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The History of Glasgow
Robert Renwick 1841-1920


ROBERT RENWICK, son of Robert Renwick and his wife, Janet Alexander, was born on 4th March, 1841, at Torbank, Peebles-shire, in a cottage no longer standing, His great-grandfather, William Renwick, was a cooper and burgess of Peebles (1661-1733), whose widow, Barbara Smith, died in 1739. His grandfather lived at Skirling, Peeblesshire; and his father, Robert Renwick, was born there in 1812. [A memorandum by Dr. Renwick is in these terms: "William Renwick my great grandfather, cooper and burgess in Peebles, who died 8th January, 1733, aged 72 years, also Barbara Smith, his spouse, who died 8th January, 1739, aged 72.] A family relationship to James Renwick, the well-known Covenanter, is uncertain from the meagre pedigree facts available, but a deep ancestral root in Peebles county and town is indisputable. Torbank, overlooking the Lyne Valley, sits on a beautiful grassy slope, with the ground rising quickly ridge beyond ridge behind it to the sky-line.

At school in Peebles, under a Mr. Willins of notable local reputation as a teacher, the young Renwick finished as dux in 1856. He then entered the office of Stuart & Blackwood, a firm of Writers in Peebles, with an excellent general practice. He was already drawn to literature, not only reading widely both in prose and poetry but himself dabbling in verse. His themes included Neidpath Castle and Macbeth, but perhaps his brightest effusion was The Two Kings, A Ballad, written in laudation of the chartered rights of salmon fishing in the Tweed. About 1864 he was (probably by Alexander Harris, formerly his fellow clerk in Peebles, and then in the town clerk's office at Edinburgh) introduced to Mr. James D. Marwick, then recently appointed town clerk of Edinburgh, who took him into his staff. This, in conjunction with his literary leanings, proved a determining fact for his future. We can see the forces that almost inevitably made him an antiquary.

It was a time of continued expansion in record studies. The historical renascence early in the century had been followed by a brood of Clubs such as the Bannatyne, which Sir Walter Scott had founded, and the Maitland and the Abbotsford, which continued the magician's spell. The energetic tradition, though faltering a little, was still effective enough to arouse new aspirations of research. Historical and legal impulses now were probably stronger than those of literature, which had held the ascendant while Scott lived. Cities and burghs were legitimately bethinking themselves of their charters and records as containing memorials of a great past. In 1863 a resolution to print the Records of the Convention of Royal Burghs in Scotland started a far reaching and successful movement. The first volume bore the imprint of the year 1866. The initiative of the Convention was promptly followed by the burghs themselves and the burgh antiquaries. Credit has been rightly claimed for the Convention as the essential influence leading to the formation of the Scottish Burgh Records Society in 1868 for the study and publication of Scottish burghal archives. In this movement Mr. Marwick, as both town clerk of Edinburgh and clerk to the Convention, took a foremost place, working with all his opportunities in consultation and co-operation with Professor Cosmo Innes, John Hill Burton, John Stuart, Joseph Robertson, and David Laing. Cosmo Innes, let us remember, edited the Charlulary of Glasgow in 1843 Mr. Marwick had high company in these masters, to whom in the vigour of his organising faculty he was a powerful second. The Society had a considerable response, and was destined during its career of forty-one years to achieve its ideal of gleaning from the ancient town registers and guild minutes and the protocols of the old burgh notaries the authentic story of civic law and usage and life, touching also at continual turns the burghal share in national fortunes and public events. An immense repository was thus opened, and the lore of the burghs for at least four centuries was read.

To the new Society's publications Mr. Marwick devoted himself with assiduity and spirit. He was the Society's chief editor, no fewer than seventeen of its entire two-and-twenty volumes being brought out by him. In this high task he had the benefit of young Renwick's assistance, its value doubtless growing with experience. A memory of the Society survives in an early list of the subscribers written ante 1870 in the beautiful clerkly hand Renwick then wrote. Except for the corporate subscribers and two or three very late recruits of the Society it may be doubted whether a single member on the list now survives.

