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The History of Glasgow
Volume 2 - Chapter VIII - Archbishop Erskine—Rise of Walter Stewart, Lord Blantyre Feuing and Selling of Lands


THE new archbishop was a layman, and "bare no charge in the church," but he had borne a considerable part in the politics of the time. He was a relative of the Earl of Mar, and his appointment to the archbishopric seems to have been a direct result of the coup d'etat which finally overthrew the domination of Arran, and brought Lord John Hamilton, the .# Earls of Angus, Mar, and other chiefs of the English party into power. Erskine's first appointment appears to have been that of parson of Campsie. In 1579, as chamberlain of Paisley, he is found administering the affairs of that abbacy, which had fallen to the crown through the forfeiture of Lord Claud Hamilton. [Privy Council Register, iii. 219, 220.] Two months later, in November of the same year, he was himself made commendator of the abbey, under burden of an annual payment of 4000 merks for the furnishing of the king's house. [Great Seal Register, iii. p. 803, No. 2922 ; Privy Council Register, iii. 267.] He received, also, other lands and favours from the king, including a discharge of the burden of 4000 merks. [Great Seal Register, iii. 821, No. 2990; Privy Council Register, iii. 285 Ibid. iii. 454, 455.] But, along with the Earl of Mar, he took part in the coup d'etat, the raid of Ruthven, on 22nd August, 1581, and on the escape of the king in June, 1583, and the return of Arran to power, he was imprisoned in the castles of Blackness and Doune [Privy Council Register, iii. 613, 623.] and afterwards in Renfrewshire. He took part also with the Ruthven raiders when they seized Stirling in April, 1584, [Privy Council Register, iii. 657.] and when, by the warlike promptitude of the king, who marched against them at the head of an army of 12,000 men, they were forced to flee to England, the Earl of Gowrie was executed, and Erskine was ordered to surrender the abbey, place, and fortalice of Paisley, and banished the realm. [Ibid. 663, 664.] When, however, the Ruthven raiders again entered Scotland in October, 1585, at the head of 8000 men, and, marching on Stirling, compelled Arran to flee, [Spottiswoode, ii. 331.] these decrees were abrogated. As the Hamiltons, along with Angus and Mar, returned to power, and Paisley was restored to Lord Claud Hamilton, [Act. Parl. iv. 373, 432.] Erskine could not, of course, continue his commendatorship. It was apparently to make up to him for this loss that on 21st December, 1585, the king, with the advice of the Privy Council, granted him the archbishopric of Glasgow. [Great Seal Register, iv. 290-1, No. 903.] Curiously enough, in the charter by which this grant was made, no notice was taken of the tenure of the luckless Montgomerie. The charter conveyed to Erskine "all the churches, lordships, and possessions, as well spiritual as temporal," of the archbishopric, "vacant by the decease of Archbishop Boyd, and the forfeiture of Archbishop Beaton, with entry to the fruits of the archbishopric as from 1585, under burden of a pension granted by King James to Nicholas Carncross."

Though the grant of the archbishopric to Erskine was stated in the charter to be for life, he did not enjoy the benefice long. The Glasgow presbytery duly admitted him, but on 20th June, 1587, the General Assembly unanimously declared his admission unlawful, and ordered the presbytery to annul it by Michaelmas. [Spottiswoode, ii. 375; Calderwood, iv. 615, 638; Book of the Universal Kirk, ii. 693; Privy Council Register, iv. 191.]

