The Black Book of Paisley is often spoken of and treated as an original work1 but as has been shewn it is not so. Still, the language of some of the older writers suggests the question whether there was not, after all, an independent chronicle kept or written at Paisley, which has been lost? Such seems to be the case, and if so, it explains the confusion and apparent discrepancies in the accounts of the existing manuscript.
That historical writings existed, anterior to the Scotichronicon, there is no doubt. Both Fordun and Bower repeatedly refer to and quote various chronicles of Scots affairs. Allusion has been made to the genealogy supplied to Fordun by Cardinal Wardlaw, and in the chapter following that in which he acknowledges the loan, he speaks of having used certain “most authentic and ancient histories or chronicles.”2 The author of the Liber Pluscardensis3 and Sir William Sinclair4 mention “great,” in apparent contradistinction to “small,” chronicles. What the great chronicles were, we know. The others were probably unnamed works, such as those cited by Fordun, and of which Wardlaw’s Genealogy is a sample.
The manner in which our older literary historians express themselves, indicates that there was a tradition at least of a Paisley chronicler. “Monachus Pasletensis scripsit circa annum 1451,” says David Buchanan.5
According to Dempster,6 “Paslatensis quidam monachus, incerto nomine, sed magna eruditionis claritudine, si tamen unus ille fuit, ac non plures incepti ab uno, eo in monasterio, operis continuatoris, scripsit chronicon ab initio Mundi.” George Buchanan’s reference is to Liber Pasletensis, but he seems to have meant by this the Black Book of Paisley,7 and being an extant and well known book, this has been dealt with as what was alluded to when mention was made of the work of the Paisley monk. But the words just quoted do not necessarily bear this meaning. David Buchanan mentions a Liber Pasletensis kept at Holyrood,8 and Principal Dunlop, in a passage already quoted, not only refers to a chronicle written at Paisley, but accounts for its loss. The volume which both of these authors probably had in view was the Black Book or its Abridgement; but the statements suggest their belief in the existence of another work. The Principal speaks of “the authentic copy” of this chronicle, apparently assuming the existence of transcripts. If ever there were copies, these seem, so far as can at present be ascertained, to have disappeared, along with the original.
If the above passages stood alone it might be inferred, as has hitherto been done, that the “monachus Pasletensis” was a mistake of Fordun’s continuator, and that his work was the Black Book. But fortunately there is some more direct evidence of the existence of a Paisley chronicle. In a kind of supplement to the Extracta et variis Cronicis on the genealogy of Bruce, a long passage is taken from the Scotichronicon, and then the note proceeds, “Alia cronica de jure Roberti de Broys regis quod habuit ad regnum Scocie, quequidem cronica reperiebatur scripta apud Pasceletum inter alias antiquas scriptas cronicas et est ita.” After completing this extract, the writer returns to and excerpts the text of the Gesta Annalia and Scotichronicon.9 The extract in question is not in the Black Book of Paisley, or in Goodall’s text of the Scotichronicon. The compiler of the Extracta was acquainted with the latter, as well as with the Book of Scone,10 so that he must have had before him another chronicle which had been brought from Paisley, and which was understood to have been written there. Robert Scott, the transcriber of the Edinburgh manuscript of the Scotichronicon, makes a similar reference, “sed contrarium patet libro octavo cap. xxv. ubi est fundatoris de Pasleto, secundum quod habetur ex chronicis ejusdem monasterii et aliorum antiquorum scriptorum.”11
