Chap. 1., pp.1-20.

[History of Glasgow, &c. Contents]

The history of the bishoprick from the earliest accounts to the Reformation

IN the nether-ward of Clydesdale and shire of Lanark, on the banks of the Clyde, stands the city of Glasgow, situated in 55°. 51’. 32”. N. Latitude, and 4. 15’. Longitude W. of Greenwich. GLASGOW, we are told by some, is a Gaelic word signifying Grey smith; and got its name from a person of that profession, who had his residence on or near the place where the bishop’s castle afterward stood: Others say GLASCOW, in that language, signifies the Grey-hound ferry. GLASGOW, we are also told, signifies the dark glen; and alludes to the glen at the east end of the church, where St. Kentigern’s cell stood. 

The city, with the suburbs, viz. Gorbals, Calton, Bridgetown, Brownfield, and Anderston, stands on upwards of six hundred acres of ground; and, when viewed from the south, between Rutherglen bridge and Finniestown, forms the appearance of a half moon or crescent. 

Under the Romans, the place where Glasgow now stands was included in the province of Valentia, erected by Theodosius anno 370, which was not deserted by them until the year 426, when they took their final leave of this island. 

St. Mungo or Kentigern, founded the see of Glasgow in the year 560. He died 13th January 601, and was buried in the east end of the ground on which the church now stands, and where his tomb is still to be seen.1 Baldrede, his disciple, was his successor, and founded a religious house at Inchinnan. From this time there is no account of the bishops of Glasgow, until the year 1115, when David, prince of Cumberland, re-founded the see, and succeeded his brother Alexander to the crown of Scotland in 1124. He promoted his preceptor and chaplain, John Achaius, to the bishoprick in the year 1129; who, having built and adorned a part of the cathedral church, solemnly consecrated it on the 9th July 1133. The king was present, and gave to the church the lands of Pardyke, now Partick. John governed the see 18 years, and died 28th May 1147, and was buried at Jedburgh, Herbert and Ingleram Newbigging lived and died before  

1174, Joceline, who made an addition to the church, and dedicated it 4th July 1197. Nothing is recorded of four of his successors till 

1232 William Boddington, lord chancellor. He built the present church, as it now stands, which was finished in 1253. He died 10th Nov. 1258. 

1274 Robert Wishart was one of the regency on the death of Alexander III. and had the happiness of living to see Robert Bruce seated on the throne, to which he had greatly contributed. He died in 1316. 

This worthy prelate was long a prisoner in England, where he suffered a rigorous confinement, in daily expectation of being put to death by his implacable conqueror Edward I. who, in the meantime, had filled the see of Glasgow, of his own authority, with one of his creatures in priest’s orders, called Anthony Beik. At the same time, earl Percy seems to have had the government of this western district, and his residence principally at Glasgow, with the English bishop; where, it is presumed, he might find himself as well lodged, as with any of the nobility of the country. Sir William Wallace, being in possession of the town of Ayr, left the town and fortress to the care of the townsmen; and, being joined by the Laird of Auchinleck, and his uncle, Adam Wallace of Richardtown, and Boyd, they borrowed English horses after it was dark, forming a squadron of three hundred cavalry. They left Ayr at 10 o’clock P.M. and arrived at Glasgow at 9 o’clock next morning, and having crossed the bridge, which was then of wood, drew up their men (where the Bridgegate is now built) in two columns, one under the command of his uncle and the laird of Auchinleck who knew the road, by St. Mungo’s lane, to the north east quarter of Drygate, to attack the lord Percy in flank; while the main body, commanded by Sir William Wallace and Boyd, marched up the High-street to meet earl Percy and his army, which consisted of a thousand men in armour. The scene of action seems to have been between the Bell of the Brae, and where the College now stands. Adam Wallace and Auchinleck, with 140 men, who had made a running march round the east side of the town, when the battle was doubtful came rushing in, from the road where the Drygate now stands, upon the English column and divided it in two. At the same instant, on hearing the mout of his friends, Sir William stept into the front, and, with one stroke of his long sword, cleft Percy’s head in two. The route of the English now became general. The gallant, Aymer Vallance led off bishop Beik, and four hundred of their men, by the Rottenrow port, being all that remained of the thousand men in armour brought out to oppose Wallace, at the head of three hundred cavalry. He however availed himself of his situation. In what might be then termed a street, Percy could not bring his men to act upon this small squadron. Notwithstanding of this victory, obtained by stratagem, surprise, and valour, it was not safe for Wallace and his followers to stay here, nor yet in the old Druidical groves about the Blackfriar’s church, nor in the forest beyond the Molendinar burn. They marched straight to Bothwel, where they arrived at 1 o’clock P.M. having performed a march of 36 miles in 11 hours, fought a battle, with three to one of the men of Northumberland, the best soldiers in England, gained a victory, and marched ten miles to safe quarters at Bothwel, in fifteen hours. It was Aymer Vallance that planned and conducted the captivity of Wallace. It was in this forest the tryst was set by Sir John Monteath, for his capture, which was brought to bear at Robroystown. The word, at the battle of Glasgow, was Bear up the Bishop’s tail, spoken jeeringly by Sir William to his uncle, when their men were drawn up at the end of the bridge. He refused the office until once he was consecrated, a ceremony that Edward could never obtain from the pope, who supported the independency of the Caledonian church from the usurpation of the see of York; and it was the fear of his thunder, from the Vatican, that saved the bishop’s life, during his long and rigorous captivity in England. 

