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The History of Glasgow
Volume 2 - Chapter XVII - James VI. visits Glasgow


As early as February, 1616, it was intimated by proclamation in Scotland that the king intended to visit his northern kingdom in the following year. In order that there should be abundant sport for his majesty and the royal retinue strict observance of the laws against hunting and shooting of deer, hares, and wild-fowl was enjoined within certain areas, and it is of interest to note that one of these areas was a district within eight miles of Glasgow. [Priv. Coun. Reg. X. 459.] Also, in order that the royal residences should be furnished becomingly it was ordered that all persons in possession of the king's tapestries should report where these were to be found. Among others, a servant of the late Duchess of Lennox declared that a chamber in the donjon tower of the Castle of Glasgow had been hung with this, and contained a silk bed. [Ibid. x. 515, 521.]

On the last day of 1616 the king addressed a letter to the provost, bailies, and council of Glasgow, intimating his desire that the nobles who should accompany him in the coming summer should see neither signs of rudeness nor appearance of scarcity in his ancient realm, and ordaining the city to send commissioners to a convention of the estates to devise means for making the necessary arrangements for the royal entertainment. [Burgh Records, i. 338.] Next, in February, came an order from the Privy Council for Glasgow to send seven masons, with their tools, to help with the refitting of Edinburgh Castle and Holy-rood Abbey. [Priv. Coun. Reg. xi. 31.] Then the Convention of Estates on 7th March resolved on a voluntary taxation of 200,000 (29,250 stg.) to meet the expenses of the royal visit. Of this, 100,000 (14,625 stg.) was to be furnished by the clergy, 66,666 13s. 4d. (9,750 stg.) by the barons, freeholders, and feuars of the crown lands, and 33,333 6s. 8d. (4,875 stg.) by the burghs. [Act Par!. iv. 518.] On 2nd May, proclamation of the coming visit was made at the market crosses of the chief burghs, with an injunction that the people should conduct themselves in orderly fashion, on pain of death; and at last on Tuesday, 13th May, the king entered Scotland.

James was accompanied, on this long-looked-for visit, by a great and distinguished retinue, which included the Duke of Lennox, five English earls, three English bishops, and, among other notables, lay and clerical, Dr. William Laud, who afterwards, as Archbishop of Canterbury, was to play so conspicuous a part as an opponent of Puritanism and Presbyterianism, and in the reign of James's son, to seal his convictions and end his career on the block. Each of them had, of course, his own retinue of gentlemen and servants, and as the great and brilliant cavalcade rode into Edinburgh, it must have filled to overflowing the ancient capital on its high narrow ridge between the Castle and Holyrood, already crowded with the nobility and gentry of Scotland, who had gathered there to meet their sovereign, and with the clergy, crown vassals, and commissioners of burghs, who had assembled for the meeting of Parliament.

It was not till two months had been spent in a round of sports, gaieties, and visits to various burghs, and when James began to think of returning to the south, that the Privy Council caused a proclamation to be made in Glasgow, requiring all the inhabitants to allow their houses and stables to be inspected and set apart for the noblemen and others of the royal retinue, and ordering the owners and occupiers to prepare their premises for the accommodation of those who might be billeted on them. Any who failed to obey this order were to be committed to prison and otherwise punished. [Priv. Coun. Reg. xi. 186.]

On 22nd July, 1617, the king arrived in Glasgow. His entry was made the occasion of much speechmaking. William Hay of Barro, commissary of Glasgow, welcomed him in a flattering English speech ; Robert Boyd of Trochrig, principal of the college, delivered a Latin oration and verses; while David Dickson recited a set of Greek verses in his honour. The city at the same time presented him with a gilt cup in the form of a salmon.

The Burgh Records from 28th August, 1613, till 10th September, 1623, are unfortunately lost. No details, therefore, are available from them of the arrangements made for the royal entertainment on the occasion. We do not even, know where the king himself lodged, though it was likely to be either in the archbishop's castle or in the old mansion of the Earls of Lennox, at the Stablegreen Port, where his mother' had paid her momentous visit, just fifty years before, to his father Darnley, when he lay there recovering from smallpox. [See supra, p. 12.] On the 24th James went to Paisley, but on Sunday the 27th he returned to the city, and held an important meeting of the Privy Council, attended by Archbishop Spottiswood of St. Andrews, Archbishop Law of Glasgow, the Duke of Lennox,; and the Bishop of Aberdeen. [Priv. Coun. Reg. xi. 198, 202, 206.] It is said also that a gentleman's child was baptized before him in the presence chamber by an English bishop. [Calderwood, Vii. 272.] He then set out on his return south, visiting on the way the Marquess of Hamilton at Hamilton Castle in Cadzow, Lord Sanquhar at Sanquhar, and Sir William Douglas at Drumlanrig, and journeying thence by Lincluden, Dumfries, and Annan, to Carlisle, which he reached on 4th August.


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