The antiquity, the completeness, and the fine state of her records, give to Glasgow the first place in the history of Scotch bishoprics. The care with which these records were preserved, the interest that gathered round them when they were regarded as the prop of Stuart and royal legitimacy, their danger during the French Revolution, and their fortunate restoration to Scotland, form an interesting chapter for the antiquary, but cannot find room here.1
There is no reason to doubt, that about the middle of the sixth century, Saint Kentigern, deriving his faith and consecration from Servanus and Palladius, having been obliged for some time to seek shelter in Wales, returned and settled his colony of converts at Glasgow, a place then within the dominions of a petty prince of Cumbria. This little Christian family, which the monks of a later age chose to name a monastery, devoted themselves to rural industry, and learned, with their first lessons of a purer faith, many of the arts of peaceful life. Their founder and guide had at first perhaps no larger diocese. He was one of those Episcopi Britannorum2 who are mentioned from time to time in the history of the Church; but always with a vagueness, marking the distance and obscurity of the people amongst whom they exercised their ministry. Of his successors we unfortunately know little, until the period embraced by the venerable Register of the Diocese; for the names of some intermediate bishops appear to have been mustered in suspicious circumstances, at any rate without sufficient evidence, for the purpose of supporting a disputed claim of the See of York.3 The full light of history first falls upon Glasgow at the restoration of the diocese by Saint David, which is recorded in the remarkable instrument standing first in the Ancient Register. It is a memoir or notitia, which, although not without parallel in Scotch records, is much less common with us than in the registers of religious houses abroad.4 In this instance, the document is very solemnly witnessed, and records an investigation directed by David, while Prince of Cumbria, regarding the lands and churches belonging to the Episcopal Church of Glasgow. The narrative, at its commencement, does not claim the same authority with the subsequent verdict of the five Juratores, – seniores homines et sapientiores totius Cumbriæ. It is simply a statement made by the framers of the instrument, in the presence of the Prince and his Court, of the tradition and belief of the country at that time. They first relate the foundation of the Church of Glasgow, and the ordination of St. Kentigern as bishop of Cumbria. They mention the death of Kentigern, and that he was succeeded by many bishops in the see; but that the confusion and revolutions of the country at length destroyed all traces of the Church, and almost of Christianity. Within the knowledge of all present was the restoration of the bishopric by David, and the election and consecration of John, who is commonly called the first Bishop of Glasgow. Proceeding to the main object of their inquiry, they record the ancient possessions of the church of Glasgow as returned upon the oath of the juratores. The names of these places have been a fruitful subject of discussion.5 It cannot, however, be disputed, that the province of Scotch Cumbria and the diocese of Glasgow, which, at least at the date of the inquisition, seem to have been synonymous, included many places, described as the property of the Church, in Dumfriesshire on one side, and far down in Teviotdale on the other. The date of the inquisition is not given, but it is ascertained to be about 1116.6 We have no more certain date for the next deed, which records a gift of Earl David to the Church at the period of its restoration and building – certainly earlier than 1124, the year of his succeeding to the throne of his brother, Alexander I.
We know, that on the nones [7th] of July 1136,7 the newly built church of Glasgow was dedicated. On that occasion the king, David I., gave to the church the land of Perdeyc, which was soon afterwards erected, along with the church of Govan, into a prebend of the cathedral. In addition to the long list of possessions restored to Glasgow upon the verdict of the assize of inquest, this saintly king granted to the bishop the church of Renfrew; Govan with its church; the church of Cadihou; the tithe of his kain, or duties paid in cattle and swine throughout Strathgrif, Cuningham, Kyle, and Carrick, except when required for the maintenance of his own household;8 and the eighth penny of all pleas of court throughout Cumbria. The bishop also acquired the church of Lochorwort, now Borthwick, in Lothian, from the Bishop of St. Andrews, the king and prince present and consenting.9
Bishop John had been a tutor to King David, and was for some time his Chancellor. He had a long contest with Thurstan, Archbishop of York, by whom he was put under sentence of suspension in 1122. He then went to the Holy Land; but the next year, by order of the Pope, returned to his see. In 1125, he went to Rome to endeavour to obtain the pallium for the Bishop of St. Andrews, against the influence of the Archbishop of York. He is said to have retired among the Benedictine monks, and he did not return to Glasgow till recalled to his diocese by Alberic, the legate, in 1138. He died 28th May 1147.
Herbert, the next bishop, formerly Abbot of Kelso, was consecrated by Pope Eugenius II. at Auxerre, in the same year. He died in 1164.
