The Rule of the Bishops, pp.83-98.

But I must now return to the ecclesiastical and municipal history of the city from the time of the restoration of the see by David in 1120. After the famous charter or Notitia by that prince, the see of Glasgow received many rights and privileges from popes and kings. In the reign of Malcolm IV. (1172), there is a writ by the pope confirming a Constitution of the Dean and Chapter of Glasgow which had been introduced after the model of Sarum by Herbert, elected bishop in 1147.¹ The Archbishop of York claimed at first a supremacy over Glasgow, but this was resisted, and the non-dependence of the diocese on any metropolitan bishop was established.

In 1175 the bishops of Glasgow obtained from William the Lion the grant of a burgh, which was confirmed by Pope Lucius in 1181; and King Alexander, by a charter in 1189, granted to the bishop the right of a fair cum firma et plenaria pace, and this important privilege of “the king’s peace” to every one frequenting the fair was a very valuable privilege in those days, and without it the trade which the bishops coveted could not have been attracted to their burgh. A considerable commerce was in this way established in Glasgow, including trade from foreign countries, particularly from France, with which, from a very early period, Glasgow had much intercourse. An incidental notice of this occurs in one of the Argyll charters of the fourteenth century, from which we learn that French gloves were among the articles then sold at the fair of Glasgow. By this charter, which is dated in 1363, Mary, Countess of Menteith, grants to her kinsman Archibald, the son of Colin Campbell of Lochow, the lands of Kilmun on Cowal, and the reddendo is the yearly payment of a pair of Paris gloves at Glasgow fair.² The bishops had also grants at different times of tofts in other burghs, e.g. in Forfar, Stirling, and Dumfries.

Originally the district in which Glasgow is situated was included in the territory over which the rights of the royal burgh of Rutherglen extended – for the territory of the latter, as defined in its charter, extended – for the territory of the latter, as defined in its charter, extended “de Garin usque as Kelvin” – and Rutherglen exacted toll in Glasgow itself, at that time, no doubt, a very insignificant village. From this toll the bishops obtained an early exemption for themselves and their people, but only for their own chattels. This was renewed in the reign of Alexander II. (1235), but it brought them into collision with Rutherglen, and also with Dunbarton. Against the latter the bishops, as I have already stated, succeeded in securing for their vassals a free trade in Argyll and Lennox; but as regards the more powerful burgh of Rutherglen, all that could for some time be obtained was a protection against its levying toll and custom within the town of Glasgow itself, or nearer than “the cross of Schedenistoun” (Shettleston).³

I have already referred to the dependence of the inhabitants on the bishops as their feudal lords, and the whole history of the city shows how small was the amount of liberty which they enjoyed compared with the king’s burgesses. For the government of his burgh, the Bishop of Glasgow appointed magistrates, but they had no independent power. Whatever were their functions, they were the mere nominees and instruments of their lord paramount. Gibson, in his History of Glasgow, has gone far wrong on this subject. He says that so early as the year 1268 Glasgow was governed “by provosts, aldermen, or wardens, and bailies, who seem to have been independent of the bishop, and were possessed of a common seal distinct from the one made use of by the bishop and chapter,” and in this Gibson had been followed by other local historians. It is true that at that early period the community had a seal, but in other respects there is no foundation for the statement, if it means that Glasgow was at that time presided over by a provost. Gibson cites as his authority the terms of the charter by Robert de Mithyngby in 1280, but that deed does not prove that there was a provost as we now understand that term. The statement is that seisin of the lands conveyed was given, not coram præposito et ballivis, but coram præpositis et ballivis – terms which appear to have been at that time synonymous, and to indicate nothing more than officers entrusted by the bishop with the management of the civil affairs of his burgh, and who acted, I have no doubt, under his instructions, as it is beyond question they were nominated by him. I am confirmed in this by the terms of the charter of 1293 already referred to, which bears that seisin was given in presence of “Oliverus et Ricardus præpositi et ceteri præpositi ac cives Glasguensis.” The seal of the community was appended to this document, as it was to the one cited by Gibson, but it is not unimportant to observe that that seal was not considered sufficient to attest the writ. It required also to be attested by the ecclesiastical seal, and accordingly there are added the words, “et ad majorem rei gesti securitatem sigillum officialitis Glasguensis eidem est appensum.” And this appending of the seal of the bishop in all writings of importance continues in the later charters.