The youthful Renwick's antiquarian beginnings can be traced back to Peebles, as his reading there included Ross's Lectures on Conveyancing, an advanced work seldom tackled by junior students. The spirit of the old burgh must early have impressed him, not only offering historical problems to which he returned to the end of his days with unblunted zest, but also luring him beyond the bounds of Peebles to explore the wider domain of the burghs as a medieval institution. In Edinburgh this trend of thought was very directly furthered by the turn his work was to take under Mr. Marwick upon the old records both of the Convention and of certain burghs, beginning with Edinburgh and Peebles. The first publication of the Burgh Records Society was a collection of Ancient Laws and Customs of the Burghs of Scotland, vol. i., edited by Cosmo Innes, then at the height of his historical fame. His introduction outlined the foundation of the Scottish burghs of the twelfth century. He did not live to complete his useful book, which fell to other hands more than forty years later, when it dignified the close of the Burgh Records Society. In 1869 there appeared the first volume of Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh. Renwick was by this time in the full current of participation as a selector and transcriber in the production of the work edited by Mr. Marwick. To this period belonged occasional incidents of association worthy of note. Cosmo Innes, going into the town clerk's chambers, found Renwick busy at his task of transcription. It was an occupation which lay near the old professor's heart, and he expressed the pleasure it gave him to see a young man at work on the old handwriting. In the innermost counsels of the Burgh Records Society was David Laing, and it was often the duty of the subordinate of Mr. Marwick to visit the room at the Signet Library where the famous old bibliographer carried on his work with piles of books built up like ramparts in confusion on the floor about him. Of all the Edinburgh group it was apparently Laing who most impressed Renwick by his extraordinary knowledge of the Edinburgh council records. Edinburgh itself somehow had not laid that permanent hold of his imagination which might have been anticipated.

In 1872, in the preface to the Charters and Documents relating to the Burgh of Peebles, issued by the Society, William Chambers, afterwards Lord Provost of Edinburgh, but more famous in Scottish annals for his place in his publishing firm, attributed to Renwick's zeal and industry the existence of the volume, which indeed chiefly consisted of extracts taken by him from the burghal muniments, in the search for and recovery of which the preface makes evident the fact that Renwick had no inconsiderable share. Probably in this Peebles book Renwick found his vocation, picking out from the original writings the significant entries of record, and making the burgh itself register an autobiography. His intimate knowledge of Peebles and his sense of the typical importance of the material with which he was working gradually gave him an intimate familiarity with the medieval burghal system. The unity of the burgh, its organic personality, was already clear to the patient interpreter.

It is difficult to bring back from distant memories the portrait of youthful manhood, but Dr. Gunn, one of Renwick's oldest friends in Peebles, describes his " rubicund boyish and buoyant personality " frequenting the byeways of Tweeddale on holiday or in summer vacation. A capital walker and an ardent and successful angler, fondest of burn fishing, he held the key to the charm and beauty of his native district. His brother writes : " He had a keen sense of humour, and in congenial 'company he was a racy talker. He was a keen angler, and as he swung over the hills to the burns with creel and rod he could keep up the conversation with a constant flow of illuminating talk."

In 1873, when Mr. Marwick became town clerk of Glasgow, Renwick accompanied him to the west, and his official life thenceforward was spent in the municipal service of Glasgow. From 1873 onward he had charge of the conveyancing department and of the city muniments. In 1874 he was admitted a Notary Public, an office the history of which had always an attraction far him. His notarial motto, "Veritas," was peculiarly apt alike in its personal and professional application. In 1885 he was appointed depute-town-clerk and Keeper of the Burgh Register of Sasines, and he continued to hold with complete acceptance the double office until his death. He acted as Assessor of the Burgh Court, a historical survival in which he took great interest, and at which he was often practically judge as well as assessor. There were about 20,000 ejectment cases in the court in a year, but the ancient procedure, applied with all kindliness and consideration, enabled these cases to be disposed of in a few minutes one morning a week. Defended cases were rare, and appeals and suspensions unknown.
Anyone looking at a bookcase filled with his writings might have assumed that he did not do much other work. No greater mistake could have been made. As keeper of the Burgh Register of Sasines he collated personally every deed which was recorded—the numbers running to many hundreds, and in certain years to thousands. He drew or revised the conveyances of property bought or sold by the Corporation, except those under the Police Acts, and, for a time, those under the City Improvement Acts. He, personally, was the sole " Searcher " of the Burgh Records, and certified the presence or absence of burdens affecting thousands of separate properties in the ancient "royalty." He also took his share in advising as to the parliamentary and general legal business of the City.

