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Of the Borough of Rutherglen, its Charters, Set, Antiquities, &c., Part III., pp.20-36.

[History of Rutherglen Contents]

CHARTAR in favour of Rutherglen, granted by the King and Parliament, ann. 1640. 

In the Parliament, halden at Edinburgh, the sevintene day of november, the yeir of God Jaj vi & fourtie yeirs. Our Soverane Lord, and estates of Parliament, Ratefies, approves, and perpetualie confermis, The Charter of Confirmune, grantit be his maties umqle. darrest fayr., of worthy memorie, under his heines great seall, conteining ane novo damus In favor of the Provest, Bailleis, counsall, and Comunitie of the burgh of Rutherglen, of ye dait, at Edinburgh, the tuenty ane day of march, the yeir of God, Jaj vi & sevintene yeiris: Quhairby his heines Umqle. darrest fayr., wt. advyse of his heines Thesaurer, prinle. and deputie for the tyme yrin noiat, Ratefiet, approvit, and for his heines, and his successors, perpetuallie confirmit, All and qtsumever Chartars, and Infeftmentis, Preceptis, Instruts. of Saisines, Confirmaunes, actis, decreitis, and sentences, With all donaunes, priviledges, and Imunities, conteinet yrin, maid, grantit, and confermit, be his maties most noble progenitors, To the said burgh of Rutherglen, and Induellars yrof, of qtsumever tennor, or tennors; dait, or daitis; the samene be of. And speciallie, & wtout prejudice to ye foirsaid generalitie, &c. &c. Ane particular Chartar of Confirmaune, grantit be his maties most noble progenitor king James the fyift, Be vertew qrof, he Ratefiet, and approvit, All and sundrie Chartars, and Infeftmentis, maid and grantit, be umqle. David, Wm., alexr., and Robert, kingis of Scotland, and uyr. yr. most noble predicessors, of most worthie memorie, for creaune, and erectioune, of the said burgh of Rutherglen, In ane frie burgh Royall, with all priviledges, Liberties, and Imunities, grantit be thame to the samene. And to the Provest, baillies, burgesses, and comunitie yrof, than pnt and to cum, Within the haill boundis, and merches, from Netham, to Polmadie; and from Garin to Kelvin; and from Lowdoun, to prenteineth; And from Carneburgh, to Carroune; And in all uyr. places speit, and conteint in the saidis infeftmentis; ordaining also, be the said chartar, That na persone tak customes, or uyr. dewteis, belonging to the said burgh, qlk thairunto pertenit, in King Davids dayis. And whairever the saidis Provest, and bailleis of ye said burgh, or yr. officiars, and serjandis, could apprehend the same persone, That the Lord of that land, qrin the said persone sall be apprehendit, sall helpe the saidis provest, and bailleis, and yr. serjandis, Whill they acquire yr. richtis, and dewteis. And if the said Lord or master of the said toun, and Land, failzie yrintill, That he sall be in ane Unlaw; or amerchiament of Ten pundis. And also Inhibiting all, and sundrie, oure soverane Lordis Lieges, That na persone tak any goodis to be sauld outwt. the foirsaidis boundis, Except they be first brocht, and offerit, to the said burgh. And siclyck Geiving, and granting to the saidis provest, bailleis, and comitie, of ye said burgh, and yr. successors, That they salbe perpetualie frie in all pairts of this kingdome, of all toillis, customes, and Impositions, of yr. cattell, and goodis: As the said chartar of Confirmaune Ratifieing, and approving, the foirsaids chartar, and Infeftmentis, To the said burgh of Rutherglen, and yr. successors: In forme and maner abone wrin, of ye dait, the tuelf day of Junij, the yeir of God, Jaj v & fourtie tua yeirs, at mair lenth bears. Togidder wt. all, and sundrie uyr., chartars, infeftments, donaunes, priviledges, Imunities, sentences, decreitis, and uyr. richtis, and evidentis qtsumevir; maid, gevin, and grantit, be oure said soverane Lordis Umqle. Darrest fayr. and his most noble progenitors; or any uyr. persone, or persones, To the said burgh of Rutherglen: Or in favour of the provest, bailleis, counsall, and comunitie yrof, or yr. predicessors; or successors, concerning the erectioune of ye said burgh, In ane frie burgh royall: And with all richtis, titles, and priviledges, perteining yrto; or qlk, be the lawis, and consuetude of this kingdome, are known to perteine yrto: And of all, and sundrie, Landis, tenementis, housses, biggengiis, Zairdis, orcheardis, croftis, mylnis, wodis, fishingis, coillis, coilheuchis, mwres, mosses, wayis, passages, fermes, or dewteis qtsumevir: And of all, and qtsumevir, uyr. tenements, housses, biggengis, chappels, chappel Zairdis, and anuelrentis, qtsumevir, perteining to the saidis chappels, and kirk altar, foundit and Lyand wtin the territorie, Libertie, and Jurisdictioune, of the said burgh; and perteining and belonging yrto: And whairof the said burgh was in use, and possessioune of before; As in the said chartar of Confirmaune grantit be his maties Umqle. darrest fayr. yranent; Ratifieing, and approving, the foirsaid chartar, and Infeftmentis, particularlie and generallie abone wrin, To the said burgh of Rutherglen; And to the saidis provest, bailleis, counsall, and comunitie yrof, and yr. successors: Conteining the said claus of novo damus, and certane uyr. priviledges, Liberties, and Imunities, at  mair lenth is conteinit. In all, and sundrie, heidis, articles, clausses, provisiounes, conditiounes, and circumstances qtsumevir; speit, and conteinit, yrin: With all that here followis, or may follow, yrupon. Attoure, oure said soverane Lord, and estates of parliament, Willis, and grantis, That this pnt Confirmaune, and generalitie yrof, sall be alse valeid, and of alse great strenth, force, and effect; As gif the said chartar of Confirmaune, grantit be his maties said Umqle. Darrest fayr., conteining the said novo Damus, had bene, word for word, insert heirintill. Extractum, de Libris actorum parliamenti, per me Dominum Alexandrum gibsone Juniorem de Durie, militem; clericum rotulorum regni, ac consilii, S D N regis; sub meis signo et subscriptione manualibus: &c. 