In England, in the old times, the term præpositus was equivalent to reve or bailif. A deed of conveyance of a property in Bridgewater in the second year of Henry II. is certified by the seal of the provostship – præpositatus – and two persons designed as provosts set their seal to the deed at the request of the granter, “because his seal is unknown to most persons.”

I would just add as a farther proof that there was no provost in Glasgow in those days, that a Transumpt in 1322 – professing to proceed in name of the magistrates of Glasgow – of a charter by Gilaspac Maclachlan, dated from his castle on Loch Fyne, commences in these terms: “Noverint universi quos nosse fuerit opportunum, quod nos ballivi ceterique burgenses de communitate civitatis Glasguensis vidimus, &c.” The word præpositus does not occur at all. Indeed there was no provost in Glasgow, as we understand the term, till the middle of the fifteenth century – the first who filled that office being John Steuart, to whom I had occasion to refer in connection with the story of St. Mungo’s bell.

There has been much misunderstanding in other respects on the part of our local historians in regard to the early history and constitution of the city. We find McUre complacently telling how Glasgow was created a royal burgh by the charter from King William the Lion, and the same statement is repeated by such respectable historians as Gibson and Brown, and later still by Dr. Cleland. For this I need not say there is no ground. But it may be interesting to trace shortly the early history of the burgh in order to see how very small was the amount of civic liberty enjoyed by the inhabitants or burgesses in the olden time.

Glasgow was at first a mere bishop’s burgh – a constitution which, while it increased the power and importance of the bishop, implied no real independence on the part of the inhabitants. On this subject it is with diffidence that I differ from an authority so deservedly high as Professor Innes. He was quite aware, as may be supposed, that Glasgow was not at first a royal burgh, but he says that at the early period to which I am referring, the citizens “obtained privileges of the same nature as those of the free burghs.” Elsewhere he says: “Such bishops’ cities in later times were scarcely distinguishable from royal burghs as to privileges of trade, as to bearing public burdens, and even as to representation in Parliament.”†† In “later times” this in a great measure was so, but at the earlier period to which I am referring it was certainly not the case. The object of the sovereign in creating the royal burghs was to raise up a class of freemen between himself and his powerful barons, of whom, therefore, the burgesses were to be entirely independent. It was the essential peculiarity of their position, therefore, that they held, not of any subject superior, but directly of the king himself, and under the obligation of doing service to the king only. One of the old burgh laws was that “na man may be the kyngis burges bot gif he may do service to the king of als mekyl as fallys til ane rude of land at the leste;” and he was also required first of all to be faithful and true “to the king, his bailies and communitie of that burgh in the quhilk he is made burges.” Having thus qualified himself, the “king’s burgess” became a free man, and owed allegiance to no subject superior whatever. But such was by no means the position or status of the inhabitant of a mere burgh of barony. It was not the object, as it could not possibly be the policy, of the bishop in acquiring right “to have a burgh at Glasgow,” to give freedom to his vassals, or to render them in any respect independent of his powers and jurisdiction over them. What he desired, and what he obtained by the grant, was to secure for his infant city the protective privileges of a market, so as to induce dealers to come and trade there, and also to acquire for his vassals those rights of burgal trade which were so essential to his own prosperity. But this was all. The inhabitants continued, after the town became a burgh as before, to be what they are called in the charters, mere “homines episcopi,” with a lower grade of native bondsmen – “nativi et servi.” They continued to hold not of the sovereign, like “the king’s freemen,” but of the bishop, and to be subject to his power as their feudal lord. They acquired the advantages of fairs and markets no doubt, and protection in going from and returning to the city – “in eundo et redeundo” – when engaged in trading; but as between them and the bishop, their overlord, the relations which previously subsisted remained unchanged. The terms of a charter constituting a royal burgh, and of that which was granted to the Bishop of Glasgow, were essentially different. The charter, for example, by Alexander II. erecting Dunbarton into a burgh, bears that the king had made a burgh “ad novum castellum meum apud Dunbritan,” and the grant is “eidem burgo et burgensibus meis in eo manentibus omnes libertates, &c.” But the charter of William the Lion, to which McUre refers with so much pride, so far from conferring any right on the inhabitants, or on Glasgow the status or independence of a free burgh, bears that the king had “granted, and by this my charter confirmed to God and S. Kentigern, and Joceline, bishop of Glasgow, and all his successors for ever, that they shall have a burgh at Glasgow with a weekly market, &c.”

