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The History of Glasgow
Volume 2 - Chapter XVIII - Archbishop Law and his Time


By the time James Law succeeded Robert Spottiswood in the archbishopric of Glasgow, Scotland had become fairly well reconciled to the episcopal system of church government upon the establishment of which King James had been more or less continuously engaged ever since he really wielded the sceptre. Had he and his son Charles I. been content to leave public opinion to take its own natural course, and had not proceeded to insist upon such minor details as the kneeling position at communion and the use of a prescribed liturgy, there is every reason to believe that the Church of Scotland would have come down to us to-day in episcopal form, and that some of the most regrettable chapters in the history of the country would never have been written. Spottiswood as Primate at St. Andrews was the king's most active minister in pressing further effort to bring the administration of the Scottish Church into line with that of England, and Law at Glasgow appears to have devoted himself rather to the immediate interests of his diocese.

The new archbishop, it is true, was an ardent supporter of episcopal forms. Otherwise he would never have received his appointment. On one occasion, it is recorded, when the communion was being celebrated in Glasgow Cathedral, he noticed some of the college students remaining seated. Approaching, he commanded them to rise if they would not receive the elements in the ordained attitude, kneeling. His conduct in this matter excited the high indignation of the College Principal, Robert Boyd of Trochrig, and next day the latter, with the college regent, wended his way up the High Street to the Bishop's Castle, and expostulated with the archbishop for dealing at Christ's table "as imperiously as if removing his horse-boys from the bye-board." [Life of Robert Blair, p. 37.] Such demonstrations, however, were merely local, and while they served to show the personal sympathies of the archbishop, they could not have the effect of the larger acts of Spottiswood's ecclesiastical statecraft.

Archbishop Law was a son of John Law of Spittel, near Dunfermline. As he took his degree at St. Andrews only in 1581, he was one of the newer school which had sprung up since the days of John Knox, and had seen nothing of the fires and ravages of the Reformation. His first charge was the parish of Kirkliston in Linlithgowshire, to which he was appointed by the king in 1585. There he showed himself so little influenced by the sterner ideas of the Calvinistic school, as to indulge in the pastime of football on Sunday. For this he was rebuked by his synod, but the fact did not prevent his appointment in 1589 to be one of the commissioners for the maintenance of religion in the Linlithgow sheriffdom. In 16o6 the king made him Bishop of Orkney, and he was consecrated by Archbishop Spottiswood four years later. [Keith, Cat. Scot. Bish. 264.] He was evidently esteemed and trusted by James, for on 20th July, 1615, less than two months after the transference of Spottiswood to St Andrews, he was promoted to the archbishopric of Glasgow, where he was installed in September. [Calderwood, vii. 203.] Between these two dates he was, by the king's order, admitted a member of the Privy Council, and took the oaths. [Privy Coun. Reg., x. 381.]

The great event of Archbishop Law's reign at Glasgow was the visit of King James to the city in July, 1617. Not much is known of the part he played on that occasion, except that he attended a meeting of the Privy Council, and apparently did not object to the baptism of a gentleman's child in the king's chamber by an English bishop. [Calderwood, vii. 272.]

To the cathedral and the city Law was a generous benefactor. He contributed a thousand merks for the reconstruction of the library house, and completed the leaden roof of the cathedral. [Keith, Cat. Scot. Dish. 263-4.] He bequeathed five hundred merks to the poor of St. Nicholas Hospital, and two hundred and fifty each to hospitals of the merchants and crafts. Two other monuments of him remain--a MS. commentary on several parts of Scripture, which "gives a good specimen of his knowledge, both of the fathers and of the history of the church," [Keith, 264.] and the notable erection over his grave in the Lady Chapel of the cathedral. This monument, the finest in the High Kirk, was set up by his third wife, Marion, a daughter of John Boyle of Kelburne, ancestor of the Earls of Glasgow, and it declares that he bestowed considerable largess upon the schools and hospitals of the city.

Law's first wife was a daughter of Dundas of Newliston ; his second, Grissel Boswell, brought him three sons and a daughter. To his eldest son, James, he left the estate of Brunton in Fife. His second son, Thomas, became minister of Inchinnan. [Fasti Eccles. Scot. i. 189-190, iii. 378.]

