Note E. – John Layng, Rector of Kilpatrick-Juxta and Parson of Luss, pp.93-99.

[Notes on the Black Book Contents]

   Master John Layng, whose name is written on the Abridgment of the Black Book of Paisley, was rector of Kilpatrick-Juxta, in the deanery of Annandale, in 1539. On Thursday, 16th October, of that year, he was present at a meeting of the Dean and Chapter of Glasgow, when a charter by the Abbot and Convent of Kilwinning, and others of certain gifts to the Collegiate Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Anne in Glasgow was confirmed.1 In 1552 he was elected Dean of Faculty in the University of Glasgow; and in 1554 and 1555 he was re-elected.2 In the years 1556, 1557, and 1558, he was chosen Bursar.3 

   In 1553, in addition to the living of Kilpatrick-Juxta, he was preferred to the perpetual vicarage of Dregarne or Dreghorn in the deanery of Kyle and Cunninghame;4 and in the following year he was elected a Canon of Glasgow with the prebend of Luss.5 

   In 1556 he mortified a house and garden in the Rottenrow of Glasgow6 as a mansion for the prebends of Luss, to be held for the payment of six merks yearly to the Vicars Choral of the Cathedral, who were to be bound to say weekly masses for his soul, and that of his patron, John Colquhoun of Luss, and subject to the condition that the city bells should be tolled, and wax tapers burned on the anniversary of his decease.7 

   In 1559 he again appears as Dean of Faculty; and as one of the patrons of the Chaplainry of St. Michael the Archangel, founded by Thomas Leiss, sub-dean of Dunblane and Vicar of Dreghorn, and then held by John Davidson, principal Regent in the University.8 

   In 1558 he was appointed by the Archbishop of St. Andrews, who was Primate of Scotland with the power of a legate a latere of the holy see, a commissioner, along with William Hamilton, a brother canon, and John Hamilton, sub-chanter of Glasgow, to inquire into the advantages of a certain feu charter granted by the Commendator of Kilwinning, to Alexander Tarbart, of part of the abbey property, and to confirm it in terms of the canon law if satisfied of its verity.9 All parties interested having been cited to compear before the commissioners within the metropolitan church of Glasgow, in the aisle of St. Michael the Archangel, and no one appearing, decreet of confirmation was granted in absence, on 18th July, 1569.10 

   In dispensation by Archbishop Hamilton, as legate a latere, dated 3rd November, 1564, for the marriage of John Colquhoun of Luss, to Agnes, daughter of Robert, fourth Lord Boyd, Master John Laing, prebendary of Luss and canon of Glasgow, is one of the persons authorized to give the necessary licence; and on the 15th of the month he granted the dispensation.11 On 16th March, 1566, Queen Mary granted to the provost and community of Glasgow for the support of their ministers and the erection and endowment of hospitals, the whole property of the chapelries, altarages and prebends of any church, chapel or college in Glasgow,12 a description which embraced the prebendal manse of Luss. In 1572 the town bestowed this gift upon the University and the benefaction was confirmed by James VI., in the same year.13 In 1575 the University obtained a decreet against the tenants and occupiers of the property they had thus acquired for payment of the rents and feu duties which were due from it;14 as also an inhibition against dilapidations against chaplains and possessors of benefices.15 

   The manse of Luss was in 1573 in the occupancy of David Wemis, minister of Glasgow, and a litigation arose in 1575 between Humphrey Colquhoun of Luss, and the University, respecting the rents. The latter as coming in place of the vicars of the choir was preferred to their six merks or £4 annual rent, while Colquhoun in virtue of an infeftment had decree for the balance of the rents.16 What the warrant of the infeftment was does not appear, but it must have proceeded from the prebendary. 

   In the Book of the Assumption of Thirds of Benefices, compiled from the returns made under the Act of 1561, the parsonage and vicarage of Luss are entered as held by the prebendary, Mr. John Layng, who reported that the revenues were let to John Colquhoun of Kilmardinny for £173 1s. 8d.; out of which the parson paid to a vicar-pensioner 24 merks yearly for serving the church, and 5 merks to the See of Glasgow as procurage and synodals.17 In 1563 there was an action in the Court of Session, at the instance of John Layng, parson of Luss, and John Colquhoun of Kilmardinny, his factor, against Malcolm Stevenson, with regard to a pension of 20 merks payable from the parish of Luss, which he claimed under an order of the Lords of Council. Layng states that “he has furneist and sustenit ministeris for reiding and edifeing of the parochinaris” of Luss yeirlie sen the alteratioune of the religioun.”18 

