The Irish Origins of John Duns Scotus, the
by Brian Nugent
Blessed John Duns Scotus (c.1265-1308), is one of the three or four most important theologians and philosophers of the high middle ages, he was the subtle doctor alongside such figures as the immortal St Thomas Aquinas, the angelic doctor, and St Bonaventure, the seraphic doctor. For over a century in the great theological universities of Europe, places like Paris and Oxford, the schoolmen were divided between the Thomists and Scotists, frequently corresponding of course to the two great mendicant orders, with St Thomas being Dominican and Bl. Scotus being Franciscan.
One of the great debates between these sides was on the question of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, St Thomas had rejected this while Scotus had argued for it and in time, obviously, the Scotists view won out, a rare victory over the great Aquinas! In time means half a millennium of debate in the theological schools and not only Scotus himself but not a few of the great Irish Franciscan figures (like Wadding) championed this dogma during those centuries, partly, its felt by some, because the Irish always looked on Scotus as one of their own.
But they werent the only ones, from about the 16th century and certainly after it blew up into a great controversy in the 1620s, the Scots, English and Irish have claimed the birthplace of the famous theologian. We will begin then by looking at the English and Scottish claims, stripped to their essentials.
1455 In 1455 John Reynbold, of Zierenburg in Hesse in Germany, agreed to copy out, for a fee of 2 shillings and 2 pence per book, some of the works of Duns Scotus, for Richard Scarborough, a fellow of Merton College in Oxford, with which he ended:
Thus ends the lecture of the subtle doctor in the University of Paris, on the first book of sentences, of Doctor John Duns, born in a certain village in the parish of Embleton called Dunstan, in the county of Northumberland, pertaining to the house of scholars of Merton Hall in Oxford, and sometime one of the fellows of the said house. 1
And he wrote a similar entry in Merton College Ms 61 in 1452 although he substitutes Oxford for Paris there and in fact he actually varies the Paris and Oxford part even in different parts of this one manuscript.2
The Irish historians mercilessly pounced on this discrepancy to discredit it, as well as complaining about its date c.150 years after Scotus and how this German supposedly knew so much of the ancient tradition.3 Also the problem with this entry is that in the early statutes of Merton College they refused to admit religious fellows like Scotus would have been.4 Still possibly Scotus had some association with Merton, certainly with Oxford, and this association, maybe somewhat garbled like for example incorporating the fact that Merton College traditionally had a living in the parish of Embleton, might be what is happening here.5
1521 John Maior (or Major), a leading theology teacher in Scotland and France, including the Sorbonne, who dabbled also in history and mathematics and whose pupils included both Johns Knox and Calvin, wrote this in his 1521 history of Great Britain, England and Scotland:
John Duns, that subtle doctor, who was a Scottish Briton, for he was born at Duns, a village eight miles distant from England, and separated from my own home by seven or eight leagues only. When he was no more than a boy, but had been already grounded in grammar, he was taken by two Scottish Minorite friars to Oxford, for at that time there existed no university in Scotland. 6
But Maior routinely claimed many people surnamed Scotus as Scottish, even when they clearly arent. For example he claimed our subjects name sake, Duns Scotus Eriugena as Scottish,7 who is undoubtedly Irish, and this is a reference to Irish monasteries:
He founded in Germany fifteen monasteries of the order of Saint Benedict, and at his own cost endowed the same, enjoining that over them Scots should at all times be placed. Of these monasteries two are at Cologne, and the rest in other parts of Germany.8
Also this story relates to three Irish monks, as all historians now recognise, although Maior claims them as Scottish:
To this king of the Scots Charles the Great made petition that he would send to him learned Learned men. And for answer there are sent to France John the Scot, Clement, Alcuin; and these men when they landed on the French coasts declared that their merchandise was the knowledge that they professed. 9
Hence while an interesting, and relatively old reference, it might not be decisive.
Of course the main thrust of the Scottish claim is simply his name, Scotus, which of course they interpret from the Latin as: Scottish man. This complicated subject bedeviled historians for many years, especially in the 17th century with virtually all the Irish ones, including even the Protestants Ware and Ussher, proving at great length that actually in medieval Latin Scotus means Irishman.
Simplifying a very complicated question we might explain it thus: During the barbarian invasions of Roman Briton, when they were assailed by Angles and Saxons from Germany, they were also hit by the Gaelic Irish coming across from Ireland and these barbarians were called by the Romans, Scoti. It was basically their name for the Gaelic Irish race. (They had after all always different names for the actual places, Hibernia in the case of Ireland and Albania and Caledonia in the case of Scotland). Then when many of them settled in modern day Scotland the Latin writing world began to attach the name Scotia to that place, in reference to the fact that the Irish were there. For a time also Ireland became known as Scotia Major and Scotland itself, Scotia Minor.
But of course we have to admit that at some point, as you get into Late Medieval and Early Modern times, Scotia and Scotus must surely mean Scotland and Scotsman only. The question is when do you acknowledge the changeover, and that is not so easy to say, or, in truth, to be very exact about. We will come back to this vexed question later but realistically this question is a no mans land between the two claims, the Irish and Scottish, you couldnt be exact enough from the various writings to be sure whether they meant Irishman or Scottish man by the word Scotus in use c.1300, before that certainly it was always Irishman, after it, at least a few centuries after that anyway, it certainly meant Scottish, but for our period it is too ambiguous to say, in my opinion.
Incidentally the English continue to keep their hand in here, they claim that Northumberland could have been considered a part of Scotia at the time and hence their candidature still stands!
1308 Fr William OCasey, the Vicar of Clonmel, in his book Vindicationis Apologeticae (Madrid, 1638), reported that there are many proofs of his Irish ancestry among the papers in the library of the Whites in Clonmel. In particular OCasey mentions an epitaph to Scotus, who died in 1308, written by a relative, contemporary and Irishman, Brother Dermot Scotus, which begins:
The city of Down gave birth to me, happy Ulster holds this city. 10
OCaseys book though seems to now be lost (or stopped shortly before publication?) however the reference to the Whites of Clonmel is very significant. It is presumably a slightly tangenital reference to Fr Stephen White SJ, the great historian from Clonmel whose researches all across the libraries of Europe amazed even the Protestant Ussher, and hence if this reference can rest on his reputation, it is of great importance indeed.
1381 In the catalogue of the Franciscan library in Assisi, referring to a commentary on Peter Lombards Four Books of Sentences, by Scotus, there is the following note:
A work on the four books of the sentences, of master brother john scotus, who is known as the subtle doctor, from the province of ireland. 11
1497 The Irish Archbishop Maurice OFihely OFM (Mauritius de Portu in Latin), on the first page of his publication of one of what he thought were the works of Scotus, refers to him as my compatriot.12 At the end of that volume the Italian poet Cornelio Paolo Amalteo (1460-1517) in an epigram praises the continuing work of this Maurice on Scotus and agrees with the coincidence of nationality:
My champion is the glory of our present age,
Maurice, sharing in birth and fatherland. 13
17th century controversy
These somewhat contradictory references moldered away on the shelves of old libraries until the whole subject was ignited by a book by the Scottish historian, Thomas Dempster, his Ecclesiastical History of the Scottish Nation published in Bologna in 1627. Suffice it to say that this gentleman has gone down in Irish historical tradition as the saint stealer because of his claim over virtually every medieval Scotus, and there are plenty of them, as Scottish, when in fact they were Irish.
