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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
The new Fort of Glasgow and the Wise Men of Dumbarton


ABOUT the middle of the seventeenth century, the merchants of Glasgow, with an increasing trade, found the Clyde, with its then depth of water, quite unsuitable for their purposes. As early as 1653, they had their shipping port at Cunningham, in Ayrshire, but its great distance from Glasgow created expense and inconvenience.

To remedy this, the Council, on the 24th July, 1662, concluded "for many guid reasons—that ther be ane litle key builded at the Broornielaw." The magistrates also endeavoured to obtain from the burgh of Dumbarton ground on which to construct an extensive harbour; but the wise men of Dumbarton refused the offer, on the ground, as stated by their magistrates, that the great influx of mariners and others would raise the price of provisions to the inhabitants, also that there was something dirty in a seaport, and besides that, it would disturb their repose. Dupin says, "This is one of the very rare instances in which the Scotch had decided foolishly in their municipal interests." The authorities of Troon were next applied to, and also foolishly declined.

Ultimately, on the 4th of January, 1668, the provost, John Anderson, senior, reported to the Town Council of Glasgow, that he, and others with him, had "ane meiting yesternight with the lairds, elder and younger of Newark—and that the said lairds had subscryvit a contract of feu this morning;" and "had set ane merk land, as a pairt of their lands of Newark, to the towne, in feu for payment yeirlie of four merks (4s. 5˝d. sterling) feu dewtie." The laird of Newark was then Sir Robert Maxwell, and the ground thus acquired, about nineteen miles below the city, was laid out for a town and barbours, and there also was made the first dry or graving dock in Scotland.


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