One who from his position in the town clerk's office had excellent opportunity to judge his quality as a man of affairs has kindly written for this memoir a notice of his official services:

"It is right to say that he was an accomplished practical conveyancer, and that in his first few years in Glasgow he had a heavy task in completing old transactions and in recovering and arranging the series of Corporation title-deeds which three careless removals had thrown into gross confusion. His accurate conveyancing, combined with his antiquarian zeal, resulted in the resuscitation of numerous lost feu-duties, mostly of small amount, but carrying with them claims, on 'untaxed entry,' to casualties of large extent. What he recovered for the city in this way was more than equal to his salary. He sought no credit for such work, and, indeed, when in 1885 he was appointed on the death of Mr. Andrew Cunningham to be a depute town clerk he was personally unknown to the majority of the town-councillors. Even after he was a depute town clerk he insisted on his subordinates taking his place at council and committee meetings."

In his professional capacity and as keeper of the archives he had a well-tried reputation for methodical attention in substance and detail, and for an unfailing memory on points of topography and history which came within his ken from the study of the Glasgow histories and memoirs and the perusal of the original records. His experience in Edinburgh and his studies of the Peebles minute books and notarial protocols had shown him how infinitely first-hand evidence transcends all secondary versions and how needful it is to check by recourse where possible to primary sources, the embellished later narrative to which all too uncritically the name of tradition is wont to be applied.

How quickly after coming to Glasgow Renwick found his way into the heart of the burgh records there is evident from the appearance in 1876 of a volume of Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow, A.D. 1573-1642. In the preface the editor, Mr. Marwick, with a frank emphasis which did him honour, expressed very exactly the nature and measure of the service rendered by his assistant. "In this work," he said, "as in the corresponding selections from the records of Edinburgh and Peebles, the editor owes everything to the care, intelligence, and accuracy of Mr. Renwick, by whom the transcripts have been made, the proof sheets collated, and the index prepared." The same service he was to continue to render in selecting and presenting the text in at least six other solid tomes of Glasgow record, edited by Air. Marwick, who was knighted in 1888. The latest of these tomes, in which Sir James's name stood alone in the editorship, was in 1905, and in the preface he took occasion to observe regarding Renwick that his intimate knowledge of Old Glasgow was unique. In 1906 Renwick's name for the first time stood along with Sir James's on the title page of the second volume of Charters and other Documents relating to the City of Glasgow, Vol. II., A.D. 1649-1707, with Appendix, A.D. 1434-1648. It was a becoming close to a series which began in 1876 that the long colleagueship should be thus formally commemorated. Sir James had now retired from the town clerkship, and had practically committed to Renwick's hands Pro futuro the editorial control of his burghal trust.

After Sir James's death in 1908 Renwick, as a faithful historical executor, brought out his chief's three posthumous works, The River Clyde and the Clyde Burghs (i9og), Edinburgh Guilds and Crafts (1909), and Early Glasgow (1911). To the last-named volume he appended for anniversary reasons a final chapter written by him in continuation of Sir James, so as to bring down the narrative from 1609 until 1611, when Glasgow was by a formal writing, though without any formal accession of privileges, erected into a royal burgh.

Renwick's independent reputation from an early period may be inferred from his selection by the antiquaries of Stirling and Lanark to edit the records of these burghs—Stirling, which he accomplished in three volumes in 1884-89; and Lanark in one volume in 1893, all duly equipped with luminous prefaces, setting forth the historical position of each of these ancient and important corporate communities.