At this time there were many Irish in exile all over the continent, because obviously of their persecution as Catholics, and not a few of these were already trying to correct historical errors in their nations history (particularly by Giraldus Cambrensis) so now they had a new fight and our Duns Scotus becomes a leading battleground in this war.
The Irish historical heavyweights of the 17th century now rolled into action, and there are plenty of them in that century, all now asserting the Irishness of the subtle doctor. White in 1613,14 Rothe in 1621,15 MacCaughwell in 1622,16 OSullivan Beare in 1629,17 Ward in 1633,18 Wadding in 1644,19 Carve in 1650,20 Colgan in 1655,21 Punch in 1660,22 Baron in 1668,23 and Bruodin in 1676, who waxes lyrical about the three saints buried in Downpatrick and the great traditions about Scotus there,24 united in establishing the Irish origins of Scotus. In truth though Dempster had overreached himself and his work was quickly discredited so in fact it was more the English historians, like Christopher Davenport and Angelus Mason, that the Irish had to contend with.
With big guns like these, firing lengthy missives (Punchs work above for example is 39 large pages of double columns of Latin, solely on the question of the Irish ancestry of Scotus) from every corner of Europe, from Prague to Madrid and every notable place in between, they of course broke through and the Irish origin of Scotus became the accepted interpretation internationally. This can be seen in authors like:
1630 Nicolaus Vernulaeus (15831649), from Luxembourg, writing at the end of his book weighs up the competing claims of England, Scotland and Ireland but ends up poetically concluding that
You are, Oh Ireland, Scotus, who in thy beginning accepted, had your citizens as parents, acknowledges your soil as [his] ancestral land...Ireland glories in its alumnus... 25
1653 Arthur De Monsteir, writing in Rouen a Martyrology for the Franciscans (which assists them in prayers for various feasts etc), lists under the 8th of November for our Scotus:
In nationality he was Irish. 26
1668 Jose Ximenez Samaniego, writing in Spanish, plumps for the Irish but partly because, like the mother in the wisdom of Solomon, they could be relied upon to passionately preserve the writings of Scotus even if it looked like they might lose him, to the Scots or the English! 27
Therefore from about the 17th century until the early decades of the 20th, this viewpoint held sway and most historians, albeit many would refer to it as disputed, accepted the Irish birth of our John Duns Scotus. Then beginning c.1917 with the researches of Fr André Callebaut O.F.M. and Fr Éphrem Longpré OFM, and others, the Scottish claim started to assert itself once more. In this historians version of the auld alliance, these two French language writers writing in Archivum Franciscanum Historicum in 1917, 1929, and 1931 were the fulcrum in turning this debate back towards Scotland, with victory to the Scots being declared in such journals as the Spectator in 1930.28
At first Callebaut and Longpré starting fishing in the shark infested waters of the whole Scotus meaning Scotsman question, expecting, I think naively, to get definitive answers to it. In particular the following reference from June 1303 was highlighted by Longpré:
Fr. Johannes Scotus Fr. Thomas Anglicus Fr. Richardus yberniensis. 29
Brother John Scotus Brother Thomas Englishman Brother Richard from Ireland [derived from Hibernia]
Notice with Scotus and Irishman together on the same list, does this show that Scotus doesnt mean Irish since that would presumably only apply to Richard?
Again traditionally, and admittedly simplistically, Scotus applied to a Gaelic Irish person, i.e. from the Gaelic Irish race moreso than the country. Hence that list probably means that John was a Gaelic Irish person, leaving Richard as Norman Irish, as indeed you can guess from his first name. Remember this is the era of the Statutes of Kilkenny when there is a big distinction between the two races in Ireland. That Scotus tended to demarcate the race more than the country we can see from lists like this one by Fr Geoffrey Keating in his mid 17th century Irish language history of Ireland, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn completed c.1634:
Many authors testify that Scota was the name of Ireland, and that it was the Irish who were called the Scotic race. Thus does Jonas the abbot, in the second chapter, treating of Columcille, speak: Colman, (he says,) who is called Colum, was born in Hibernia, which is inhabited by the Scotic race. (Columbanus qui et Columba vocatur in Hibernia ortus est; eam Scotorum gens incoluit.)
Beda also, in the first chapter of the first book of the History of Sacsa, says that Ireland was the native land of the Scots. He speaks thus: Hibernia is the true fatherland of the Scots. (Hibernia propria Scotorum patria est.)
The same author, writing about the saints, makes a remark which agrees with this. He speaks thus: It was from Hibernia, the island of the Scots, that St. Kilian and his two companions came. (Sanctus Kilianus et duo socii eius ab Hibernia Scotorum insula venerunt.)
From this it is to be inferred that the Irish were called the Scotic race in the time of Beda, who lived 700 years after Christ. Orosius also, who lived within 400 years after Christ, agrees with the same statement. He thus speaks in the second chapter of the first book: It is the Scotic races that inhabit Ireland. (Hibernia a Scotorum gentibus colitur.)
And it is plain that the country which is called Ireland used to be called by authors Scotia. Serarius, writing of St. Kilian, speaks thus: Holy Kilian of the Scotic race, etc.; and immediately after he uses these words, Scotia, which is also called Hibernia. (Beatus Kilianus Scotorum genere et relqa.)
From this it may be inferred that Scotia was a name for Ireland in constant use like Hibernia. 30
Also our two French historians tended to popularise the idea that all of this Scotus and Scotia as Irish and Ireland was a pre-1000 A.D. phenomenon only, not relevant to the time of Scotus of 1265-1308. You can see this in two modern treatments of the life of Scotus which draw on these historians, firstly you have here Charles Balic writing in John Duns Scotus 1265-1965 reissued in 2018:
...cannot be held true for the 14th century...true only up to the 9th century, since from that time on a clear distinction was made between Scotland and Ireland. 31
And Antoine Vos in his 2006 book Philosophy of John Duns Scotus:
Ireland has to be cancelled because of the thirteenth and fourteenth century meaning of Scotus and the Ireland hypothesis itself is only a seventeenth-century suggestion...at any rate before about 1000, Scotus could refer both to a Scot(man) and to an Irishman...However, in thirteenth and fourteenth century Latin Scotus only means Scottish. 32
You can see from this modern book how the 14th and 15th century references to Duns Scotus as Irish seem to be little known. At any rate it is obvious that they are relying here on the idea that all this ancient Irish as Scotus concept had died out by about the year 1000 A.D. But this is to underestimate the prevalence of Ireland as Scotia, and here are a couple of examples to prove the point. In a list of Franciscan Provinces of 1260, attributed to St Bonaventure who was the Minister General of the Order at the time, the heading of one section has, from an old codex:
The Twenty-Sixth Province of Ireland, or of Scotia,
it has five custodies [sections]
First Dublin Fourth Nenagh
Second Cashel Fifth Drogheda
Notice the absence of anything about Scotland, which, in so far as the Franciscans had arrived there yet, came under the English Province and the custody of Newcastle at the time. Obviously Scotia is considered another name for Ireland.33 Another example of the use of Scotia for Ireland around this time can be seen in the famous petition of the Irish princes to Rome in 1317, complaining about oppression from the English, at the end of which:
For know, our revered Father, that besides the kings of lesser Scotia who all drew the source of their blood from our greater Scotia, retaining to some extent our language and habits, a hundred and ninety seven kings of our blood have reigned over the whole island of Ireland. 34
Again this is not to be definitive on the subject, certainly you just cannot read so much into the word Scotus for c.1300, it could mean Irish or Scottish, I respectfully submit that it does not help you that much either way in this controversy, and therefore shouldnt have been seen as so decisive in the eyes of Callebaut and Longpré. However these two historians went further, beginning with a visit Longpré made to Scotland in 1929 during which he investigated the following curious manuscript:
Donald or Daniel (Marianus being his religious name) Brockie (1687-1755), from Edinburgh, was a monk at the Scottish Benedictine Abbey of St James in Ratisbon, or Regensburg, in Bavaria. There he prepared a volume for the press which was, apart from the title and preface, not actually printed, called Monasticum Scoticanum, now held by the Scottish Catholic Archives at Columba House, Edinburgh and was previously held at St Marys College, Blairs, Aberdeen.