   In 1564 he was still receiving the fruits of the benefice. Christian Erskine, the first wife of John Colquhoun, having died in that year – a very few months before his marriage with Lord Boyd’s daughter – an inventory of her estate was given up. In this she is said to be owing “To Maister Johnne Laing, persoune of Luis, four chalder of teind meill, price of the boll xvis viiid, summa fyftie-three pundis vis viiid; Item to him for the lands of Dunfyn, auchtene bollis meill and sex firlottis beir, price of the boll of meill xvis viiid, and of the boll of beir xxs, summa xvi li. xs.”19 

   The parson died in December, 1571. As his will has some local interest, it is appended to this note. From it we learn that he had a brother Robert Layng, to whom he left a legacy of 5 merks, and another brother Andrew Layng, parson of Hoddom, whom he appointed one of his executors and residuary legatee. His other executor was John Layng, son of Alexander Layng. This Alexander had two other sons, Michael and Robert, and two daughters. Another Layng, Agnes, married Laurence Hog, and was now a widow with a family. 

   The Colquhouns of Luss were the patrons of the prebend of Luss,20 and were likewise interested in the living of Kilpatrick-Juxta, of which John Laing had been rector. In the deed by which he mortified his house and garden, he speaks of John Colquhoun as his patron. This may refer merely to their ecclesiastical relationship, but there seems to have been some further connection between the families. 

   The surname Laing occurs very frequently in the Colquhoun papers. Humphrey Laing appears as witness in nearly all the deeds granted by Sir John Colquhoun between the years 1494 and 1535.21 There is nothing to show what his position was, but there can be no doubt that he was in employment of Sir John in some capacity; and it seems almost certain that the rector of Luss was a son or near relative of this Humphrey. 

   There was another person bearing the same surname at this period, in whom the Luss family took a warm interest, and who, it may also be assumed, was a relative of Humphrey Layng and John the rector. This was James Laing. – On 30th August, 1534, Sir John Colquhoun of Luss addressed a letter to Gavin Dunbar, Archbishop of Glasgow, in which he presented “James Laing, Clerk, the bearer hereof, born in your diocese, imbued with letters, graced with good manners, legitimate by birth and free from all blemish or canonical impediment, and who may be gradually and lawfully promoted to all sacred orders, with a right to “10 to be raised and received annually from my lands of Colquhoun… until God from your paternity shall present him with a richer benefice, supplicating your paternity that from love or by my entreaty you will graciously vouchsafe to promote the said James by the imposition of your sacred hands to all orders not yet received by him according to the exigency of the times.”22 Advancement, however, came but slowly, as sixteen years later he was merely a chaplain in Glasgow. On 20th July, 1560, Sir Umphra Colquhoun, rector or prebendary of Kilpatrick-Juxta, in the diocese of Glasgow, granted to Sir James Laing, chaplain, of the diocese of Glasgow, a procuratory for resigning all the rights and fruits of the rectory into the hands of the Archbishop of Glasgow, or his vicar-general having power to that effect, as into the hands of the true and undoubted patron.23 This was probably an arrangement arising out of the troubles of the time, which caused the Archbishop himself in the same year to pass over to France.24 Whatever the object may have been, Sir Umphra Colquhoun appears to have continued in possession, as in the Book of Assumption of Thirds of Benefices it is stated that he held the parsonage and vicarage teinds of Kilpatick-Juxta, and let the former for £60 and the latter for £24 a year, and out of this income he allowed a vicar pensioner a stipend for serving the same.25 In 1567 Kilpatrick-Juxta was supplied by Mungo Neving as Reader.26 

   James Laing seems to have conformed to the Protestant doctrines, as in the same year he is found Reader at Luss.27 In 1564 he is entered in Christian Colquhoun’s inventory as a creditor for £4.28 He continued apparently to act as reader until 1572, when William Chirnsyde, translated from Blantyre, is entered as minister and parson.29 The change was not brought about by the death of the Reader, as in 1576 James Layng was witness to an infeftment in which he is described as rector of Luss, along with Archibald Chirnside, son of the rector of Luss.30 

John Laing’s Testament and Inventory. 


of Edinburgh 


Vo. 2. 

17th October, 1572. 


Mr. Johne Layng, 

Persoune of Luss. 