In 1891, in conjunction with Air. A. M. Scott, a Glasgow solicitor, remembered as an antiquary for his monograph on the battle of Langside, he drew up a detailed report on thirteen volumes of Glasgow Presbytery Records from 1592 until 1774. He seldom missed a chance that brought grist to the antiquary's mill, and the presbytery minutes were faithfully read, yielding many facts and incidental touches of local life for that prolonged commentary on Glasgow, which in various forms was to come from his pen. Nor was it merely for himself he studied; he transcribed the whole of Vol. I. of these Presbytery Records, and presented his MS. transcript to the Presbytery.

Renwick had taken voluminous notes from the muniments of Peebles as well as from general sources, and these he collected into a series of articles for the Peeblesshire Advertiser in 1871-72. Twenty years later he resumed the subject, and finally put out a small volume of very restricted issue in 1892 entitled Gleanings from the Records of the Royal Burgh of Peebles. Its success no doubt encouraged him to his next enterprise. Between 1894 and 1897 he wrote for the same newspaper numerous articles on the parishes of the county. What he had already done for the burgh he now did for the whole shire, collecting for its upland ranges and its beautiful little valleys the annals which he had traced in the multifarious documentary sources explored during his years of research. These topographical essays, rich in extracts and references, were collected in volume form in 1897 as Historical Notes on Peeblesshire Localities.

If his love for Peebles was thus attractively made manifest, the fact that Glasgow held its just and equal half in his historical affection was shown by his preparation simultaneously with these Peebles papers of a unique and laborious calendar of the Protocols of the town clerks and notaries of Glasgow from A.D. 1547 down to 1600, a systematic analysis and close abstract preserving every date and place and name in the record, and supplying where requisite the explanation of obscure allusions or doubtful locality. No one but Renwick could have done this with the sureness of local knowledge which has made the Protocols as edited and calendared by far the most important repertory of information, topographical, industrial, genealogical, and intimately historical for the ancient city in its passage through a great national evolution. When the Protocols began Glasgow was still essentially a rural community; when they ceased the city was swiftly shaping landward and seaward towards its future as a world-centre of manufacture and trade. The resolution to condense and edit the protocols came about in direct consequence of a search through the whole set by the writer of this notice. Renwick remarked that he had a good mind to make an abridgement and inventory ; his idea developed, but before deciding upon his plan he took counsel with special antiquarian friends and scholars. The list included the late John Guthrie Smith, historian of the Blane Valley; Dr. Thomas Dickson, long the historical curator of the Register House ; Joseph Bain, famous as author of the Calendars of Scottish Documents which have since 1881 been the greatest general work of documentary reference for early Scottish history ; and C. D. Donald, that tireless worker in the antiquities of Old Glasgow. Dr. J. T. T. Brown was also consulted, and no doubt others. In this correspondence there are few pleasanter episodes than his association with Joseph Bain, a Glasgow man whose warmth of feeling for his native Cambuslang and the adjacent city had found its first expression in his coeditorship in 1875 of the Diocesan Registers of Glasgow, based on the capitular protocols of Cuthbert Simson. Once settled, the scheme for a comprehensive editing of the town-clerk's sixteenth century protocols was energetically and methodically carried out. The chief collections thus made accessible were those of William Hegait (1547-68) and Henry Gibsone (1555-76), and, supplemented by the protocols of four other notaries, formed the staple for eleven slim but closely documented volumes, completed in 1900, and laden with Glasgow history.

A lucky opportunity came in connection with the British Association's visit to Glasgow in 1901, when he was requested to sketch the history of Glasgow for incorporation in the Association's Handbook. This led him to survey anew the whole course of events from the twelfth century, and to sum up his inferences and conclusions in a succinct and orderly account of Historical Glasgow. A compact and clear presentment of the rise, progress, and character of Glasgow from its foundation until modern times, this sketch made its mark as an admirable summary, linking in due sequence the geographical, historical, industrial, and mercantile forces which created the city. It also proved an excellent ground plan for the direction of Renwick's own future examination of the determining elements in the civic development. Probably, however, no work of his, except the present volume, combines so large a store of vital and pictorial features as his Glasgow Memorials, the handsome book published in 1908, in which he gathered up much of the invaluable miscellaneous material, gradually amassing itself in his special press articles for years before.

