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The History of Glasgow
Volume 2 - Chapter VI - Archbishop Boyd—Allotment and Feuing of Lands—Arrival of Andrew Melville and Esme Stewart


JAMES BOYD of Trochrig, second son of Adam Boyd of Pinkhill and Helen Kennedy of the house of Cassillis, had, like Lord Boyd himself, fought on behalf of Queen Mary at Langside, but, having obtained a remission, had been appointed to a charge in the Kennedy country. Immediately upon his promotion as archbishop, Boyd appears to have set about the transference of power and property into the hands of the head of his house.

To begin with, the archbishop himself entered into possession of the castle of Glasgow. By the Regent Moray, after the Battle of Langside in 1568, the keeping of the stronghold had been committed to Sir John Stewart of Minto. By the king's letters Stewart was now ordered to hand it over to the archbishop, and was granted a discharge of his actings while in possession. [Privy Council Register, ii. 301, 697, 698.]

Sir John Stewart of Minto was then provost of Glasgow and bailie of the regality as nominee of the late Regent, Matthew, Earl of Lennox. [Charters and Documents, ii. 149, No. lxiii.] The new archbishop, however, superseded him in both of these offices. The earliest extant record of the Burgh of Glasgow, on 19th January, 1573-74, shows "ane noble and michtie lord, Robert Lord Boyde," acting as provost. A few days earlier, the archbishop, with consent of the dean and canons, had by charter appointed the same noble and michtie lord hereditary bailie and justiciar of the barony and regality, and, to meet his "great expenses and labours" in these offices, granted him £40 a year of the rents of Badley, Mollence, Gartaforrowrie, Mukcrawis, Gartynquene, Gartynquenemure, Johnestoune, Crystoun, Auchingeich, Gartinkirk, Auchinlocht, Robrestoun, and Davidstoune, within the barony, along with the amercements and escheats of courts. [Great Seal Register, No. 2407, pp. 647, 648.]

To fortify the position still further, the Privy Council a month later declared Archbishop Beaton and a number of other persons to be traitors, and prohibited all communication with them. [Privy Council Register, ii. 334.]

There are signs that the new archbishop and his bailie showed a tendency to be grasping in their exploitation of the temporalities of the see. Sir John Stewart of Minto presented a memorial to the General Assembly setting forth how, while keeper of the castle and steeple of Glasgow, "and of the principal keyes of the cuntre," he had been forced, not only to spend his own means and the means of friends, but to take up part of the revenue of the bishopric for the year 1569, to keep and furnish the castle and steeple and "set forward other common affairs." This had been done with the approval of Mr. Andrew Hay, commissioner, and Mr. David Wemyss, minister of Glasgow, both of whom thought it better that the revenues should be thus applied than that they should be used by enemies "to maintain the adverse cause." Nevertheless Sir John and the tenants from whom these revenues had been uplifted now found themselves called upon to pay the sums over again. The matter was remitted from the Assembly to the Privy Council, by whom Sir John and the others were assoilzied from the claim. [Privy Council Register, ii. 347, 348.]

Under Lord Boyd as provost the enclosing and allotting of the common lands of the city appear to have made further progress, and more than one protest was made against the alienation of ground required by the inhabitants for the cutting of peat fuel and the grazing of milk cows. It may or may not be significant that the first protest was made against the assignment of a plot of land to one of Lord Boyd's own name. On 1st May, 1574, the merchants (i.e. shopkeepers) and six deacons of crafts protested against the assigning of part of the common muir to James Boyd, "or to ony utheris mair nor is ellis deft," and also urged that the parts already divided out and given off without their consent "in tymes bigane" should be made subject of revision and recall. [Burgh Records, i. p. 9.] On 21st June, 1576, a further and more considered protest was made on the same subject. By this it appears that it had been arranged that each burgess was to have half an acre, but that the provost and bailies had given off further ground without the common consent. "Wire-pulling" had apparently been resorted to. The complainers declare that "owre deaconis wotis ar socht seuerallie in private houssis, quhair the haill suld be callit to geve our consentis togidder," and they sturdily declare that if the provost and bailies do not cease the giving off of land required for " the pasturing of guddis for the sustening of our babies," they will be to blame. They conclude by urging the provost " for the luf ye beir to God and the commoion wiell of our toun and our successouris that your lordschip haif better attendance thairto, and nocht for ewery licht sute or requeist acquiesce or grant thairto, and suffer nocht our haill communitie (common land) to becum proper (an individual possession) and taine fra us." After debate the council agreed that, since what was left of the common lands would scarcely serve the townsmen for the pasturing of their cows and the furnishing of fuel, no further feuing or portioning off should take place. It was moreover declared that any such further feuing or allotment should, if attempted, be " of nane awaill, strengthe, nor effect." [Burgh Records, i. p. 52.]