In the same way the charter by William, conferring the right to hold a fair, grants and confirms “to God and St. Kentigern, to the church of Glasgow, and Joceline, the bishop of that place, and to all his successors for ever, a fair to be kept at Glasgow, and to be held every year for ever from the 8th of the Apostles Peter and Paul for the space of eight days complete, with my full protection, &c.”

Again, in the charter by Alexander II. in 1235, granting a charter of exemption from toll – sixty years after the date of the grant which made Glasgow a burgh – the exemption is not in favour of the citizens of burgesses as such, but to the bishop, that he and his successors, et eorum homines, nativi et servi, should be free from toll.

Again, in a precept by James II. in 1449, addressed to the royal burghs of Renfrew and Rutherglen, and which the Bishop of Glasgow had obtained in order to check certain alleged encroachments by these domineering corporations on his own territory and jurisdiction, in the matter of fairs and markets, the narrative bears that complaint had been made – not by the citizens or magistrates – for they had no say or voice in the matter – but “by Wylʒam Bischop of Glasgu that ʒe mak disturblans and impediment tyll our lieges and communities of burgh and land that bryng ony guds to the mercat of Glasgu to sell or by, doing tharthrow hurtyng and prejudice to the priveleges and custom granted to the kyrk of Glasgu of auld tym.” The refractory burghs are accordingly prohibited “to mak ony minwsing prejudice or lattyng to the fredom and kyrk of Glasgu or the mercat of it.” In this precept Glasgow is not called a burgh at all, but only “the barony of Glasgow.”

In like manner the charter of James II. of 20th April, 1450, which raised the city from the rank of a burgh of barony to that of a burgh of regality, was in reality nothing more than an increase of power and dignity to the bishop. It is granted in favour of Bishop Turnbull, the founder of the university, and it confirms, not to the citizens, but to the bishop and his successors, “the city of Glasgow, barony of Glasgow, and lands commonly called Bishop forest, to be held by them of us in free pure and mere regality in fee and heritage for ever.”

In all this there is no recognition of the inhabitants as a separate or independent community. The whole power over the temporalities of the city, and of the lands embraced in the charter, remained centred in the bishop, with all the rights of a feudal lord over the inhabitants as his vassals. The charter last quoted contains a provision giving power to the bishop to appoint a sergeant for executing the edicts of his court, who was to have a silver staff or mace having the royal arms blazoned on the upper part and those of the bishop on the lower. Of the arms of the city no mention is made, nor had it any at that time. The community, indeed, is not mentioned or recognized in the charter at all. The bishop, in whom alone any power is vested, appointed civic officers to manage the affairs of his city, and he may have called them “provosts” or “bailies,” for, as we have seen, even a native or serf might hold the position or office of præpositius, but this implied no freedom. The status of the inhabitants, no doubt, came gradually in time to be of a higher grade than at the date of the charter of Alexander II. They bought and sold and traded, and those of them who acquired heritable property were burgesses, and they must have possessed many advantages which were not shared by the landward inhabitants “ututh the burgh.” But the privileges of the royal burghs they certainly did not possess; and as the magistrates, by whatever name they were called, were the mere creatures of the bishop, the entire power and control in everything relating to the affairs of the community centred in his person, and he “did what he liked with his own.”

Even when the town had to vindicate its rights at law the process proceeded in name of the bishop as the principal party. Thus so late as the parliament of 1469 a decree is recorded “in the actioun and caus pursuat be a reverend fader in Christ Andro bishop of Glasgu, and the provost, bailies, and communitie of his cite of Glasu, against the provost, bailies, and communitie of the burgh of Dumbartane.” The complaint was that the burgh of Dunbarton “has wrangit and injured the said reverend fader and the said provost, bailies, and communitie of Glasgu in the stopping of them in bying of vertane wyne fra Pevis Copate, Fransch man, out of his schip in the water of Clide.” The decree, it is satisfactory to know, was in favour of the bishop and the bailies, who got their wine – no doubt good claret, such as that to the more general use of which we have returned.