In the reign of Malcolm, the church of Glasgow acquired by gifts from the Crown the church of Old Roxburgh, with endowments it had received from King David; from William de Sumervil three acres of Lintun; and, from Walter the Steward, two shillings yearly from the duties of his burgh of Renfrew. The bishop had also several royal and papal writs for enforcing the payment of tithes, especially in Galloway, and on lands which the king had granted to his barons and knights, Richard de Morevil and Alan the Steward, and others. He had a gift of Conclud, to compensate for the king’s transgression against the Church, in granting these lands without sufficiently securing the Church in its dues, “up to the day when he took the staff of pilgrimage of St. James.” The Pope issued an injunction to the clergy and people of the diocese to visit the Cathedral church of Glasgow yearly, according to the custom of St. Andrews ad other neighbouring sees, and likewise confirmed a constitution of the Dean and Chapter, declaring, that on the demise of a canon, his prebend, for one year, should go to pay his debts (pro re honesta contracta), or to the poor.10
Bishop Herbert was succeeded by Ingelram, who had a bull for his consecration notwithstanding the vehement opposition of the Archbishop of York, 1st November 1164,11 and a papal precept for his reception. He was previously Archdeacon of Glasgow and Chancellor of the kingdom. He resisted strenuously and effectually the pretensions of the Archbishop of York to metropolitan superiority, and died 2d February 1174.12
The reign of William is the era of the rise of free burghs in Scotland; and, whilst the Sovereign was founding them on his domains, the great Lords of the Church obtained privileges of the same nature for the cities erected around their Cathedrals. Such was the origin of the burgh of Glasgow. The royal charter, which granted to the bishop and his successors the privilege of having a burgh at Glasgow, with a market on Thursday, and with freedoms and customs of the king’s burghs, is dated at Traquair; and, from the witnesses, it was granted between the years 1175 and 1178.13 The king granted to the Bishop of Glasgow a toft in each of his royal burghs of Munros, Dumfries, Forfar, and Stirling.14 In the early part of this reign, the Cathedral possessed twenty-five churches, seventeen of which seem to have been mensal; and during it, the bishop acquired large accessions of property, in lands and churches, in Ashkirk, Gillemoreston, Stobhou, Carnwath, Kilbride, Anandale, Hottun, Muckart, Lilllisclef, Wilton, Campsy, and Cardross. The land of Balain was granted to the bishop, in compensation of excess committed by the king against St. Kentigern and his church, after the decease of Bishop Ingelram.
In this reign was the beginning of the complaints regarding the cleric patrons of parish churches neglecting to supply parsons for the cure of souls;15 a complaint which, in different shapes, gave rise to a large proportion of the controversies and transactions between churchmen for several centuries. The evils which arose from appeals to the Church of Rome, led to some measures intended to mitigate the abuse. There are several proceedings illustrating the origin and privileges of parish churches, and the jealousy with which their holders watched the growth of chapels interfering with the numerous offerings and dues of the Mother Church, which were only of inferior importance to its tithes. The great Cathedral feud had already begun between the chapter and the bishop. A transaction between the cathedral vicars and the chapter, serves to show that the election of the bishop was not yet a merely nominal right of the chapter. We find churchmen interdicted from pledging their benefices for money borrowed from Jews. Churches are not to be granted till vacant. The sons of priests occupying the same churches which their fathers had held are to be removed.16
Jocelin, Abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Melros, was the next bishop, “a clero, a populo exigente et rege ipso assentiente, ad ecclesiam Glasguensem presul eligitur, 10. kalendas Junii  apud Pert in Scotia; vir mitis et morigeratus, vir mansuetus et moderatus.”17 He was consecrated at Clairvaux on the 1st of June 1175. Like his predecessors, he resisted the encroachment of York, and obtained from the Pope, who favoured the Cistercian order, a command that the bishops of Scotland should yield no obedience to the Archbishop of York, notwithstanding that Henry of England had compelled them to swear obedience to the Anglican Church. In 1182, Jocelin went to Rome, and obtained from Pope Lucius III. the absolution of his royal master from Church censure.18 He was required by the succeeding Popes to admonish the king, chiefly in regard of his neglect to enforce the dues of the Church with the power of the Crown.19 William, indeed, was a zealous churchman, a worthy grandson of David, but he was of the party that had already begun to resist the domination of Rome. Pope Innocent III. exhorted him in fine language to take care that he who had presented his morning offering fail not to render his evening sacrifice, but finish a bright day with a clear evening. Between 1189 and 1192, we find Jocelin anxiously engaged in the restoration of his Cathedral Church. The original church of Bishop John, built, perhaps, chiefly of wood, had been recently destroyed by fire; and Jocelin founded a society to collect funds for its restoration, for which he obtained the royal sanction and protection.20 He must have proceeded with extraordinary energy and success, since, on the 6th of July 1197, his new church was sufficiently advanced to be dedicated.21 After a long episcopate, Jocelin retired to his old Abbey of Melros, died among his brethren of the convent on the 17th March 1199, and was buried on the north side of the choir.22
His successor was Hugh de Roxburgh, the Chancellor, who died two months after his election, probably unconsecrated.23
William Malvoisin, the Chancellor, succeeded; elected 1199; consecrated in France by the Archbishop of Lyons in 1200. He was translated to St. Andrews in 1202.
The next bishop was Florence, the son of that gallant Count Florence of Holland, the hero of the crusaders at Damietta, by Ada the granddaughter of David I. of Scotland. His uncle King William made him his chancellor; and he was at the same time elected to this bishopric, in which he continued for five years without consecration, and resigned his charge in 1207. The causes of his not being confirmed, and of his resignation, are equally unknown.24
Walter, capellanus regis, was elected bishop on the 5th of the Ides of December 1207, and consecrated by papal license at Glasgow on the 2d November 1208. He attended a General Council (the Lateran) at Rome in 1215, along with the Bishops of St Andrews and Moray; and three years afterwards accompanied the Bishops of Moray and Caithness, when they obtained the papal absolution from the interdict of the Legate Gualo. He died in 1232.