In this he quotes extensively from a document, Codex Tueedianus, he says he got from James Tweedie of Canongate in Edinburgh, who was the descendant of William Tweedie, a lawyer of Haddington, who, it was said, preserved in that manuscript the Registrum Fratrum Minorum Conventualium, the Register of the Franciscan Conventuals. This Codex, with its Registrum, preserved many old charters of mendicant houses in Scotland, as described and footnoted by Brockie in his Latin manuscript book.
Then from this colourful document Brockie built up quite a picture of the early life of Duns Scotus, including: being encouraged into the Franciscans by his uncle Elias Duns, Vicar-General of the Friars Minor in Scotland; being from the illustrious Duns family of Littledean, Maxton, on the Scottish Borders and which included Church patrons like William and his brother James Duns, with also a Ninian Duns, the subtle doctors father; his early education at Haddington school; and leading in time to his ordination at Dumfries.
So while its true that originally Callebaut and Longpré were bringing in different arguments for the Scottish origin of Duns Scotus, as pointed out above, nonetheless in 1929-31 this document swung them over the line and was the primary reason why Scotland so overwhelmingly won out in this centuries old debate. The problem with this is outlined here by Fr Henry Docherty in his 1965 analysis of the Duns Scotus part of this work by Brockie:
This is surely the high water mark of Marianus Brockies catalogue of bogus charters, fictitious histories, imaginative hagiography, outright mendacity and crass effrontery. On his testimony alone has rested the Maxton-Littledean theory on the birthplace of John Duns Scotus, and not the least contribution to the seventh centenary of that event in 1965-6 according to traditional reckoning would be its timely and final erasure from the standard manuals and other works of reference. 35
Yes you heard that right, its a forgery, the Codex and Registrum were all made up. Therefore all the references to the uncle Elias of Scotus, to the Littledean connection and specific registry entries of his family, including his father and church patronage etc, all of which derive only from Brockie, were made up by him.
Yet they turn up everywhere even in modern editions of the works of Scotus.36 For example one observer, referring to a recent book by Fr Stefano M. Manelli, Blessed John Duns Scotus: Marian Doctor (New Bedford, 2011), has noted:
Unfortunately this volume relies on the Brockie forgeries. Which is odd, because these were exploded over fifty years ago...The information that comes from the forgeries is that Scotus had an uncle named Elias, his father was named Ninian and was a wealthy landowner. These facts are also found in just about every internet biography of Scotus, as I am reminded every Nov. 8 when all the saint of the day blogs post this erroneous info. It was also present in the Duns Scotus movie, which was produced by the same Franciscan group. 37
Its very strange too that many of the authoritative modern lives of Scotus do mention this forgery, but usually in the footnotes while still using the information in the main text. The aforementioned Vos for example, in a reference which could only come from Brockie refers to:
the gentry family of Duns in the South of Scotland, who supported the Franciscan movement on both the personal and the practical and financial levels....Father Ninian Duns...According to Longpré, in 1278 John Duns attended a primary school at Haddington in Berwickshire...After some mediation from his uncle Eliass side, we meet young John in the Franciscan friary of Dumfries...In the 1270s, Elias Duns played an important role in the Franciscan movement of North England and South Scotland. 38
Also in the Charles Balic chapter of a recently reissued life of Scotus mentioned above:
In fact, we know that between 1278 and 1279 Father Elias Duns, the Subtle Doctors uncle brought his nephew to the friary at Dumfries.
This then is footnoted with a paragraph of Latin from the infamous Registrum, which, a few pages before, in the footnotes, referring to discussions he had with Docherty, he acknowledges was a forgery or close to it. Actually Balic draws on this source extensively in the main text, brings forward the whole Brockie thesis, while there, in the main text as opposed to the footnotes, acknowledging only some minor problems with it.39
So the point is what are we really left with as proof of the Scottish claim, which, since 1929-31, is everywhere in academia reckoned the true story of the birth of Scotus? What can we see remaining when stripped of the Brockie forgeries? We are left with: (a) John Maior of 1521 as noted above, (b) seeking certitude again in the whole rigmarole of Scotus as a Latin word for Scotsman, and (c) the supposed traditions of Scotus being born in Duns in the Scottish Borders.
Balic for example makes great play of this (an immemorial tradition...the traditional view which goes back to time immemorial) 40 and gives two quotes, the first from 1792. It is by the Rev Dr Robert Bowmaker describing the Parish of Dunse (County of Berwick) which he was the Minister of, in John Sinclairs Statistical Account of Scotland:
Learned Men The celebrated metaphysician and theologist, John Duns Scotus, was born in Dunse in 1274. Camden, in his Britannia, and the authors of the Biographia Britannica contend that he was born at Dunstone in Northumberland, but bring no argument, but their bare assertion to support it. Nothing is more certain, than that the family, of which this extraordinary man was a branch, were heritors of the parish of Dunse, and continued to be proprietors of that estate which now belongs to Mr Christie, till after the beginning of the present century, called from them in all ancient writings Dunss half of Grueldykes. These lands are adjoining to the town of Dunse. The father of John Duns Scotus had been a younger brother of the family of Grueldykes, and resided in the town of Dunse. The site of the house where he was born is still well known, and has been in use, generation after generation, to be pointed out to the young people by their parents, as the birth place of so great and learned a man. 41
And in the footnotes he lists another entry from the late 19th century:
According to tradition, which in this instance has a good deal to support it, the famous schoolman, John Duns Scotus, belonged to this family, and was born in Duns about the year 1265. The site of the house where he is said to have first seen the light, is still pointed out on the south-west slope of the Lawn, a few yards from the Pavillion Lodge leading to the Castle. 42
The strong tradition in Ireland that Scotus was Irish
But if we can argue on just tradition, maybe it might be possible to show that the Irish references to same are much older than those of Scotland, and more authoritative.
1577 Its interesting when that great Elizabethan guidebook, and famous source of Shakespeares, Holinsheds Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, was published in this year the only part where Scotus is claimed is in the Irish entries, by the learned Richard Stanihurst, who asserts:
As the famous schoolman Johannes Duns Scotus, otherwise named Doctor subtilis, for his subtle quiddities in scholastical controversies, was an Irish man born, and yet is taken for a Scot. Some hold opinion that he was born in Thathmon [Taghmon], a market town five miles distant from Wexford. Others avouch, and that more truly, that he was born in Down, an old ancient city in the north of Ireland, and thereof they guess him to be named Dunenis, and by contraction Duns, which term is so trivial and common in all schools, that who so surpasseth others either in cavilling sophistry, or subtle philosophy, is forthwith nicknamed a Duns. 43
This is a man with a European wide reputation for his learning, and since he knew of the references that showed the Scottish and English claims on Scotus, and yet was still adamant he was Irish, it shows I think the strength of the Irish tradition.