In the following year, namely in 1470, there is a charter by James III. in favour of the Bishop of Glasgow, John Laing, afterwards lord high chancellor, by which, inter alia, there is confirmed to the bishop full powers “to constitute and appoint provosts, bailies, sergeants and other officers within the said city, for the management and government of the same, as often as to him shall seem expedient, and to appoint and remove to and from these offices such persons as he shall think proper.” In favour of the inhabitants as an independent community there is no grant.

I need hardly say that the community was not represented in the early parliaments of Scotland, as the royal burghs were. It was not till the parliament of Queen Mary, held in August, 1546, on the very eve of the Reformation, that Glasgow first appears among the “commisarii burgorum” who sat as part of the third estate, and it is only after that period that I find the city mentioned in any state document along with the other burghs. The first example of this which I have noticed – and even that was only in a matter of trade – is in the act of cuntrie, sic as Irwin, Air, Dunbertane, Glasgow, and other burrowis at the west parts,” shall be free from the exactions which “certain cuntrie men adjacent and dwelland besyde Loch Fyne” had been enforcing “on every last of maid hering that are tane in the said loch.” It is somewhat curious that the first time in which Glasgow found mention as a burgh in an act of parliament, should be on the occasion of its contending for freedom of trade in salt herrings.

Down to that time, or rather till 1560, Glasgow as a city had not even the appearance of independence. If a Seal of Cause was to be granted incorporating one of the trades, it could only be done by consent and with the concurrence of the bishop; and the fees payable for the “upsett” of a freeman, with the fines for the infringement of the rules of the society, were to be applied for the benefit, not of the craft itself, or even of the community as in the royal burghs, but of the church. Thus the charter in 1516 in favour of “the kirkmasters and the laife of the maisters of the skinner craft and furrier craft” of Glasgow, is granted by the magistrates “with the sonsent approbatioune and ratificatioune of our maist reverend fadir in God James Archbishop in Glasgow, Chancellor of Scotland and Commendatour of the Abbey of Kilwinning.” The fees for the “upsett” are to be applied “to the reparatioune and upholding of divine service at our said altar.” One of the penalities is “ane pund candle wac thairfor als aft as the fault happens;” and “ilk maister haulding buith within the said burgh and citie, of the said craft, shall pay his wouklie pennie to the reparatioune of the adornments of the said altar, and to susteine the priests; and that na falss stuff be sauld to the kingis leidges under the paine of ane halfe pund candle of wax to the altar;” while power is given “to poynd and distrenzie gif need be for the takeing raising and inbringing of these dhewes forsaid to the sustentatioune and uphalding of God’s fabric foresaid.”

In like manner the seal of cause in favour of the cordiners, dated more than forty years later (1558), bears to be granted by the magistrates “with þhe consent, assent, approbatioune, and ratificatioune of me maist reverend fadir James by the mercie of God Archbishop of Glasgow.” And “the reverend fadir, our lorde and prelat, in verificatioune of his consent and approbatioune,” appends his seal before that of the community.

If, again, a provost had to be elected, he was nominated by the bishop, and when bailies fell to be appointed a list was prepared by the provost, who, along with the council, proceeded to the castle and presented it to the bishop, who chose from the list any two names he thought proper, and these were elected to the vacant offices. There is preserved a curious instrument under the hand of John Hamilton, notary, bearing date 3d October, 1553, in which one of these transactions is recited. The instrument bears how “an honourable man, Andrew Hamilton of Cochnay, provost, and all the rest of the council of the said city,” came into “the inner flower garden, near the palace in Glasgow, of the most reverend father in Christ, James, by divine mercy Archbishop of Glasgow having in their possession a certain schedule of paper in which the names of some of the most respectable and substantial men of the said city were inserted, which they reached out, desiring the most reverend father that he would admit two of them to be consuls or bailies for the ensuing year… out of which the said most reverend elected two by pointing out the names of those on the schedule to be proclaimed by the said provost and council,” which, being done, the instrument bears, “the provost and council promised faithfully to the most reverend” to elect the parties named “by saying these words: We will satisfy the desire of your lordship; and having so said they repaired to the town hall.”