In the following reign the Chapter acquired the church of Daliel as a common church from the Abbey of Paisley. The bishop obtained the church of Hottun by a transaction with the canons of Jedburgh, and had a grant of the patronage of the churches of Annan, Lochmaben, with its chapel of Rokele, Cumbretrees, Gretenhou, Rempatrick, Kirkepatric, and the chapel of Logan, from the monastery of Gyseburne, to which they had been given by Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale.25 Affrica of Nithsdale granted to the Bishop the church of St. Bride of Wintertonnegan, and by transactions, some of which amounted to a purchase, he acquired the church of Merebotle and the lands of Ingoliston. The families of Carrick and of Lennox, from whose wild dominions it was in last reign so difficult to obtain the dues of the Church, had now become its dutiful children. In 1225, Earl Duncan of Carrick, in a chapter celebrated at Ayr, solemnly undertook to pay all his tithes and dues, and to use his power with his men and tenants for the same purpose. He promised no longer to oppress the clergy of Carrick with tallies or exactions;26 to enforce Church censures by confiscation and temporal penalties; and he granted that the clergy should have a right of pasturage through his whole land, “according to the traditions of our fathers and the statutes of the Church;”27 and the Earl’s son compounded for injuries he ad perpetrated against the Glasgow churches during the war in Galloway, by a donation of a church, which seems to be that of Stratton, with land in the parish. Besides these, the Church acquired small additional revenues from Rutherglen and Cadihou, Ashkirk, Buthlullm now Bonhill, Roxburgh, Golyn, and Mosplat in the bailiary of Lanark. The provision for parochial vicars still continued a fertile subject of dispute and transactions. In one of these, we find the unusual stipulation that the stipend shall increase in proportion to the revenues of the churches – an element that seems to have been carefully excluded in other transactions of this nature. The amount of procurations, or dues payable to bishops on visitation, seems not to have been so much disputed in the diocese of Glasgow as in the other bishoprics of Scotland. The transactions regarding such disputes are comparatively few.
On a statement, that in a certain part of the diocese some barbarous tribes were destitute of spiritual instruction, the Pope, to support the expense of the bishop’s visitation there, granted him the church of Drivesdale in usus proprios. To meet the pressure of debts affecting the Church, the whole clergy of the diocese were commanded to contribute a subsidy; and the Pope allowed the bishop to appropriate the revenues of two churches for three years.
Great efforts were made to obtain enforcement of ecclesiastical decrees by the arm of the civil power, and to a certain extent successfully. At the same time the whole authority of Rome was used to prevent the clergy from pleading in a lay court. A number of papal privileges show us that the two great grievances of the bishop were, being forced to admit to benefices or pensions upon the dictation of the Pope, and the liability to be summoned in Church cases out of the kingdom.
The bishop had a very early exemption for himself and his people from toll and custom for their own chattels, which was renewed in this reign. It brought the citizens of Glasgow into collision with the ancient royal burgh of Rutherglen, and with the more modern one of Dumbarton. Against the latter the bishop prevailed, and secured for his burgesses a free trade in Argyle and Lennox; but Rutherglen was more powerful; and all that could be obtained was a protection against the royal burgh levying toll and custom within the town of Glasgow, or nearer than the cross of Schedenestun.28
The custom of judicial combat, one branch of that system of ordeal which appealed all questions between man and man to the direct decision of Providence, was still in considerable observance. It appears that in Scotland, as well as England, this law was extended to churchmen, and Innocent III. found it necessary to fulminate a bull against so pestilent a custom.29
The Cathedral, though dedicated in the episcopate of Bishop Jocelin, cannot have been completed then. But the cathedral of Saint Kentigern was of national interest, and the General Council of the Scotch Church came to its assistance. In 1242, it was ordained that, from the beginning of Lent till the octaves of Easter, the matter of the building of the church of Glasgow should be recommended to the parishioners in every church on Sundays and festivals, after mass, and the indulgence granted to those assisting the building, written up in church, and expounded in the vulgar tongue; and that no other collection be allowed to interfere with it during that period.30
It was the work of many years, notwithstanding, and the length of time occupied in erecting this great church accounts for some curious changes of style, which must have taken place while the work was in progress.
In this reign the diocese is said to have been divided into two archdeaconries, Glasgow proper, and Teviotdale.31
Walter’s successor in the bishopric was the Chancellor, William de Bondington, a courteous, liberal man – vir dapsilis et liberalis in omnibus32 – who was consecrated at Glasgow on the Sunday after the nativity of the Virgin, 1233.33 He is said to have finished the Cathedral.34 He resigned the office of Chancellor about the period of the king’s death. He seems to have preferred his native Borders – not yet a lawless district, uninhabitable for men of peace – and latterly resided much at his pleasant house of Alncrum,35 and died there on the 10th November 1258. He was buried at Melros, near the high altar.36
The reign of Alexander III. is not so important in the history of the diocese for any great acquisition of property, as for an important change in the constitution of the Church. Isabella de Valloniis, the widow of David Comyn, lord of Kilbride, granted to the Church a territory in the forest of Dalkarn. Dervorguilla, co-heiress of Alan of Galloway, and widow of John de Balliol, gave to it Torhgil in Cunyngham, Ryesdale, and other lands and pastures in her domain of Largs. The patronage of the parish church of Smalham was obtained from David Olifard. John Comyn, lord of Rulebethok, gave to the Church his land of Rulehalch.
