- Barclay, Robert
- (c. 1648-1690)early Quaker apologistRobert Barclay was born around 1648 at Gordons-town, Morayshire, Scotland. Sent by his father to study in France, Barclay almost became a Roman Catholic, but eventually he joined his father in adhering to the recently formed Society of Friends (Quakers). In 1670, he married a Quaker, Christian Millison.His learning and bent for theology quickly pushed Barclay to the fore in the still fragile movement. He came to public notice in the mid-1670s in a controversy with the Quakers' opponent William Mitchell. His book Theses Theologiae (1676) sparked a public debate in Aberdeen. Most controversial was his claim that the inner light, which according to Quakers everyone possesses as a natural link with God, is superior to reason or even Scripture.Barclay is most remembered today as the author of An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, published in Latin in 1676 and in English two years later. He traveled widely for the Quaker cause. Like his contemporary George Fox (1624-91), Barclay was arrested and imprisoned on several occasions for his views.During the last years of his life, he was able to turn his acquaintance with the future King James II to use. With his help, a group of Quakers including William pENN purchased half the island of Jersey in 1681; they elected Barclay as their governor. He died on october 3, 1690.Further reading:■ Robert Barclay, An Apology for the True Christian Divinity: as the Same is hold forth, and Preached, by the People, called Scorn, Quakers; Being a full Explanation and Vindication of their Principles and Doctrines . . . Written in Latin and English by Robert Barclay, and son (Newport, R. I.: James Franklin, 1729); , A Catechism and Confession of Faith
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.