It is an interesting picture of the olden time which is disclosed in this record of the Glasgow notary. The whole council, composed of the most respectable and substantial of the citizens, headed by their aristocratic provost, wending their way up the High Street, the palace of the archbishop with its then beautiful surroundings, and the prelate himself in his inner flower garden under the shadow of the grand old cathedral, receiving his vassal burghers. It was one of the closing scenes in the ecclesiastical greatness of the city. The prelate who figures in the picture was Betoun, the last of the archbishops. Troublous times were at hand – were even now upon him. Within a short time and his beautiful garden was trodden down by armed men; the walls of his castle, then occupied by Lennox, were being battered by the guns of the Regent Arran; a very short time later and the archbishop was a fugitive, and the palace, and the garden, and the glory of the old hierarchy had all passed away for ever.

On the flight of Betoun in 1560 there was no one to nominate the magistrates as formerly, and the expedient resorted to in these circumstances is recorded in a notarial instrument which bears date September, 1561. In this document the notary declares that search had been made for the archbishop in order to the election of magistrates, and not being found, he protests that the council there, who had been nominated by his lordship, may themselves elect, which they accordingly did.

But this was but an isolated act of independence, as the Protestant archbishops, or the feudal lords who had obtained grants of the temporalities, continued to nominate the provost and bailies, and to interfere as before, and this, there is every reason to believe, in a manner much more oppressive than their Roman Catholic predecessors. The Reformation, too, was followed by anything but a state of tranquillity, and for some time after that event the community had other matters to think of. The constant troubles, civil and ecclesiastical, which followed the arrival of Mary: English invasions and civil wars at home – some of the latter, such as that of 1570, unexampled in exasperation and ferocity; the efforts made by the Romish party to recover their ascendency; and then the obstinate struggle which took place between Episcopacy and Presbyterianism – all these kept the kingdom in a continued state of agitation, and distracted men’s minds form all but the stern realities and exigencies of the moment. Glasgow, too, was in a state of transition. Though steadily advancing in importance, however, it was as yet but of insignificant extent. So late as 1556 it held only the eleventh place among the towns of Scotland, and at that time the population did not exceed 4500.

Not till 1636 did Glasgow take its place among the royal burghs under the charter of Charles I. granted in that year. Yet even this did not bring independence. Certain rights were still reserved, and the archbishop not only claimed but exercised the right to appoint the provost and magistrates, under the charter granted by James VI. and Charles I.; and when the power of nomination fell from the hands of the archbishop, it was taken up and exercised by a temporal baron. In 1641 Glasgow was erected, upon a royal signature, confirmed by the Parliament of that year, into a temporal lordship in favour of the Duke of Lennox, one of the nearest collateral male heirs of James VI. By this act there is ratified and confirmed to the duke “the lands and barony of Glasgow, castel citie and regality thereof, with the right of nomination of the bailies and magistrates of the said burgh.” The corporation was thus still very far from real freedom.

It is probable that in the earier history of the city the rule of the bishops sat lightly on the community, and the absence of civic privileges would be less felt in presence of the substantial advantages derived from the residence among them of the bishop and his clergy. the rule of the Church was notoriously more benignant than that of the feudal barons, and the saying, “better under the crozier than under the lance,” was applicable to the vassals of all the spiritual lords. The see of Glasgow formed no exception to this state of matters. In early times, before the spoliation of its possessions, it was one of the most opulent in the kingdom. Its prelates live in a style of great splendour, and exercised a powerful influence, not only locally, but in the affairs of the kingdom. Their court was the resort of influential members of the aristocracy, and they but followed the practice of the other dignitaries of the Church in dispensing a liberal and generous hospitality; while the residence of the thirty–two rectors, first enforced by the princely Bishop Cameron, who required each of them to build a manse near the cathedral, added to the importance and wealth of the city. To all this is to be added the great influx of suitors to the bishop’s court, attracted by the high character and reputation of the chapter, and the large amount of civil business which resulted from the extension of the privileges and civil jurisdiction of the bishop conferred by James IV. The temporal advantages which would necessarily result to the community from this state of matters must have been great, and – considering the limited ideas of freedom which then prevailed – more than sufficient to reconcile them to the absence of those civic privileges which were enjoyed by their less favoured neighbours of Rutherglen, Renfrew, and Dunbarton.