Alexr. Gibsone, Cl. Regri.  

MR. WIGHT, in his enquiry into the rise and progress of Parliament, supposes that we have no evidence of any charters, granted to boroughs, older than the days of William the Lyon. He observes, however, “that in an unprinted Statute, in 1661, in favour of the borough of Rutherglen, mention is made, in a supplication by that borough, that it had been erected a free borough by king David, in the year 1126; but upon what authority, says he, that averment was made does not appear,” From the above charters it is evident that the town was erected into a free borough by king David, if not long before his time; for, from what appears in the charters, he might only have confirmed, and enlarged, its ancient rights and privileges.

IT is impossible for us precisely to ascertain in what the importance of Rutherglen, at that time, consisted, which entitled its inhabitants to so many privileges and immunities, and induced the legislator to lay such an extensive tract of country under their jurisdiction. 

WHEN considered as a place of strength it was by no means contemptible. The castle of Rutherglen was ranked among the ancient fortresses of Scotland, and might on that account give the town a claim to more than ordinary attention from the King. This castle, which is said to have been at first built by the Monarch that gave name to the town, was considered as a place of importance so late as the year 1309. 

AT that unhappy period, Scotland was thrown into the greatest disorder, by powerful parties contending for the crown. An application had, by mutual consent, been made to Edward, King of England, to settle, by way of arbitration, the differences that had arisen among them. That ambitious Prince accepted the offer, but with a view to annex the kingdom of Scotland to the crown of England. To accomplish his design, he perfidiously fomented the differences he had undertaken amicably to compose. Improving the advantages that were thrown in his way, he reduced, by the assistance of Baliol’s interest, a great part of Scotland under his power. The castle of Rutherglen, with many others, fell into the hands of the English; or rather into the hands of the antibrucean party, aided by the English. King Robert Bruce, who had to combat not only the forces of Edward, but Baliol’s party in Scotland, laid siege to the castle of Rutherglen, as a place of too great importance to remain in the possession of the enemy. Of this siege Sir David Dalrymple, in his annals of Scotland gives the following account.

   “ANNO, 1309. Bruce laid siege to the castle of Rutherglen in Clydesdale; Edward sent his nephew the young Earl of Gloucester to raise the siege 3d December, 1309.”1

SIR David adds, that, “Historians are silent as to this event, but it is probable that the siege was raised, for according to our writers, Edward the 2d in the following year penetrated to Renfrew. Had Rutherglen been in the possession of the Scots it is not to be supposed that Renfrew would have remained under the English dominion, or that Edward would have directed his march thither. Rutherglen appears to have been won from the English in the year 1313. For (as he quotes from Barbour, page 220.) mean while the Scottish arms prepared, Edward Bruce made himself master of the castles of Rutherglen and Dundee, and laid siege to the castle of Stirling.”

