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Arbroath and its Abbey
Chapter XI - Subordinate Officers of the Abbey


IT is not very easy at this period, and in this country, which now possesses no original monasteries, to define the positions and duties of the various officers who are from time to time mentioned in the Abbey writings. In such an establishment these officers were numerous ; although it is probable that the same office may have sometimes borne different names in earlier and later periods, while new offices may have been created as older offices became extinct or degenerated into sinecures. The writings of Arbroath Abbey allude to the Sub-Prior, the Steward, the Chamberlain, the Terrarius or Land Steward, the Sacristan, the Granitor, the Cellarer, the Master of Works, the Judge (or Deemster), the Justiciar or Bailie, and the Mair and Coroner.

1. The SUB-PRIOR was the Abbot's depute in religious and strictly monastic matters; and during the early period of the Abbey history appears to have borne the simple designation of Prior. He acted sometimes the part of a chamberlain; and rents and lands are stipulated to be paid to him. In the Abbot's absence he occasionally granted charters, and acted as his vicegerent in other matters. Sub-Priors of the name of Richard Guthrie were successively elected Abbots in 1450 and 1471, if these do not both denote the same person. The latter was also styled Professor of Sacred Theology. The Sub-Prior presided ex officio at elections of the Abbots ; and during the late degenerate time of commendams, pluralities, and absenteeism, the actual domestic government of the Abbey seems to have been practically left to him.

2. The office of STEWARD or Senescallus was held by John de Pollok about 1202, and then during a long period by a person named Adam, who is witness to numerous charters granted by Gilchrist Earl of Angus, and others. Rayner the son of Allan, was Steward in the time of Abbot Bernard. In 1387 the office was held by "Alexander Skrymchur of Aberbrothoc our Stewart;" and seven years afterwards this "Alexander Skyrmechur" is designed Justiciar of the Regality.

3. The CHAMBERLAIN is repeatedly alluded to in the monastic writs from the foundation of the Abbey till about the year 1521, as distinct from the bailie or justiciar. During the earlier period he seems to have been an officer of importance. He had charge of the Abbey rents, many of which are stipulated to be paid to him. For example, the rents of the teinus of Arbroath were on 30th April 1501, provided to be payable to the "Sub-Prior, Chamberlain, and Master of Works, for the sustentation of the fabric of our place." Afterwards certain rents are ordered to be paid to the Chamberlain, having the special mandate of the Abbot for that effect. The Bailie was sometimes styled Chamberlain; but it is probable that the duties of the office were actually performed by one bearing the title of Chamberlain, either as deputed by the Bailie, or appointed by the Abbot and chapter. The duties of the Chamberlain, like those of the Sacrist, Cellarer, and some other offices, were generally, if not always, performed by a monk.

4. The TERRARIUS appears to have been a land steward. He is only once mentioned, viz.—in a contract bearing the early date of 1240, betwixt the Abbot and Alexander Cumin Earl of Buchan. One part of his duties was to keep a " Terrar" or rent book for the Abbey lands.

5. The SACRISTAN (now shortened to sexton) or vestry keeper, was an officer to whom certain rents were made payable, from the above-mentioned date of 1240 till 1534. In 1242 it is stated that an oxgate of land beside the Mill of Conveth, near Luther, had been given to the Sacrist of Aberbrothock, in the Eleemosynary, for sustaining a light at the altar of St Mary. This altar being. at the door of the vestry, would naturally fall to the care of the monk who held the office of Sacristan, with the charge of the vestry and its contents.

6. The GRANITOR had charge of the grain and granaries, including flour, meal, barley, and malt brought to the Abbey as teind dues or rent dues. He was one of the monks; and "Den Richart Scot Suppriour of Abirbrothoc" in 1488, seems to have also held the office of Granitor two years later, in 1490. The Granitor seems to have assumed the power of leasing the teinds due from lands, particularly those at a distance, such as about Abernethy, for a money payment. Abbot David, in 1489, recorded some "Ordinances for the regulation of the place," which afford an interesting view of the provisions annually made for the Abbey. He directs that the Granitor shall bring in and place within the girnals yearly, by Allha:llowmas or "Alydlentryne," 82 chalders of malt, 30 chalders of wheat, and 40 chalders of meal, it and this rule to be observit and keepit for the gude and singular profit of the place :the sum of all corns to ordinary expense within the place is 7 score and 12 chalders of wheat, bear, and meal."The Abbot provides " that naething be set to nae baron nor landed man without my lord's advice. Since the rental may sustain the place, that through the negligence of the Granitor the place [may] sustain nae fault, but that all the victuals be brought in as is before written, and that nane be to crave frae Pais till Allhallowmas in the country, son [since] God of his grace has given the place largely to live upon, and that slotliness of officers gar [not] the place want provision ; and that the Abbot, for the time being, that he be nocht slothful, nae [but] he tak cuir [care] upon him till gar all be fulfilled and inbrought in due time as said is ; and that the counts of the officers be heard four times in the yeir." The field which lies immediately outside of the precinct walls, to the east of the Convent green, and styled the Granitor or Grantor's croft, formed part of the patrimony of this officer. After the Granitor's office had ceased, on the breaking up of the monastery, the Granitor's croft was set in feu to Patrick Hamilton, porter of the Abbey, in life-rent, for the yearly payment of one boll of bear, and three shillings and tenpence Scots.