During Archbishop Law's time the country saw great acceleration in the movements of a policy in ecclesiastical affairs which was to bring dire disaster upon both church and throne. That policy was chiefly inspired by King James himself, and in Scotland its principal mover was no doubt Archbishop Spottiswood, now of St. Andrews; but Law must have been, of course, a party to it, and Glasgow was destined to be the scene of some of its most dramatic episodes. The successive acts of this policy are part of the most vital history of Scotland at that time. They show a gradual tightening of the cords and perfecting of the machinery by which the king and his advisers, like Laud and Spottiswood, proposed to regulate the spiritual affairs of men through a centralised bureaucracy. Scotland, which had burst the bonds of a similar control at the Reformation only half a century before, was not inclined to accept again the orders of anyone, king or prelate, as to the attitude in which it should approach the Almighty or the words in which it should address Him. The royal policy therefore met with an opposition which grew constantly stronger till it burst into open rebellion.

In February 1610, King James, following the example of Henry VIII., set up two courts of High Commission in Scotland, one presided over by each of the archbishops, with absolute power to try, judge, and punish offenders in life or religion. [Priv. Coun. Reg. viii. 612, 614; Act. Parl. iv. 435.] In 1615 a royal ordinance consolidated these courts, appointed the commissioners, and made five, of whom one must be an archbishop, a quorum. [CaIderwood, vii. 204, 210.] And in 1619 all burgh magistrates were ordered to give effect to the findings of the court. [Priv. Coun. Reg. xii. 121.] By these ordinances and the Acts of the Glasgow Assembly of 1610, already alluded to, presbyterianism was practically abolished and episcopacy established. Then, to make the consecration of the Scottish bishops valid, according to the views of the English churchmen, the Archbishop of Glasgow and the Bishops of Brechin and Galloway went to London and were consecrated by the Bishops of London, Ely, Rochester, and Worcester, and on their return consecrated the Archbishop of St. Andrews and the other Scottish bishops. [Balfour, ii. 35, 36; Gibson, 62; Chalmers's Caledonia, iii. 628.]

The Act of 1592, establishing Presbyterian Church government, was still on the statute book, and bishops, as bishops, had in reality no legal standing. This Act, the Magna Charta of presbytery as Cunningham calls it, was repealed by the Parliament held at Edinburgh in 1612. That Parliament ratifled the Acts of the General Assembly of r6io, with additions, legalized the authority and jurisdiction of the bishops, and established episcopacy on an unquestionable legal basis as the order of church government in Scotland. At that Parliament Glasgow was represented by the provost, James Inglis, and by James Bell. [Act. Part. iv. 469-470; Calderwood, vii. 165-173.]

The General Assembly still remained part of the machinery of church government, but it was completely controlled by the king and the bishops, and was only called to meet at their pleasure. After the Glasgow Assembly of 1610 no meeting was called for six years. In July, 1616, however, the Privy Council directed a meeting of Assembly to be held at Aberdeen in the following month. On that occasion the Earl of Montrose was Lord High Commissioner, and Archbishop Spottiswood, as Primate, occupied the Moderator's chair. [Privy Coun. Reg. X. 580, 581.] That Assembly passed several Acts against popish practices, and it gave effect to King James's far-sighted suggestion that every clergyman should keep a register of all baptisms, marriages, and deaths in his parish. [Previously the registration of deaths or burials had been provided for by the synodal statute of St. Andrew's No. 161 (Stat. Eccles. Scot. ii. 70) and that of baptisms, marriages, and the proclamation of banns by a canon of the Provincial Council held at Edinburgh in 1551 (Lord Hailes, Annals iii. 263).] But the chief work of the Assembly was the sanctioning of a new Confession of Faith, a new catechism, a new liturgy, a new book of Canons, and new rules for baptism, confirmation, and communion. [Calderwood, vii. 220, 242 ; Spottiswood, ii. 305, 306 ; Priv. Coun. Reg., X. pp. cii. ciii. 598, 601.] In sanctioning these Acts of the Assembly the king took occasion to express regret that they had not been more thorough. This shortcoming he soon found opportunity to amend. During his visit to the north in 1617 at the Parliament which he attended in person, he secured the passing of the Acts prescribing the method for electing bishops, restoring deans and chapters, planting kirks, limiting the leasing of church lands, and preventing the dilapidation of benefices. He desired to pass another Act declaring that whatever he, with the advice of the archbishops, bishops, and a competent number of the clergy, should ordain regarding the temporal government of the Church, should have the strength of law. This Act would have finally superseded the General Assembly. Had it been passed, the king's policy would have been completely successful. There would have been no need for the General Assembly of 1638, and no opportunity for the revolution effected at that Assembly. There might have been no signing of a National Covenant and of a Solemn League and Covenant and no Civil War, and a whole chapter of the story of Scotland—the fifty-year episode of the Covenanters—might never have been written. But the proposal was resisted by certain ministers and withdrawn by the king, who declared that he could do more by his royal prerogative than the Act proposed. At the same time he evidently recognized the significance of his rebuff, for he had two of the ministers deprived of their benefices and thrown into prison, and had Calderwood, the future historian of the time, banished from the country. [Calderwood, vii. 257, 276, 282.]