1336 William Rae governed this see 31 years, he built the stone bridge over Clyde. It was formerly of timber. Lady Lochhow built the middle arch. 

1387 Matthew Glendinning. In this prelate’s time the spire of the church, which had been built of wood, and covered with lead, was burnt by lightning. 

1400 William Lawder, made chancellor in 1423. This prelate re-built the steeple, of stone, and did many other public works. 

1426 John Cameron, secretary of state, built the great tower of the Episcopal palace; carried on the buildings of the vestry; and caused the prebends to build houses in the town, he died 1446. 

1448 William Turnbull, secretary of state, and keeper of the Privy Seal, Lord of Provan. He founded the University, in the year 1452. This worthy prelate went to Rome, where he died 1454. 

1455 Andrew Muirhead founded, near his palace, an hospital dedicated to St. Nicholas, and ordained it for the maintenance of twelve old men and a priest, the hall and chapel are now so ruinous that they are occupied as a cow-house. The funds were lost at the reformation. 

1484 Robert Blackadder was the first Archbishop. He laid out great sums on the church and altarages. The great aile, to the south, he carried up to its present height. It is appropriated for the burying place of strangers of distinction, and the city clergy. 

1508 James Beaton enclosed the Episcopal palace with a magnificent wall of ashler work, with a bastion and tower at a proper distance. After the fatal field of Flowden, Margaret Tuder, sister of Henry VIII. of England, and queen dowager of the illustrious James the IV. of Scotland, was, by the election of the barons, appointed regent so long as she lived a single life. In a short time, however, the powers of love preponderated over sovereignty. She married the earl of Angus, at that time the head of the house of Douglas, whose alliances and power were equal to one half of the nobility of Scotland: and, when courts of justice eyre were held, a Douglas was seldom found in the wrong. Together with his own power, this royal alliance brought the queen dowager and the prince, yet a child, into his power. To repress and over balance the avarice and ambition of this over-grown house, the Humes, and a faction attached to them, brought over from France John duke of Albany, cousin german to James IV. and nearest in blood to the crown of Scotland. This prince had received a liberal education at the Court of France. By the friendship and aid of Charles VII. he came over with such a force, and ammunition as was thought equal to enforce the laws of the country, on the powerful chieftains; particularly on the borders. In their country, at this time, they knew no law but the sword, the regent made a circuit into these parts. He was accompanied by Angus, and found room to punish every offender, provided they were not of the name of Douglas. Upon this, he reports his own situation, as well as that of this distracted kingdom, to the king of France; craving a supply of guns, powder, and ball, equal to the task of bringing thạt powerful house in obedience to the sovereign, and laws of the country. Meantime, Angus and his faction, apprised of his intentions, convened a council, where many of the lords, with their followers, assembled, to the number of twelve thousand men, viz. the earl of Angus, the lord Hume, the earl of Arran, with the whole lords of the west land, except the earl of Lenox, and lord Erskine, who then remained with the King at Stirling, says my Author, Lindsay of Pitscottie. “The lords, being convened at Glasgow, heard tell, that there were three French ships landed at the west sea, with men, money, and artillery, come to the duke of Albany. – Therefore they sent a thousand men to the said ships, to stop their landing; but they were landed ere they came, but yet they got some of their carts, with powder and bullet, and, for despite, cast them in a great draw-well in Glasgow. Thir tidings came to the governor, that the lords had rise against him, and destroyed his powder and bullets. He was heavily commoved at the same, and vowed singularly to God, he should be revenged on their contemption done to him, or, at the least, them that were the occasion of the same, and passed hastily forward to Glasgow, intending to cause them leave the town, or to fight with