7. The CELLARER was the title of the officer who had charge of the Abbey cellars with their contents, consisting of flesh, fish, poultry, spices, &c. He was the chief butler of the monastery, and is often mentioned in conjunction with the granitor. Den John Drybrugh, a monk of the Abbey, was cellarer from 1482 till 1487. Abbot David's ordinances give a view of the cellarer's office still more interesting than that given of the granitor's department. We take liberty to recite part of these regulations, not only to show the provision and economy of one of those establishments, which exerted no little influence on society in past times, and of which we now understand so little, but also to afford a view of the current prices of these indispensable articles of merchandise nearly four hundred years ago,—keeping in view that the prices are stated in Scots money, one shilling of which fell (ultimately, at least) so low as not to exceed the value of a penny sterling. The cellarer was to expend yearly on "wedders 800 [120 per hundred,] price of the piece 3 shillinds—sowme, 144: in marts lardinar [beeves salted], and fresh all the year 9 score, or 180, price of ilk piece

15 shillings—sowme, 135 : in kel.ing lardinar [salted cod-fish] 1500, price per hundred, 3—sowme, 45. And of thir fish, where mister [need] is in winter, to be spended 500, and against Lentren 1000—sowme, 322, Gs. 8d.: in salmon lardinar betwixt Dundee, the Ferry, and Montrose [to be supplied from these places], 11 barrels; and the cellarer to bring in the same by Lammas yearly ; and thereof in winter to be disposed of 5 barrels, and in Lentren 6 barrels: to be bought in dry haddocks and speldings, 12,000 ; price of each hundred, 16 pennies—sowme, 8: by [beside] the teind and lardinar [fish], to buy fresh fish daily, 60: to buy eggs and butter, 20 merks: to buy lambs, veals, gryces, and chickens, 20: to buy salt, 20 merks : 4 lbs. saffron, 6: 16 lbs. pepper, 8 merks: 2 lbs. ginger, 20 shillings: 2 lbs. cannel [cinnamon], 32 shillings: 2 lbs. cloves, 2 merks: 1 lb. granis [carroways ?], 1 merk: 1 lb. mace, 16 shillings: 100 lbs. almonds, 6—price per lb., 20 pence: 3 dozen rys, 24 shillings: candle in the year, 20: in vinegar, 6 gallons, price per pint 4 penniessowme, 32 shillings: in honey, 6 gallons; price per pint 18 pennies—sowme, 3, 12s.: in the cellarer's office for the fuel bringing Name, 5: 2 dozen swine and baris [boars], 10: till his expense passing to the fairs, 8: in habit silver, 5, 13s. 4d.: for the servitors' fees in tho kitchen, 3, 10s. Memorandum, that the auld cellarer's charges was, the year of God, auchty and aucht years [1488], the Kings Henes [Highness] being here twys, the Archebischop thrice, and the lords of the realm and all others hospitalitie Icepit, draws 500, 29s. 4d. And now the memorial extends [exceeds] that sowme 27." This "memorandum" affords a lively idea of the demands which were made on the hospitality of the Abbey. The two great personages who so liberally favoured Arbroath with their visits in the year 1488 must have been either the ill-fated James III., who was killed on 7th June of that year, or, more probably, his young successor, James IV., and William Schevez, Archbishop of St Andrews.

The high grounds betwixt Wardmill and the old Brechin road were in old times attached to the cellarer's office, and bore the name of the " Milhil" before they were leased to persons of the name of Guthrie, about the year 1501. This officer also possessed a croft known by the name of "the Cellarer Croft," till it was let, along with the Wardmill, about 1509, for a rent, to be paid to "our cellarer." This land is described as lying near the Brothock and the Wardmill, along with which it continued to be leased for many years afterwards. In consequence of this connection the term "Wardmill Croft" may have come to be applied to it, while the only vestige now remaining of the term Cellarer is to be found in the name of the neighbouring ford by which the Brothock was crossed at the south end of this field, and which can be traced from the original Cellarer-ford through the various forms of Cellery-ford, Sellery-ford, Sillery-ford, to Siller-ford, its modern and corrupted orthography.