In conjunction with friends, and especially with A. B. M'Donald, City Engineer, he drew up from time to time various maps illustrative of particular phases of burghal growth in earlier times. These maps or plans were reconstructions of no common skill : nothing short of the exhaustive topographical and record knowledge which he alone combined would have sufficed to produce such lucid and informing charts of the past as his re-picturings of Stirling, Peebles, and Lanark, as well as of Glasgow, with its suburban communities prior to their absorption in the urban area. Probably these maps indicate that Renwick in his studies, always visualised the past, which accounts for the signal clearness of his localisations and the security of his inferences on the gradual expansion of the towns, but particularly of Glasgow. His monographs on Gorbals and Calton and Anderston (for the Regality Club in 1900 and 1912) were invaluable sketches of these once independent baronial burghs, before they were welded into the fabric of the city. He knew the detached constituent elements as intimately as the central organism which was to incorporate them all.

In October 1908 the anticipated close of the work of the Burgh Records Society necessitated rearrangements, and on the motion of Lord Provost Sir William Bilsland, Renwick was authorised to continue the series of Extracts combined with Charters and other Constitutional Documents from 1717 till the passing of the Burgh Reform Act of 1833. With customary promptitude the work was undertaken and accomplished in seven volumes, the first volume for the years 1718-38 appearing in igog, and the last, for 1823-33, in igz6, comprising in each case a lucid introduction. The series from 1718 until 1833 was issued under the auspices of the Glasgow Corporation alone. The Burgh Records Society ceased to exist in 1910, its last publication fitly coming from Renwick's pen. He had splendidly qualified himself to complete the collection of burghal laws begun by Cosmo Innes, and his volume of The Ancient Laws and Customs of the Burghs of Scotland, vol. ii., A.D. 1424-1707, ending the Society's work, closed a considerable and honourable chapter of burghal history.

It is now time to schedule chronologically the publications as the real items of the author's biographical calendar:

The foregoing hand-list will probably facilitate local study, A real bibliography, while a boon to research, would without doubt enhance the measure of respect due to Renwick's diligence and his fidelity to his ideals.

The centre of gravity in the sources of Glasgow history was in some degree shifted by these publications, in which the names of Marwick and Renwick are almost inseparably intertwined. The formal historians of Glasgow had scarcely risen to the full height of their responsibilities. They had been content with a few ill-edited passages from the civic muniments. They neither knew the body of manuscripts to be examined nor the constitutional niceties of burghal status to be critically determined; imperfectly alive to the more ancient historic life of the City, they found its greatness and therefore their own commanding theme mainly, if not wholly, in the modern, or almost modern, merchants and manufacturers, whose country houses were homes of a mercantile aristocracy, which in making itself had made Glasgow and had made the Clyde. The mass and weight of new ore dug from the mine of record greatly altered the balance. The centre of gravity of Glasgow history is still modern rather than antique, but the long continuous evolution, the remote forces in the making of the city, the mentality alike of its churchmen and its citizens, and above all the variety of its intellectual mercantile and marine enterprise all unite to throw back the centre point and shew the causes of things as far more complex and remote than men supposed. John M'Ure and his successors, for the most part, had laid the general foundations with little art. The Reform time was too hot with politics for calm institutional investigation. John Strang, "Senex" (Robert Reid), John Buchanan, and J. O. Mitchell exploited a most influential epoch of Glasgow's industrial development. Marwick and Renwick set up anew the medieval city, and equipped it with an array of title deed and protocol from the first founding of the bishop's burgh to the Reforms of 1833. Glasgow thus offered a fine example in the treatment of its archives, and rendered a municipal homage to history difficult to match.

In his way across a wide tract of historical antiquity, Renwick was constantly on the edge of subjects of controversy, but his accuracy, sagacity, and tolerant moderation steered him through, if not quite without friction at least without a bitter word of archaeological debate. The nearest approach to a controversy he ever had was in relation to the position of Peebles Castle, which an eccentric opponent would fain have spirited away up river to Neidpath, albeit the tenor of a whole series of documentary references makes plain the identification of the "Castlehill" in the angle of the junction of Peebles Water and the Tweed as the true site of the royal castle which David I. had founded in its pristine form, but which as a structure had ceased to be in evidence by about the middle of the fourteenth century.