them, and put them out of Glasgow; or then to die in that quarrel. At this time bishop Andrew Foreman, the pope’s legate in Scotland, held the most profitable benefices in the church, viz. the primacy, and abbacy of Arbroath,” &c. &c. a man as singularly indebted to nature for shining abilities, as unfortunate in his being cramped with a narrow education: It was this singular character, the first politician in his age, when on his journey to Rome for consecration to the bishoprick of Murray, who had the address to conciliate a peace between his holiness and the king of France, who were then at war. After this he had the honour of giving an entertainment to the pope, in one of his own palaces, to which the cardinals, &c. were invited; “and, according to custom, the entertainer, though no great scholar, began the grace; and, having no good Latin, began in the Scotch accent Benedicite, believing they would have answered Dominus; but they answered Dans in the Italian fashion, which put this noble bishop, by his intendment, that he wished not how to proceed forward; but happened to break out in good Scots, in this manner, the which they understood not, saying – The DevilI give to all false Carles, in nomine Patris, et Spiritus sanctus. Amen, quoth they. Then the Bishop and his men leugh; and, the matter and manner of the grace being explained to the pope, the blunder and address of our unlettered bishop became a motive with his holiness, to carry this favourite of fortune to higher promotion. He, as we said before, hearing of the convention at Glasgow, and the resolution taken by the duke of Albany, spurred hastily to Glasgow, to see if he might DRESS the lords to obey their magistrates, as they ought; and reasoned with them, in a long speech, becoming the tongue of a Roman senator, with such effect, that the lords, hearing his words, consulted together, and promised to leave the town, at the governor’s coming, upon thir conditions following: That is to say, that the governor’s grace shall remit all things bye-gone, and receive them, in time coming, as good subjects to the king’s grace and him, and never call them for nothing bye-past.” The which the bishop promised in the governor’s name, that it should be kept to them. “Then they left the town and passed, that the governor might have free entrance thereunto, who lodged there that night; and, on the morn, past to Stirling, syne went to Edinburgh, and there remained until all the lords came and made their obedience, except the earl of Angus, who had stolen quietly out of his lodgings at Glasgow, to some ships that conveyed him to France, where he remained quietly a season without company of any Scotsman; or scantily any knowing what part of the world he was in. Short while after this, the queen of Scotland got word that her husband, the earl of Angus, was come to England. At this she rejoiced, for she was great with child by him; yet notwithstanding, for the love she bare to him, and desire to speak with the king of England, her brother; she, setting all danger and peril aside, left her young son, the king’s grace of Scotland, in the castle of Stirling, in the keeping of the captain, and his guards about him, and took her voyage, and passed into London, to king Henry, her brother, where she was honourably received and tenderly treated. She remained there at her pleasure, and got all things of her brother Harry, that she could desire; but, short time after she came there, she was delivered of a daughter, named lady Margaret, who remained in England, well entertained, intending to come to the crown by her own succession. This done, queen Margaret returned to Scotland with her husband, the earl of Angus, in peace made up by Harry the VIII.” Lady Margaret, the nighest heir to the crown of England, failing issue in her uncle, was afterwards married to the earl of Lenox, the nearest in blood to the crown of Scotland; when he was an exile in England. By this marriage they had the beautiful Henry Darnley, afterwards duke of Rothsay, husband of the amiable, accomplished, but unfortunate Mary, queen of Scots, the mother of James the VI. of Scotland and I. of England. The tree of this house, branched with most of the crowned heads in Europe at this day, must be our apology for being so particular in our story of the draw-well at Glasgow. 

