William Scheves (died 1497) was the second Archbishop of St. Andrews. His parentage is obscure, but he was probably the illegitimate son of a royal clerk, John Scheves. He is said to have spent several years abroad and probably studied at the University of Louvain. He spent several years at the University of St Andrews as an administrator. In his earlier ecclesiastical career, he had been clericus regiae (royal cleric) and master of the hospital of Brechin. In 1474 he was provided unsuccessful to the Archdeaconry of Dunblane, but by the beginning of 1477 he was Archdeacon of St Andrews and coadjutor (successor) and vicar-general of the archdiocese. After the deposition of Archbishop Patrick Graham in 1478, he succeeded to the archbishopric, apparently receiving the papal pall while in the presence of King James III and many of the nobility at Holyrood.
He became extremely unpopular with the nobility, being seen as one of the "low-born favourites" who allegedly dominated James III. There seems little doubt that he had considerable influence with the King until 1482. After the coup at Lauder he was in temporary disgrace, and although restored to favour after the King regained power in 1483, his influence was not what it had been.
He is said to have studied medicine at Louvain; he certainly practiced as a physician, and came to the King's notice in his capacity as court physician. He had a fine library of medical texts and also had a keen interest in astrology.
The archbishop was given connections to the Christian areas of the Mediterranean under Ottoman control. He was styled "Bishop of Delphi", and his subordinate, James Lindsay, was appointed "Bishop of Dionysias" as a suffragan of the Archbishop of St. Andrews. William's name is even noted in one Greek chronicle.
In the Arbuthnott Missal there is a striking full-page miniature painting of St Ternan, patron saint of the church of Arbuthnott, which is modelled on William Scheves, and can claim to be one of the earliest Scottish portraits.
Scheves died on 28 January 1497.
- MacDougall, Norman James III 2009 Edition John Donald pp.146-7
- MacDougall pp.146-7
- MacDougall pp.268-70
- MacDougall pp.263-7
- Renfrewshire Community Website - Arbuthnott Manuscripts
- Dowden, John, The Bishops of Scotland, ed. J. Maitland Thomson, (Glasgow, 1912)
- James III - by *Norman MacDougall, - John Donald Publishers 1982
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