GUTHRIE, in his History of Scotland, seems to insinuate that the siege was not raised. “For,” says that historian, “Robert laid siege to the castle of Rutherglen, which the Earl of Gloucester was ordered to relieve. Before that could be done, the English nobility had obliged Edward to agree to an act, by which in fact he put the executive power of government into their hands, on pretence of his being left thereby more at liberty to prosecute the war against the Scots. It appears that next year Robert had so much the better of the English, that he made a powerful descent into England, and carried fire and sword into that kingdom.” 

ROBERT, in one of his executions, laid siege to the town of Durham. The principal inhabitants of the adjacent country had, with their best effects, taken shelter in the cathedral, which Bruce was about to destroy, had not a capitulation been made for its preservation. Soon after that he brought back his army, loaded with plunder, into Scotland, without being able to being the English to battle.2

FROM these circumstances it is not probable that the siege of the castle of Rutherglen was raised, by the Earl of Gloucester, at the time above referred to. It might, however, have fallen into the hands of the English sometime afterwards, and be retaken by Edward Bruce, in the year 1313. 

BUT in whatever point of light that matter is viewed, it appears that this place of strength was both by Scots and English, thought to have been of considerable importance. 

THE castle was kept in good repair till a short time after the battle of Langside, when it was burnt by orders of the Regent out of revenge on the family of Hamilton, in whose custody it then was. One of the principal towers was, however, soon repaired, and, being enlarged by some modern improvements, became the seat of the Hamiltons of Elistoun, Lairds of Shawfield, &c. At length, on the decline of that family, it was, about a century ago, left to fall into ruins, and, by frequent dilapidations, was soon levelled with the ground. The walls of this ancient tower were very thick and extremely solid. Each corner rested upon an uncommonly large foundation-stone that measured 5 feet in length, 4½ in breadth, and 4 in thickness. These corner-stones, being very massy, were allowed to remain till about 34 years ago, when they were quarried out as being cumbersome to a kitchen-garden, into which the site of the fortress of Rutherglen is now converted. Some carved stones belonging to the castle are built in the dykes adjoining to the town. Those that made a part of the cornice, which was of that kind commonly known by the name of the block-cornice, are well cut and remarkably beautiful. 

THE final ruin of that stately edifice has, like many others, been ascribed to the uncommon wickedness and persecuting spirit of its proprietors. The following extract from Woddrow’s Church History may be mentioned as a proof of this.

   “OCT. 13th, 1660. Mr. John Dickson, minister of the gospel at Rutherglen, was brought before the committee of estates, and was imprisoned in Edinburgh tolbooth. Information had been given by Sir James Hamilton of Elistoun, and some of his parishioners, of some expressions he had used in a sermon alledged to reflect upon the government and committee, and tending to sedition and division. This good man was kept in prison till the parliament sat: his church vacated, and he was brought to much trouble. We shall afterwards find him prisoner in the Bass for near seven years, and yet he got through his troubles, and returned to his charge at Rutherglen, and for several years after the Revolution served his Master there, till his death in a good old age. While that family who pursued him is a good while ago extinct, and their house, as Mr. Dickson very publicly foretold in the hearing of some yet alive, after it had been a habitation for owls, the foundation stones of it were digged up. The inhabitants there cannot but observe that the informers, accusers, and witnesses against Mr. Dickson, some of them then Magistrates of the town, are brought so low that they are supported by the charity of the parish.” 

RUTHERGLEN, besides being a place of considerable strength, appears to have been, at the time of its erection into a Royal Borough, the only trading and commercial town in this part of the country; which circumstance must have added not a little to its importance. 

GLASGOW consisted, at that time, of a few clergymens houses, and was consequently confined to the neighbourhood of the cathedral.3 The few inhabitants it contained, looking on themselves as the chief members of a richly endowed ecclesiastical community, lived upon the incomes of the church. From the spirit of the times it is highly probable that a people living in ease, affluence and dignity, would rather incline to serve at the altar than engage in the less lucrative, and more laborious pursuits of life. These busy scenes were, in a great measure, left to the inhabitants of Rutherglen, who, for several centuries, seem to have been wholly devoted to civil and commercial employments; and of consequence were entitles to the particular attention of the legislator. 

