Wayne Cuthbertson

LLB(Hons) (Aberdeen), BA(Hons), M.Res (Stirling)

Contact Details:
E-mail:  wrc2@st-andrews.ac.uk


I am generally interested in British religious, political, and intellectual history (16th to 17th centuries).  My research at both masters and doctoral level has focused on Scottish political thought, culture, and government in the period between the Union of the Crowns (1603) and the Scottish Revolution (1638).

Thesis Title:‘Counsel and Consent in Scotland, 1603-1638’
Supervisor:  Professor Roger A. Mason

My thesis explores the work of the Scottish Privy Council from the perspective of the novel problem of governing the multiple kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland after 1603.  As such it is a case-study in the mechanics of ‘absentee’ government and kingship within what historians usually refer to as ‘composite’ or ‘conglomerate’ states.  To date there has not been a single scholarly work published on the Privy Council, despite the fact that full printed registers of its business have been available since the nineteenth century.  My doctorate will address this lacuna in the academic literature, exploring the nature of its origins and authority, providing a conceptual framework in which to understand its various conciliar and executive functions.  In particular I will examine the important issue of its relationship with the royal court in London and re-examine the often discussed question of so-called ‘government by pen’.  The council’s relationship within the wider nexus of Scottish and “British” government will also be fully investigated for the first time.  A prosopographical study will be undertaken of the privy councillors themselves, illuminating their roles as multi-faceted political actors, and the political culture within which they operated.  As well as institutional council, I am also very interested in the language of counsel, and what impact the Union of the Crowns may have had on this type of discourse, as advice which had previously been given within the confines of the royal court in Edinburgh or Stirling, was now increasingly transacted by a voluminous correspondence between the London metropole and James VI and I’s and Charles I’s northern kingdom.


Tutor: International Summer School (Scottish Studies Programme)
Tutor: MO2008 Scotland, Britain and Empire, c.1500-2000

Academic Papers

  • ‘Kingship and Council: A neglected facet of “absentee” government in Scotland, 1603-1638?’ at Institute of Scottish Historical Research Reading Weekend, Skelmorlie, Ayrshire, March 2012
  • ‘Advising the absentee king: Alexander Seton, earl of Dunfermline, and the rhetoric of counsel’ at The Politics of Counsel and Council in Britain, 1400-1700, University of St. Andrews, October 2012

Research Awards

AHRC Research Preparation Masters Award 2010-2011
AHRC Doctoral Award (2011-2014)

Administrative Roles/Events Organised

I am co-organiser (with Claire Hawes) of a one day event entitled, ‘The Politics of Council and Counsel in Britian, 1400-1700’ which will be held at the University of St. Andrews on Saturday 27th October 2012, and will see a number of leading Scottish and English historians participating.  The event has been funded by the Institute of Scottish Historical Research.