As a matter of fact, another bright particular star had arisen in the household of James I., and its claims had to be provided for. Sir John Stewart of Minto, whom we have already seen as active in the affairs of Glasgow, was twice married. By his first wife, Johanna Hepburn, he had Sir Mathew Stewart, the provost who installed Archbishop Montgomerie. By his second marriage, with Margaret, daughter of James Stewart of Cardonald, he had an only son, Walter. Walter Stewart was the companion of King James himself under the tutelage of the famous Latinist, George Buchanan. It was a quarrel between the two over possession of a tame sparrow that Buchanan settled by boxing the king's ears and calling him "a quarrelsome bird out of a bloody nest." As a boy he was made Commendator of the Priory of Blantyre by James. He was made one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber in 1580, and was sworn a privy councillor, and made keeper of the Privy Seal in 1582. [Douglas's Peerage, i. 231.] In 1583 James further conferred on him the lands of Calderhall in the regality of Dalkeith. [Great Seal Register, iv. 183, No. 589.] But the grant which played the greatest part in enabling Walter Stewart to found the fortunes of a family came in 1587.

The burgh records of Glasgow from 27th April, 1586, till 22nd October, 1588, have been lost, but, so far as is known, William Erskine, while drawing the revenues of the archbishopric of Glasgow, appears to have interfered not at all in the affairs of the city. After the General Assembly had ordered his installation to be annulled, the temporalities were annexed to the crown by the general Act of 29th July, 1587. [Act. Part. iii. 431 ; Charters and Documents, i. pt. ii. p. 192. No. lxxiv.]

Under the archbishops, as we have seen, these temporalities had been managed by a steward and governed by a bailie. The fruits which might accrue to the crown after the intromissions and charges of these officials were satisfied were probably some

what hypothetical. At any rate the crown decided to make its share of the proceeds a matter of definite payment. While, accordingly, the ancient episcopal baronies of Stobo and Eddlestoun were disponed to the Chancellor, Maitland of Thirlstane, and that of Carstairs was transferred to Sir William Stewart, son of Sir Andrew Stewart of Ochiltree, the greater part of the Glasgow temporalities—the lands and barony, town and burgh of Glasgow, the baronies of Ancrum, Ashkirk, and Lilliesleaf in Roxburghshire, the lands of Bishop's Forest, Niddrie Forest, the Halfpenny Lands in Carrick, the Kirklands of Cambusnethan, and others—were conveyed to Walter Stewart for payment of an annual feu-duty of £500 Scots. The grant included all patronages which had belonged to the archbishop, as well as the offices of bailie and justiciary of the whole regality, and for the duties connected with these offices Stewart was allowed a fee of £200 Scots yearly. [Great Seal Register, iv. p. 483, No. 1406; Charters and Documents, i. pt. ii. P. 215, No. Lxxviii.] At the same time the lands thus conveyed were erected into a temporal lordship, to be called the lordship of Glasgow, with the castle of Glasgow for its chief messuage. On 26th August, 1591, this grant was confirmed by the king, and the commendator and his successors were empowered to feu the lands and baronies to the ancient and native tenants. [Great Seal Register, iv. p. 652, No. 1932; Charters and Documents, pt. ii. No. lxxx.] Under this authority Stewart feued out most of the possessions of the barony to the existing rentallers, who thus obtained security of tenure by the conversion of their former rent into a feu-duty. [Diocesan Registers, preface, p. 30.]

One of these transactions, which concerned the city as a whole, possesses an interest of its own. Mention has already been made of the mill on the Kelvin tenanted by Archibald Lyon. Originally a waulking or fulling mill, established by Archbishop Blacader, this had originally been let to Donald Lyon, Archibald's father, in 1517. When Archibald Lyon was received as rentaller in 1554 he was authorized to convert it into a wheat mill, the rent being four merks yearly, and Lyon being bound to grind all the wheat consumed in the archbishop's house. [Charters and Documents, vol. ii. p. 512, No. 26.] In May, 1577, the town's common mill on the Molendinar was found unable to grind all the grain brought to it by the townsmen, and the magistrates accordingly agreed with Lyon to take over his mill. [Burgh Records, i. P. 57.] The price was 1000 merks, and until the town should pay the money Lyon was to be paid thirty bolls of unground malt and twenty bolls of oatmeal yearly, and his heirs, if he should die, zoo merks yearly. For security he received the old town's mill in pledge. [Ibid. p. 553, No. xxxix; Charters and Documents, pt. ii. p. 446, No. 74.] As the town had still to pay the four merks of original rent yearly to the archbishop, it will be seen that the annual value of the mill had gone up from four merks in 1554 to one hundred and four in 1577.

