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The History of Glasgow
Volume 2 - Chapter X - The Churches of Glasgow


MENTION has been made, in the previous chapter, of the Cathedral or High Kirk, the Tron Kirk, previously the collegiate church of St. Mary and St. Anne, and the Barony charge, or congregation of the rural part of the parish of Glasgow, which worshipped in the lower church of the cathedral.

Of various chapels which existed in Glasgow previous to the Reformation the service then appears to have come to an end. Little St. Mungo's chapel and burying ground at the Dow Hill on the north side of the Gallowgate, just outside the city gate, and beyond the Molendinar, near St. Mungo's trees and well, founded by David Cunningham, archdeacon of Argyll in 1500, [Reg. Epis. Glasg. 502.] seem to have been sold by the magistrates, its new owners, when its endowments were transferred to the University. It was bought back by the city for 200 merks (13 6s. 8d.) on 10th May, 1593, from Donald Cunningham of Aikenbar and his wife, to be converted into a hospital for the poor. [Glasgow Records, iv. 679-80.] The conversion seems never to have been carried out, and on 2nd February, 1600, the council ordered all the stone, timber, and growing trees of the kirk to be taken down and used for the repair of the Tron Kirk. [Glasgow Records, i. 202.] In the following year it was resolved to enclose the kirkyard with a wall and maintain it as a burying place; [Glasgow Records, i. 225.] and in 1754 the ground was sold to Robert Tennant for the building of the Saracen's Head Inn.

The chapel of St. Roche the Confessor, founded in 15o8, by Thomas Muirhead, rector of Stobo, and one of the cathedral canons, on the common muir north of Glasgow, was from the first under the patronage of the provost and magistrates. [Glasgow Charters, No. 42.] With its burying ground it was conveyed to Adam Walles and his wife in 1569, the right of burial being reserved. [Glasgow Protocols, 1674, 3516.] Its revenues were transferred to the University in 1572. [Charters and Documents, pt. ii. p. 149.] The name of the chapel is now perpetuated as that of the district, St. Rollox.

In connection with the hospital of St. Nicholas, founded about 1470 by Bishop Andrew Muirhead, near the castle, on ground now occupied by Macleod Street and the Barony church, there was a Gothic chapel, familiar in old prints of the city. [Marwick's Early Glasgow, p. 272.] It was a small building, and was probably used only by a few aged and poor persons who lived in the hospital. Till the abolition of episcopacy the hospital was managed by the archbishop; in 1688 it passed to the Lords of the Treasury, who managed it through a preceptor, and in 1716 they devolved the duty on the magistrates of Glasgow, who still distribute the revenue of about 50 among certain poor persons. [Charters and Documents, i. 46.] The chapel itself was standing as late as the year 1780.

The church of the old monastery of the Blackfriars on the east side of High Street passed into the possession of the University by the charter of the provost and magistrates of 8th January, 1572-3, the principal being bound to read and expound the scriptures every day in the pulpit, while the regents read prayers in their turn, and the "poor" students rang the kirk bell, in order that the students and the townsfolk might assemble to the service. [Charters and Documents, pt ii. 149.] In 1635, the kirk having become ruinous, it vestments to the cathedral, on condition that they might be available twice a year for the use of this chapel. [Reg. Epis. Glasgow, p. 227, 228.] The chapel was in existence in 1505. [Lit. Coll. N.D., Glasg. 258.]

It will thus be seen that for a place of which the population at the Reformation is estimated to have been not more than 4500, Glasgow was well supplied with churches and chapels.


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