Before James left Scotland on that occasion he arranged for the calling of another Assembly at St. Andrews in November. At this the Five Articles which had been withdrawn from the Assembly of 1616 were again brought forward. By these articles it was proposed to introduce kneeling at communion, private communion and private baptism in urgent cases, confirmation of children by the bishop, and observance of fast days and other holy days. But the only ordinances the Assembly would agree to were those allowing private communion in urgent cases, and instructing the minister at communion to give the bread and wine direct to the communicant. The remaining proposals were deferred for consideration at another Assembly.

Angered by this result, the king proposed to take extreme measures with those who had opposed him, but was persuaded by the bishops to leave the matter to their private persuasion. [Calderwood, Vii. 284-286; Spottiswood, iii. 248-252; Priv Coun. Reg. xi. intro. lviii. lix. 270, 271.] This proving effective, another meeting of Assembly was called for the following August, 1618. At this Assembly, held at Perth, Spottiswood as moderator ruled that only the ministers who held commissions and the noblemen and gentlemen who had received royal missives were entitled to vote. Under these conditions the disputed articles were passed, [Priv. Coun. Reg. xi. 454, 456.] but even in an Assembly thus regulated, keen opposition was shown, and throughout the country popular antagonism to the high-handed action was strongly apparent. [Grub, ii. 326, 327.] In Glasgow, according to Calderwood, Archbishop Law forbade all persons except those who proposed to kneel from coming to the communion service on Easter day; "whereupon the Principal of the College, Mr. Robert Boyd, the regent and the scholars, and the town minister, Mr. Robert Scott, communicated not."

Meanwhile, in January, 1618, the king had issued a proclamation commanding the observance of the five holidays, Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, and Sunday, [Priv. Coun. Reg., xi., 296, 297.] and in June he had further extended the powers of the Court of High Commission. [Calderwood, vii. 384-388.]

Later, in July 1621, when a Parliament was held in Edinburgh, a body of ministers drew up a petition against the ratification of the Five Articles of Perth. They were, however, ordered to leave the city, and prevented from lodging their protest. The ratification, though opposed, was passed, and though it was suspended during the Civil War, it was restored at the Restoration, and as a matter of fact remains on the statute book to the present day, and has only lapsed by the Scottish custom of desuetude. [Act. Par!.]

Some further idea of the ways in which the royal influence was exercised in favour of the complete reestablishment of episcopacy, may be gathered from an incident which occurred in Glasgow in 1622. At that time the Principal of the College was Robert Boyd, a son of Archbishop James Boyd. He had been presented to the senate by Archbishop Spottiswood as chancellor of the University in January, 1615. He is said to have been a good and learned man, but he did not share his father's approval of the episcopal system, and at the time of the Perth Assembly in 1618 he headed the other regents and the students of his college in opposing the action of the king and that body. James and his Scottish Council of course desired that the influence of the universities should be in favour of their schemes, and pressure was accordingly brought to bear upon the Principal to induce him to resign. Up till that time a chief part of the emoluments of the Principalship had been derived from the parsonage of Govan, the duties and revenues of which were attached to the office. In December, 1621, however, Archbishop Law and the other visitors of the College separated the parish from the Principalship, fixed the emoluments of the minister, and left only the appointment of that individual to the officers of the college. [Muniments Universitatis Glasguensis i. 521 522.] Further pressure being brought to bear, Boyd was forced to resign the principalship in 1622. [Wodrow's Biographical Collections, vol. ii. pt. 1, 122-164; pt. 2, 78, 81, 223.] He was replaced by John Cameron, a Glasgow man, who was not only a noted scholar and theologian, but was also a strong supporter of the royal policy.

