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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XXII - Kings and Bishops—Cathedral Canons and Vicars


TOWARDS the close of Alexander's reign the peaceful relationship which had existed between England and Scotland was nearly arrested through the occurrence of the tragic incidents following on a tournament held at Haddington in 1242; but the people on both sides were disinclined for war, and at Newcastle the two sovereigns arranged a treaty under which neither king was to attack or injure the other except in self-defence or on just provocation. [Burton, ii. p. 18; Hume Brown, i. p. 116.] Proceeding with the settlement of his own national affairs Alexander was desirous of crowning his work in the subjugation of Argyle by securing beyond doubt the sovereignty of the Western Isles. Negotiations with Haco of Norway for that end having been unsuccessful, the king sailed with a fleet to obtain possession partly by negotiation and partly by force, but in the course of this expedition he died in the small island of Kerrera, fronting the Bay of Oban, on 8th July, 1249.

Alexander III. was only in his eighth year when he succeeded to the throne, and for the next few years the country was subjected to the inconveniences and dangers of a minority rule; but notwithstanding the divided aims of the two chief parties in the state, the Comyns and the Durwards, the ordeal was safely passed through, and by the year 1262 Alexander was himself in a position to take the leading part in the affairs of the nation. The following year saw the destruction of the Norwegian fleet at Largs, and a direct result of this disaster to Haco's imposing invasion was the definite annexation, three years later, of the Western Isles to the crown of Scotland.

Whether there were any special circumstances calling for royal recognition in 1251, or whether, as is more likely, this was sought very much as a usual formality at the beginning of a new reign, is not known, but by letters dated 30th April of that year, King Alexander took Bishop William his lands and his men, and all their possessions, under his firm peace and protection, and forbade that any one should unjustly do them harm, injury, molestation or trouble, under pain of his full forfeiture. [Glasgow Chart. I. pt. ii. p. 16.] At a later period, and at a time when the Dumbarton authorities were interfering with the bishop's men in their trading journeys to Argyle, the king granted to the bishop the charter of 1275 which has already been referred to. [Antea, p. 95.]

Bishop William died on loth November,1258, and was buried at Melrose, near the great altar. Nicholas de Moffat, who had been archdeacon of Teviotdale, was chosen his successor, with the king's approval, and he proceeded to Rome to receive consecration from the Pope. But in this he did not succeed, partly, says the Melrose chronicler, [Church Historians, vol. iv. pt. i. pp. 209-10. ] because he was unwilling to pay a sum of money which the Pope and the cardinals demanded from him, and partly because he was opposed by those who had accompanied him, particularly Robert, the elect of Dunblane, who thought that if Nicholas was rejected he might have the bishopric himself. Nicholas returned to Scotland in 1259 and John de Cheyam, archdeacon of Bath and a papal chaplain, was appointed by the Pope and consecrated at the Roman court. This appointment was disagreeable to the king, and was rendered more so on account of the letters for carrying it into effect being addressed to the bishops of Lincoln and Bath. Though the king was apparently powerless to stay the ecclesiastical procedure his control over the destination of the land revenues was sufficient to make his consent very desirable if not essential. As shown by the Exchequer Rolls, in the Earl of Haddington's extracts, the temporalities of the see were accounted for to the king's chamberlain for the terms of Martinmas,1259, and Whitsunday, 126o, but unfortunately particulars are not given. [Exchequer Rolls, i. p. 6.] On the application of the Pope, who stated that he did not desire to do anything contrary to the custom of the kingdom in regard to the temporality, and who directed the bishop to render fealty to the king before receiving such, all differences seem to have been smoothed over for the time, and Bishop John entered into full possession of the see and held it for about seven years. But he was not on good terms with the canons, who resented his intrusion, and in 1267 he went abroad, where he died in the following year. Nicholas de Moffat was thereupon elected bishop for a second time, but he died unconsecrated in 1270. William Wischard, archdeacon of St. Andrews and chancellor of the kingdom, was chosen as his successor, but on 2nd June, 1271, he obtained the bishopric of St. Andrews, and the see of Glasgow again became vacant. [Dowden's Bishops, pp. 304-6.]