The Testament Testamentar and Inventare of the gudis, geir, soumes of money, and dettis pertening to umquhile Maister Johne Layng, persoun of Luss, the tyme of his deceis, quhilk was in the moneth of December, the zeir of God jm vc lxxj zeris, ffaithfullie maid and gevin vp be him self vpoun the twentie day of the moneth of Aprile, the zeir of God foirsaid. 

   In the first, the said umquhile Maister Johne grantit him to haif the tyme of his deceis foirsaid the gudis, geir, soumes of money, and dettis following, pertening to him as him awne proper gudis and geir, videlicet, in pois of numerat money ane hundreth threttie thre pundis vjs viijd. item, in vtensilis and domicillis, estimat to fiftie pundis. Summa of the Inventar, jc lxxxiijlib vjs viijd. Followis the dettis awing to the deid. Item, thair wes awing to him be Gawine, commendator of Kilwynning, for his pensioun of the said Abbay of diuers zeirs preceiding, ane hundreth threscoir pundis. Item, be Patrik Hammiltoun of the Boigsyde of borrowit money, threttenelib vjs viijd. Item, be the said Patrik as sovertie and Johne Hammiltoun his bruther as principall, fourelib. Item, be Adame Johnestoun of Bacok for the teinds of Kirkpatrik, sextene pund xiiis iiijd as ane act in the officialis buikis beris. Item, be Alexander Hammiltoun in Bathcat for the vicarage of Bathcat, of the zeris of God lxx. and lxxj. zeris zeirlie, twentie-three lib.s vjd, viijd, summa xlvjlib. xiijs iiijd. Item, be the said Patrik Hammiltoun, twentie-aucht bollis of aittis, price of the boll xvjs viijd, summa xxiijlib vjs viijd. Item, be the Laird of Lus, for the tendis of thre Roissis zeirlie, and ilk zeir of the zeirs of God lxiij., lxiiij., lxv., lxvj., lxvij., lxviij., lxix., lxx., lxxj., and lxxij. zeris threttie tua bollis mele, price of the boll ouerheid xxvjs viijd, summa iiijc xxijlib. xiijs iiijd. Item, be the tennentis and parochinaris of Lus, betuix the watteris of Donglas and Froune of the lxxj zeris crop lxxxlib. item, be the lard of Buchannan of the said crop, ten pundis. Item, the annet of the said personage and vicarage of the crop and zeir of God, jm vc lxxij. zeris twa hundreth pundis. Item be the tennentis of the thre Roissis Glenmolachen and the half of Innertagat, tuentie stane of cheis, price of the stane xvjs summa xvjlib. Item, be William Buchannane of Auchmuar, foure punds xiijs iiijd of the lxxj. zeris crop. 

   Summa of the haill dettis, ixclxxiiijlib. xiijs iiijd

   Summa of the Inventar with the dettis, xjc lviijlib

   Followis the dettis awing be the deid. 

   Item, the said umquhile Maister Johne wes awing to the chaptour of Glasgow ten lib., and Maister Andro Layng of divers comptis resting awand to him foutie-foure pundis. Item, to Malcolme Stenesoun, vicar of Luss, for his pensioun of zeris bigane threttie pundis. Item, to the collectour for the third of the personage of Lus, of the lxxj. zeris crop, fifty-seven lib xvs vjd. Item, to Maister Henry Gibsoun for his pensioun, xls. Item, to Maister Andro Layng for his fe, ten pundis. Item, to Robert Layng for his fe, foure lib. Item, to Johne Craufurd for his fe, xls. Item, to the collectour of the thriddis for the thrid of the annet of the lxxij zeris crop, fiftie-sevin pundis xvs vjd. Item to the Vicar pensioner of the said crop, xiijlib vjs viijd. Item, to the intrant, threttene pundis vjs viijd

   Summa of the dettis awing be the deid, ijcxliiijlib iiijs iiijd. Restis of fre geir, the dettis deducit, ixcxiijlib xvs viijd.  

Lattirwill and Legacie. 