When Walter Stewart became feuer of the barony this was one of the rentals which he desired to see converted into a feu-duty. [Burgh Records, i. 120.] In order to raise the necessary money the town sold six acres at the Old Greenhead, next the Briggate, and l some other properties, by auction for £1338 6s. 8d. Scots, or viii sterling, and some small feu-duties, and on 9th November, received from Stewart a charter of the mill on the Kelvin, with the miller's house, yard, and ground of Schilhill, for a payment of £boo Scots, and an annual feu-duty of four merks and twelve pennies Scots. [Charters and Documents, pt. ii. P. 452, No. 97.] From all this it would appear that while the magistrates made anything but a shrewd bargain with Archibald Lyon, they could certainly not complain of the treatment they received from the new owner of the barony. [Two centuries later, in 1771, Archibald Lyon's, or Clayslaps Mill was sold to the Bakers' Incorporation, but was repurchased by the city three years later, and the site now forms part of Kelvingrove Park (Marwick's Early Glasgow, p. 160).]

By such means, within a generation from the establishment of the Reformation in 1560, were the vast possessions of the Catholic Church of Glasgow transferred to other hands. One final act still remained. On 8th July, 1587, Parliament had rescinded the forfeiture and other sentences against the exiled Archbishop Beaton. [Act. Parl. iii. VP., pp. 467-470.] On 29th May, 1589, this act was reversed by the Privy Council; [Privy Council Register, iv. 388.] but on 29th June, 1598, in consideration of his services as ambassador, Beaton was restored to his honours, dignities, and benefices, notwithstanding all sentences and acts against him, and although he had never made confession of his faith, nor acknowledged the religion professed in Scotland. [Act. Parl. iv. 169, 170.] Under this act the aged prelate appears to have recovered the enjoyment of nothing more than the revenue of the ancient royalty of Glasgow. [Diocesan Register, preface, p. 31.] He never returned to Scotland. In France, where he took a considerable part in politics, he enjoyed the revenues of the Abbey of La Sie, the priory of St. Peter's, and the treasurership of St. Hilary of Poictiers. When he died, at the age of 86, in 1603, he left all his goods to the Scots College, which regarded him as its second founder. [Life, by Archbishop Eyre.]

Meanwhile, on 21st July, 1593, Ludovic, Duke of Lennox, was granted for his lifetime the superiority of the whole lands and rights of the archbishopric [Act. Part. iv. 38.]—a grant by which he probably drew the feu-duty payable by Walter Stewart and the feu-duties of other rentallers who had received charters from the archbishops and the crown. This act was confirmed on 16th December, 1597, [Ibid. 146.] and on 9th March, 1600, the king granted an undertaking to erect the archbishopric, after the death of Archbishop Beaton, into a temporal lordship, to remain with the house of Lennox for ever. [The Lennox, by W. Fraser, ii. 343; Hist. MSS. Commission, App. to Third Report, p. 395, No. 155.] Finally, on 7th April, 1603, while on his journey to occupy the English throne, King James erected "the lands and barony of Glasgow, the castle, city, burgh, and regality of Glasgow, the lands and tenements of that burgh, and certain other lands" into a temporal lordship, to be called the lordship of Glasgow, which he conferred upon the duke, to be holden of the crown for an annual payment of £304 8s. 4d. of money, 36 chalders 4 bolls meal, Z3 chalders 4 bolls oats, 49 dozen capons, 31 dozen poultry, and 14 dozen kane salmon, together with all other duties specified in the annual rental of the bishopric, in use to be paid to the archbishop, with twenty merks further of augmentation. [Great Seal Register, 1593-1608, No. 1457, p. 531; Privy Seal Register, vol. lxxiii, fol. 265; Charters and Documenis, pt. ii. p. 258, No. lxxxviii.]


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