While Renwick cannot be said to have established any new archaeological principle or any constitutional or functional characteristic of importance in burghal politics or economy, the immense lore of the burgh as a generic institution, its deep-laid store of customary rule and observance was, as never before, exhibited by his transcriptions, disclosing recurrent in burgh after burgh identical or analogous usages. On many a hereditary disputation he cast a new and sometimes decisive light, as when he disproved the inference that the Cross of Glasgow was ever at the Drygait or elsewhere than at the present Cross, or when he cleared up the mystery of Bishop Forest, or when he discovered that the Bakers had "newlie biggit" their mill on the Kelvin in 1569, a fact shrewdly serving to clinch the argument from tradition that the gift or grant of the mill came from Regent Moray after his victory at Langside the year before. Of such documentary triumphs Renwick enjoyed not few.

On the complex problems of the general origins of burghs, although he was no adventurous theorist, he followed acutely the course of historical discussion, reading in particular with keen interest the works of Professor Frederic W. Maitland, Mary Bateson, and Adolphus Ballard. The purely legal and formal side of old transactions greatly appealed to him. To a critic of his final volume, who suggested some curtailment of narrative of symbolic ecclesiastical detail, he replied that in the early period those details were so often almost the sole incidents preserved that it was imperative to utilise them. One may dispute the argument and yet acknowledge that the traditions of antique ceremony are worthy of remembrance. The art of history is chiefly the detection and due registration of relationships of general events. To Renwick fell many more of the vital conjunctions for the annals of Glasgow than fell to any of his predecessors. He not only made discoveries himself: for fifty years he was preparing the material for the discoveries of others.

The recognition of the true measure of his service to history was visible in the growing and public appreciation both of himself and of his work. Various expressions of this, in particular on three occasions, gave him great gratification.

First, and perhaps chief of all, was the tribute of gratitude from Peebles in 1897, when the freedom of the burgh was conferred upon him, and he was admitted honoris causa a burgess and guild brother. He bargained for simplicity in the function, which was memorable to witness, including the delightful, modest, and yet earnest speech he made in reply, vindicating the claim of the burgh to David I. as its founder.

A secondary recognition, rather late in arrival, came in 1915, when Glasgow University, in respect of his eminent historical merits, made him a doctor of laws. His many friends among the officials of the city, Sir John Lindsay, town clerk, in the chair, presented him with the robes and hood appropriate.

A third compliment was relative to the project for the work to which this notice is a prefix. It had become increasingly evident that Renwick stood alone and incomparable in his mastery of the story of burghal Glasgow; and when the commission given to him to bring the charters and extracts down to 1833 was fully executed and the last volume brought out in 1916, a suggestion was thrown out in the Scottish Historical Review, confirmed and emphasised in various forms by the press of Glasgow, that he ought to be invited under the highest learned and civic auspices to dedicate his ripe historical faculty to a full general history of the city. The proposal was fortunate. Sir John Lindsay wrote a letter, putting it before Lord Provost Sir Thomas Dunlop, who laid it before the Corporation, which with unanimous cordiality gave its approbation. The invitation thus handsomely extended was heartily accepted, although neither Dr. Renwick nor his encouraging friends forgot that he was seventy-five. Greatly heartened to the new task he turned to it with characteristic promptitude, vigour of purpose, and thoroughness of system. His plan was to follow the leading lines of the sketch he had written in zgoz, and to expand his " Historical Glasgow " into a formal and comprehensive History of Glasgow. So vigorous was his progress that within little more than a year the first volume was complete, except for the last touches of revisal of proof of his preface. He seemed to enjoy the task, in which he made steady headway. There was no sign of over-pressure; his habitual deliberate fashion of work, without hurry but with persistent diligence, was maintained. But an attack of illness in 1919 probably left him materially weaker, although his recovery seemed both rapid and complete. Mid-winter found him with the text of Vol. I. passed for press and with his preface on proof. At the end of the second week of January he was active and cheery, almost beyond his wont both in official duties and in the final adjustment of his preface. He told a friend a day or two previously that he was "taking short views of life." His jocular phrase was truer perhaps than he thought. He was at business on the Saturday with every sign of active health, but early on Sunday morning, January 11, 1920, a sudden seizure came; he never recovered consciousness, and he died in the afternoon. His death took place at 8 Balmoral Crescent, where he had had his studious and happy home for almost thirty wonderfully productive years. He was interred in Craigton Cemetery. Press notices in the leading journals made fit expression of appreciation and regret, extolling the palaeographer and burghal annalist while recording the modesty linked with geniality of the man and, as it was happily styled, the " atmosphere of intellectual hospitality " with which he welcomed his fellows in quests of history.

