I wrote yesterday about the fact that John Owen didn’t need a bouncer. After reading the post, a friend of mine mentioned that John Knox, the 16th century Scottish minister and Protestant reformer, was a bouncer. After some googling, I discovered that he did, in fact, spend some time serving as a bodyguard for George Wishart, an itinerant preacher. I did a quick search in my Logos library and found the following:

Knox’s commitment to a Protestant position was more certainly established from December 1545, when he accompanied the itinerant preacher George Wishart on his brief tour around Leith and East Lothian. Bearing a two-handed sword on these travels, Knox acted as a bodyguard and assistant to Wishart, until in January 1546, suspecting a plot against himself, Wishart sent Knox back to his pupils, stating that ‘one is sufficient for one sacrifice’. Knox does not appear to have attended Wishart’s trial or execution in St Andrews, showing already an ‘instinct for self-preservation’ that would be evident throughout his career. He did, however, emulate the ministry of his mentor in energetic preaching and prophetic declarations, and embraced his scripture principle, sacramental memorialism and belief that the mass, images and other ceremonial activities were idolatrous.

Timothy Larsen, D. W. Bebbington and Mark A. Noll, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 345.


How or when Knox himself became a Protestant is not known, for he never reveals anything about his conversion, but it is known that it was by 1545. At that time a certain George Wishart, a Scot who had spent some time in Switzerland and England, returned to his native land where he began preaching the gospel. In January 1545, after preaching in other places, he came to East Lothian where Knox acted as his bodyguard, carrying a two-handed sword. Despite Wishart’s acceptance by the local gentry, however, he was arrested by the earl of Bothwell and taken to St. Andrew’s, where after a trial before Cardinal Beaton he was burned at the stake as a heretic in March 1546.

J. D. Douglas, Philip Wesley Comfort and Donald Mitchell, Who’s Who in Christian History (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1997).