The account below was carried down the Tullideph family and originally recorded by Sir William Keith Murray, Bart, of Ravelston and Dunottar. Other additions are from the contemporary accounts of John Row, another Reformer who kept accounts of the events of the Reformation. The story is available in “The Book of Perth” by John Parker Lawson. It is told with a lot of detail which I have omitted in my summary below.
There are no dates available at all for Oliver, apart from the fact that in 1546, when his uncle George Wishart was burned at the stake for heresy, Oliver was present and old enough to remember it in later life, but at the end of April 1559, when this account starts, he was described as a “youth”. That day he had been walking to Perth from his home in St. Andrews carrying a letter from his father Robert (who had married the sister of George Wishart the Martyr, burnt at the stake for heresy in 1546.) He was still some miles from Perth when evening came so he stopped for the night at the Hospital of Suggiedon, (Note – there was a hospital of that name run by monks at Kinfauns until 1560.)
As Oliver was eating his meal he was aware of three monks talking and watching him, and he felt that he recognised one of them, and that they knew him. His suspicions were confirmed very early next morning when one of the monks came to him and said that he was in danger, having been recognised the previous night as nephew of George Wishart, and a member of a family actively campaigning for reform in the Church. The monk warned him to leave very early in the morning, and not to go by way of Kinfauns, the family there not being friendly to the Huguenots, but to travel by Kinnoull. At Kinoull he happened to meet his father’s old schoolfriend, George Johnston, Baillie of Perth, to whom the letter he was carrying was addressed. He was greeted warmly, and went back to Mr. Johnston’s home with him, to stay there for a few days.
On 10th May John Knox arrived in Perth and the following day the inhabitants of the city gathered in St. John’s Church to hear him preach. Among them were Oliver and his host Mr. Johnston, who found themselves a place on the steps leading up to the altar. They realised that the priests in the church were preparing to celebrate mass and among them was the monk that he had seen at the lodging a few days before. The monk, Aubrey, came and spoke to Oliver, telling him how rash he was and that he would suffer the same fate as his kinsman. After Knox had left the church the priests continued their celebration of the mass, at which Oliver protested, rushing towards the altar. The monk Aubrey struck him to the ground, and this started a riot, with the priests being trampled and the altar overthrown. The crowd then left the church and proceeded to the Greyfriars Monastery and reduced it to rubble, going on to destroy the rest of the religious buildings in Perth. Oliver took no part in it, but turned to go back to the house of his host. However he was captured, bound and gagged by monks and taken to Kinfauns, to be examined by the Lord of Kinfauns, who instructed that he be taken to Scone to be kept imprisoned and put on trial. No witnesses were examined but Oliver was sentenced to be executed the following evening.
The next day Mr. Johnston approached Oliver’s cell in order to speak with him, but the guard thrust his sword through the door and drove it into Mr. Johnston. The people of Perth were so enraged that they descended on Scone and destroyed the Palace. This time it was not only the common people that took part but all ranks and by evening Scone was in ruins.
Thus one small movement on Oliver’s part was responsible for the destruction of Scone and the religious buildings of Perth. Mr Johnston recovered and his children continued to visit Oliver at St. Andrews for many years afterwards.