King James was not unaware of the strength of the opposition to his desires which existed in Scotland. The minority in the Parliament of 1621 which resisted the confirmation of the Articles of Perth could hardly be ignored, and when in 1623 he further exhorted the Scottish bishops to take stronger measures against resisters, the Earl of Melrose pointed out to him that these measures were giving rise to serious popular resentment. In view of these facts he was wise enough to resist the advice of Laud, then Bishop of St. David's, that he should force the Scottish Kirk to conform to the English Church practice. [Gardiner, vii. 276.] This did not hinder him, however, from issuing proclamations on 10th June and 24th July, 1614, prohibiting all conventicles and meetings in private houses by night. [Priv. Coun. Reg. xiii. 519, 577, 582; Balfour's Annals, ii. 99.] Nor did it prevent the Privy Council, two months later, from issuing an order, reminding the king's subjects of their duty to obey the enactments of the Perth General Assembly of 1618, sanctioned by Parliament in 1621, drawing attention to the evasion of these enactments in many burghs, and the failure of magistrates to enforce them, and strictly enjoining all burghs to choose as magistrates only persons of whom they had good assurance that they would yield "obedience and conformitie to the ordours of the church." [Priv. Coun. Reg. xiii. 603, 604.]

Such acts of interference with their religious liberty could not fail to incense and irritate a high-spirited and independent people; but to these feelings an element of alarm was added by certain other transactions of the time.

The king's eldest son, Prince Henry, upon whom so many of the nation's hopes had been set, was dead. The second son, Charles, born at Dunfermline in the year 1600, had been made Prince of Wales. For him the king contemplated a marriage alliance with a daughter of Philip of Spain. With the memory so recent of the Spanish Armada's attempt to crush England, and the knowledge that Spain was the chief stronghold of Roman Catholicism in Europe, the prospect of such a match must have raised forebodings in every Protestant heart. James probably trusted to be able to safeguard the religious interests of his country by the terms of the treaty which would be drawn up, but his plans in this respect were upset by the headstrong action of the prince himself. Charles, twenty-three years of age, abetted by the Duke of Buckingham, determined to go to Madrid in romantic fashion, and complete the wooing and the treaty in person. Foreseeing complications, the king only gave his consent with great reluctance, and in the upshot his foresight was justified. Knowing that the prince would be reluctant to return home in the character of an unsuccessful suitor, Philip and his ministers proceeded to insist on conditions which would never have been suggested had Charles remained in his own country. In this way the prince was forced to undertake to give immunities to the English Catholics, and to have them ratified by Parliament within three years. After giving away so much he discovered that, even though he married the Spanish king's daughter she was not to be allowed to go with him to England. Accordingly, after spending nine months in negotiations he returned home indignant, and three days before the date arranged for the marriage ceremony, broke off the match. A year later, on 12th December 1624, James and his son ratified a treaty of marriage between the prince and Henrietta Maria the fifteen-year-old daughter of Henry IV. of France and his queen, Marie de Medici. In this case again, however, a condition was that the disabilities under which Roman Catholics lay in this country should be removed. This was a direct contravention of the assurance given to the English Parliament that no such favour should be shown to Roman Catholics. [Balfour, ii. 110.]

While affairs were in this compromising position King James died at his mansion of Theobald's of what was called a "tertian ague." He was in his fifty-seventh year, longest lived of all the kings of the name of James, and, but for his obsession on the subject of church government, a wise monarch and successful ruler. The speed with which news could be carried to Scotland at that time may be judged from the fact that while James died on 27th March, 1625, Charles was proclaimed king at the cross of Edinburgh on the 31st. [Balfour, ii. 115, 117, 119.] A month later, on 1st May, Charles was married by proxy at Paris, and on 12th June the young queen landed at Dover. [Balfour, ii. 119.] Charles I. thus began his unhappy reign in a position of compromise: he must break his solemn engagement either to his subjects or to his queen and the court of France.

Within a few weeks of his marriage the young king's difficulties began, and it almost immediately became evident that Charles was to be a zealot without the caution and sagacity of his father. Moved largely by his own wounded amour propre, Charles had, as one of his first acts, declared war on Spain, and at the meeting of his first English Parliament, on 18th June, 1625, he made a demand for supplies to prosecute the campaign. These supplies Parliament refused until Charles should agree to certain stipulations. The king replied by dissolving Parliament, raising money by taxes without parliamentary authority, and enforcing his demands and ordinances by means of the oppressive Star Chamber and Court of High Commission. [Gardiner, V. 432.] Thus began the open quarrel between the King and the Commons in England which was to go on with increasing asperity till the head of Charles was laid on the block.