On 2nd January, 1258-9, about two months after the death of Bishop Bondington, the dean, the two archdeacons and other dignitaries along with the other canons of the cathedral, confirmed the liberties and customs of Sarum as applicable to their own church, and they each by oath undertook that if he should be chosen bishop he should, in the first year of his promotion, remove his "palacium," which was outside the Castle of Glasgow, and devote the whole of the site to dwellings for the canons, and in so far as the site might not be sufficient for those canons who had not dwellings, he should assign competent places elsewhere for their accommodation. [Reg. Episc. No. 208.] Bishop John was no party to this compact, and the design for building canons' dwellings did not come into operation in his time; but after his death, in 1268, the canons, while again confirming the liberties of the church, renewed their contingent obligation for removal of the "palacium" and the supply of sites for the requisite dwellings. [Reg. Episc. No. 213.] What is meant by the term "palacium," as here used, is not perfectly obvious, but there seems to be good ground for believing that the castle was the bishop's place of residence and that the "palacium" proposed to be removed was the palisade surrounding the adjoining court or pleasure ground. [As the result of transitional nomenclature the designation "palacium" was sometimes transferred from the enclosing material to the enclosure itself. See Trial by Combat, pp. 86, 112, 210.] In primitive times there may have been a fort here, as the remains of what seem to have been old earthworks in the vicinity were not wholly removed before 1599; [Glasg. Rec. i. p, 195; Glasgow Memorials, p. 14.] and it is probable that in the thirteenth century the palisade surrounding the bishop's castle embraced grounds which were appropriated as sites for some of the manses erected subsequent to that date. Ground near the cathedral and castle being the most suitable as sites for such dwellings must have been much in demand, though it may be readily understood that the bishop in possession for the time would not be too eager to curtail his open space. Bishop John, however, with consent of his chapter, assigned to William of Cadihou, one of the canons, part of his garden, as marked off by the dean and the Official, master Adam de Dertford. Canon William, who had erected buildings and planted trees on the ground, was to have the use of the place for his lifetime as freely as any of the other canons held their dwellings around the church, and it was stipulated that a cloister should be constructed and maintained between the alienated ground and the bishop's garden. [Reg. Epise. No. 217.]

By a statute passed in 1266, the bishop, with consent of the dean and chapter, made various regulations regarding the appointment and duties of residential vicars. Each canon was to appoint a competent vicar to take his place when he himself was on personal duty in his country parish, to pay him a suitable stipend, and to provide him with a cope and surplice. The dean, precentor, chancellor, treasurer, and subdean required to reside at the cathedral for one half of the year, but residence for the fourth part of the year was sufficient for the other canons. Each canon was to have his own house in the city, and no dignity or prebend was to have a house annexed to it. On the occasion of a canon going away, the bishop and chapter were entitled to assign his house to such canon as they chose. [Reg. Episc. No. 212. With one or two exceptions the canons were rectors or parsons of country parishes where dwellings had also to be supplied. By one of the General Statutes of the thirteenth century it was provided that every church should have a manse near it in which the bishop or archdeacon could be comfortably accommodated, and such manses were to be built at the joint expense of the parsons and vicars in proportion to their incomes from the parish, but the vicars, who had the main use of the buildings, were to be responsible for their maintenance (Statutes of the Scottish Church—Scottish History Society—vol. 54, p. i2). In a fourteenth century statute it is stated that by reason of the meanness of the houses the bishop of St. Andrews could not be entertained in the benefices within his diocese, and it was decreed that against his next visitation each holder of a benefice should make arrangements for building a suitable manse (lb. p. 68).] Latterly a different system prevailed, and most of the prebends had their own manses attached to them. It is probable that in course of time the scheme for the erection of dwellings, contemplated in 1258 and 1268, gradually came into operation, as most of the manses occupied at the time of the Reformation were situated at short distances from the cathedral and castle.

In the last year of his episcopate, and while residing abroad, Bishop John, "being zealous for the increase of divine service in the church of Glasgow," granted the lands of "Kermil" in pure and perpetual alms, for the sustenance of three chaplains who were to celebrate services in the church, for the weal of the bishop's soul, of the soul of Sir Reginald de Irewyn, sometime archdeacon of Glasgow, and of the souls of their predecessors and successors and of all the faithful dead. The lands thus dedicated to the church had been purchased or redeemed by the bishop with the help of the archdeacon, but there was excepted the new mill which the former had erected on the River Clyde, with its site and the road leading thereto. Vacancies in the chaplainries were to be filled by the dean and chapter out of the body of vicars serving in the church, and a malediction was invoked on anyone who should violate the purpose of the endowment. [Reg. Episc. No. 218.] Carmyle, as the lands are now called, is situated in the parish of Old Monkland, and lies on the right bank of the River Clyde, about four miles south-east of Glasgow Cross. Under the ancient name of "Kermil" the lands appear on record, in the twelfth century, as a gift from Herbert, bishop of Glasgow, to the abbey of Neubotle. Kings and popes from time to time confirmed the lands to the abbey; but in the chartulary a note appended to the transcript of a papal bull, dated 1273, mentions that the monks had then ceased to be owners. [Registrum de Neubotle (Bannatyne Club), pp. 91, 123, 191, 316; Glasgow Protocols, No. 1934.] Bishop John's pious arrangements seem to have been disregarded by Bishop Robert Wischart, and his interference led the dean and chapter, in the year 1275, to appeal to the Pope for redress. The papal court thereupon authorised the bishops of Dunblane and Argyle to investigate the complaint, and some documents relating to the judicial procedure, but not the final decision, are recorded in the Register. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 222-4.] That the lands ultimately reverted to the bishopric is shown by the fact that during the period embraced in the Bishops' Rental Books (1510-70) the entries of rentallers in Carmyle lands are numerous.


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