William de Bondington, who had previously regulated the archdeaconry of Teviotdale, in the last year of his bishopric and of his life, by the consent of the Chapter, established the liberties and customs of Salisbury as the future constitution of the Cathedral of Glasgow. The ritual of Sarum, arranged by Bishop Osmund in 1076, had been very generally adopted, even beyond the authority of the English Church.37 This naturally led to the adoption also of its constitution and customs. With the view of ascertaining these accurately and authoritatively, the Chapter obtained from the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury a formal statement of their constitution, which ever after formed, as it were, the charter of privileges of the Glasgow Chapter.38 This important measure was preceded by a charter of the bishop, granting to the canons the free election of their dean (which must probably be held as a declaration of their previously existing right); and it was accompanied by a gift of Hottun, as an addition to the common churches of the chapter, and by the foundation and endowment of a body of vicarii de residentia, or cathedral vicars.39
By a right which the church purchased from the lord of Luss in 1277, we learn two interesting particulars; – that the territory of that lord then abounded in wood, and that the Church of Glasgow was at that time collecting materials for building a steeple and treasury – campanile et thesauraria.40 The increasing number and consequence of the Chapter rendered necessary other alterations of the cathedral buildings; and on two occasions during this reign, we find a project for removing the bishop’s palace to make way for the dwellings of the canons.41
The drains of church property to Rome were perhaps scarcely more heavy, in the shape of avowed taxation or contribution, than in the sums continually transmitted for securing patronage, and keeping up influence at the papal court. We have instances of both in the transactions of this reign.42
After the death of Bishop William de Bondington, the election of the Chapter fell upon Nicolas de Moffet, the archdeacon of Teviotdale, who was prevented from obtaining consecration by the intrigues of some members of his Chapter. The Pope not only rejected him, but appointed in his place, and consecrated, John de Cheyam, an Englishman. Nearly all we know of him is, that he claimed as of ancient right to exercise his diocesan jurisdiction as far as Rere Cross on Stanmore,43 and that, equally unacceptable to the king and his Chapter, he retired from his diocese and from Scotland, and died in France in 1268.44
Upon his death, Nicolas de Moffet obtained possession of the see, but died without consecration in 1270.
William Wischart, Archdeacon of St. Andrews, and Chancellor of Scotland, was elected to succeed him, but was in the same year postulated to the See of St. Andrews.45
Robert Wischart, Archdeacon of Lothian, elected his successor, was consecrated at Aberdeen by the Bishops of Aberdeen, Moray, and Dumblane. During the peaceful reign of Alexander, he had leisure for a dispute with his Chapter concerning the lands of Kermyl, with which John de Cheyam and the Chapter had endowed three chaplains in the cathedral.46 The latter transactions of his life were of a different character.
The short reign of the maiden of Norway, and the troubled interregnum that followed, were not favourable to the Church. The only transaction of consequence recorded during that period was a decision or arrangement between Sir William of Moray, lord of Bothuile, and the Chapter; Moray taking the church of Smalham, and the Chapter the church of Walliston, in proprios usus or as a common church.
Edward I. spent a fortnight at Glasgow in the autumn of 1301. He resided at the Friars Preachers, but was constant in his offerings at the High Altar and the shrine of Saint Mungo. Of the building spacious enough to receive the monarch’s train, there are now no vestiges. A few years later we find by a charter still preserved in the archives of the University, the Bishop and Chapter granted to the Friars preachers of Glasgu a spring called the Meadow-well, rising in the Denside, to be conducted into the cloisters of the Friars.47
The reign of Robert was scarcely more fortunate for Glasgow. the Church has no recorded acquisition of property in this reign, except small annual rents given by the family of Avenel,48 and by John, Abbot of Holyrood.49 The prebend of Barlanark was granted by the king in free warren. On the other hand, the Chapter parted with two of its churches at the request of the king, giving Eglismalesock to Kelso, and Watstirker to Melros.50 Deeds are here preserved in favour of the Abbey of Paisley and the Church of Ayr. A transaction is recorded, in which Roger de Auldton, by a gift of a considerable property, purchased the privilege of burial for himself and his spouse in the choir of the church of St. James of Roxburgh.51 I may likewise mention an instrument, recording the precautions taken upon the loss of the bishop’s seal of cause; and a curious indenture, in which Walter Fitz Gilbert, the first of the family of Hamilton, grants to the Church certain vestments and plate, under reservation of the use of them four times in the year in the chapel of Machan.52
The affectionate sympathy expressed by the king for the bishop would serve to give us some insight into his character, even if the history of Robert Wischart were not so well known.53 “We feel in our heart as we ought,” says Bruce, “the imprisonments and chains, the persecutions and vexatious delays which the venerable father Robert, Bishop of Glasgow, has endured, and still endures with patience, for the rights of the church and of our kingdom of Scotland.” Bruce, the mirror of chivalry, felt no horror of the churchman’s breaches of promise. It was a time when strong opposition on the one side, made the other almost forget the laws of good faith and humanity. Our bishop did homage to the Suzerain, and transgressed it; he swore fidelity over and over again to the King of England, and as often broke his oath. He kept no faith with Edward. He preached against him;54 and, when the occasion offered, he buckled on his armour like a Scotch baron, and fought against him. 55
But let it not be said he changed sides as fortune changed.56 When the weak Balliol renounced his allegiance to his over-lord, the Bishop, who knew both, must have divined to which side victory would incline;57 and yet he opposed Edward. When Wallace, almost single-handed, set up the standard of revolt against the all-powerful Edward, the Bishop of Glasgow immediately joined him. When Robert Bruce, friendless and a fugitive, raised the old war-cry of Scotland, the indomitable Bishop supported him. Bruce was proscribed by Edward, and under the anathema of the Church: The Bishop assoilzied him for the sacrilegious slaughter of Comyn, and prepared the robes and royal banner for his coronation.