In Scotland, with equal wrong-headedness, Charles almost at once raised strong enmity against himself by his efforts to restore episcopacy to its pre-Reformation position of ascendancy, and to bring the Scottish Church service into conformity with that of England. Though archbishops and bishops had been appointed to the ancient Scottish sees by King James, they were very inadequately provided for. The ecclesiastics of the Roman Church, we have seen, had been left at the Reformation to enjoy two-thirds of their benefices for life; but as these ecclesiastics died off their lands and revenues had been conveyed by the Crown, for various considerations, to secular owners, sometimes with, sometimes without, an obligation to provide a modest support for the ministers of the kirk who had succeeded the Roman clergy. One of the first proceedings of Charles on coming to the throne was to endeavour to increase the endowments of the bishoprics. By arrangement with the Marquess of Hamilton he secured the revenues of the ancient Abbey of Arbroath for the Archbishop of St. Andrews, and by similar arrangement with the Duke of Lennox regarding the lordship of Glasgow he improved the revenues of the Archbishop of Glasgow. In similar fashion he increased the incomes of other bishops. [Grub, ii. 236.]

Such methods, by simple negotiation, however, proved too slow and ineffectual for Charles. Arguing that what the Crown had conferred the Crown could take away, he formed the plan of a wholesale resumption of church lands and revenues. In November, 1625, accordingly, proclamation was made of a general revocation of all grants of Church lands that had been made by the Crown. [Act. Pail. v. 23.] Such a proclamation was equivalent to a sentence of ruin to many of the great families of Scotland. Many of these had been in possession of the lands for more than the period of prescription; [Cunningham, i. 503.] many had had their titles confirmed by Acts of Parliament; and however just it might have been to regard the possessions as inalienable from religious purposes, if that view had been adopted from the first, it was certainly a revolutionary exercise of the royal prerogative to reverse the ratified and accepted transactions of more than half a century at a single stroke. The proclamation excited the greatest alarm and hostility. So formidable was the opposition that Charles found it advisable to placate the people he had proposed to impoverish. The nobles and gentry were admitted to the prospect of purchasing and leading their teinds. This meant that instead of being compelled to keep their crops in the field till the owner of the teinds had selected and carted away every tenth sheaf, they could arrange permanently to commute the teind for a money payment based on the rental. [Cunningham, I. 280.] At the same time the ministers were tempted to support the royal projects by the prospect of increased stipends, and, by a new proclamation, ministers who had been appointed before the passing of the Articles of Perth were exempted for a time from complying with them. [Balfour, ii. 142, 145.] Still later, however, Charles proceeded by legal action to annul the grants of Church property and though, in response to remonstrance from the holders, he was induced to appoint a Commission to arrange terms for the surrender of this property to the Crown, a feeling of insecurity and of resentment became widespread among the landowners of the country. [Cunningham, i. 503 ; Gardiner, vii. 278.]

Among these owners of former Church property was the University of Glasgow. Evidently that body was seriously alarmed by the royal policy. If a general revocation of all grants of Church lands and revenues were carried out the University would be reduced to utter ruin, and left in the abject and helpless condition in which it was found by Queen Mary. Its authorities, therefore, exerted themselves, and in 1630 secured a charter under the Great Seal, confirming the University in possession of all the properties, revenues, patron-ages, etc., which had been conferred upon it. These included the rights and revenues which had belonged to the Friars Preachers and the Vicars of the Choir of Glasgow, the parsonage and vicarage teinds and the patronage of the churches of Govan, Renfrew, Kilbride, Dalziel, and Colmonell. The charter detailed the salaries payable to the principal and regents of the University, under burden of the stipends of the ministers of the parishes mentioned, and it provided for the exemption of the University, its resident members and servants and its property, but not its tenants, from the burgh taxes and other impositions. [Act. Par!. v. 75, 77; Glasg. Charters and Documents, ii. 328-351.]

