Report on the mission in Scotland by [William] Lesley and the Archbishop of Armagh for PF, [1678]


Report on the mission in Scotland by [William] Lesley and the Archbishop of Armagh for PF, [1678]


Scottish Catholics abroad


Relation on the Hebrides. The task to write a relation on the Hebrides was given to Archbishop of Armach [Armagh]. This relation was given to him by a franciscan missionary Fran'co Macdonel [Francis MacDonnell], who had to travel there to bring the Holy oils. The procurator [Willam Lesley] of the mission made some remarks about the content. He thinks that the amount of people that live on these island is much bigger than is described in this report. Various island are being described by their size, amount of inhabitants, whether they are Catholics or Protestants, and by its rulers. Most people on these island talk Scots "Scottish Gaelic" and the nobility speaks corrupted English. The lords of the island also have possesions on the mainland, where the people also speak Gaelic, and are very willing to the Catholic faith. Grain does not grow in these islands, but there is barley, oat and spelt and many animals; there are however, no fruit trees. There are many monuments for saints, and destroyed churches. The islands have a pseudo-bishop but he is never really present. The people there could be converted pretty easily. In the sumer people drink milk, during the winter boiled water. The rich nobility drinks beer. People do not give alms to the priests but are obliged to pay money to the Protestants. The missionaries only have the money that they receive from PF. Because there are not really foreign missionaries, the Scottish youths are instructed in Colleges outside the country, there is a risk however that they will not want to return. Flour should also be brought for the missionaries, since they live in great distress. To convert these island's one should: a) send priests who speak English, despite the problem of Scottish youth missionaries not wanting to return from abroad; b) to instruct the youths overseas, as the people prefer priests from their own country. Also described are the easiest ways to send a letter to the Scottish mission; c) it would really help if there was money to pay a schoolmaster. It was suggested that Eugenio Makelastrio would do this first, and later David Burnetto [David Burnet], but this never materialized. Maybe the brother of the procurator could teach Sciences after he finished his studies in Paris; and d) it would be a good thing if PF would write to the nobles on the island who are willing to help the Catholics. This is where the relation, that the bishop of Armagh, wrote with the help of Francis MacDonnell, ends. Lesleo [William Lesley] does not want to say anything more about this document besides the additions that he already made. Another, imcomplete, draft of the relation follows.
Additional comments
This report seems to be a reworking by William Lesley, the procurator of the Scottish Mission, of the report of the archbishop of Armagh (probably James Margelson). The missionary Francis MacDonnell also had a role in this, but it seems as if he provided the information to the archbishop who wrote the report. The archbishop says that he delivered the relation on 2 September 1671. The problem is however that Lesley still made changes to the document. The letters in the same file written by Lelsey are from much later, in 1678. Hence the report is probably written around the same time.


William Lesley
Archbishop of Armagh


APF Scozia vol. 1, 593r-607r, 697r-699r




Adressed to S. Cong'ne Particolare


Orignal; draft








Origin: unknown
Destination: Rome


William Lesley and Archbishop of Armagh, “Report on the mission in Scotland by [William] Lesley and the Archbishop of Armagh for PF, [1678],” Early Modern Documents: Sources and Resources for Historical Research, accessed May 30, 2024,