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Alexander Bur (died 1397) was a 14th-century Scottish cleric. It is highly possible that Bur came from somewhere in or around Aberdeenshire, although that is not certain and is only based on the knowledge that Aberdeenshire is where other people bearing his surname come from in this period.[1] He entered the service of King David II of Scotland sometime after 1343, perhaps as a member of David's exiled court at Château Gaillard. Although Alexander by this point in time already held prebends in both the bishopric of Aberdeen and the bishopric of Dunkeld (where he also held a canonry), on that date King David petitioned Pope Clement VI for another canonry in the bishopric of Moray.[2] Alexander had become a royal clerk and had obtained a Licentiate in Canon Law by 1350. By the latter date, upon the death of Adam Penny (or Adam Parry), Archdeacon of Moray, Alexander himself became Archdeacon.[3]

Alexander Bur
Bishop of Moray
Alexander Bur seal.JPG
Seal of Alexander Bur.
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
SeeDiocese of Moray
In office1362—1397
PredecessorJohn de Pilmuir
SuccessorWilliam de Spynie
Ordinationbefore 1343
ConsecrationEarly 1363
Personal details
Born1320s or 1330s
Died15 May 1397
Spynie Palace, Moray
Previous postArchdeacon of Moray

In the autumn of this year King David II made an expedition into the north, apparently to escape the effects of the Black Death.[4] David was also re-establishing his authority in the area, which involved seizing the castle of Kildrummy from its owner, Thomas, Earl of Mar. Soon after David reached Kildrummy, John de Pilmuir, Bishop of Moray, died. This gave King David the opportunity to secure the election of his close follower, Alexander Bur, as the successor to Pilmuir. David had moved to secure the episcopal castle at Spynie, and his presence there undoubtedly made sure that the canons carried out the king's will.[5] Alexander was at Avignon in late December 1362, where he is mentioned as "bishop-elect and confirmed" of Moray,[6] but he was not consecrated by the Pope until sometime between early January and early February 1363.[7]

Alexander Bur was involved in a famous conflict with Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan and Lord of Badenoch which famously led to the burning of Elgin Cathedral. He died at Spynie Palace on 15 May 1397.[8]


  1. ^ Oram, "Alexander Bur", p. 195.
  2. ^ Oram, "Alexander Bur", pp. 195-6.
  3. ^ Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 238; Oram, "Alexander Bur", p. 196.
  4. ^ Grant, "The Wolf of Badenoch".
  5. ^ Oram, "Alexander Bur", p. 197.
  6. ^ Dowden, Bishops of Scotland, p. 154.
  7. ^ Watt, Fasti Eccesiae, p. 215.
  8. ^ Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 215.


  • Dowden, John, The Bishops of Scotland, ed. J. Maitland Thomson, (Glasgow, 1912)
  • Grant, Alexander, "The Wolf of Badenoch", in W. D. H. Sellar (ed.), Moray: Province and People, (Edinburgh, 1993), pp. 143–161
  • Keith, Robert, An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops: Down to the Year 1688, (London, 1924)
  • Oram, Richard, "Alexander Bur, Bishop of Moray, 1362—1397", in Barbara Crawford (ed.), Church Chronicle and Learning in Medieval and Early Renaissance Scotland, (Edinburgh, 1999), pp. 195–213
  • Watt, D.E.R., Fasti Ecclesiae Scotinanae Medii Aevi ad annum 1638, 2nd Draft, (St Andrews, 1969)
Religious titles
Preceded by
Adam Penny
Archdeacon of Moray
Succeeded by
William de Forres
Preceded by
John de Pilmuir
Bishop of Moray
Succeeded by
William de Spynie