As showing what the Paisley chronicle was, it may not be out of place to repeat the quotation given in the Extracta:-
Alia cronica de jure Roberti de Broys regis quod habuit ad regnum Scocie, quequidem cronica reperiebatur scripta apud Pasceletum inter alias antiquas scriptas cronicas, et est ista:-
Dominus de Allyrdaile habuit duas filias subscriptas, scilicet Mariotam et Gunnuldam: Mariota fuit [sponsa] domini Galiwidie, de qua genuit idem dominus Rolandum dominum Galiwidie, a quo Alanus Galiwidie venit; Gunnulda fuit sponsa David comitis de Huntyngtone, filii Henrici de Huntyngtone quem David rex Scocie genuit. Iste David comes de Huntyngtone genuit de eadem Gunnulda Johannem Scotum qui fuit comes de Garviache, qui mortuus est sine liberis, et dedit Garviach monasterio de Lundouris. Genuit eciam idem David ex eadem Gunnulda tres filias, scilicet Margaretam [sponsatam] Alano domino Galiwidie, ex quibiis processit Deruergilla que fuit desponsata domino de Balliolo ex quibus processit Johannes de Balliolo a quo Eduardus de Balliolo, et istam Isabellam desponsauit Robertus de Brus dominus Anandie, Anandirdaile, ex quibus processit Robertas secundus, a quo Robertus quartus comes de Carrik et rex Scocie, a quo David de Broys rex Scocie. Istam Adam Henricus Hastyngs desponsauit, a quo Willelmus Hastyngs. Ista Margareta, quam Alanus de Galiwidia desponsauit, attingebat domino suo Alano in secundo et tercio gradu consanguinitatis propter quod missi fuerunt nuncii ad curiam Romanam pro dispensacione impetranda, qui submersi fuerunt in aqua Anandie, et sic cessauit impetracio, &c. Et sic satis patet quod Deruergilla non fuit heres cum fuit bastardia, quare matrimonium non valuit, et sic nec ipsa nec sin successores, scilicet Johannes et Eduardus de Balleolis, nullum jus habuerunt ad regnum Scocie, et sciendum quod Johannes et de Balleolo sponsus dicte Deruergille obiit ante mortem regis Alexandri tercii predicti, ipsa tamen superuixit. Hiis visis, uiri periti querant et inuestigent quis litigancium jura habeat pociora, quia ista predicta est vera historia et recta computacio gradus consanguinitatis et generacionis omnium predictorum.
With this as a clue it may perhaps be yet possible to identify the Chronicle with one of the numerous compilations on Scots affairs that still remain in manuscript in various libraries.
1 Many of the editions of Monipennie’s Chronicles appear with the Black Book of Paisley as a sub-title:- “Chronicles of Scotland; or the Black Book of Paisley.”
2 Skene’s Fordun, v., c. 51; Scotichronicon, v., c. 61.
3 Liber Pluscardensis, vol. i., p. 5. (Ed. Skene).
4 Ant., p. 45.
5 Ant., p. 48.
6 Historia Eccl. Gentis. Scot., xv., No. 1010.
7 Hist. Scot., pp. 73, 86, 93. Ed. Ruddiman.
8 Pasletensis liber, Annales rerum Scoticarum a Monachis Pasletensibus conscripti. Is antem liber a nigro tegumento, vulgo The Black Book of Paisley appellatus. Ruddiman Propriorum Nominum Interpretatio, p. 34, appended to his Edition of Buchanan’s Works. (Edinburgh, 1715).
9 Extracta e Variis Cronicis, p. 247. At p. 244 begins, Nota historiam genologie sequentis et mortem regis Roberti secundi. From “autem clarius appareat,” p. 244 to the end corresponds with the Gesta Annalia, c. 73-80: (Skene’s Fordun, i., p. 314, et sqq.) the text followed being Skene’s MS., D., i.e., the MS. of Trinity College, Dublin. The passage above quoted, beginning Alia cronica, (p. 247) to p. 248, line 7, “Scocie et,” is not in the Gesta Annalia, the Scotichronicon (xi. 12 et sqq.) or the Liber Pluscardensis (i. p. 185, et sqq.) Goodall (vol i. p. 33) refers to this Extracta, as “Liber Dumblanensis.”
10 He describes the Scotichronicon (pp. 1, 2, 7), and refers (p. 16) to the Book of Scone.