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
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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