Lord Boyd continued to secure the foundations of his family by acquiring large properties elsewhere. Among these were broad lands in Cunningham—Portincross and Ardniel, Netherton, Bircat, Braidschaw, and Knockindon, and also, it is said, Giffortland, for which he obtained charters from the king. [Great Seal Register, iii. 580, No. 2201, 742, No. 2727; Douglas Peerage, ii 34.]

At the same time the archbishop attended the Assembly on 6th March, 1574, was appointed to the committee for drawing up the Second Book of Discipline, and was chosen Moderator. But in the autumn that stout coadjutor of John Knox, Andrew Melville, returned from Geneva, was appointed Principal of the College of Glasgow, and proceeded to organize opposition to the episcopal system. In the spring and again in the autumn Assembly of 1576 the archbishop was challenged for not attaching himself as pastor to a particular congregation. The same objection might have been raised a few years earlier against the superintendent, John Willocks, but that was, of course, "another pair of sleeves." The archbishop urged that he was acting according to the agreement between the Regent and the Assembly itself, which was to last during the king's minority, or until parliament should alter it, and that by his oath he must conform to that agreement or be guilty of perjury. At the same time he offered, without prejudice to his episcopal authority, to act as pastor of one particular church whilst residing in Ayrshire and of another whilst in Glasgow. This arrangement seems to have remained undisturbed till the end of Morton's regency, in March, 1577-8. A month later the General Assembly met at Edinburgh, chose the uncompromising republican, Andrew Melville, as moderator, declared that all bishops must be called by their own names, or simply brethren, and that, owing to the great corruption already visible in the estate of bishops, no further appointments to that office should be made till the next General Assembly. [Tytler, iv. ch. i.] At that Assembly held in June, this order was made perpetual, and at the next, on 24th October, the Archbishop of Glasgow was accused of neglecting his duties. Boyd maintained the scriptural authority of his office, but his answer being declared unsatisfactory, and Melville deputed to threaten him with excommunication, he submitted unconditionally to the Assembly held in Edinburgh on 27th July, 1579. [Chalmers's Caledonia, iii. 625; Spottiswoode, ii. 202, 256-7; Calderwood, iii. 403, 411-428.]

Meanwhile by a coup at Stirling on 26th April, 1578, Morton, though no longer Regent, had regained the chief power in Scottish affairs, and the archbishop's temporal authority was not interfered with. He had, however, other troubles. Calder-wood states that, a year or two after his appointment, Lord Boyd found him less pliable than he had expected, and caused his son, the Master of Boyd, to seize the archbishop's castle and levy the episcopal revenues. [Calderwood, iii. 302.] This may refer to the action of a party employed, it is said, by Robert Boyd of Badinheath, who on ioth January, 1578-9, destroyed the archbishop's country seat and stronghold of Lochwood a few miles to the east of the city. Sir James Marwick suggests that this outrage may have been occasioned by the refusal of the archbishop to submit to the demands of the Kirk. [Charters and Documents, i. cxii.] But there appears to be a more obvious reason. On 4th March, 1572-3, after the decree of barratry against Archbishop Beaton, the keeping of Lochwood had been given by the Regent Morton to Boyd of Badinheath. Archbishop Boyd would naturally reclaim this, and its destruction by Badinheath would be an act of revenge. The archbishop complained to the Privy Council, but the only result was that, while Badinheath was ordered to cease from further destruction, the archbishop was directed to cease from molesting him and his helpers for what they had done. [Privy Council Register, iii. 99.] Loch-wood evidently remained in the hands of Badinheath, for a generation later, on 10th March, 1617, Robert, Lord Boyd, was served heir of Robert Boyd of Badinheath, his grandfather's brother, to the four-pound lands of Lochwood, with the lakes and fishings in the regality of Glasgow held in fee farm. [Chalmers's Caledonia, iii. 639, note g.]

For these events the archbishop evidently cherished no malice against his uncle and patron. On 1st June, 1579, he granted to Lord Boyd a feu of the lands of Whiteinch meadow, with the New Park and Auld Park of Partick. [Great Seal Register, iii. 807, No. 2937.] On 13th November, 1579, he granted to George Elphinstoun of Blythswood, one of the bailies of Glasgow, a feu of the lands of Gorbals and Bridgend, with half of the five merk lands of Woodside. [Inventure, i. p. 44, No. i ; Great Seal Register, iii. 807, No. 2938. ] And on 2nd February, 1580, he granted Lord Boyd a feu of the lands of Bedlay, Mollanys, and others, part of the Provost's Haugh, with four acres of Cuninglaw, all in the barony and regality of Glasgow—which lands Lord Boyd had previously held in rental—for payment of a feu duty of £8 2S. Scots. This feu duty the archbishop allocated as part payment of Lord Boyd's fee of £40 Scots payable as remuneration for his labours as bailie and justiciary of the barony and regality. [Great Seal Register, iv. p. 155, No. 509.]