On 6th May 1498 Abbot David Lichtone leased the half of the lands of Seaton for nineteen years to the Cellarer for the decent sustentation of his office, on condition that he, or other monks joined with him in the possession, should provide yearly at their expense a boat for fishing, with men and other necessaries required for it, near the Maiden Castle (le Madyn Castel), or wherever the Abbot and Convent might see expedient—the Cellarer to make yearly count of all the goods and commodities of the half part of Seaton and boat, and to have no power to let the said half without special license—sub-tenants and other necessary servants excepted." The Maiden Castle is a small rocky peninsula which projects into the ocean near Covehaven, and was defended by what is still a very high and conspicuous bank or vallum, with a deep ditch or fosse in front. This fortification was probably hastily thrown up as a last resource by some company of Danes or Norwegians after a defeat, whether at Carnoustie or elsewhere. If they were allowed to leave it, or managed to embark in boats before their enemies were able to take the fortification by force, it would from that circumstance, as in many similar cases, get the title of a virgin fort; or, as in the Abbey writings, "the Maiden Castle." It is proper, however, to mention that Chalmers and others have attempted to derive the term from more ancient sources.

8. The MASTER OF THE WORKS seems to have been a monk who had the charge of keeping the fabrics or Abbey buildings in repair. He is occasionally mentioned in the monastic writings during the period from 1490 till 1501, in both of which years the teind rents of the church of Abernethy were made payable to this officer: on the first occasion to Den John Dryburgh (formerly the cellarer), now Magister Fabrice, in conjunction with the granitor and cellarer, for the repairs of the chapel of the Infirmary; and on the second occasion, in conjunction with the sub-prior and chamberlain. Part of the patrimony of this officer consisted of the ground now called the Smithy Croft. This ground contained a building styled the Smiddy House or House of the Works, with a garden attached; and about the time of the Reformation they were all set in feu to Adam Pierson for 1 Gs. 8d. Scots yearly.

9. The ancient office of JUDEX, now corrupted into Judge, is repeatedly mentioned in the Arbroath Chartulary. This officer also bore the Saxon or lowland Scotch name of Doomster, Deemster, or Dempster, from it being his duty to pronounce the doom or final sentence; and his functions seem to have gradually sunk down from that of deciding cases into a formal rehearsal of the sentence. In a writing of 1227, already referred to, one Adam is mentioned as "Judex of our lord the king," in conjunction with his brother "Kerald, Judex of Angus." The Judex of Angus was probably the Deemster of the court of the great earls of Angus, but it is not easy to define the difference betwixt the king's Judex and the Sheriff at this early period. About 1230, or later, this Kerald is styled Judex of our lord the king, and obtained certain lands, which from him received the name of "Keraldstown," now "Caraldston," while his descendants took their surname of Dempster from the office; and for many generations the Dempsters of Caraldston held the office of Deemster to the Parliaments of Scotland. The office passed with the lands through the hands of the Earl of Crawford and other owners down till 1748, when it was abolished with the other heritable jurisdictions.

The family of Caraldston seem to have also held the office of Dempster of the courts of the Abbots of Arbroath, and to have possessed the lands of Kennymukard, near Kingoldrum, in free tenandry. In the year 1310, Andrew Dempster of Keraldston bound himself to Abbot John that he should serve the ofl-ice, of Judex in the Abbot's courts, by one man to reside in the shire of Aberbrothock, sworn faithfully to perform the office, for which he was to receive each year "twenty shillings of sterlings," besides the usual perquisites of the office. Ninety years afterwards (in 1460), David Dempster of Caraldstown, with consent of David Dempster, his son and heir, resigned into the hands of Abbot Malcolm his office of Dempster in the Abbot's courts, with the annual payment of "twenty shillings of usual money of the kingdom of Scotland," and others belonging to that office. This is the last notice of such a functionary in connection with the Abbey. We may remark that the last remaining Dempster in Scotland was that of the Justiciary Court, which, after existing long as a sinecure, was abolished within the recollection of persons still alive.

10. The extensive civil and criminal jurisdiction of the Lord Abbot of Arbroath was administered by a high officer termed the JUSTICIAR or BAILIE OF THE REGALITY. Alexander Scrymechur, one of the witnesses to the contract for the erection of the harbour in 1394, is described as Justiciar of the Regality. This officer was sometimes styled in the Abbey writs "Justiciar, Chamberlain, and Bailie." Under this title, Abbot David Lichtone, on 26th November 1485, conferred the office on James Ogilvy of Airlie, Knight, and John Ogilvy of Ballindoch, his son and apparent heir, for eleven years. The office had become vacant by the death of James Ogilvy of Luntreith, Knight. In the year 1494, James Lord Ogilvy of Airlie, had a dwelling-house or "hospitium" in the burgh of Arbroath, within which his son, John Ogilvy, Baron of Fingask, Bailie of the Regality, held an inquest concerning the lands of Forglen. Whatever may have been the case at the time of the battle of Arbroath, 1445-6, when the bailiary was contended for by the Lindsays, it appears soon afterwards to have become virtually hereditary in the family of Airlie.