Wischart was taken prisoner in the castle of Cupar, which he had held against the English, in 1306, and was not liberated till after Bannockburn.58 It was in the midst of that long confinement that we find Robert commiserating his tedious imprisonment, his chains, and persecutions so patiently endured for the rights of the church and kingdom of Scotland. The Bishop had grown blind in prison. He survived his liberation two years, and died in November 1316.59 One charge of Edward against Bishop Wischart was, that he had used timber which he had allowed him for building a steeple to his cathedral,60 in constructing engines of war against the king’s castles, and especially the castle of Kirkintilloch.
Master Stephen de Donydouer, a canon of Glasgow, and chamberlain to King Robert, was elected on the death of Wischart, but through the influence of Edward II. with the Pope, his confirmation was delayed, and he died in 1318, without having been consecrated.
Considerable confusion now surrounds the history of the see. John de Lindesay and John de Wischart were both Bishops of Glasgow between 1318 and 1334; but it is not easy to distinguish their episcopates. It would rather seem that John de Wischart, who was previously archdeacon, was elected Bishop in 1319, and Lindesay succeeded him in 1321.
It was therefore probably Bishop John de Lindesay who figured in a curious deed of the latter part of this reign.61 Whoever he was, he certainly had previously held a prebend in the cathedral of Glasgow. On his confirmation and consecration, the Pope reserved the prebend so vacated to his own collation. But immediately on the bishop’s arrival from the Roman court, the king claimed the presentation, according to the custom of Scotland, as of a benefice in the bishop’s gift, fallen vacant before the bishop had taken the oath of fidelity to the king – and presented Master Walter de Twynham. The bishop was evidently most reluctant; but Bruce was not to be trifled with; and Master Walter was admitted by ring, as use is, with a protestation saving the Pope’s right; which was apparently all the satisfaction afforded his Holiness; for his nominee, Nicholas de Guercino, had evidently put in his claim ineffectually long afterwards. The same instrument gives evidence of a general council held at Perth in 1324.
About the feast of the Assumption in the year 1337, two ships, coming from France to Scotland, were encountered and taken after a stout resistance, by John de Ros, the English admiral. On board were John de Lindesay, Bishop of Glasgow, and with him many noble ladies of Scotland, and men-at-arms, and much armour, and £30,000 of money, and the instruments of agreement and treaty between France and Scotland. The men-at-arms were all slain or drowned in the sea. The Lord Bishop and part of those noble ladies, for very grief, refused to eat or drink, and died before the fleet made the land. Their bodies are buried at Wytsande in England.62
The long reign of David II. is, as might be expected, barren of events affecting the church. There is evidence of a heavy papal contribution in 1340, of which I have found no other trace; of a dispute between the bishop and chapter in 1362; and of nothing else of properly ecclesiastical events of higher consequence than the foundation of a chantry or an altarage.
But the church records here supply few events of secular interest. The Bishop adhering to the party of Edward Balliol, we have an interesting charter of Edward granted at Glasgow, “on the first day of the second year of his reign” – 1333, where some of the disinherited lords appear as witnesses.
A foundation of a chaplainry in 1361, by David FitzWalter, knight, lord of Kinniel, gives the second generation of the family of Hamilton, not yet bearing the name, but blazoning the three cinque-foils, the well-known family arms.63
The successor of John de Lindesay was William Raa, of whose life and conduct during that period of confusion little is known.64 He is said to have built the stone bridge over the Clyde at Glasgow;65 but we should require some evidence of such an undertaking being completed in a time of so great national depression. In his days Margaret Logy became queen of Scotland; and the imperious young beauty, not content with ruling the king, seems to have interfered more than was lawful in the affairs of the bishopric. She exacted concession of church property for one favourite, and a benefice for another, and actually averred that the king had made her a grant of the bishopric of Glasgow in part.66 Bishop William died in 1367.
His successor was Walter de Wardlaw, archdeacon of Lothian, and secretary to the king; consecrated 1368.
He was much employed in foreign embassies, and received the honour of the cardinalate and the office of legate a latere for Scotland and Ireland, in 1385, from the antipope Clement VII., to whom the Scotch Church adhered. He died in 1387.
The reign of Robert II., though equally barren of deeds regarding the church, furnished to the charter scholars of the Scotch college their most valued evidence and their greatest triumph. After setting forth the proofs of the legitimacy of Robert III. contained in the charters, founding a chaplainry in consideration of a papal dispensation for the marriage of his father with Elizabeth More, and detailing the preservation of these charters in France, Thomas Innes, with an excusable mixture of loyalty and patriotism with grateful affection for the country of his adoption, celebrates the glory of FRANCE, who – united to Scotland by their ancient league, and often affording a hospitable reception to her royal family – hath now happily preserved at once the hope and heir of the kingdom – the hundred and tenth inheritor of the crown – and the unchallengeable proofs of the legitimacy of his race!67
Upon the death of the cardinal, the Pope endeavoured to intrude John Framisden, a friar minor, into the see of Glasgow, and craved the assistance of Richard II. for his settlement by force.68 The attempt, however, entirely failed, and Matthew de Glendonwyn, a canon of the cathedral, obtained the bishopric peaceably. In his episcopate, the steeple, built of timber from the banks of Lochlomond, was burnt down. He made preparations for rebuilding it of stone, but had not commenced it when he died 10th May 1408.
