While Glasgow was growing in wealth and importance, and the city was increasing in size, there were, I need not say, important changes in the value of property. I have already given incidentally the prices at which some properties in and near the city have been sold, but some farther notices on this subject may be interesting, as also the prices of different commodities in the early years of the city.
Although, as I have said, the houses within the burghs in Scotland were, as a rule, superior to those in the landward districts, yet for a long time they must have been of a very unsubstantial character, compared with those of the present day, and the ground on which they stood of little value. That such was the case in Glasgow is certain. So late as 1410 there is recorded a deed of sale of a tenement in the Rottenrow, with a garden and a considerable amount of land – “Tenementum cum pertinentibus videlicet iiij caracatas terre in anteriore fronte, cum orto, jacentes in burgo de Glasgu, in parte australi vici qui dicitur Ratonraw” for the price of five merks – quinque marces vsuale monete Scocie.1 By that time the Scottish coinage had become somewhat deteriorated, and according to its then value the price of this house, with garden and land, would be little more than £2, 10s. of our money.
I should mention that it has been a common mistake to reckon Scottish money as worth only one twelfth of that of England, without reference to dates. Till 1355, however, Scottish money was equal in value to that of England. From that time, owing to successive public calamities, and the impoverishment of the kingdom, it sunk by degrees, reign after reign; but it was not till 1600 that it fell to a twelfth part only of the value of English money of the same denomination. At that point it remained, till the union of the kingdoms cancelled the Scottish coinage.
By another deed in 1434 the sub-dean of Glasgow, with consent of the bishop and chapter, sells to Thomas of Welk, burgess of the burgh of Glasgow, an acre of ground, part of the Deanside land, on the north side of the Rottenrow, for the yearly payment of “six syllingis and acht penys of usuale mone of Scotland,” the said Thomas being bound within a year “to byg a sufficiand tenement on the said akyr of land and alsua to mac the half of the calse before the forfront of the said akyr.”2 Six shillings and eightpence Scots, according to the relative value at that time, would be about three shillings of our money, and taking this at the rate of twenty-two years’ purchase it gives the price of this acre of land in one of the principal streets of the burgh as only £3, 6s. English money.*
Twenty years later – 1454 – we find a deed of sale of “a tenement lying in the city of Glasgow on the east side of the street leading from the Cathedral to the Market Cross,” at the price of twenty pounds Scots – viginti libris vsualis monete scocie3 – at that time equal to only about £6. And in the following year, 1455, there occurs in the same register a deed of sale by David Smith, burgess, to Patrick Leiche, chancellor of the church of Glasgow, of a tenement on the east side of the High Street, cum cauda et orto, extending to the Molendinar Burn, the price being ten merks, equal to about £2, 5s. only.4
In 1507 an acre of ground on the south side of the Drygate was let for 28s. yearly, equal to about seven shillings of our money – a high rent for that time.5 In the same year a granary on the south side of the Gallowgate was let for four years at the yearly rent of 6s. 3d. – only 1s. 9½d.6
In the year 1600 George Hucheson, one of the founders of the Hospital, whose house, as I have mentioned, adjoined the old Tolbooth at the Cross, purchased a piece of ground next it from Norman Mackenzie for a stable. It is described as “sax elnes in length and the breid of the said Norman’s aune tenement.” For this not inconsiderable piece of ground near the Cross of Glasgow Mr. Hucheson paid only twenty-four pounds Scots, or £2 sterling.7 On 29th December, 1656, the college feued to David Scott two acres “in that part of the burgh of Glasgow called the Long Croft next the Common Lone” for sixty pounds Scots yearly, and liberty of redemption on payment of one thousand pounds Scots – £83, 6s. 8d. The Common Lone afterwards became Sauchiehall Street.
These prices are, after all, not so surprising when we compare them with those at which the magistrates sold the common lands of the city. As late as 1750 thirteen acres of land in the Gallowmuir, including the property afterwards known as Annfield, and a large field of six acres on the opposite side of the Camlachie Road, called “the sixth part of Laigh Gallowmuir,” were sold for £250 or £16 the acre.8
In the Glasgow Mercury in 1782 there is advertised for sale a tenement on the north side of the Bridgegate, “being the tenement next but one to the bridge.” It is described as consisting of a fore-shop and dwelling-house on the ground-floor; a dwelling-house in the first story above the shop; two dwelling-houses in the second story; a dwelling-house in the garret with two back cellars, and a dwelling-house above them. The rental is “about £10,” and the whole property is offered at the price of £65.