   I, Maister John Layng, persoun of Lus, makis my testament in this manner – I leve my saule to God omnipotent, and my body to be bureit in the Cathedrall Kirk of Glasgow. Item, I mak and constitutis my executoris, Maister Andro Layng, persoun of Hodome, and Johne Layng, sone to Alexander Layng, and the said Maister Andro Layng, principall intromettour, with my gudis. Item, I leve to the said Johne Layng, sone to the said Alexander, ten pundis. Item, to Michaell Layng, bruthir to the said Johne, ten pundis. Item, to the twa dochteris of Alexander Layng, ten pundis. Item, to Robert Layng, sone to Alexander Layng, ten merkis. Item, to —–31 Layng, my brodir, ffyve merkis. Item, to the barnis of Laurence Hog, tuentie merkis. Item, to Agnes Hammiltoun, dochtir to Andro Hammitoun of Cothnocht, ten pundis, to by hir ane goun. Item, to Matho Layng, fyve merkis. Item, to Williame Layng, sone to the said Matho, fyve pundis. Item, to Marioun Blak and hir dochtir, xls. Item, to Johne Craufurd, tailzeour, fyve pundis. Item, to Johne Coittis, sone to George Coittis, fyve pundis. Item, to Richard Sellar and his wyf, ten merkis. Item, to Thomes Rechie, sone to Bessy Knox, xls. Item, to Malie Steill, relict of umquhile Gilbert Schelis, xls. Item, to Agnes Layng, the relict of Laurence Hog, fyve pundis. Item, to George Layng, fyve merkis. Item, to Margaret Layng, dochtir to Johne Layng, fyve merkis. Item, the rest of my gudis and geir, my dettis and legacies being payit, I leve to my brother Maister Andro Layng. Sic subscribitur, Joannes Layng, manu propria. 

   [Compositio quottæ xxlib]. Summa quote twentie pundis. 

   We, Maisteris Robert Maitland, dene of Abirdene, Edward Henryson, doctor in the lawis, Clement Litill and Alexander Sym, advocattis, commissaris of Edinburgh, specialie constitut for confirmatioun of testamentis be the tennour heirof, ratefeis, appreuis, and confirmis this present testament or inventar, in sa far as the samin is deulie and lauchfullie maid, of the gudis and geir abonespecifeit alanerlie, and gevis and committis the intromissioun with the samin to the saidis Maisters Andro Layng and Johne Layng, executouris to the said vmquhile Maister Johne, reseruand compt, to  be maid be thame thairof, as accordis of the law. 

   And the saidis executouris being sworne, haif maid faith treulie to exerce the said office, and haif fundin cautioun that the gudis and geir abonespecifeit salbe furthcummand to all pairteis havand interes as law will, as ane Act maid thairupoun beris. 

Decreet Maister Johnne Laying Contra Stenesoun. 

Register of Acts and Decreets. Vol. XXVII., Fol. 32. 