1522. Gavin Dunbar, tutor to James V. and lord chancellor, built a stately gate-house at the episcopal palace, on which his arms were engraved. It was in his time the reformation began, and this worthy prelate was much blamed for lending his authority to the bigots of the times, in the case of Jerom Russel the friar, and the young man of Ayr, who were burnt at the east end of the cathedral. Their martyrdom sowed the seeds of the reformation in the west. 

1551. James Beaton (nephew to cardinal Beaton), in whose time the reformation took place, called in his tenants and vassals for a considerable time, to guard the church and palace from the depredations of the interested reformers of the city, and neighbourhood. Meantime he carefully packed up every thing valuable, belonging to the see, that was moveable, which he carried along with him into France. Being of the name, and related to Maximilian, de Bethun, the great duke of Sully, prime minister, to Henry IV. his exile was made comfortable, and queen Mary, and her son James VI. nominated him their ambassador at that court. He died at Paris in 1603, having bequeathed to the Scotch college, the whole writs, reliques, and antiquities, which he had carried away from the see of Glasgow. 

From this period to the revolution, in 1688, there is a succession, translation, death, and dismission of fifteen protestant archbishops, who seem to have been tools of the people in power, and put there for the purpose of alienating, to their patrons, the princely estates which belonged to the church. Vide Church History

After bishop Cameron had built his palace nigh the high church in 1426, he caused each of the thirty-two rectors to build a manse near it; and ordained them to reside here, and cause curates to officiate in their respective parishes. These buildings were erected on the four streets adjacent to the cathedral, now known by the name of High-street, intersected by the Drygate and Rottenrow, forming a cross at the Bell of the Wynd-head. He made a most magnificent and solemn procession, and entry into the metropolitan church, preceded by twelve persons, viz. one carrying his large silver crosier or pastoral-staff, and eleven carrying silver maces, followed by the thirty-two members of the chapter, (the bells of the two steeples ringing, the organs playing, accompanied with the vocal music of the choir), gorgeously arrayed with costly vestments, when Te Deum was sung, and Mass celebrated. 

Bishop Cameron procured, from his majesty, a fair to be held yearly, called St. Mungo’s Fair, which continues weekly a horse-market from the twentieth day of Yule till Skairs Thursday. 

The great resort of his vassals, and tenants, being noblemen and barons of the greatest figure in the kingdom, waiting upon this spiritual prince, in the common course of business, together with the ecclesiastics that depended upon him, made his court to be very splendid, next to majesty itself. 

Bishop Cameron created commissaries, clerks, and fiscals, and established the two commissary courts of Glasgow, Hamilton and Campsie, to be held three times a-week, viz. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, in the consistorial-house, upon the west end of the cathedral. The jurisdiction of these courts extends over part of the following shires, viz. Dumbarton, Renfrew, Stirling, Lanark, and Ayr. 

The reader, having heard of the bishop and his dignitaries, being well lodged and living in splendour, may wish to hear how they were supported; first, then, the bishops and archbishops, were lords of the lordships, and barony, and royalty of Glasgow, besides eighteen baronies of land, which belonged to them within the sheriffdoms of Peebles, Selkirk, Roxburgh, Dumfries, and Stewarty of Annandale. It is said they had likewise a great estate in Cumberland, in England, within their jurisdiction, being named of old The spiritual dukedom

The mint-house stood nigh the correction-house, in the Drygate. Some coins of Robert the III. struck here, are in the cabinets of the curious, with the king’s crest crowned; but without a sceptre, and Robertus Dei Gratia Rex Scotorum. In the inner circle Villa de Glasgow, and on the outer Dominus Protector

Before the reign of king James I. of Scotland, the town was governed by bailies nominated by the bishop, who, at this time, appointed a provost, the first was Sir John Stewart of Minto, who, in the days of feudal anarchy, found the charge of so much weight and importance, that he brought his family here. His successors continued in office till after the reformation, when they suddenly fell from great affluence and power to extreme poverty; the last of the family went out an adventurer to the Darien settlement, 1699, where he perished with some thousands of his countrymen. Though the share was so low as an hundred pounds, he was not a partner: The tomb of this ancient family, the only one spared at the reformation, stands on the west side of the door on the south side of the choir. 