A statue for taxing prebends to supply robes and ornaments for the cathedral service; and some proceedings regarding the hospital of Polmadie, which had lately become the property of the bishop, are the only records of events of the unfortunate reign of Robert III.
The period embraced by the reign of James I. in the Register of the Bishopric begins with a remarkable proceeding in a parliament holden at Perth in 1415, where the Chancellor of Scotland, in name and behalf of the three estates, required to have formally exemplified, the famous charter of Edward III. of England declaring the independence of Scotland, lest by the loss or destruction of the original letters, and in defect of proof of their contents, the king and kingdom suffer loss. Those instruments themselves are now well known to the historian;69 but it might afford an interesting subject of speculation to conjecture the end or motives of their solemn publication at that time, when the young king was still a prisoner in England, and the government in the hands of the aged Albany.
The return of James from captivity restored order and some degree of prosperity to Scotland, which could not fail to produce an effect on the state of the church. An amicable settlement of the clashing jurisdictions of the archdeacon and the bishop, the acquisition of the church of Libberton by the chapter,70 and the erection of seven new prebends in the cathedral71 follow quickly upon the restoration of security and good government. A grant of church ornaments by Sir Allan Stewart of Darnlie; a careful inventory of the relics, jewels, vestments, and books of the cathedral; and the formation of codes of statutes for the decorous government of the canons and their cathedral vicars; all show like effects produced by the leisure and security, and perhaps encouraged by the example or directions of James’s government. These statutes are extremely interesting to the church antiquary, and it may interest any one who studies the progress of society, to observe the union of a provision for magnificent religious solemnities with the antique simplicity of life and manners in the actors in the pageant.72
On the death of Bishop Matthew, William de Lawedre was provided to the bishopric by Pope Benedict XIII. without the election of the Chapter, who, however, did not dispute his appointment. He had previously been Archdeacon of Lothian. His parents were Robert and Annabella de Lawedre;73 and from the arms often repeated on the cathedral and found on his seal, he must have been of the ancient family of the Lauders of the Merse.74 He was appointed chancellor in 1423, and died 14th June 1425. He built the crypt below the chapter-house, and the steeple, with the battlements of the tower.
John Cameron succeeded him in the bishopric as well as in the office of chancellor, after the see had been vacant for a year. He had previously been Secretary of State and provost of Lincluden. He continued chancellor till 1440. He built the “great tower” of the Bishops’ Palace in Glasgow, on which his arms were to be seen in the last century; and also the Chapter-house, begun by Bishop Lauder. He has been accused of great avarice and oppression, not on very good evidence. Buchanan relates the manner of his death (which took place at Lochwood on Christmas-eve 1447), with some prodigious circumstances, represented as a judgment on his wicked life.75
The period of the next reign is now chiefly interesting to us as giving birth to the most important offspring of the Episcopal Church of Glasgow, its University. It was constituted by a bull of Pope Nicholas V., dated on the 7th of the Ides of January 1450, and had a charter of privileges and exemptions from the king, and another from the bishop and Chapter, 1453.
The general jubilee proclaimed in 1450, on the termination of the great papal schism, was extended to Scotland, and penitential visits and offerings at the Cathedral of Glasgow declared equally meritorious with those at Rome; the offerings on the occasion being distributed, one portion to the fabric of the church of Glasgow, one to other pious uses in Scotland, and a third to Rome. An indulgence with regard to Lent, and a royal concession that bishops might make testaments, are common to all Scotland, and very well known. A new protection to the burgh, and an extensive grant of regality to the bishop, mark the greatness of his influence.
Of mere church economy – we find the patronage of Polmadie secured; Lilisclive disjoined from the common stock of the Chapter, to be speedily afterwards reunited; the prebend of Ashkirke enlarged; Glencairn given to the Chapter as a common church, the vicar being secured in a stipend of twenty merks. By the decision of the Dean and Chapter, as arbiters between the bishop and the Archdeacon of Teviotdale, the archdeacon of that district was declared to have exactly the same jurisdiction in it as the Archdeacon of Glasgow in his part of the diocese.
James Bruce, the Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Dunkeld, was elected Bishop of Glasgow after the death of Bishop Cameron, but died before confirmation or investiture.76
William Turnbull, Archdeacon of Lothian, and keeper of the privy seal, was the next bishop.77 During a short incumbency he procured valuable privileges, papal and royal, for his bishopric and city; and he will ever be regarded with affectionate gratitude as the founder of the University of Glasgow. He died 3d September 1454.
Andrew Muirhead, a canon, was next elected bishop, and consecrated in the year 1455. He founded the hospital of St. Nicholas, near his episcopal palace, and repaired the north aisle of the cathedral. He was a member of the regency during the minority of James III.; several times a commissioner to treat with England; and one of the ambassadors to negotiate the marriage of James with Margaret of Denmark. He died 20th November 1473.
The reign of James III. is not productive. It yields us little more than a new constitution and improved stipends of the vicars of the choir; a dispute between the bishop and the chapter; a “reservation” of patronage and provision following on it, by the Pope;78 an extension of the jurisdiction of regality.
John Laing, the Lord Treasurer, was provided by the Pope to the see of Glasgow, upon the recommendation of the king, on the 7th March 1473. He was made chancellor in 1481, and died 11th January 1482.