It is not surprising, therefore, to find that in Glasgow there was an influential party by no means favourable to that great movement which resulted in the reformation of religion and the subsequent abjuration of Episcopacy. It was no doubt under the influence of such sentiments that, after the long vacancy in the see caused by the flight of Betoun, we find a large body of the citizens taking the part of even so notorious a character as Montgomery, the nominee or “tulchan bishop” of the Duke d’Aubigné, when the question concerned the resettlement of a resident archbishop. We read in Calderwood how in 1582 the Laird of Minto, the provost, with one of the bailies, and a number of the citizens, invaded the presbytery-house, and because the presbytery, then sitting in judgment with a view to the deposition of Montgomery, refused to stay proceedings, “put violent hands on the moderator, Mr. John Howsone, smote him on the face, pulled him by the beard, knocked out one of his teeth, and put him in the Tolbooth.”

The effect of the Reformation was at first indeed very injurious to the prosperity of Glasgow. The seizure by the crown and the great barons of property which had been originally gifted by private liberality for the benefit of the people, and which belonged to the Church, after as before it was reformed, by a title as indefeasible as that by which the lords held their own lands, was an act of unjustifiable spoliation. And it was rendered still more oppressive by the mode in which the lords exercised their usurped rights. All the lands within St. Mungo’s halidom which were not in the actual possession of the bishops themselves, were held, like other church lands, by tenures of the most mild and liberal character; but ow the possessors of these lands – the rentallers, who, as we have seen, were practically proprietors – were threatened with ejection if they did not feudalize or enfranchise their titles by heavy payments, amounting in many cases to confiscation. In the case of Glasgow, the greater part of the church lands seized by the crown were disponed to Walter Stewart, commendator of Blantyre,‡‡ from whom the poor proprietors were compelled to take new charters, and this although in a crown charter quoted by Mr. Hill, confirming one of these titles, it is admitted on the face of the charter itself that the titles of the previous possessors of the church lands – styled in the charter antiquæ nativi, pauperes tenentes, et rentallarii – had “for times past memory of man been estimated and reputed as equally sufficient to the said rentallers for their lands as if the lands had been disposed to them in feu” – that is in perpetuity.¤

The Reformation was injurious also at first to the trade of the city; and it is curious to observe that the change from the palmy days when so many ecclesiastics were “in residence,” seems to have been felt most severely by the inhabitants who lived in the upper part of the town – those who lived topwards the foot of the High Street, and about the Cross, finding a compensation in the pursuits of trade, for which their fellow-citizens higher up the street possessed fewer facilities. In the year 1587 there was presented to Parliament a supplication “be the fremen and vtheris induellaris of the citie of Glasgw abone the gray frier wynde,” setting forth “that qr that pt of the said citie that afoir the reformatioun of the religioun was intertenyt and uphalden be the resort of the bischop, parsonis, vicaris, and vtheris of clergie, for the tyme, is now becum ruinous, and for the maist part altogidder decayit, and the heritouris and possessouris therof greitly depauperit, wanting the moyane to vphald the samen.” It is then set forth that this state of matters might be greatly remedied were “the grite confusion and multitude of mercattis togedder in ane place about the croce” to be divided, and some of them appointed to be holden in the upper portion of the city; and they feelingly put it that “as thai ar ane pairt of the bodie and memberis subject to the layment of taxt stent, watcheing, warding, and all uther precable charges, even sa al the commodities of the said cietie abone the said gray frier wynde is the onlie ornament and decoratioun thereof, be ressone of the grite and sumptuous buildingis of grite antiquitie, varie propir and meit for the ressait of his hienes and nobilitie at sic tymes as thai sall repair thereto; and that it wer to be lamentit to sie sic gorgeous policie to decay.” The Parliament ordered some changes to be made, but it does not appear that the petitioners succeeded in getting any of the “mercattis” permanently moved above the wynd.

