kings College, and extends to two hundred and twelve pages.

9) Isagoge ad saniorem doctrinam de Prædestinatione et de Articulis annexis.

10) Tractatus de Antecedaneis seu Dispositionibus præviis ad Justificationem, deque vero discrimine Vocationis et Sanctificationis.

11) Disputationes quædem Theologica:

I a. De regula Fidei principali(This is preserved in the library of The King’s College.)

II a. De visibili et ordinario Controversiarum Iudice.

III a. De monarchia, Suprematu, et Iudiciaria Infallibiltate Pontificis Romani.

IV a. De Ecclesia Christi in terris militante.

The contents of this last tract, which the author left unfinished, are more particularly indicated by Garden.

12) Septenarius Sacer de Principiis et Causis Fidei Catholicæ.

This is preserved in the library of The Kings College, and extends to one hundred and twenty-six pages. 


Besides these, Charteris (who calls him “very learned in the scholastick theology, and deservedly judged to be inferior to none of the Protestants in that kind of learning”) attributes to Baron other two works: De Scientia Media and Disputatio de Universalitate Mortis Christi, contra Rheterfortem. But these are, perhaps, merely parts of some of the treatises enumerated by Garden.


The latter work was directed against the well-known Samuel Rutherford, who, in his letters from Aberdeen, makes several allusions to his controversy with Baron: “Dr. Barron hath often disputed with me, especially about Arminian controversies, and for the Ceremonies: three yokings laid him by; and I have not been troubled with him since: now he hath appointed a dispute before witnesses, I am openly preached against in the pulpits, in my hearing, and tempted with Disputations by the Doctors, (especially by Dr. Baron in ceremoniall and arminian controversies, for all are corrupt here).” Mr. Rutherford's Letters. The Third Edition. Now divided in three Parts, pp. 48, 180, 221. Printed in the year 1675. 8vo.

13) Consilium Philosophicum. 


This occurs in an imperfect list of Baron’s works prefixed to the edition of his Metaphysica Generalis, which appeared in London in 1658. The same catalogue mentions, among the printed works of Baron, “Metaphysica Generalis, cum Reliquiis Partis Specialis, in 8,” alluding apparently to some less perfect edition of the Metaphysica Generalis than that to which the list was prefixed. Arthur Johnstone has addressed more than one of his poems to Dr. Baron: Ad D. Robertum Baronium Theologum de obitu filioli.


The Aberdeen Doctors:

A Notable Group of Scottish Theologians of the First Episcopal Period, 1610-1638, and the Bearing of Their Teaching on Some Questions of the Present Time 

(London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1909), 234–245.

bottom of page