IF Glasgow stood within the bounds over which the jurisdiction of Rutherglen originally extended, as appears by the above quoted charters to have been the case, it is but natural to suppose that the community of Rutherglen would continue to exact from Glasgow those customs and duties to which, by their charters, they believed themselves entitled. And this we find they actually did. But in these demands they perhaps went too great a length; at least it was thought they did by the inhabitants of Glasgow. The consequence was that a petition was laid before the throne, about the year 1226, and was so fortunate as to procure the following prohibitary act.


De tolneo non capiendo in Burgo de Glasgu.4

ALEXANDER, Dei gratia Rex, Scottorum, omnibus probis hominibus totius terræ suæ, Clericis et Laieis, salutem. Scient, præsentes et futuri, nos concessise, et hac Carta, confirmasse Domino et Ecclae. St. Kentigerni de Glasgu, et Waltero Epo. ejusdem loci, et successoribus suis Epis. Ne Præpositi, vel Ballivi, vel servientes Nostri de Rutherglen, Tolneum aut consuetudinem capiant in Villa de Glasgu. Sed illa capiant ad crucem de Schedeniston,* sicut illa antiquitus5 capi solebant. Quare prohibemus firmiter ne Præpositi, vel Ballivi, vel Servientes Nostri dr Rutherglen, tolneum aut consuetudinem capiant in Villa de Glasgu. Testi: Thoma de Strivelin, Cacellario. Henr: de Raitt, Camerario. Rig: de Quince. John de Maccuswelli. Davide Marscalli. Waltero Bisset. Apud Jedd: 29 die Octobris. Anno Regni Nostri 12.

AFTERWARDS, however, the privileges of Rutherglen were considerably abridged, as Glasgow emerged from under ecclesiastical influence, and by trade and commerce became an active and industrious city. This abridgment of the powers of the borough did, as might be expected, materially affect its markets and fairs. 

ALL the efforts consistent with the powers of a Royal Borough, and agreeable to the narrow spirit of the times, were, upon this reverse of circumstances, called forth by the community of Rutherglen, to support their credit, and regain, if possible, their once extensive influence. 

FINDING that the weekly market was not frequented as usual, several compulsory acts of council were made, of which the following, in the year 1667, is an example. 

   “THE magistrats orders that as the weekly mercat on the tewfdays was neglected every inhabitant and tradesman shall bring his goods to the mercat. Such as Lint, yarne, webs, cloathe lining and woollen, yron worke, seives, riddels, shooes, meill, beir, oattes and other graine, butter, cheise, fowlles, eggs, fleshe, and other victwalls and all other merchandiss; to be sold as occasione shall offer: and to stay in the said mercat for that effect from ten to twa a clock in the afternoone. Ilke persone under the paine of Fyve punds money toties quoties [so often] as they shall contravene theirin. And they doe heirby also requyre and command all the inhabitants of this burgh wha hes any such commodities and victwalls to buy for the use of their howse and familie That they buy the samyn heir at this mercat, and not to goe to other mercats.” 

THE good effects, if there were any, of this arbitrary decree of council were but of short duration. The market soon became as little frequented as formerly, and at length gradually decreased into non-existence; whilst in the mean time, the market in Glasgow rose upon its ruins. 

THE fairs of Rutherglen seem to have been equally on the decline with the market about the same period. 

FEW things are calculated to afford us better information, concerning the customs and manners of any people, than their markets and fairs. As they were the chief and almost only places of mercantile resort, they exhibit to our view the marketable commodities of the country; the customs and duties imposed on them; and, consequently, the principal sources of wealth and influence in all those places where they were held. From them we may also learn, what were the chief articles of provision, of dress and of luxury in former times; and what alterations have since taken place in these respects. Particular attention should therefore be paid, in the history of any country, to the state of these public places of resort; to the different kinds of merchandise exposed to sale; to the laws by which they were regulated; and the peculiar customs and forms that were observed on these occasions. 

THERE were anciently four fairs annually held in Rutherglen. To these were added two more, in the year 1685. Even these not being sufficient, two more were added, in the year 1693, each to continue for the space of four days. 

IT is hoped, that as royal charters for the establishment of fairs are not in every person’s possession, the following copy of the charter, granted for the two last mentioned fairs, will not be unacceptable to the public.

WARRAND of Parliament ffor two free fairs in favour of the Burgh of Rutherglen.