Of the great rise in the value of land at a later date I have already given some instances. I shall mention a few others. I have referred to the sale of the lands of Stobcross by Mr. Orr to Mr. David Watson in 1776. The property contained about eighty acres, and the price paid by Mr. Watson was £4000, being at the rate of £50 per acre. I pass over intermediate changes in the proprietorship, but between 1844 and 1870 sixty acres of these lands were sold at prices which amounted in all to upwards of £240,000, and if the remaining twenty acres were sold at no higher price than 25s. per square yard the whole lands which were sold in 1776 for £4000 will have realized upwards of three hundred and sixty thousand pounds, or ninety times the price paid a hundred years ago. But portions of Stobcross have been sold at prices far above twenty-five shillings the square yard.
The estate of Yorkhill, now becoming part of the city, but in the beginning of the century far away in the country, was acquired by Mr. Gilbert in different portions between 1813 and 1823. The total extent was 104 acres, and the price which he paid amounted in all to £19,440. Previous to 1866 there were feued of this estate about forty-four acres, at feu-duties which, taken at the low rate of twenty-two years’ purchase, represent a capital sum of, in round numbers, £220,000; and assuming that the remainder – upwards of sixty acres – brings no more than twenty-five shillings the square yard – a moderate estimate – this property will have realized upwards of six hundred thousand pounds.
The lands of Kelvinbank, in the same neighbourhood, consisting of about twelve acres, were purchased in 1792 by Mr. Wilson – the uncle of Mr. Rae Wilson, on whom Hood has conferred an unenviable notoriety – for £1000. They were sold by Rae Wilson to the Trades House in1846 for £20,000, and the Trades House has since re-sold them for £80,000.
In 1790 Hucheson’s Hospital advertised their ground in Gorbals, now so valuable, to be feud at the rate of eight guineas the acre, equal to a yearly payment of less than a halfpenny the square yard.
In 1754 a portion of Kelvingrove which now constitutes the West End Park, consisting of something more than twelve acres, was sold by Mr. Campbell of Blythswood to Mr. John Wotherspoon, for the sum of 1090 pounds Scots – about £90 sterling – and an annual payment of sixteen bolls of corn of eight stones the boll – about 10s. 6d. sterling – which gives as the total annual payment eight guineas, being at twenty-five years’ purchase equal to a capital sum of £210. The price therefore of these twelve acres of ground – not of annual payment, but the entire price – was only £300 – less than a penny farthing the square yard. In 1803 Mr. John Pattison, who was then proprietor of Kelvingrove, acquired from Mr. Campbell of Blythswood an additional portion of ground, part of “Woodsidehill,” consisting of upwards of twelve acres. By that time the value of land had increased considerably, but still the price was only an annual feu-duty of £64, 9s. 4½d. This at twenty-five years’ purchase gives as the whole price only about £1600 – less than £134 the acre. For these two portions, consisting of about twenty-five acres, the city in 1852 paid £30,000 – about five shillings the square yard. Two years afterwards, having set apart for building a portion of the ground forming a continuation of Claremont Terrace, the magistrates feued that portion at the very moderate price of £1, 7s. 6d. the square yard – equal to £6650 the acre. At this rate the price of the 24 acres, which cost less than £1900, would amount in round numbers to £160,000.
Moore Park, a property of 37 acres lying between the Govan and Paisley Roads, three miles from the Cross of Glasgow, was purchased by Mr. Alston so late as 1822 for £6500. Less than a half of it – about sixteen acres – was recently sold to the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company for £30,000.
The lands of Gilmourhill and Donaldshill were purchased by Mr. Bogle in the beginning of the present century for £8500. In 1865 they were sold to the College for £81,000.
About the year 1770 the College sold to John McAuslan, a nurseryman, twelve acres of the lands of Provanside, lying towards the head of Buchanan Street and eastward to John Street – now in the heart of the city – for a yearly feu-duty of only £37 – little more than £800 for the twelve acres. In 1772 four acres of ground situated on both sides of Stirling’s Road, not far from the Cathedral, were sold for an annual payment of £12, 12s. 1d. – little more than £260. The increase in value of these two properties must be enormous.
In 1782 “the Point House and land adjoining the ferry [at the mouth of the Kelvin] with the ferry boats” were advertised to be sold. The extent of land was, I understand, about three acres, and the whole property was offered at the upset price of £400. It was subsequently sold in lots at prices which, on the average, represent a total of about £14,000. In the Maryhill district and other parts of Glasgow the rise in the value of ground has been equally striking.