1570s/1580s Fr Hugh MacCaughwell O.F.M. (sometimes spelt MacCaghwell, and he is also Hugues Cavellus in Latin and Aodh Mac Aingil in Irish), appointed Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland in 1626, was very interested in, and did much work to popularise, the writings of Duns Scotus. It is usually stated that the reason for this was at least partly because of the pride in Duns Scotus around Down where MacCaughwell grew up during those years. In fact MacCaughwell could even remember an old Irish poem floating around the area that he felt served to prove the Irish roots of Duns Scotus:
Cia an doċtúir is mór iúl
le ndíontar clú Máṫar Dé?
aingeal glórṁar, deaṁan súd,
no isé Scotus ó Ḋún é!
Who is the doctor with more knowledge
of the protection of the honour of the Mother of God?
An angel from the sky or a demon from the underworld,
No it is Scotus from Down! 44
1617 In fact most of the Irish historians of the 17th century talked about the universal tradition about Scotus in Ireland, and in Downpatrick in particular. This includes the Corkman John Punch talking about the tradition most universal of the Irish,45 and Wadding who thinks its a conspiracy theory too far to claim that the whole of Ireland could be making this up.46 But probably the most persuasive of these references comes from the pen of Fr Donagh Mooney O.F.M. As the head of the Franciscans in Ireland he did an on the spot visitation of all their houses and wrote up a report on this, presumably from notes he took at the time, when he returned to Louvain in 1617-18. His account was actually quite colourful, being pursued by government agents and escaping from their clutches etc, as you can appreciate for an Irish cleric trying to survive in early 17th century Ireland.47 In any case this is what he wrote when he went to the Franciscan house in Downpatrick:
It is the constant tradition among the people here that the Subtle Doctor, John Duns Scotus, was born in this city and professed in this convent. They go so far as to point out to you, even to this day, the place in which his parents lived and where he first saw the light. If we give credit to the belief handed down from past times among these simple and unlettered people our doctor was called Scotus because born in Ireland, which was formerly known by the name of Scotia. That part of Britain, or Albion, now called Scotland, received the name of Scotia minor at a later period, when a number of the Irish passed over into that country and conquered it, where indeed their descendants remain to this day. Duns, they say, is an abbreviated form of Dunensis. John Duns Scotus, therefore, means John of Down in Ireland. 48
As an aside there was also a little controversy about a passing phrase in a work that had been attributed to Scotus:
...but in the definition of St Francis or St Patrick... 49
Of course its very interesting that this writer would absent mindedly draw on St Francis and St Patrick as examples, the sort of reference which would come as second nature to an Irish Franciscan? It is generally felt now that this was written by Antonius, a Spanish acquaintance of Scotus who seems to have attempted to attribute a work adapted by him from Aquinas, to Scotus. Its interesting that modern scholarship does seem to somewhat agree now with the significance that the 17th century Irish historians attributed to it:
A closer look at the reference to Patrick shows that it is sandwiched between material sourced directly from Aquinas commentary, book 7 lect. 4. n. 14, and so is clearly an addition by Antonius. As MacCaghwell points out below, Antonius was Spanish, and thus should have used the name of St. James in the example. Why then did Antonius mention St. Patrick? One possibility is that, given Antonius was attributing the work to Scotus, he wanted an appropriate example, and given that he had a brief, possibly personal connection with Scotus at the University of Paris, and knew that Scotus was Irish, used the Irish patron saint as an example. 50
To sum up then we have three important 14th and 15th century references to the Irish origin of Scotus. The elegy on his death in 1308 comes to us admittedly in a very roundabout fashion, from a copy of passages in a book, by a very obscure author, since lost, which quotes from manuscripts, also probably lost, in a library long since dissipated. Nonetheless it does seem likely that the book exists/ed and something like that is in it (particularly because it is mentioned independently in OCaseys dictionary and the Chilean bishops book on Scotus). With Stephen Whites if it originated with him, which seems likely European wide reputation for his ability to ferret out old Irish manuscripts from European libraries (even the Austrian historian Matthew Radar (1561-1634) referred to him as polyhistor, which is Greek for very learned) it is eminently possible that he found such a poem, and that he would make no error as to its date, i.e. by a contemporary of Scotus, or significance.51
The disinterested librarian cataloguing the Assisi books in 1381 is also of course a very persuasive source. It has been noted for example that the cataloguer probably just copied down whatever details were on the title pages of these manuscript books in the library or from an older catalogue, hence this reference is quite likely to be much older in reality than 1381.
Finally when the Archbishop of Tuam refers to Scotus as his countryman in 1497 he does so long before it ever became an issue and hence it must have some significance. Also the tradition references from such as Stanihurst, MacCaughwell and Mooney, not to mention Wadding etc, are very definitive and from very reliable reputable people, and as such are again very persuasive.
In short I cannot see how the Scottish, or English, references compare to these at all, I think in this centuries long three nation contention of the historians, the Irish clearly emerge triumphant!
1. Explicit lectura doctoris subtilis in universitate Parisiensi super primum librum sentenciarum scilicet doctoris Iohannis Duns nati in quadam uillicula parochie de Emyldoun vocata Dunstane in comitatu Northumbrie pertinentis domui scolarium de Mertounhalle in Oxonia et quondam socii dicte domus.
(Merton College Ms.59, https://medieval.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/catalog/manuscript_10157 .)
2. Merton College Ms.61, at the end of the first part:
Explicit lectura doctoris subtilis in uniuersitate Oxoniensi super secundum librum sententiarum scilicet doctoris Iohannis Duns nati in quadam uillicula parochie de Emyldoun uocata Dunstane in comitatu Northumbrie pertinentis domui scolarium de Mertonhalle in Oxonia et quondam socii dicte domus.
The second part:
Explicit lectura doctoris subtilis in uniuersitate Parisiensi super secundum librum sentenciarum scilicet doctoris Iohannis Duns nati in quadam uillicula parochie de Emyldoun uocata Dunstane in Comitatu Northumbrie pertinente domui scolarium de Mertounhalle in Oxonia et quondam socii dicte domus.
( https://medieval.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/catalog/manuscript_10159 .)
3. Fr John Punch, Commentarii Theologici quibus John Duns Scoti (Paris 1661), which incorporates his book Scotus Hiberniae restitutus, p.10.
4. The 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia entry: https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05194a.htm , and John Edwards, Duns Scotus: His life and times, in Proceedings of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow (Glasgow, 1905), vol xxxvi (1904-5), available at: http://www.logicmuseum.com/wiki/Duns_Scotus:_his_Life_and_Times_(John_Edwards) .
5. Hastings Rashdall, The Universities of Europe (Oxford, 1895) vol ii pt 2, p.531.
6. ...Joannes Duns doctor subtilis Scotus Britannus, de vico Duns octo mille passibus ab Anglia distante, et a me septem aut octo leucis, ortus. Hunc puellum in grammaticis initiatum ad Oxoniam duo fratres Minores Scoti duxerunt, quia tempore illo in Scotia nulla erat Universitas...
