Wauchope (Vauchop, Vanschop), Robert (c.1500–1551), papal archbishop of Armagh, was son of Gilbert Wauchope of Niddrie Marischal, Midlothian, Scotland, and was educated in Paris from about 1515, where he received his bachelor of arts and his MA as a student of the German-English Nation. He subsequently became receiver and reformer to the Nation and was several times appointed proctor between 1522 and 1531, attached to the Collège du Mans. He was collated successively to the vicarage of Keith-Humbie, near Haddington, where his family had lands, and the canonry of Ruffel (Dunkeld diocese) in Scotland in 1527 and 1529, though he remained in Paris teaching. In some sources it is stated that he was born blind, but his elevation to the priesthood and, later, much higher honours show that cannot be true, and that it is more likely that he inherited a serious myopic condition, which later earned him the epithet ‘the blind Doctor Scotus’, as well as the jibes of the German bishops at the council of Trent. He was actively opposed to Henry VIII's schism in England and made representations to Paul III confirming the orthodoxy of James V of Scotland.
On 23 July 1539 he was appointed by Pope Paul III apostolic administrator of the primatial see of Armagh, sede plena, replacing the schismatic bishop George Cromer (qv), who had declared himself in favour of the Henrician reformation. He did not, however, receive the pallium until March 1545 and was consecrated shortly after. Because he could not draw any income from the temporalities of the see of Armagh, the pope conferred on him in 1540 the abbey of Dryburgh, in Scotland, which drew strong opposition from James V of Scotland. The matter was finally resolved the following year in favour of James's chosen candidate. Without the support either of James V or (partly because of that) of the native Irish clergy, Wauchope was unable to visit his diocese. Again, in 1543, the pope sought to confer the bishopric of Dunkeld upon him, but without success: one John Hamilton was provided to the see and Wauchope received a pension of 500 ducats. His appointment to Armagh and, in general, his collaboration with the papacy and its attempted confirmation of lands and livings to him in Scotland, drew the wrath of the Scottish crown, and Wauchope was later called before the lords of the council and declared a rebel and an outlaw.
There is no doubt that Wauchope was instrumental in sending the first Jesuit mission to Ireland, through his friendship with the pope and the founder of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius de Loyola. Though initiated in mid 1539, the mission, consisting of two priests, Salmeron and Broët, did not finally reach Ireland until February 1542, where they preached and administered the sacraments for about five weeks, in the teeth of opposition from the lord deputy, Anthony St Leger (qv), and some of the northern princes. This was, as Millett describes it, ‘the first specific papal mission to Ireland after England's breach with Rome’, and thus the first volley of the counter-reformation in Ireland.
Wauchope later represented the pope at the emperor's colloquy with the Lutheran princes at Worms in 1540 and played an important role in these negotiations. In 1542 he was commissioned with three others by Cardinal Contarini to draw up a counter-reformation programme in Germany. The mission was centred on Regensburg (Ratisbon). By all accounts, Wauchope carried out the mission with his usual zeal, for which reason he was expelled by the city magistrates in February 1543. He then moved to Ingolstadt, where he wrote a non-polemical tract on the sacrifice of the Mass, Conclusiones de sacrosancto missae sacrificio & communione laica . . . (Mainz, 1544). During the first session of the council of Trent (1545 onwards) Wauchope headed two important commissions which drew up the canon on the authority of scripture and apostolic tradition, and also headed the commission on justification. His role in the proceedings of the council was significant, though his independent views aroused opposition from several quarters. The acts of the council indicate that he made an important contribution to its debates.
After the failed attempt by the pope to secure the bishopric of Dunkeld for him, Wauchope tried to gain possession of his Irish see and to implement therein the decrees of the council of Trent. He landed in Scotland in the summer of 1549 and arrived in Ireland early in the following year with special legatine powers from Paul III. Because of local opposition, both lay and clerical – being accused, among other things, of being ‘a very shrewd spy and a great brewer of war’ – he could not get further than Derry, and so withdrew and returned to Rome. He died 10 November 1551 in Paris, endeavouring to return to Ireland as apostolic nuncio of Pope Julius III.