Bishop Alexander Bur lived from about 1320 to 15 May 1397. He was a notable cleric of his day and became Bishop of Moray. He is best remembered for a dispute with Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan, the Wolf of Badenoch. which led to widespread destruction in Moray. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Alexander Bur seems to have been a native of Aberdeenshire or Moray. He already held a number of clerical positions by the time he was appointed, some time in the 1340s, to the court of King David II of Scotland. In Autumn 1350 David II was touring north-east Scotland, apparently to avoid an outbreak of the Black Death, when news reached him of the death of John de Pilmuir, Bishop of Moray. David immediately moved to the seat of the Bishops of Moray, Spynie Palace, and announced that the new Bishop of Moray would be his close follower and supporter Alexander Bur.
Alexander Bur remained Bishop-elect of Moray for the following 13 years. In late 1362 he travelled to see the Pope at Avignon, who confirmed his appointment as Bishop of Moray early in 1363.
In 1382, Robert II, who had been on the throne of Scotland for 11 years, made his fourth illegitimate son, Alexander Stewart, the 1st Earl of Buchan. Alexander Stewart is one of Scotland's least attractive historical figures. In order to increase his landholdings he married Eupheme de Ross, Countess of Ross in July 1382. They had no children: a fact that Alexander blamed on his wife (and, to be fair, as he was by then well on his way to fathering a total of around 40 illegitimate children by a large number of different women, he was probably right). In 1389 Alexander sought the intervention of Bishop Alexander Bur to bring his marriage to an end. Bur, however, came down on the side of Eupheme, and when Alexander then expelled her to make way for his mistress of the moment, Bishop Bur excommunicated him.
In May 1390, Alexander Stewart descended on Moray at the head of a large number of "wild, wykked Hieland-men." Alexander sacked the town of Forres, before heading east, destroying Pluscarden Abbey en route to Elgin where he arrived in 17 June 1390. Here he burned much of the town and destroyed Elgin Cathedral, the second largest cathedral in Scotland, widely known as the Lantern of the North.
Alexander's older brother, Robert III, who had only just succeeded to the throne and had yet to be crowned, called upon him to do penance for his crimes and pay significant reparations: then pardoned him. Whether Alexander Stewart's attack on Moray had simply been a case of getting even with the Bishop: or whether it was in reality intended to be the start of a power play for Scotland more widely, immediately after the death of his father Robert II, is a matter of debate among historians. No-one for a moment, however, believes that he was truly repentant afterwards, and his attack on Moray led to his being remembered in history as the Wolf of Badenoch.
Bishop Alexander Bur began the process of rebuilding Elgin Cathedral, and remained in office until his death in 1397.