(Joannem Majorem, Historia Majoris Britanniae: tam Angliae quam Scotiae (Edinburgh, 1740, based on the edition of Paris, 1521), p.170, translation from: John Major, trans by Archibald Constable, A History of Greater Britain, as well England as Scotland (Edinburgh, 1892), p.206.)
7. John Maior, trans by Archibald Constable, A History of Greater Britain, as well England as Scotland (Edinburgh, 1892), p.cxxxv.
8. Ibid p.100.
9. Ibid p.101-102.
10. The testimonies out of the Library of the Whites in the town of Clonmel, agree also with the tradition of the holy Scotus among the Irish, still vigorous after 300 years; where among other muniments, which, having been hidden, have thus far been saved among the eruptions of the heretics, of which the Epitaph of Scotus, under the title Blessed, having been produced by Brother Dermot Scotus, Irishman, contemporary and relative of the Subtle Doctor, stands out; which I produce here out of the Apologetic vindication of Master William OCasey, Irishman, perpetual Vicar of the Town of Clonmel. Which Apology (where it is asserted by several men of conspicuous sanctity and learning) existing with the to be attached prologue with the decree of approbation of the Ordinaries [bishops]; with also the most erudite men consenting [as censors of the book], Brother Angel Manrique, at one time General of the Cistercians throughout Spain, on the Council of the Catholic Majesty Philip IV, and governor of the chair of the distinguished theologians near Salamanca; and Doctor John Gonzalez, Rector of the chair of the likewise distinguished theologians near Alcala; where the following epitaph, and a eulogy of the merits of Scotus, is outlined: this transcription, sourced by the means of a pious and learned man who in his kindness made a copy for me, I recite this from the prelude, to prepare you and to be forewarned and that you may be grateful for this precursor of the other Apologies for Ireland in the vindication.
The epitaph of Brother Dermot Scotus Irishman, on the death of Blessed Fr John Scotus, of the same consanguinity as him, already dead, where in this way he introduces this utterance:
The city of Down gave birth to me, happy Ulster holds this city.
Fruit of the soil of this ennobled land.
Illustrious was his father, and his mother a noblewoman,
From both he came from old nobility.
At a tender age he accepted the order of the Seraphic Father:
A perfect example of a religious.
I have entered the secret of that thundering sublime sound;
A thing so great overcoming my nature.
See I die a youth! the world honours this dying [man];
But yet the sad parent Ireland lies in tears.
Which epitaph, and muniments by the Irish of great antiquity, having been ascribed on Scotus, I transcribe willingly, not something done so that the Irish may be able to boast it, which I may disregard; nor indeed because I anticipate to provoke many pious men who are fighting strongly for the faith and the Church, rather I desire to exhibit this before all, as my duty. From which, the whole having been assessed concerning the native land of Scotus, I discern nothing, awaiting the judgement of others; who, it may be rational to think, might consider to enquire from the foregoing, and the evidences of Ferchius [The Croatian Franciscan Matthew Ferchi (1583-1669), who felt Scotus came from Ireland, Briceno describes this in the next paragraph.]
Accedit etiam pro fama sanctitatis Scoti apud Hibernos a trecentis annis vigente, id testimonii ex Bibliotheca Vitorum, in Oppido Clonmeliae; ubi inter alia monumenta, quae adhuc inter irruptiones haereticorum sarta tecta seruantur, eminet Epitaphium Scoti sub titulo Beati editum a F. Dermicio Scoto Hiberno Subtilis Doctoris coaetaneo et consanguineo; quod deprompsi ex vindicationibus Apologeticis Magistri Gulielmi Ocahasae, Hiberni, Vicarii perpetui Oppidi Clonmeliensis. Quae Apologia (ubi plures viros sanctitate et doctrina insignes suae Hiberniae asserit) iussu Ordinariorum approbata, praelo committenda extat; censentibus eruditissimis viris F. Angelo Manrique, quondam Ordinis Cisterciensis per Hispaniam Generali, Catholicae Maiestatis Philippi Quarti a concionibus, et Primariae Theologorum Cathedrae apud Salmanticenses moderatore; et Doctore Ioanne Gonzalez, Primarie etiam Theologorum Cathedre apud Complutenses Rectore; ubi sequens Epitaphium, et meritorum Scoti panditur elogoium: illud transcripsi Matriti, quare pii et docti viri, qui egregio candore eius mihi copiam fecit, volui vel sie praecursor[abbreviation]e agere, et caeterarum eiusdem Apologiae pro Hibernis vindicationum, id quasi praeludii specimen apparare, et praemitttere.
Epitaphium F. Dermicii Scoti Hiberni, in obitus Beati P. Ioannis Scoti consanguinei sui iam mortui; vbi cum hoc modo loquentem introducit.
Me dedit Urbs Dunum, tenet hanc Ultonia faelix.
Fructifero tellus nobilitata solo.
Clarus erat genitor, genetrix patricia, utrique
Venit ab antiqua nobilitate genus.
Seraphicique Patris tenerum susceperat ordo:
Perfecta exemplum religionis eram.
Secreta Altisoni penetravi arcana Tonantis;
Tanta erat ingenio res superata meo.
En morior iuvenis! morientem mundus adorat;
Ast iacet in lachrymis maesta Iuverna parens.
Quod Epitaphium et magnae antiquitatis monumentu Hibernis Scotum adscribens, transcribo lubens, ne quid, quod e Hibernorum gloria esse queat, omiserim; nec enim tot pios viros pro fide et Ecclesia fortiter decertantes lacessere praesumo, quibus in omnibus officiosum me exhibere studeo. Unde cunctis perpensis, circa Scoti patriam nil decerno, aliorum iudicium expectans; qui ex praemissis, et ex Ferchii probationibus, quid rationabilius aestimandum sit expiscari conentur.
(The Chilean bishop and passionate Scotist, Alonso de Briceno OFM (1587-1668), Prima pars celebriorum controversiarum in primum sententiarum Ionnis Scoti (Rome, 1642) vol i, p.145, expanded abbreviations in italics.)
It is also mentioned by Jose Ximenez Samaniego, Vida del V P Juan Dunsio Escoto (Madrid, 1668, republished Madrid, 1867), p.210 and Fr Anthony Bruodin, Armamentarium Theologicum ad mentem Doctoris Subtilis (Prague, 1676), S.1. of De Scoti Vita, while Fr John Punch, Commentarii Theologici quibus John Duns Scoti (Paris 1661, which incorporates his book Scotus Hiberniae restitutus), p.21, answers critics of this epitaph, who had claimed that the library was mysteriously not there anymore, nor could the Irish historians find more about it when they had extensive contacts in Ireland, by stating that with the disturbed state of the country in the 1640s and 50s, and the destruction of Clonmel by Cromwell, this was not possible. Most of the other references seem to derive from Briceno though, neither Punch, nor Bruodin seems to have seen OCaseys book. However Jose Ximenez Samaniego has dates for both OCasey books, 1645 for the dictionary and 1638 for what he calls Vindicationis Apologeticae, and these dates are not in Briceno so presumably he saw the actual book?
William OCahasa, an Irishman, Perpetual Vicar of Clonmel, a learned man, [wrote]
The Dictionary of Anthony Nebrisensis, enriched with supplements according to the Madrid edition of 1635.
