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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XVIII - Collection of the King's Customs


IN the thirteenth century the chief collectors of the royal revenues were, firstly the sheriffs, who gathered in the rents of the crown lands, the feudal casualties and the fines imposed by themselves and by the Justiciar and Chamberlain at their circuit courts; and, secondly, the magistrates and custumars of the royal burghs who accounted for the burghal fermes and customs. Periodically accounts were rendered to the Chamberlain, who was both receiver and disburser of the crown revenues, and these accounts as filed were called Exchequer Rolls. Unfortunately no original rolls of a date prior to 1326 have been preserved, and the Earl of Haddington, who in the seventeenth century examined earlier rolls which have since disappeared, was so sparing with his transcripts that these afford little information about the burghs. From the account of Alexander Hunyeth, sheriff of Lanark in 1264, a few items are extracted by the earl, one recording payment for the carriage of lead from Crawford Muir to Rutherglen, and another the purchase of ninety-eight sheep which were sent for the king's use at a meeting of the great men of the realm, known as a "colloquium," held at Edinburgh that year. [Exch. Rolls, 1. p. 30.] The amount collected by Hugh of Dalzell, sheriff of Lanark in 1288, was 522 7s. 11d.; and his expenditure included 22s. paid for two enclosures called "ponfaldys" (penfolds), one at Lanark and the other at Rutherglen. [Ib. p. 40.]

The. crown revenues collected by bailies of royal burghs consisted of the fixed yearly rent paid by each burgess for his separate toft or tenement, called Burgh Maill, the fines awarded in the Burgh Court, and the toll or petty custom on articles brought to the market either from the country or from abroad, and payable either at the town gate, in the market, or on leaving the town. As the burgh of Glasgow was situated on the bishop's territory burgh maill was not payable to the king, and the burgh court was presided over not by the king's but by the bishop's bailies, and thus crown revenue was not collected by the magistrates of the burgh of Glasgow. In such circumstances it seems to have been considered expedient, as already suggested, [Antea, p. 39.] for the bailies of Rutherglen to continue the collection of such crown customs as were payable by those dwellers in Glasgow barony who formerly frequented the Rutherglen market. After about fifty years' experience in the working of this system some modification in the method of collection was considered desirable, and by a charter dated 29th October, 1226, King Alexander directed his bailies or officers of Rutherglen not to take toll or custom in the town of Glasgow, but to do this at the cross of "Schedenestun" as it was wont to be taken of old. The place thus fixed as still available for the collection of custom seems to have been situated close to the eastward boundary of the original royalty, on lands anciently bearing the curious designation of the Town of the Daughter of Sadin and now called Shettleston. [Glasg. Chart. I. pt. ii. p. 12. See also antea, pp. 54, 55.] The only known allusion to a cross at the place is that contained in Alexander's charter, but it is probable enough that the place of collection formed the centre of an ancient village, and it was no doubt on one of the highways leading to Rutherglen.

Whether the charter of 1226 carried exemption from customs to any extent, or whether no more than a change in the method of collection was thereby effected, is a question which cannot now be definitely answered, but in support of the theory that partial exemption was secured it is significant that, by a more drastic order passed at a later period, the barony seems to have been wholly relieved from liability for such dues. In consequence of a complaint made by Bishop Turnbull that the burghs of Renfrew and Rutherglen had caused disturbance and trouble to those who brought goods to the market of Glasgow to sell or buy, thereby hurting and prejudicing the privilege and custom granted by the King's predecessors to the Kirk of Glasgow, King James II., by letters under his privy seal, dated 4th February, 1449-50, charged the bailies, burgesses and communities of the two burghs in future to make no disturbance or impediment to any of his lieges coming or going to the market of Glasgow with merchandise, but to suffer them to come, go, buy and sell freely and peaceably without any demand. Moreover, these burghs, and all others, were forbidden to come within the barony of Glasgow, or within any lands pertaining to St. Mungo's freedom, to take toll or custom, by water or land, from any persons coming or going to the market, notwithstanding any letters of the king's predecessors granted to the burghs of Renfrew or Rutherglen or any other burghs. [Glasg. Chart. I. pt. ii. p. 27.] From this time, therefore, the burghs of Renfrew and Rutherglen must have ceased to collect crown customs in any part of the barony of Glasgow, and in consequence of the system of collection then in operation the loss must have fallen on the burghs themselves and not on the crown. For a long time past the crown revenues had been leased to the respective burghs at fixed yearly rents, and any surplus remaining after payment of that sum was appropriated for the purposes of the common good. [Parts of the Govan lands were at different times claimed for the shire of Renfrew, and it must have been from such portions that the bailies of Renfrew had been collecting custom within Glasgow barony previous to 1449. On the subject of county boundaries in the Govan lands some intricate questions have been raised, and these are discussed in Glasgow Memorials, pp. 119-25.]

In addition to the customs collected for the crown each burgh levied duties or customs for its own purposes, such as maintaining streets in proper condition, keeping order in the burgh, upholding market places and superintending the markets. Such dues merchants of Rutherglen and Renfrew, like other traffickers, had to meet when frequenting Glasgow market on business. As an illustration of the operation of this impost it may be mentioned that in 1304, during the time when King Edward of England had assumed the task of governing this country, the Bishop of Glasgow asked his authority to distrain the burgesses of Rutherglen for payment of toll which had been claimed from them, because the bishop and his town of Glasgow had been "seised, from time beyond memory," of toll from these burgesses on all goods sold or bought in Glasgow. The Guardian and Chamberlain of Scotland were instructed to inquire into the facts and report, [Bain's Calendar, vol. ii. No. 1627.] but though nothing further on the subject is recorded it need not be doubted that the former practice of paying such dues was continued. So late as the year 1575 the lords of council decided that the community of Rutherglen were then liable for Glasgow market dues, "conforme to the lovable use observit past memour of man," [Glasg. Chart. I. pt. ii. p. 166.] a and therefore it may safely be assumed that there never had been any serious interruption to their imposition and collection.


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