Already, two years previously, Lord Boyd had been dispossessed of the office of bailie of the regality. The circumstances are interesting. By the death of the regent, Mathew, Earl of Lennox, in September, 1571, the earldom with its lands and other property had devolved on King James as only son of Lord Darnley. The earldom and lands were, however, made over to the king's uncle, Lord Darnley's younger brother Charles. When Earl Charles died in 1576, leaving an only daughter, Lady Arabella Stewart, the earldom and its possessions again fell to the king. Two years later, action was taken to reclaim for the king, as heir of the Regent Lennox, the hereditary bailieship of the regality of Glasgow. It was declared that the office had been enjoyed by the Earls of Lennox from time immemorial, and that Lord Boyd, during the later troubles, had intruded himself into it. Accordingly, on 14th May, 1578, it was ordained that the king, as Earl of Lennox, should be repossessed in the bailieship. [Privy Council Register, ii. 697.] A month later the earldom of Lennox with its lands and offices was conferred on Robert Stewart, Prior of St. Andrews, younger brother of the Regent Lennox. [Great Seal Register, iii. 762, No. 2785.] The charter included the other rights of old incorporated with the earldom, and accordingly the bailieship of the regality of Glasgow became once more an appanage of the house of Lennox. On 30th September, in the same year, the new earl was made a burgess of the city, and the archbishop, reviving his right to nominate the provost and baffles, appointed the earl to be provost. By this act Thomas Crawford of Jordanhill, who during the previous year had been provost as nominee of Lord Boyd, [Burgh Records, i. 71, 1st Oct. 1577.] was superseded in the office. Crawford protested at the time, "that the auld libertie and privilege of the toun be observit and keipit," and also, two days later, that he had been put out of the council " but ony f alt and vncallit thairfore." [Burgh Records, i. 72.] But the transaction stood, and the procedure was repeated by the archbishop on 6th October in the following year. [Ibid. i. 76.]

Another event of far-reaching consequence now occurred,

Esme Stewart, son of John Stewart, Lord d'Aubigny, governor of Avignon, captain of the Scots Bens d'armes in France, and a younger brother of the Regent Lennox and the new Earl Robert, came home from France. When he arrived at Leith on 8th September, 1579, he was probably about thirty years of age, [Calderwood, iii. 457.] and with his handsome person and the refinement and graces of the French court, he at once attracted to an extraordinary degree the admiration and affection of King James, then in his fourteenth year. At Holyrood he had splendid apartments provided for him next those of the youthful monarch, and James proceeded to heap upon him favour after favour in unprecedented fashion. On 14th November, two months after his arrival, he was presented with the rich abbacy of Arbroath, recently forfeited by Lord John Hamilton. [Great Seal Register, iii. 803, No. 2920.] Next, on 4th March, the infeftment of Robert Stewart in the earldom of Lennox was revoked, [Privy Council Register, iii. 271, 272. He received in exchange, two years later, the Earldom of March and Lordship of Dunbar; Great Seal Register, iv. 139, No. 448 ; Douglas's Peerage, ii. 98, 99.] and next day was conferred on Esme Stewart, along with many rich lands in different parts of the country. [Great Seal Register, iii. 816, 817, Nos. 2971-4.] The new earl was also appointed Great Chamberlain of Scotland, an office which included the personal guardianship of the king.

It was rumoured that Lennox was a Catholic emissary, sent from France by Queen Mary's uncle, the Duke of Guise, to influence James against England. He had brought with him forty thousand crowns, possibly for purposes of corruption; [Calderwood, MS. British Museum, fol. 1098; Tvtler, iv. ch. i.] he had had a consultation before leaving France with Mary's agents, Archbishop Beaton and the Bishop of Ross; and the Duke of Guise had accompanied him to Dieppe, and conferred with him long on the ship before his departure. [French Correspondence, quoted by Tytler, iv. ch. i.] It is true that Lennox, at the king's instance, changed his creed, but it soon became clear that a new and strong party had arisen at court, headed by the king's cousin, against the ex-regent Earl of Morton, Queen Mary's bitterest enemy.

In the midst of these intrigues, on 4th October, 1580, Mathew Stewart of Minto, acting as procurator for "Esme, Earl of Lennox, Lord Darnley and Aubigne," presented to the town council of Glasgow a letter from Archbishop Boyd, nominating and presenting the earl as provost for the year, which nomination the bailies and council accepted "gladly with reverence." At the same time Mathew Stewart himself was made a member of the council, and the retiring bailies and council presented a list to the archbishop from which he named three new bailies for the year. [Burgh Records, i. 79.]