He wrote also a work entitled
An Apologetic Vindication of the Subtle Doctor.
This was approved of in 1638 for publication, according to Samaniego in his Life of the Subtle Doctor, Bk.4, c.9 (John á S.Antonio).
(William P Burke, History of Clonmel (Waterford, 1907), p.275.
Gulielmus Ocahasa, Hybernus, Vicarius perpetuus Clonmelianensis, Vir eruditus, addictionibus locupletavit:
Dictionarium Antonii Nebrisensis, juxta editionem factam Matriti anno 1635. Praelo insuper maturam habebat, et approbationibus fulcitum anno 1638. volumen inscriptum:
Vindicationes Apologetica Doctoris Subtilis. Testatur Illustris. Sameniego in suo de Vita Doctoris Subtilis, lib.4.cap.9.
(Juan de San Antonio, Bibliotheca Universa Franciscana (Madrid, 1732, while Burke used the edition: Geneva, 1691), p.45.))
As regards the dictionary that he was the editor of, or at least adding some entries to a republication of an earlier work, see Dictionarium Aelii Antonii Nebrissensis (Lyons, 1655), where he often refers to his own Vindicattione book and you can also see an elaborate entry under Clonmel, p.458. Under Dun, p.459, a town in Ulster in Ireland, he says: Dunsum, hinc hortus Ioannes Dunensis Scotus, Doctor subtilis, Ocahasa vind.2.cap.1.membr.3.
An edition of this book from Madrid, 1792 (p.623) drops the references to OCaseys book and slightly corrects the Latin, although still for a city in Ulster in Ireland:
Duns, or Dus, ii. born here John of Duns Scotus, the Subtle Doctor.
Dunsum, vel Dusium, ii. Hinc ortus Joannes Dunensis Scotus, Doctor Subtilis.
11. Opus super quatuor libros sententiarum. magistri fratris iohannis scoti. qui et doctor subtilis nuncupatur. de provincia ybernie
(Leto Alessandri, Inventario dellantica biblioteca del S. Convento di S. Francesco in Assisi, compilato nel 1381 (Assisi, 1906), p.20.)
12. conterraneus meus
(Maurice OFihely OFM, Questiones subtilissme Scoti in metaphysicam Aristotelis (Venice, 1497).)
13. Assertor meus est presentis gloria secli,
Mauritius consors ingenii, et Patrie.
14. Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri calumnias (c.1613) as published by Matthew Kelly (Dublin, 1849), p.165.
15. Hibernia Resurgens (Rouen, 1621).
16. Tractatuli duo quorum unus usum statutorum (Paris, 1622), p.50.
17. Patritiana Decas (Madrid, 1629), p.137.
18. Synopsis (Louvain, 1633) who elaborates a little on the Downpatrick traditions, see Mervyn Archdall, Monasticon Hibernicum (Dublin, 1876) vol ii, p.263 and E.B.F., Irish Franciscans and the Immaculate Conception, in the Drogheda Independent 11/2/1905, p.2.
19. Vita Ioannis Duns Scoti (Montibus, 1644), p.3-10.
20. Lyra seu Anacephalaeosis Hibernica (Vienna, 1650), p.190.
21. Tractatus de Joannis Scoti Vita et Patria (Antwerp, 1655).
22. Scotus Hiberniae restitutus (Paris 1660).
23. Scotus Defensus et Amplificatus de Deo Trino (Lyons, 1668) vol i S.VI., p.xix.
24. Armamentarium Theologicum ad mentem Doctoris Subtilis (Prague, 1676), S.1. of De Scoti Vita.
25. Tuus est, O Hibernia, Scotus, qui in te principium accepit, tuos cives parentes habuit, tuum solum Patriam agnoscit...Glorietur Hibernia de alumno...
(Nicolaus Vernulaeus, Orationum sacrarum volumen in festa deiparae virginis & aliquorum divorum (Louvain, 1630), p.469.)
26. Natione Hibernum fuisse
(Arthur de Monsteir, Martyrologium Franciscanum (Paris, 1653), p.546.
27. Jose Ximenez Samaniego, Vida del V P Juan Dunsio Escoto (Madrid, 1668, republished Madrid, 1867), p.35.
28. The Spectator 4/10/1930, p.8.
; and it was chiefly due to these scholars that the arguments in favour of Scotland as the birthplace of Scotus were generally accepted in Europe where Irish claims had found an influential champion in Fr Luke Wadding, the renowned Franciscan annalist.
(Fr Henry Docherty, S.T.L., The Brockie Forgeries, published in the Innes Review vol xvi(1), 1 Jan 1965, p.79. Although Docherty does say that the two historians, Callebaut and Longpré, thought Scotus came from Scotland before seeing the Brockie Forgeries.)
29. Antonie Vos, Philosophy of John Duns Scotus (Edinburgh, 2006), p.22. Although I think all of these three figures are priests, I am assuming that if Fr. is in the original that it means Frater, brother.
30. Fr Geoffrey Keating, Foros Feasa ar Éirinn [Foundation of Knowledge on Ireland](Knockgraffan, near Cahir, c.1634), https://celt.ucc.ie//published/T100054/text058.html .
31. John K Ryan and Bernadine M Bonansea edits., John Duns Scotus 1265-1965 (Washington DC, 1965, reissued 2018), in chapter 1, The Life and Works of John Duns Scotus, by Charles Balic, p.3.
32. Antonie Vos, Philosophy of John Duns Scotus (Edinburgh, 2006), p.21-22.
33. Vigesimasexta Provincia Hiberniae, sive Scotiae
Habebat Custodias Quinque.
Primam Dublinensem Quartam Venatensem
Secundam Cassellensem Quintam Pontensem
(Fr Luke Wadding, Annales Minorum (Rome, 1732) vol iv, under 1260, p.133. See also Fr Luke Wadding, Vita Ioannis Duns Scoti (Montibus, 1644), p.9.)
34. Sciat eciam paternitas vestra reverenda, quod, praeter reges Minoris Scociae, qui omnes de nostra Majori Scocia sanguinis originem sumpserunt, linguam nostram et condiciones quodammodod retinentes, reges de sanguine nostro centum nonaginta septem in tota Hiberniae insula regnaverunt etc.
(Johannes de Fordun, Scotichronicon Genuinum: Una cum ejusdem Supplemento ac Continuatione (Oxford, 1722) vol iii, p.926, and the translation from: https://celt.ucc.ie/published/T310000-001.html .)
35. Fr Henry Docherty, S.T.L., The Brockie Forgeries, published in the Innes Review vol xvi(1), 1 Jan 1965, p.121.
36. As well as those mentioned in the main text, Étienne Gilson, Dr James Colbert trans., John Duns Scotus: Introduction to His Fundamental Positions (London, 2018), p.525, goes with the Maxton, County Roxburgh story, which is based on the Brockie Manuscripts.
37. http://lyfaber.blogspot.com/2012/08/duns-scotus-and-brockie-forgeries.html .
38. Antonie Vos, Philosophy of John Duns Scotus (Edinburgh, 2006), p.17-19. He mentions the forgeries in footnote 11 on page 19.
39. John K Ryan and Bernadine M Bonansea edits., John Duns Scotus 1265-1965 (Washington DC, 1965, reissued 2018), in chapter 1, The Life and Works of John Duns Scotus, by Charles Balic, p.8. He mentions the misgivings about the Brockie manuscripts at length on page 6 footnote 19.