In the midst of the king's quarrels with the English parliament over his illegal levying of taxes, the Duke of Buckingham, his chief adviser, gay companion, and luckless commander-in-chief, was assassinated, on 23rd August, 1628, and after that event power passed largely into the hands of Sir Thomas Wentworth, afterwards Earl of Strafford, and William Laud, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. The former, with his policy of "Thorough," devoted his energies to the establishment of the royal prerogative as the sole engine of government, while the latter redoubled his efforts to reduce to episcopal conformity all religious rites and usages, and to crush relentlessly all presbyterian and puritan departures from this cast-iron rule.

Laud's influence soon became apparent. Following the resolution of the General Assembly held at Aberdeen in 1616 a prayer-book had been prepared. It was ready in 1619, but was not put into use. By that time the public resistance to the Articles of Perth had warned King James of the need for caution, and he had assured the Parliament of 1621 that, if it confirmed the Articles, the use of the new prayer-book would not be insisted on. Laud, however, induced King Charles to order that the draft of this prayer-book should be submitted to him. Though it had been approved by the Scottish bishops, it did not satisfy the English prelate's High Church ideas, and he proceeded to press upon the king the introduction of the English liturgy to Scotland, in order that there should be uniform service in the two kingdoms. Both to Laud and the king the danger was pointed out of thus wounding the susceptibilities of a proud people, strongly Presbyterian in principle, and jealous of interference by the " auld enemy;" England. But opposition only made Charles obstinate, he resolved to bend popular opinion to his will, and embarked upon another detail of the policy which was to prove disastrous to the country and himself. [Balfour, ii. 181-184.]

Affairs were in this position when, in November 1632, Archbishop Law died. In his time the relations between the little city and its ecclesiastical superior appear to have been altogether friendly. Except in the annual appointment of the provost and the three bailies, Law does not seem to have interfered in burghal affairs, and several happenings go to show that the magistrates were anxious to pleasure the archbishop. In June 1631, for example, the town council ordered the payment of three hundred merks to the laird of Kelburn, the archbishop's father-in-law, towards the cost of building a pier at Kelburnfoot, the modem Fairlie, which should be available to the shipping of Glasgow. [Council Records, i. 365.] The city's original shipping port, Irvine, was becoming silted up. The library house of the cathedral, also, having fallen into disrepair, the town council in 1628 ordered it to be built up, joisted, and roofed with lead at a cost of 3100 merks (£172 4s. 5d. sterling). [Ibid, 363.]

Under Law's regime the burgh showed signs of substantial advance in prosperity. In 1628 it decided that the paving from the cross down the Saltmarket should be widened and laid as near as possible to the booths or shops on both sides. In 1630 a new well was opened in the Trongate, slated and with two pumps. At the same time the steeple of the Tron Kirk—otherwise St. Mary's, the Laigh, or the New Kirk—was heightened in the most approved fashion, and a new bell was provided for it at a cost of £1058 6s. (£88 3s. 10d. sterling). Thirty-seven constables were appointed for the city, the town officers were provided with uniform consisting of "coat, breeks, and hose" of red kersey, and a "trustie youth" was appointed "ane poist for this burgh." [Council Records, i. 373, 374.]

But the greatest evidence of all of increasing prosperity was the town council's resolve to provide itself with a more dignified council chamber, court house, and prison. [Ibid. i 346.] In 1625 the work of demolishing the old tolbooth was begun, and by the end of March, 1627 the new tolbooth had been finished, its steeple furnished with clock and bell, and surmounted with gilded weather cock and vanes. [Burgh Records, i. 349-363.] In the interval the council met, and courts were held in the Tron Kirk, and the town's books and charters were deposited in the house of the Dean of Guild. [Ibid. i. 358.] The new building on the old site at the west side of the foot of High Street was worthy of the growing fortunes of the city. Sir William Brereton, afterwards a general in the Parliamentary army, who visited the city in 1636, thus describes it. "The Tolbooth, which is placed in the middle of the town, and near unto the cross and market place, is a very fair and high-built house, from the top whereof, being leaded, you may take a full view and prospect of the whole city. In one of these rooms or chambers sits the council of the city; in other of the rooms or chambers preparation is made for the lords of the council to meet in these stately rooms. Herein is a closet lined with iron, walls, top, bottom, floor, and door, iron, wherein are kept the evidences and records of the city; this made to prevent the danger of fire. This Tolbooth is said to be the fairest in the kingdom." [Travels of Sir William Brereton (Chethasn Society), p. 94; Early Travellers in Scotland, p. 151.]