The court of regality was erected about the year 1451, an engine of oppression in the hands of the nobility; it was very properly abolished, with the other feudal jurisdictions in 1748. The sheriff court succeeded it. 

Meantime it is said that William the Lyon erected the town into a royal borough, anno 1165; and that the charter is witnessed thus, viz. earl David my brother, earl Duncan, Gilbert earl Gilchrist of Monteith, Richard of Morval our constable, Robert of Queensy, Richard Cuming, Walter de Berkley, chamberlain, William de Wintripot, Philip de Volin, Robert de Berkley, Adam de Stenhouse, at Traquair, anno one thousand one hundred and sixty-five. The original of this charter, among the other records of the see, is in the Scottish college at Paris. 

Temples, Monasteries, Churches, and Hospitals. 

601 Before the complete establishment of Christianity, and the extirpation of Paganism, the Druids had a temple where Glasgow now stands, the priests lived in cells near the blackfriars church, adjacent to the college. They were sometime afterwards succeeded by the blackfriars, who erected their convent nigh the same place, where still stands some remains of the convent of the gray-friars, minorites of Glasgow, which was patronized by the celebrated, but unfortunate, Isobel duchess of Albany, who received from her cousin, James I. of Scotland, as a present from him, the head of her father the earl of Lenox, duke Murdoch her husband, the heads of two of three of her sons, viz. Walter and Alexander; James having led to Ireland, where he died. The learned Mr. George Crawfurd, in his history of Renfrewshire, says, for illustration of this, “I have seen a mortification by Isobel duches of Albany, and countess of Lenox, to the convent of the grey-friars of Glasgow, of the lands of Balagan, which grant she expresses to be made for the salvation of our soul, and that of Murdoch duke of Albany, of worthy memory, our very dear husband, and also for Duncan earl of Lenox, our father, and of Walter, James, and Alexander, our sons.” – Dated at Inchmyrin 18th May, 1451. The convent of the greyfriars of Glasgow, stood on the site of Bar’s land, and the house immediately to the north of the old grammar-school wynd. This, with the house of the earl of Lenox, filled up that space of ground which the reader may remember a timber land. Tradition says it was afterwards occupied as the bishop’s prison and guard-house, and, in the beginning of the last century, was the scene of the tortures inflicted on the celebrated Mr. Ogilvie the jesuit, whose story is told at length in its proper place. 

The church of the blackfriars, a noble pile of gothic architecture, was built in the seventh century. In 1638, Mr. Milne, architect to Charles I. viewed it, and said it had not its parallel in Scotland, except Whithorn in Galloway, and that in respect to it, the high church was but of yesterday. – It was ruined by a thunderbolt in 1668; and, in 1699, the city built the present church, which cost near two thousand pounds. – The bishops were the principal patrons of the blackfriars. 

1350 Lady Lochhow feued out the ground where the Bridgegate now stands, and where the east side of the Gorbals is built, and appropriated the feu-duties to the founding and supporting of St. Ninian’s hospital, for the reception of lepers. It stood on St. Ninian’s croft. This lady was daughter of Robert duke of Albany, and grandmother to Colin first earl of Argyle. So late as 1664, the water-bailie was in the practice of uplifting the feu-duties for the city. 

St. Nicholas hospital was built and indued by bishop Muirhead, near his palace. See bishop Muirhead in the chronology of bishops

The grey-friars had a monastery at the foot of the Deanside brae. It was a prior of this convent that obtained from the king a charter for the fair of Glasgow, held on the second Monday of July. On the last day of the fair, it was customary for the principal citizens to go in a body and pay their respects to the prior for this favour. 

1471 St. Enoch’s church in St. Enoch’s gate, now Trongate, dedicated to the blessed virgin and St. Michael, had a provost and eight prebends. It was repaired by the city in 1592. The steeple was built in 1637, has two bells, a clock with four dial-plates. This church, with the two in the cathedral, served the inhabitants for worship before the revolution. 

1 Vide Description of the High Church of Glasgow. 

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