A curious thing then happened, the reason for which is not quite clear. The three bailies thus appointed, whose names had been submitted by the town council, appeared on 15th October before the Privy Council, and at the request of the king, and for the favour they bore to the earl, resigned the bailieship, and consented to the nomination of such other persons as the Earl thought good, without prejudice to the appointment of magistrates in the usual way in years to come, [Privy Council Register, iii. 325.] and on 19th October, Stewart of Minto produced to the town council another letter from the archbishop nominating in their place three other bailies, Robert Stewart, Hector Stewart, and John Graham.

Meanwhile trouble was brewing for Archbishop Boyd himself. At the General Assembly held at Dundee on 12th July, 1580, the opponents of episcopacy, led by Andrew Melville, proceeded to condemn and abolish the system as unwarranted by scripture, and fitted to overthrow the true church of God. All bishops were required not only to demit the office, but to cease acting as pastors till admitted anew by the Assembly. Synods were appointed to meet in St. Andrews, Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Moray, to receive the submission of the bishops of these dioceses, and report to the next assembly to be held at Glasgow, on 24th April, such as refused to submit, with a view to their excommunication. Nothing would probably have pleased the republican, Andrew Melville, better than to see Archbishop Boyd, the chancellor of his own university, humiliated in his own city.

Events, however, were moving rapidly in another direction. At the Privy Council meeting on 31st December, 1580, Captain Stewart, son of Lord Ochiltree, direct descendant, by the way, of Murdoch, Duke of Albany, grandson of King Robert, II., executed by James I. in 1425, suddenly appeared and accused the Earl of Morton of being accessory to the murder of Lord Darnley. Morton was at once arrested and confined in Dunbarton Castle till his trial and condemnation on 1st June, and his execution next day. [Privy Council Register, iii. 339, 388; Calderwood, iii. 482-4, 557-575.] Morton's arrest meant the downfall of the Presbyterian and Elizabethan party, and placed almost absolute power in the hands of Lennox, who on the same day was granted a number of other lands and baronies, [Great Seal Register, iv. 24.] after Morton's execution received his escheat, with the other lands and baronies, [Ibid. iv. 66; No. 204] and on 5th August was made Duke of Lennox, Lord of Aubigny, Tarbolton, and Dalkeith. [Privy Council Register, iii. 413.] He was also made governor of Dunbarton Castle, captain of the guard, and first gentleman of the bedchamber. [Crawford, p. 33.]

The rise of Lennox to predominant influence came too late, however, to save Archbishop Boyd. The conflict with the uncompromising firebrands of the General Assembly had undermined his health. It is pathetic to find that one of his last acts was to confer a substantial favour on the university which had afforded a status as principal to his acrid persecutor, Andrew Melville. On 28th May, 1581, with consent of his chapter, he granted to the college in perpetuity the whole customs dues of the tron, with the customs of fair or market, of meat or weight, within the burgh. [Charters and Documents, ii. 189, No. lxxii.] This grant afforded the means of establishing an additional regent in the university. [Stat. Accounts, xxi; Caledonia, iii. 626.]

On 30th May the archbishop conveyed to Andrew Paterson younger, in West Schiell, the nineteen shilling land there and the twelve shilling and sixpenny land in the village of Meikle Govan both then possessed by him. The transaction affords a good example of the process then going on, of affording the tenants of church lands security of tenure by converting their existing rents into feu-duties. The preamble to Paterson's charter expressly states that "by the acts of the most noble Princes of Scotland, made for the benefit of the kingdom and common weal, it is provided and decreed that the lands and possessions as well of prelates and barons as of any others heritably possessing lands, and of churchmen, should be let and set in feu farm and heritage especially to the old tenants and possessors, that, by the care, industry, and labour of wise men they might be manured, improven, and made to yield better crops." For the nineteen shilling land of West Shields, Paterson undertook to pay a feu-duty of seventeen and five-pence, with three firlots each of bear and oats, two capons and two poultry, and for the twelve shilling and sixpenny land in Meikle Govan, ten and fourpence halfpenny, with two firlots and one peck each of bear and oats, one capon and a half, certain multures, salmon, and services, and twelve pence in augmentation of rental, the sum of money to be doubled in the first year of entry of heirs to the lands. [Judicial Records of Renfrewshire, p. 271.]

Three weeks later, on 21st June, the archbishop died. [Grub, ii. 215.] According to Spottiswoode, he was "a wise, learned, and religious prelate, worthy to have lived in better times." He provided for his wife and family from the estates of the see, made some other small grants from the same source, granted a tenement in Edinburgh to James Boyd of Kipps, and a pension of £200 Scots for life to the king's preceptor, Peter Young. [Act. Pan. iii. 471, 491, 616.] Boyd was buried in the choir of Glasgow Cathedral, next Archbishop Dunbar. [Keith, pp. 260, 261; Grub, ii. 191-215.]


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