40. John K Ryan and Bernadine M Bonansea edits., John Duns Scotus 1265-1965 (Washington DC, 1965, reissued 2018), in chapter 1, The Life and Works of John Duns Scotus, by Charles Balic, p.5-7.
41. John Sinclair, The Statistical Account of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1792) vol iv no.51, p.390.
While respecting greatly the Statistical Account as a valuable record for Scotland, I think its historical views, in terms of it being careful or authoritative, could be questioned sometimes. For example this is under the other Duns Scotus, Eriugena, who all recognise as Irish and whose cognomen derives from the old Irish word for Ireland, Eriu, combined with a derivation of the Latin word for birth, genus, hence of Ireland:
Learned Men History has recorded but few men, natives of this place, who were distinguished in the republic of letters. Only in the 9th century it produced the famous John Scot, sirnamed Erigens, or born in Ayr, to distinguish him from a former born at Melrose, and from another born in the 13th century in the town of Dunse. Erigena is said to have excelled all the men of his time, in the knowledge of languages and philosophy, as also in acuteness of judgment,
readiness of wit, and fluency of elocution. He studied at Athens, lived in great favour with Charles the Bald of France, and wrote many books upon different points of philosophy and theology, of which some remain at this day.
(John Sinclair, The Statistical Account of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1799), vol xxi, general appendix to the Statistical account, no.12, A second account of the parish of Ayr received from Dr McGill in 1791, p.47.)
42. John Ferguson, Duns, printed in the Berwickshire Naturalist Club Transactions, xiv, 1892-3, p.63.
43. Iohannes Duns Scotus an Irishman born, as in the forefront of this treatise I have declared. Howbeit Iohannes Maior a Scottish chronicler would faine prove him to be a Scot. Leland on the other side saith he was born in England. So that there shall as great contention rise of him, as in old time there rose of Homers country. For the Colophonians said that Homer was born in their city; the Chyans claimed him to be theirs, the Salaminians advouched that he was their countryman: but the Smirnians were so stiffly bent in proving him to be born in their territory, as they would at no hand take no nay in the matter, and thereupon they did consecrate a church to the name of Homer. But what countryman soever this Scotus were, he was doubtless a subtle and profound clerk. The only fault wherewith he was dusked [sic], was a little spice of vainglory, being given to carpe and taunt his predecessor divines, rather for blemishing the fame of his adversaries than for advancing the truth of the controversies. Whereupon great factions are grown in the schools between the Thomists and Scotists; Thomas being the ringleader of the one sect, and Scotus the bellwether of the other. He was fellow of Merton college in Oxford, and from thence he was sent for to Paris to be a professor of divinity. Finally, he repaired unto Cullen [Cologne], where in an abbey of grey friars (of which profession he was one) he ended his life. The books he wrote are these:
Commentarii Oxonienses lib.4.
Reportationes Parisieases lib.4.
Quodlibeta scholastica lib.1.
In Analytica posteriora lib.2.
In metaphysicam quaestiones lib.12.
De cognitione Dei lib.1.
De perfectione statuum lib.1.
Sermones de tempore lib.1.
Sermones de Sanctis lib.1.
Collationes Parisienses lib.1.
Lectura in Genesim lib.1.
De rerum principio lib.1.
Commentarii in evangelia lib.4.
In epistolas Pauli lib.plures.
Quaestiones universalium lib.1.
Quaestiones praedicamentorum lib.1.
In Aristotelis physica lib.8.
In categorias Aristotelis lib.1.
Tetragrammata quaedam lib.1.
Commentariorum imperfectorum lib.1.
(Holinsheds Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (London, 1808, based on the 1587 edition, which in this instance is the same as the 1577 one), vol vi, p.59, quote on main page from page 2.)
44. Thomas ORahilly, Dánfhocail, Irish epigrams in verse (Dublin, 1921), p.44 and 91., no.212, as well as the book the poem is also found in RIA 23-F-16 and 23-L-34. It is from the introduction to MacCaughwells book on the life of Duns Scotus. See also Richard Sharpe and Michael Hoyne, Clóliosta, Printing in the Irish language 1571 to 1871 (Dublin, 2020), draft, under 1620, who print MacCaughwells Latin translation (or maybe this is from Philip OSullivan Beare (Patritiana Decas (Madrid, 1629), p.137) who repeats the poem without saying where he got it), as:
Quis modo Christiparae Doctor propugnat honorem,
Ingenio promens dogmata firma pio?
Angelus e coelo, daemonve tuetur ab orco,
Vel patria Duno Scotus ab urbe sua.
ORahilly, in the glossary, has eól or eólas for iúl in the poem. Also its clear that MacCaughwell interprets no in the last line as similar to nó, the Irish for or, but if a slight Englishism is to be permitted and it is interpreted as no then the poem reads more logically, as above? It is clearly not very ancient Irish.
45. ...traditio communissima Hibernorum...
(Fr John Punch, Commentarii Theologici quibus John Duns Scoti (Paris 1661, which incorporates his book Scotus Hiberniae restitutus), p.38 par 98.)
46. Add to that the tradition of the people of Down, who resent indignantly if anything is to be permitted to persuade them to the contrary. Indeed [you would need] to add a conspiracy of the whole realm, and the universe of the native Irish, for such a teaching about Scotus:...
Adnecte deinde traditionem populi Dunensis, indigne ferentis, fi quis sibi persuaderi permittat contrarium. Adde etiam conspirarionem totius regni, et innatam universis Hibernis, ad Scoti dogmata propensionem: [the sketch translation only up to here] neque enim Franciscanis dumtaxat, et Professis doctrine asseclis, verum et omnis instituti viris (solos illos excipias, qui iurarunt in D. Thomae doctrinam) inditum hunc Scoticae subtilitatis conspicies affectum, et desiderium ingens, praeferendi gentilis sui dogmata, quibuscumque doctrinis externis. Demum coronidis loco cam produco rationem, convenire patriae, qua prescibimus, cognomen Duns, et agnomen Scoti, ut illud a civitate, vel oppido nativo hoc a regno, vel familia deducatur.
(Fr Luke Wadding OFM, Vita Ionnis Duns Scoti (Montibus, 1644), p.8-9.)
47. See for example his account of Multyfarnham in Brian Nugent, An Creideamh: A Chronological Anthology of Traditional Catholic Writing (Oldcastle, 2009), p.223-233.
48. Constans opinio populi ibi est Doctorem Subtilem in illa civitate natum fuisse, et in illo conventu professum, imo et ostenduntur hodie loca in quibus parentes ejus habitarunt, eum genuerunt, si vera sunt quae simplex vulgus traditione tenet. Dicitur Scotus ex eo quod tota Hybernia antiquitus vocabatur Scotia; ilia vero quae nunc dicitur Scotia, pars est Brittaniae seu Albionis, et cepit tantum vocari Scotia minor quando ex Hybernia aliqui illuc se contulerunt, et illam partem Brittaniae sibi subdiderunt, quam et usque nunc possident. Dicitur Joannes Duns per abbreviationem, scripto nomine Duns ut idem significet atque Dunensis, atque ita perinde est dicere Joannes Duns Scotus, atque Joannes Dunensis Hybernus.