This is not the occasion for a full estimate of his value as a historian, especially when the present volume best commits that question to the impartial test of time. To its composition he had dedicated his most careful thought, ripened by nearly forty-eight years of unique familiarity with the muniments of Glasgow. It was no patchwork of reprint hastily compiled : he was genuinely and radically remaking the whole record as in the light of the latest knowledge its trend presented itself. It was the last word of Robert Renwick. His memory among the historians is in no need of that charity which he himself never failed to manifest alike towards his contemporaries and his predecessors in the studies he loved.

His modesty narrowly escaped being a fault. Constitutionally so retiring that he shrank from meeting strangers, he yet was the most approachable of men. He was much sought for his historical knowledge and counsel. What student of Old Glasgow was there who did not consult him? His intimate friendships were too many to record, but the names of William Young, the artist, and the Rev. James Primrose must not be left untold. But no one appears to remember his ever having addressed a literary or antiquarian society. Overtures made to him to lecture in connection with a university foundation were unavailing. He preferred to work in his own way. He fought shy of all outside social activities. His son says he never saw his father idle. It was his practice to be at work before breakfast, sometimes for two or three hours, and his capacity for plodding through a heavy task was prodigious. "Eident was he but and ben." He read the old script with astonishing ease and familiarity. He never used spectacles, and to the last met his problems of decipherment without a glass. An even temper and placid good humour never failed him, and could turn the edge even of discomfiture.

His marriage in 1868 to Agnes Wallace of Mauchline, Ayrshire, gave him a home of affection, in which his fondness for children found its gratification, and he saw a family grow up around him in a circle of happiness in which a spirit of simple contentment left him considerably free to prosecute his ceaseless study of the old burghs. He is survived by his widow, two sons and four daughters.

The portrait prefixed admirably renders the man—the kindly face, the gentle spirit, the quick eye, the pose of natural unaffected dignity. To some of us it will recall hours of happy memory over many years—hours of instructive collation and intimate communings with an accomplished medievalist, hours that cannot return.

His library was of modest dimensions; he was not a collector. He had a most tenacious memory which time never seemed to impair. His charity in judgment was constitutional, his patience infinite. His style in writing might lack animation and his narrative lose something from his objection to emphasis, but he lived up to his motto of "Veritas" and had the highest historic quality, the genius of taking pains.

His way of gathering the purport of disconnected fragmentary evidences was only one of many forms in which his intense interest in his records was revealed. The annals of the scriptorium are dull only to the outsider. His prefaces, balanced by appendices of citation, ensured the preservation of every ground of proof. He was weary of empty repetitions, and jocularly boasted that he had never styled David I. the "sore saint," nor James VI. the "Scottish Solomon."

What the old notaries before him had done to register the life of the community and the topography of the place, Renwick in broader and better fashion achieved not less faithfully by his many books, not jealously shutting up his material in secret protocols, but making them for the first time a connected whole for general information. After all, what is the historian but a notary in excelsis? Surpassing any predecessor of either craft by the extent and variety of his output, his acuteness as a topographer, his sleepless memory of facts and his fidelity to the mass of record he interpreted, he holds a place all his own in the goodly fellowship of those who have built up the story of the city of Glasgow. The work he leaves behind him, not the gleaning but the harvest of half a century, is in great measure the primary authority of the civic history, and his memory will endure. It is the last office and much valued privilege of old friendship, an intimate and genial association of nearly thirty years, to add this stone to the cairn of Glasgow's greatest chronicler.


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