ATT Edinburgh, The Fifeteenth day of June, Jai. vi. & Nyntie three yeares. Our Soveraigne Lord and Ladie The King and Queens Majesties, Takeing to their Consideration, The Great conveniencie and advantage that will accress to their mats. Liedges, By haveing the wo free faires underwritten att the Burgh Royall of Rutherglen. Therfore their Majesties, with advice, and consent fo the Estates of Parliament, Doe heirby Give and grant To the Magistrates of the said Burgh of Rutherglen present and to come ffull Power, Right, Liberrtie, and Priviledge of holding two free faires there; the one upon the eighteenth day of July; the other upon the eighteenth day of November yeirly. Each to stand and continue for the space of ffour days, ffor Buying and Selling of all kynd of country Manufactories, and small waire; And all kynd of Bestiall, as horse, nolt, sheep, and all other Merchandice; as use is, in that country. With Power to the saids Magistrates, present and to come, as said is, or such as they shall appoint, to Collect, Intromitt with, and uplift the Tolls, Customes and Duties belonging to the saids faires. And to enjoy all other Jurisdictiones, freedomes, priviledges, liberties and immunities pertaineing therto. Sicklyke, and as freely, as any other hes done, or may doe in the like case. Extracted furth of the Records of Parliament By George Viscount of Tarbat, Lord Macleod and Castlehaven, Clerk to the parliament and to their mats. Council, Exchequer, Registers and Rolls, &c. 


Tarbat. Cl. Regr.  

1  The following is a copy of the Commission given to the Earl of Gloucester on that occasion.
   Anno, 1309. Gilbertus Comes Gloucestriæ Capitaneus pro Expeditione Scotiæ.
   Rex omnibus ad quos &c. Salutem. Sciatis quod cum mittamus quosdam Nobiles, et Magnates, et Fideles de Regno nostro, cum equis et armis, in expeditionem nostram, ad partes Scotiæ ad Rebellione, et Proterviam Inimicorum et rebellionum nostrorum illuc, cum Dei adjutorio, reprimendas.
   Nos de circumspectione, probitate, et industria dilecti Nepotis et Fidelis nostri, Gilberti de Clare Comitis Gloucestriæ et Hertfordiæ, plenam fiduciam optinentes,6 ipsum Capitaneum nostrum expeditionis prædictæ & munitionum nostrarum in partibus illis constituimus per presentes.
In cujus, &c. quamdin Regi placuerit duraturas.
Teste Rege apud Westm. tertio die Decembris.
Rym. Fœd. Angl. tom. iii. p. 193.
The King of England at that time claimed a right to the sovereignty of Scotland. The cowardly submission of Baliol laid a foundation for that claim, a claim which not only the Nobles of England, but all Europe knew to be unjust. Edward, like a bad politician, was premature in making his designs public. His insolent language, with respect to the Scots, and his too hasty attacks upon the indisputable independency of their nation, excited against him the resentment of the contending parties in Scotland. He was soon taught that his power was inadequate for supporting his ill-founded pretensions. 
2  Buchan. Hist. Sco. Lib. 8.
3  The existence of Rutherglen, as a considerable town, prior to the building of the cathedral itself, appears from the following traditional account universally known in this part of the country. It is told, that, when the high church was beginning to be built, a passage below ground was made between it and the church of Rutherglen, and that the Picts, or Pechs, as they are vulgarly, but perhaps more properly, called, came from Rutherglen through this hidden way every morning, and returned at night, all the time the church was building. Although the subterraneous passage is, like Dædalus’ wings, undoubtedly fabulous, yet the story is, like his, not destitute of meaning. It shews that Rutherglen was the only place in the neighbourhood where the workmen could find, at that time, proper victuals and accommodations for themselves. Every thing uncommon, as the building of the high church was, and the crowds of artists employed in the work, raised the astonishment of the ignorant vulgar. Inchantments and miracles were very plenty in that superstitious age; hence the story of the underground passage, and many other wonders which then appeared, and which are, to this day, handed down by tradition from father to son.
4  The original charter was in the possession of Mr. Gibson author of the History of Glasgow; but as I never had an opportunity of consulting it I can say nothing about the orthography or writing. 
5  From this expression is appears probable, that the community of Rutherglen had, for a long time past, been in use of taking custom for articles of sale brought into Glasgow: nor were they prohibited by this act from continuing the practice, but only not to collect their usual custom, within the town of Glasgow, but at the cross of Schedeniston. Where that place was, is not now, perhaps, known. It is probable that it was in the vicinity of Glasgow, and has long since changed its name.*
6  Probably for obtinentes.
*  If we assume Cosmo Innes to be correct, then he tells us in the footnotes to his ‘Sketches of Early Scotch History’ chapter devoted to the Bishopric of Glasgow, that, “Schedenestun is now Shettleston.”
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