Gilbert Burnet lived from 18 September 1643 to 17 March 1715. He was a theologian and historian who became Bishop of Salisbury. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Gilbert Burnet was born in Edinburgh. His father was Lord Crimond, a Royalist and an Episcopalian who was also a judge. Gilbert graduated from the University of Aberdeen with an MA in Philosophy at the age of 13, and by 18 had gained his Doctor of Divinity. He then spent some time travelling in England, France and the Low Countries. In 1665 he was ordained as a minister in the Church of Scotland and took charge of the parish at East Saltoun in East Lothian. In 1669 he was appointed Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow, without actually having applied for the post.
This was a time when people were being killed across Scotland for shades of difference in belief, and especially whether they believed in the government of the church by bishops (Episcopalians) or by representatives of the congregation (Presbyterians). This was what had sparked the wars of the three kingdoms from the late 1630s to 1660, but in Scotland "The Killing Time" continued into the 1670s. In 1674 Burnet decided to leave this conflict behind and moved to London, where he found favour with Charles II. In 1679 he published the first volume of his History of the Reformation of the Church of England. This was widely acclaimed, and commended by Parliament. The other two volumes followed in 1682 and 1714.
In 1687 Burnet fell out with Charles II's successor, James VII/II, and spent the next two years in the Low Countries. He returned to England in 1689 with William of Orange and Queen Mary during the Glorious Revolution, which saw the overthrow of James VII/II, and was subsequently made Bishop of Salisbury.
Bishop Burnet died in 1715. His best known work, History of my Own Times, was published six years after his death in 1723. In it he gives a detailed history of Britain from the start of the Civil War in 1642 through to 1713. While undoubtedly a personal account, it was clearly intended to be a fair representation of a period through which, as the title made clear, its author had lived.