It soon came to be understood, however, that in whatever way matters were to be mended, this was not to be attained by the maintenance of Episcopy. The splendid court of the Roman Catholic archbishops, and the advantages derived from the resident clergy, had become things of the past. The Protestant archbishops, who were in most cases the mere nominees of the party in power, were poor, and their status had become contemptible. The archbishop, indeed, was nothing more than the locum tenens of a non-resident baron who held the temporalities, and who exacted everything he could wring out of them, caring nothing for the interests of the community when his own were in question. To this the amiable Leighton was certainly an exception. Although he filled the see but a short time, he quite won the affections of the people of Glasgow; and when it was known that he had gone to London to resign his charge, a deputation of the citizens waited on the magistrates “entreating and desiring them,” as the minute of council bears, to endeavour to prevent his demission, alleging “that the whoill citie and incorporatiouns therin hes lived peaceably and quietlie since the said archbishop his coming to this burgh, throw his christian cariage and behaviour towards them, and by his government with great discretioune and moderatioune.”¤¤ But as a rule the archbishops, enjoying but a miserable pittance out of the once ample revenues of the see, were tempted, perhaps obliged, to exercise all the power that was left to them, and to enforce their exactions, in a manner very different from that which had prevailed in former times; while the magistrates imposed on the community were those, of course, who would prove most subservient to the interests of those who appointed them.

Under this state of “tyranny and avarice,” as the new magistrates soon after had occasion to describe it, Glasgow, which by means of the extension of trade had been growing in importance and prosperity, appears to have declined considerably.ª The community also, under the more general diffusion of liberty and expression of thought which was now beginning to prevail, must have felt more keenly the inferiority of their status to that of their smaller neighbours who enjoyed the full privileges of the royal burghs, while their subjection to the archbishops and to the temporal lords, in the nomination of their provost and magistrates, as well as in other matters relating to the city, must have become intolerably irksome. We are prepared, therefore, to find the community now taking a prominent part in those events which resulted in the Revolution. We know that they took an active share in promoting the cause of the Prince of Orange, and as they were among the first of the burghs to congratulate the prince and the queen on their accession, so the services which the city had rendered towards bringing about that event were early recognized by the new sovereigns. By royal charter dated 4th January, 1690, the city was declared free; and in the “humble and thankful address” which “the provost, bailiffs, town council and other citizens” presented in the following month, the feelings of the community on the contrast between the past and present state of matters found energetic expression. “As your citie of Glasgow,” the address bears, “hath shared in the common benefit, so hath she tasted of your royal bounty and favour, in particular by giving your high commissioner a special instruction for our freedom by act of parliament. And now by your royal grant, given at Kingsintown the 4th of Januar last, wherein your majestie is graciously pleased to notice and putt ane value upon the zeal for the Protestant religion and loyal affections of your citie of Glasgow, and to give to her a full right and libertie for electing her own magistrates in all tyme comeing, als frelie as the royal borrowes of this your majesties ancient kingdom, by which being emancipated from the slaverie of ane imposed magistracie, the instruments of our bishops, their tyrannie and avarice, the pubic interest of this once flourishing corporation being thereby recovered, we are delivered from the fears and secured from the dangers of a future relapse into what has been the source of our past miserie.” This address was presented on the 1st of February 1690, and by the Act of William and Mary of that year the city and town council acquired for the first time “the power and privilege to choose their own magistrates, provost, bailies, and other officers within the burgh, als, fully and als freely as the city of Edinburgh or any other royal burgh within the kingdom enjoys the same.” Then, and not till then, may Glasgow be said to have acquired an independent political existence.

 

¹  Reg, Epis. Glasg., No. 28.
²  Orig. Paroch., vol. ii. p. 72.
³  Cosmo Innes, pref. to Reg. Epis. Glasg.
  Third Parliamentary Report on Historical Documents, App., p. 310.
††  Preface to Ancient Law and Customs of the Burghs of Scotland, p. 42.
  Burgh Records, 3d October, 1637.
‡‡  1587. Act. Parl., iii. 431. The baronies of Stobo and Eddleston were excepted, these being granted to Maitland of Thurlstane. What remained of the other large possessions were erected into a temporal lordship called the barony of Glasgow, for payment to the crown of a feu-duty amounting to only £50 of our money.
¤  Huchesoniana, by Laurence Hill, Esq., p. 13.
¤¤  Burgh Records, 2d May, 1673.
ª  The population, which at the restoration of Charles II.  in 1660 amounted to 14,600, had in 1688 fallen to 11,900. No doubt the great fire of 1677 accounted in part for this.

One thought on “The Rule of the Bishops, pp.83-98.

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