George Carmichael, treasurer of the diocese, was elected bishop, but died unconfirmed in the year 1483.79
Robert Blacader, Bishop of Aberdeen, and previously a prebendary of Glasgow, was the next bishop, 1484. He was much employed in the affairs of the government, went several embassies to England, probably made some journeys to Rome, and died, according to Lesley, on his way to the Holy Land on 28th July 1508.
James IV., full of enthusiastic religion, had become a canon of the Chapter of Glasgow at an early period of his life, and loved to show favour to the cathedral of which he was a member. In the first year of his reign, it was “concludit and ordanit be our soverane lord and his three estatis, that for the honour and gud public of the realme, the sege of Glasgw be erect in ane archibishoprik, with sic previlegiis as accordis of law, and siclik as the archbishoprik of York has in all dignitez emuniteis and previlegiis.”80 To this change not only the Archbishop of St. Andrews, but the Chapter of Glasgow, was much opposed, fearing for their privileges, from the increased power of their prelate. The king, however, pressed the measure, and he, as well as the bishop, guaranteed the privileges of the canons to their fullest extent. The bull declaring the see of Glasgow metropolitan was dated 5th of the Ides of January 1491. Its suffragans were the Bishops of Dunkeld, Dunblane, Galloway, and Argyle.
The king renewed and extended the privileges and exemptions, and much valued civil jurisdiction of the bishop, with expressions that show both his attachment to Glasgow and the commencement of that high character of its Chapter which afterwards drew to the Diocesan court of Glasgow a great proportion of civil business.81
The Chapter acquired the church of Glasfurd as a common church during this reign. the erection of Lochvinyok is a valuable specimen of the early constitution of the collegiate churches. The chancellor’s vindication of his patronage of the grammar school, and his monopoly of teaching, against master David Dwne – who actually set himself to instruct scholars in grammar et juvenes in puerilibus – is not merely a subject of amusement. It illustrates both the state of education of the period, and those privileges of the church regarding schools, which enter into some weighty discussions touching the constitution of Universities.82
The preliminary proceedings in a criminal court of the archbishop’s regality are evidently recorded only for preserving the protest against the court being held out of his jurisdiction. The trial ended in the conviction and capital sentence of Alexander Lekprevik; but he had a royal pardon.83
James Bethune, Bishop-elect of Galloway, was postulated to the see of Glasgow, 9th November 1508, and consecrated on the 15th April 1509, at Stirling. He was previously Lord Treasurer, but resigned that office on his being preferred to the archbishopric. He held other great church benefices, as the abbacies of Arbroath and Kilwinning. He was made chancellor of the kingdom in 1515, and took a leading part in the politics of the time against the party of the Douglases. In 1523, he was translated to the see of St. Andrews.
The chief proceedings recorded in the reign of James V. are connected with the claim of the archbishops of Glasgow to independence, and the assumption of superiority by the Archbishop of St. Andrews as primate, a dispute which gave rise to the most unseemly proceedings at home, and contentions and pleas in the court of Rome £of the quhilkis pleyis,” in the words of Parliament, “the expensis is unestimable dampnage to the realme.”84
The formula of the oath of obedience by a suffragan to his metropolitan is not without interest.85
Gavin Dunbar, the nephew of the Bishop of Aberdeen of the same name, and tutor to James V., was, on the promotion of Bethune, elected Archbishop of Glasgow, and consecrated at Edinburgh on the 5th of February 1525. He was appointed chancellor of the kingdom, 21st August 1528, which office he held till 1543, and died in April 1547. His character and the transactions of his life are matter of history, known to every reader. If he has been roughly handled by Knox, his greatest admirer could not wish for him a more elegant panegyric than that of Buchanan.86
The records of the church in the short reign of Mary are few and unimportant. We find a crows of deeds marking the successive promotions of the last Catholic archbishop; a bond by the Duke of Chatelherault on being appointed the archbishop’s bailie of regality; a memorandum of the form of election of bailies of the city under the archbishop; and the celebrated protest made by the archbishop in name of all the prelates in Parliament, against the act allowing “that the halie write may be usit in our vulgar tongue.”87
On the death of Archbishop Dunbar, Alexander Gordon, brother to the Earl of Huntly, was chosen in his room, but resigned the office in 1551, and was immediately succeeded by James Bethune, then Abbot of Arbroath, who was consecrated at Rome in 1552. In 1560, he withdrew to France. Having served Mary faithfully as her ambassador or agent at the court of France, he was employed in the same capacity after her death by James. In 1598, by an Act of Parliament setting forth “the greir honouris done to his majestie and the countrey be the said archbishop, in exerceising and using the office of ambassadoir” – he was restored to his heritages, honours and dignities, and benefices, notwithstanding any sentences affecting him, and “notwithstanding that he hes never maid confession of his faith, and hes never acknawledgeit the religion profest within this realme.”88 We owe to him the preservation of the records of his church. He died very aged in 1603.