King James V., by a writing dated 10th January 1526-7, declares that "it is onderstand to us and the Lords of owr consall, that owr Abbay of Arbroyth and Abbotts tharof ar infeft of auld of free regality, and justice ayres to be halden be thare balyeis wythin thar lands passyt memor of man;" and that although Abbot David (Betoun) had omitted to hold the justice aire of their regality before the king's justice aire in Forfar-shire, "for ministracioun of justice upon personis replegyt be tham and thar bailye furth of owr said justice ayr, we wyll nocht that tha be hurt tharthrow in thar regalite in tyme cumyng, bot hald thar justice ayris tharin eftyr owr sayd nyxt justice ayr, syklyk and als frely as they or thar balye micht have dune," &c. From this and other documents we learn that the Bailie of Regality held circuit courts, and had power to repledge or redeem from the king's circuit courts persons dwelling within the regality when accused of crimes. In virtue of this right of regality, Abbot Walter Paniter in 1435, compounded with Andrew of Lyclitoun, and granted him remission for the slaughter of James Gibsoun. Even after the Reformation, in 1570, we learn from Pitcairn's Criminal Trials that the commendator of Arbroath could rescue from the king's justiciar, and repledge into his own court, four men accused of the murder of William Sibbald of Cair, on account of their dwelling within his bounds.

The formidable powers of Bailie of the Regality of Arbroath remained in the family of Airlie till the abolition of heritable jurisdictions, when John, fourth Earl of Airlie, received 1400 sterling in compensation for his loss; and John and James Smith, the life-rented regality clerks, received each 41, 13s. 4d. sterling for their losses.

Like the old high-sheriffs, the bailies of regality executed parts of their functions by deputies. On 13th May 1476, David Hence de Dory, as "Depute-Bailie of the regality and lordship of Aberbrothock," granted a charter of resignation to Sir John Tody, chaplain, of a tenement near liopemount, Arbroath.

The Abbey lands in the parish of Tarves, Aberdeenshire, were, by King Robert Bruce's charter of 26th February 1322-3, erected into a separate regality, with confirmation of all the privileges of "foss, fork, sock, sack, thol, them, infangthief," contained in Kin; Alexander's original gift of these lands. But we have seen no indications in the Chartulary of a separate office of Bailie of Regality over that district ; although in the list of feu-duties annexed to the Crown in 1592, George Gordoun is stated as the holder of certain lands in the lordships and baronies of Tarves and Fyvie, "with the baillie.We of the saids baronies."

Besides the realities of Arbroath and Tarves, the Abbots held, as already stated, the feudal superiority of a regality in Lanarkshire, called "our Regality of Athkarmoure," or Ethkarmuir, which, from 1476 at least to 1529, they committed to the charge of persons appointed by them, as "Justiciar, chamberlain, commissioner, and bailie," with power to repledge men dwelling within the bounds from the King's justice aires or circuit courts held at Lanark.

11. The offices of MAIR and CORONER of the Abbey were probably held by separate persons in early times ; but from the days of Abbot Malcolm they were combined in one person, and seem to have lost all those judicial powers which originally belonged to them, having retained merely the humbler executive department. They were latterly the maters or court officers of the Regality Bailie. On 11th February 1462-3 Abbot Malcolm Brydy conferred these offices on Master Thomas Deyksoun for life, with a salary of forty shillings Scots, 12 bolls barley, and 12 bolls oats, with the occupancy of a piece of ground called Mainland, on the north part of Cairnie, which seems to have been a special perquisite of this office. On 8th June 1528 David Betoun appointed Henry Guthrie, and John Guthrie, his eldest son, then tenants of Ruff's and the Park of Conan (Ruives and Parkconon), to the office of inairs and coroners of all his courts and justiciary or chamberlain aires, either of burgh or barony; and of notaries or clerks of court during their lives, with power to appoint, substitutes, for the usual salary of the land—oats and barley before specified—except that in room of 8 bolls of the barley they were to get a chalder of a certain kind of oats, commonly called horse-corn. This grant was renewed in 1578 by Lord John Hainilton in favour of John Guthrie, son and heir of Henry Guthrie of Colliston.

The word "Dereth," a corruption of the Celtic term Derach, was the name of a similar office in the Abbey's regality of Tarves, Aberdeenshire. On 7th December 1463 Abbot Malcolm confirmed a grant whereby Abbot John Gedy, in 1384, had conferred "our office of Derethy of Terwas" on Thomas de Lochane and the heirs of his body in perpetuity.


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