Calderwood was educated at Edinburgh, where he took the degree of MA in 1593. In about 1604, he became minister of Crailing, near Jedburgh in Roxburghshire, where he became conspicuous for his resolute opposition to the introduction of Episcopacy. In 1617, while James VI was in Scotland, a Remonstrance, which had been drawn up by the Presbyterian clergy, was placed in Calderwood's hands.
He was summoned to St Andrews and examined before the king, but neither threats nor promises could make him deliver up the roll of signatures to the Remonstrance. He was deprived of his charge, committed to prison at St Andrews and afterwards removed to Edinburgh. The privy council ordered him to be banished from the kingdom for refusing to acknowledge the sentence of the High Commission. He lingered in Scotland, publishing a few tracts, till 27 August 1619, when he sailed for Holland. During his residence in Holland he published his Altare Damascenum.
Calderwood appears to have returned to Scotland in 1624-1625. He was appointed minister of Pencaitland, in the county of East Lothian, in about 1640, where he was one of those appointed to draw up The Directory for Public Worship in Scotland.
He continued to take an active part in the affairs of the church, and introduced in 1649 the practice, now confirmed by long usage, of dissenting from the decision of the General Assembly, and requiring the protest to be entered in the record.
His last years were devoted to the preparation of The Historie of the Kirk of Scotland which was published in an abridged form in 1646. The complete work was printed (1842–49) for the Wodrow Society.
General Assembly work
In 1648 the General Assembly urged him to complete the work he had designed, and voted him a yearly pension of £800.
Calderwood died at Jedburgh on 29 October 1650. He left behind him a historical work of great extent and of great value as a storehouse of authentic materials. An abridgment, which appears to have been prepared by Calderwood himself, was published after his death. An excellent edition of the complete work was published by the Wodrow Society, 8 vols, 1842-1849. The manuscript, which belonged to General Calderwood Durham, was presented to the British Museum.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons – via Wikisource.