   15th June, 1563. – Anent oure Soverane Lordis lettrez purchest at the instance of Maister John Layng, persoun of Lus, and Johne Colquhoun of Kilmardonie, his factour thairof, aganis Malcolme Senesoun, makand mentioun that quhair the said Maister Johne is lauchfullie providit to the said personage and vicarage thairof, and be virue of the samin he hes bene in peceabill and continewall possessioun thairof thir divers yeiris bigane; and hes furneist and sustenit ministeris for reiding and edifeing of the parochinaris thairof yeirlie sen the alteratioun of the religioun conforme to the ordour takin thairanent lyke as he yit dois. Nochttheles, ane callit Malcolme Stevinsoun, allegit vicar pensionar of the said parroche kirk of Lus, allegeand that the saidis complenaris ar restawand awand to him his said pension extending to xx merkis yerlie of the yeires of God jm vc and lxj and lxij yeiris. Quhilk is nocht of veritie hes obtenit lettres be deliverance of the Lordis of Counsale be payment making of the third thairof to the comptroller. And therewith hes causit charge the saidis complenaris to answer, obey, and mak payment to him of his said pensioun of xx merkis yeirlie be the said space of twa yeiris last bipast within certane space under divers panes and last under the pane of rebellion, and failzeing thairof to put thame to the horne. Sending of verray malice to put thame thairto wranguslie considdering the said Malcolme Stenesoun being vicar pensioner of the foirsaid kirk, as he allegis hes maid na service thairintill this lang time bypast as he aucht to have done, and hes resavit his pensioun and stipend of the crop and yeir of God jm vc lxj yeiris, as the saidis complenaris will sufficientlie preif in presens of the saidis Lordis. And insafar as he makis na service he aucht nocht to be answerit, becaus he is bot ane feall and pensioner allanerlie yit nochttheles for the mair abundance and abeyance of the saidis lettres the saidis complenaris ar content instantlie to consignne in the saidis Lordis handis or ane of their clerkis samekill, as he cravis contenit in the saidis lettres, to be deliverit to him gif it be fundin be the saidis Lordis that he hes just rycht thairto allanerlie in respect of the quhilk the saidis lettres and horning contenit thairintill aucht and suld be suspendit simpliciter upon the saidis complenaris for the caussis foirsaidis. And anent the charge gevin to the said Malcolme to have comperit befoir the Lordis of Counsale at ane certane day bigane, bringing with him the said lettres in the four formes purchest be him in the said matter to be sene and considderit be the saidis Lordis to be payit and done to him of the yeiris foirsaidis in respect of the premissis and consignation maid as said is. And thairfoir the saids lettres in the four formes and horning contenit thairintill to be suspendit simpliciter upon the saidis complenaris, for the caussis foirsaidis as at mair lenth is contenit in the saidis lettres. The said Maister Johnne Laying and his said factour comperand be Maister Alexander Mauchane, thair procuratour; and the said Malcolme Stenesoun comperand be Maister Alexander Sym, his procuratour, quha producit the saidis lettres in the four formes purchest be him with the provision quhairupon the samin proceidit. Quhilkis being sene and considderit and bayth the saidis pairteis hinc inde defenssis and answeris, hard, sene, and understand, and the saidis Lordis thairwith being riplie avisit. The Lordis of Counsale suspendis simpliciter the saidis lettres in the four formes and proces of horne contenit thairintill, puchest be the said Malcolme aganis the saidis complenaris in sa far as the samin mabe extendit to the said xx merkis of the said yeir of God jm vc lxj yeiris, and decernis the samin and effect thairof to ceis for that yeir. And als findis the samin lettres of foure formes and proces of horne contenit thairintill purchest be him aganis the saidis complenaris safar as the samin mabe extendit to the saidis xx merkis of the said lxij yeiris ordourlie proceidit, and thairfoir decernis and ordanis thame to have effect and to be put to forthir executioun in all puncttis sa far as concernis the saidis lxij yeris nochtwithstanding the ressones and caussis foirsaidis. And ordanis lettres to be direct heirupon gif neid be in forme as efferis. 

1  Liber Collegii Nostre Domine, p. 60 (Maitland Club). 

2  Munimenta Univ. Glasg., II., p. 298, 269: I., p. 59, 60. 

3  Ib., II., p. 176, 177. 

4  Ib., p. 298. 

5  Munimenta Univ. Glasg., II., p. 299. 

6  Munimenta, p. 99. M’Ure’s History of Glasgow, p. 47 (Ed. 1836). 

7  The Chiefs of Colquhoun, I., p. 178; II., p. 51. 

8  Munimenta, I., p. 65, 66. Another Chaplainry at this altar was founded by John Reston, which Davidson likewise obtained in 1569. Ib., 75-80. 

9  See Lancellottus Inst. Jur. Canon, II., tit. 27, p. 381, 382. Ed. Tolosæ, 1671. 

10  Archaeolog. and Hist. Collections relating to the counties of Ayr and Wigtown, I., p. 203, et sqq

11  The Chiefs of Colquhoun, I., p. 124, 125; II., p. 51. 

12  Liber Collegii Nostre Domine, Appendix to Preface, No. iii., p. lxxviii. Munimenta, I. p. 71. 

13  Munimenta, I., p. 82. 

14  Ib., I., p. 94. 

15  Ib., p. 95. 

16  Ib., pp. 99, 167. 

17  See Chalmers’ Caledonia, III., p. 908. 

18  16th June, 1563. Acts and Decreets of the Court of Session, Vol. XXVII., p. 32. See at the end of this note. 

19  The Chiefs of Colquhoun, II., p. 345. 

20  Registr. Episc. Glasg., p. 340. 

21  The Chiefs of Colquhoun, II., p. 308-339. 

22  The Chiefs of Colquhoun, I., p. 83; II., p. 336. 

23  Ib., I., p. 107; II., p.96. 

24  See Register of the Privy Council, I., p. 172. 

25  See Chalmers’ Caledonia, III., p. 181. 

26  Scott, Fasti Eccl. Scot. II., p. 653. 

27  Ib., Vol. III., p. 365. 

28  The Chiefs of Colquhoun, II., p. 435. 

29  Scott’s Fasti Eccl. Scot., ut supra

30  The Chiefs of Colquhoun, II., p. 192. 

31  The name here is purposely scored out in the record; but it is not Helene. It is more like Holdome. 

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