McUre, the earliest Glasgow historian, writing in 1736, also waxes eloquent regarding the building. "The town house, or tolbooth," he says, "is a magnificent structure, being of length from east to west sixty-six foot, and from the south to the north twenty four foot eight inches. It hath a stately staircase ascending to the justice court hall, within which is the entry of a large turnpike, or staircase, ascending to the town council hall, above which there was the dean of guild's old hall, but now is turned into two prison houses for prisoners of note and distinction.... The steeple on the east side thereof, being one hundred and thirteen foot high, adorned with a curious clock, all of brass, with four dial plates. It has a large bell for the use of the clock, and a curious set of chimes and tunable bells, which plays every two hours; and has four large turrets on the corners thereof, with thanes finely gilded ; and the whole roof is covered with lead. Upon the frontispiece of this building is his majesty's arms, finely cut out, with a fine dial." [Hist. of Glasgow, ed. 1830, pp. 207, 208.]

On the other hand the state of shipbuilding, which in a later century was to become so vast an industry on the Clyde, may be judged from an entry in the burgh records for 1627. This runs that Thomas Reid, boatwright, was allowed to be admitted a burgess on payment of the modified fee of £40, the concession being made by reason of the fact that "thair is nane of his craft within this burghe, and such necesser to the town."

But at least one of the sources of the city's prosperity was to receive a blow from the action of the king. A large part of the livelihood of the bishop's burgh was derived from the fisheries of the Clyde and the West Coast, and it is not difficult to understand the alarm of the community with regard to a royal proposal which threatened to curtail public fishing rights in these waters. The Earl of Seaforth, having acquired the island of Lewis, applied to the king in 1627 for a charter erecting Stornoway into a royal burgh with extensive and exclusive fishing rights in these seas. This was strenuously resisted by Tain, Inverness, Glasgow, and all the other royal burghs, as an inroad upon their rights, and as a result Charles withdrew the charter he had granted Seaforth. That nobleman had already, however, brought fishermen from Holland, who prosecuted fishing at the Lewis to the deprivation of the native population. Charles then, seeing the possibility of a profitable enterprise, brushing aside the objections of the burghs, intimated his resolve to take the Lewis into his own hands, set up one or more free burghs there, and establish a common fishery in the island, to be a nursery for seamen. [Letter to Scottish Privy Council, 12th July, 1630.] This was done by advice of the English Privy Council, and the remonstrances of the Scottish burghs and Scottish Parliament succeeded only in securing a reservation in favour of the natives of certain districts "of all such fishings as were necessary for their subsistence, and which they of themselves have and do fish." [Privy Council Record, 28th July, 22nd and 23rd Sept.,1630.] In this way the firths of Clyde and Forth were reserved for "native" fishermen, while the other seas were handed over to an incorporated society called "The Council and Community of the Fishings of His Majesty's Dominions of Great Britain and Ireland." This society consisted of six Scottish and six English and Irish councillors and some one hundred and thirty-five fellows, holding office for life, and it enjoyed the exclusive right to export fish. Established by a charter under the Great Seal dated 19th July, this incorporation was an early attempt to "nationalize" one of the chief industries of the country against the methods of private enterprise. The charter was confirmed by Act of Parliament on 17th November, 1641, but already, in 1639, the management had proved so unsatisfactory that the king had ordered an enquiry to be made into its financial affairs, its losses, the oppressions it had committed, and the best method of winding it up. It was finally dissolved by an Act of William and Mary passed by the Scottish Parliament on 18th July, 1690, in which it was set forth that the royal incorporation had continued to exact £6 Scots per last of all herrings exported furth of the kingdom, to the hurt and prejudice of their Majesties' leiges." This Act further invited the merchants of the royal burghs and other good subjects to employ their capital and industry in the fishing and curing of herrings, in which trade they would enjoy all the freedoms and advantages competent to them before the said company was erected. [Act. Part. iv. v. vi. pt. ii. and ix.]

It was the time of trials for witchcraft, and in 1621 and 1622 three poor creatures were tried for this crime in Glasgow. In each case, however, the Privy Council appointed a special bench of the magistrates to try the cases, and Archbishop Law appears to have had no part in the transaction. [Priv. Coun. Reg. xii. 580, 651, 711.]


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