(Donatus Moneyus, De Provincia Hiberniae S. Francisci, finished in Louvain in 1617-8 and first published in Analecta Hibernica no.6., from Brussels Ms 3947, p.37. Translation from E.B.F., Irish Franciscans and the Immaculate Conception, in the Drogheda Independent 11/2/1905, p.2.)
This tradition can be seen throughout the years:
Under the Downpatrick entry in this voluminous geographic almanac:
The celebrated Duns Scotus was born here in 1274: he was educated at Oxford...his works are very numerous.
(Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (London, 1840) vol i, p.495.)
John Duns Scotus, born at Downpatrick, though claimed by Scotch writers as their countryman, was educated at Oxford, and became a Franciscan friar.
(In an article describing the robbery of our national heroes by other nations:
Robbery of Ireland-Our Saints and Sages by Mac [I think this is Martin MacDermott 1823-1905] in Cavan, Nation 10/12/1842, p.12.)
The celebrated divine and writer, Duns Scotus, was born at Downpatrick in 1274.
(William McComb, Guide to Belfast (Belfast, 1861), p.150.)
M J Brenan states in his Ecclesiastical History of Ireland that earlier Irish historians have strenuously maintained and unquestionably proved that John Duns Scotus was an Irishman...
(Rev M. J. Brenan, Ecclesiastical History of Ireland (Dublin, 1864), p.354.)
In the 1880s when the Irish Ecclesiastical Record did its series on Irish theologians, of course John Duns Scotus of Downpatrick featured prominently, which was ended with:
At all events Ireland has good reason to be proud of her son; and we hope that the day will never come when the name of Duns Scotus will be forgotten in the halls of the Alma Mater of the Irish priesthood [Maynooth].
(Irish Ecclesiastical Record vol ii, Jan 1881, p.161.)
Duns Scotus, called the subtle doctor, was born at Downpatrick in 1274.
(George Henry Bassett, County Down 100 years ago: A guide and directory 1886 (Belfast, 1988), p.200.)
Fr George ONeill S.J. gave a talk, disposing of the English and Scottish claims and establishing the overwhelming case for Ireland, to the National Literary Society in Stephens Green at 8pm 12th of March 1900.
(Evening Herald 13/3/1900, p.4. His paper was published in the New Ireland Review, May, 1900.)
Scotus of Downpatrick was the first champion of this glory of Gods Lady...
(Drogheda Independent 11/2/1905, p.2.)
The celebrated James Joyce:
It would be easy to make a list of the Irishmen who carried the torch of knowledge from country, to country as pilgrims and hermits, as scholars and wisemen...In truth, it would take the learning and patience of a leisurely Bollandist to relate the acts of these saints and sages. We at least remember the notorious opponent of St. Thomas, John Duns Scotus (called the Subtle Doctor to distinguish him from St. Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, and from Bonaventura, the Seraphic Doctor) who was the militant champion of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and, as the chronicles of that period tell us, an unbeatable dialectician. It seems undeniable that Ireland at that time was an immense seminary, where scholars gathered from the different countries of Europe, so great was its renown for mastery of spiritual matters
(Irlanda, Isola dei Santi e dei Savi, lecture of 27 April 1907, http://www.ricorso.net/rx/library/authors/classic/Joyce_J/Criticism/Saints_S.htm .)
Rev Alfred DAlton, History of Ireland (London, 1910), vol iv, p.509., says new information puts it beyond doubt that Scotus was Irish, referring in the footnote to: Rev George ONeill FRUI, in New Ireland Review, May, 1900.
The famous Irish labour leader and 1916 Rising hero, James Connolly:
Here let us say that no Socialist claims for Marx the discovery or original formulation of the doctrine of the materialistic conception of history indeed, the brilliant Irish scholastic, Duns Scotus, taught it in the Middle Ages;
(James Connolly, Labour, Nationality and Religion (New York, 1918, but first written in Dublin in 1910), p.14, https://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1910/lnr/01.htm .)
At Downpatrick, the great scholar Duns Scotus was born, and there Saint Malachy ruled as bishop in the twelfth century.
(Excursions in Down and Armagh by Nessa Lyne, Irish Press 14/7/1951, p.6.)
...burial place of John Duns Scotus, the Co. Down Franciscan.
(Irish Independent 13/5/1961, p.11.)
Also it has even been used as a pseudonym over the years for newspaper letter writers from Downpatrick, like in the Nation 27/2/1847, p.10: Scotus (Downpatrick), and the Belfast Telegraph 6/9/1994, p.12: Scotus Hibernus, Downpatrick.
49. ...sicut in definitione S. Francisci, vel S. Patritii...
(Fr Luke Wadding OFM, Vita Ionnis Duns Scoti (Montibus, 1644), p.8.)
50. http://www.logicmuseum.com/wiki/MacCaghwell%27s_judgment .
51. Stephen White, Irish gent, Soc. N. Theology, and at the same time very learned.
Stephanus Vitus gente Ibernus Soc. N. Theologus et simul polyhistor.
(Matthew Radar, Bavaria Sancta (Munich, 1627) vol iii, p.74.)
Colgan called him a:
most zealous investigator of the antiquities of his native land.
patriarum antiquitatum zelossimus investigator
(John Colgan, Triadis Thaumaturgae, seu Divorum Patricci Columbae et Brigidae (Louvain, 1647), p.29 B.)
Charles Bindon, referring to Whites Apologia, remarks:
As for its contents as a valuable historical document, the writer has merely to mention that he has never seen a work upon Ireland, from which information appears to have been drawn from so many or such high authorities: one need only look at a single page of it, when he will at once perceive the immense amount of learning with which the author was gifted, and the facility of arrangement with which he has used it.
(Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy vol iii first series, p.495.)
Fr Stephen White certainly did agree that Duns Scotus came from Downpatrick, as can be seen in a parenthesis to the town of Downpatrick in Ulster in the abovementioned work:
This was the city of the birth of the well known foremost scholastic, and man of the Franciscan family in religion, who they call John Duns, cognomen the Subtle Doctor, notable in the schools of theology under the name Scotus.
Haec fuit urbs natalis illius Scotistarum principis, et Franciscanae familiae religiosi hominis, quem vocant Joannem Duns, cognomento Doctorem Subtilem, notum in scholis theologorum sub nomine Scoti.
(Fr Stephen White SJ, Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri calumnias (Dublin, 1849), p.165.)
It was well known that manuscripts of Whites that were floating around in the 1640s were of great importance for the history of Ireland. Fr Robert Nugent SJ, for example, had been appointed by the Confederation of Kilkenny to print some of these works although the project fell through.
(Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy vol iii first series, p.496, and see also William Reeves, Memoir of Stephen White (Dublin, 1861), p.4.)
One interesting point though is why does OCasey not say directly that he got the reference from Fr Stephen White S.J. if he did, instead of using the more roundabout reference of the Library of the Whites? I can think of two possible explanations: (a) he did have two prominent brothers in the Church, including Thomas who founded the Irish college in Salamanca, so maybe if OCasey was going through the family papers in Clonmel he didnt know from which of them the reference came? (b) Secondly there seems to have been some controversy surrounding some of Whites papers, because when the aforementioned Robert tried to print them in the 1640s he has to explain that all he wants to print are references to the old Irish saints, as if other papers would cause controversy? Hence maybe OCasey felt obliged to somewhat disguise the source?