The city of Glasgow, which we have seen founded and rising under the protection of its powerful prelates, had maintained a successful struggle with the neighbouring royal burghs of Rutherglen, Renfrew, and Dumbarton, even before the bishop’s acquisition of extended jurisdiction gave his city the privileges of a burgh of regality.89 With the privileges derived from their superior’s enlarged jurisdiction, and by the influence of increasing wealth and consequence, Glasgow had made some approach to an independent constitution before the reformation.90 The flight of the archbishop gave an opportunity not to be neglected. The council proceeded to the election of magistrates,91 and the burgh then, in fact, achieved its independence, though still for some time subjected to claims of superiority by the Protestant archbishops, and by the family of Lennox, the heritable bailies of the regality.92 Though represented in Parliament like other church burghs so early as 1546, the city did not become legally a burgh royal till the charter of Charles I., confirmed in Parliament 1636, declared its duties payable directly to the Crown.93
The bishop of old dwelt in his castle of Glasgow, occupying I believe the site of the modern Infirmary. As the necessity of defence gave way to considerations of convenience, it was extended into a palace with gardens and courts.94 The houses of the Dean and canons and of the Cathedral vicars were in the neighbourhood, and chiefly along the street bearing the ancient ecclesiastical name of Rottenrow.95
The bishop is said to have had, from a very ancient period, a country palace on the pleasant bank of Perthic, where the Kelvin falls into Clyde. It is a remarkable proof of the peaceful state of the Borders in the middle of the thirteenth century, that we find Bishop Bondington making his usual residence at his house of Ancrum, in “pleasant Teviotdale,” a place still bearing many marks of old cultivation, and where a portion of the building, and until lately some remains of an antique garden, might without violence be attributed to its old episcopal masters. In the next century they had a house at their “manor of the Loch,” atill called Lochwood, in the parish of Old Monkland. The bishops, who were so frequently Officers of State, had necessarily a residence in the capital. The first Bishop Bethune’s Edinburgh house is still pointed out at the foot of Blackfriars’ Wynd.
There is no reason in the thing, why these rough and true outlines of episcopal history should be thus repulsively void of life and colour. There are materials enough for the artist who could sympathize with the life of a bygone time to paint many pictures from them. Take one day of episcopal Glasgow, the day of the foundation of the University. Fill that old High Street with its historical associations; remove the smoke and squalor that in our days gather about the eastern extremities of cities; restore the quaint architecture – the burghers’ houses thrusting their tall gables and “fore-stairs” to the street, the line broken with here and there a more ornate front of a friary or hospital, or the residential house of some dignified canon: dress the people in the picturesque dress of the fifteenth century – the merchant sallying forth in his gown and bonnet of peace, the women in snood and kirtle decking their windows and outer stairs with green boughs, and hanging bright carpets and banners from their balconies. The merchants’ stalls are mostly closed, for it is holiday. The few booths open display commodities to tempt the rural visitors – gay cloths and silks of Flanders and Italy – a suit of Milan armour, long swords and daggers of Toledo temper – sheaves of bow-staves and tall spear shafts – so tall, that poor bare Scotland has no wood fit to make them, and they are from over sea. The country people are gathering in fast, all in holiday garb, “kindly tenants” of “the barony;” sturdy yeomen from the upper wards, mounted, and with their dames on pillions behind them, willing to see the grand ceremony, and to pleasure their lord the Bishop, who takes mighty interest in its object. A dozen lords of neighbouring manors ride in – Maxwells and Hamiltons, Douglasses and Colquhouns – some of them with a dim vision of the matter in hand, and of the effects that may result from this day’s work to future generations. Each of these rural lords is attended by a little troop of men-at-arms, flaunting their leader’s banner, and making gay the street with the clang and splash of their chargers.
The different bands meet at the Cross, and all press up the High Street, until, near the summit, and when the grey cathedral comes in sight, they find the church procession already formed. The Bishop is there in pontifical robes and mitre, preceded by his cross-bearers, and followed by the dignitaries and whole chapter in full canonicals, all the choral vicars, hundreds of chaplains, acolytes, and officers of the cathedral, with the banners of the church, and all the pride and pomp which the old church was so skilful in throwing around her proceedings. There, too, came some lines of friendly friars, black and grey, so much interested in the occasion that some are preparing their great refectory as the most convenient hall for the first lectures, and others furnish the most esteemed and popular of the teachers of the new University.
From the street to the Cathedral, and that vast nave is filled at once; while, in the choir, after a solemn mass has been celebrated, amid the pealing of the organ, the clang of trumpets and clouds of incense, the stately prelate in person promulgates the Papal bulls of erection and privilege, and solemnly inaugurates the University.
Then there is high feasting at the palace. The Bishop and his noble guests, Master David Cadyow, first Lord Rector of the University, the dignitaries of the chapter, the priors and provincials of the friars, and heads of religious houses, on the dais; lower down, the body of the clergy and laity deemed worthy to partake of the solemn feast.
There is a play, too, for the commons, a “scripture history” represented by the clergy, and, I fear, in the church itself, where prophets and apostles are made to speak to the level of the vulgar, and sacred things are seasoned with the buffoonery that brings down, without fail, the laughter of the simple people.
History scarcely affords more striking contrasts than the past and the present of some of our Scotch towns. Call up, for instance, Edinburgh on the fearful night that brought the news of the king and his army slaughtered at Flodden (1513), and take the same city as it was lately seen when the Queen reviewed the volunteers in the park of Holyrood (7th August 1860). But in all material progress the change has been yet more extraordinary, from the Bishop’s little burgh clustered round the cathedral of Glasgow, to the great city which, in the pride of her beauty and riches, and the struggle for more, takes little thought of her grey old mother the Cathedral in one smoky corner, and her nurse the University in another. Yet Glasgow has not since seen a day so full of the hopes and destinies of her history, as the day when good Bishop Turnbull proclaimed the freedom of her University.
41 thoughts on “Bishopric of Glasgow, pp.29-70.”