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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XXX - Glasgow's Connection with Convention of BurghsóDukes of Albany and King James I.óBishop LauderóCathedral


By a decree of the Court of Four Burghs, which, according to the date given by Sir John Skene, was held at Stirling on 12th October, 1405, it was ordained that two or three sufficient burgesses of each of the "King's burghs" upon the south side of the Water of Spey should appear yearly at the burghal parliament to treat upon all things concerning the commonweal of all the burghs and their liberties. If the date is correct, and if the ordinance took effect, this may be regarded as the first step in the process whereby the Curia Quatuor Buygorum was merged in the Convention of Burghs ; but the time for clearing off the obscurity with which the early history of the court is enveloped has not yet been reached, and no record showing that the decree was put into operation has been discovered. Whether in obedience to the decree, burghs outside of the chosen four really sent commissioners or not, it is curious to observe that the privilege of doing so was not extended to burghs beyond the Spey, such as Inverness, Elgin and the other towns situated in the province of Moray. At that time, six years before the battle of Harlaw, a distinction still existed between the districts within and those without the bounds of ancient Scotia. No similar exclusion is noticed elsewhere,

and in an act of parliament passed in 1487 commissioners of "all the burrowis, baith south and north," were appointed to convene, yearly, to commune and treat upon the welfare of merchants and common profit of the burghs. But even before this date representatives of the burghs in general seem to have been in the habit of meeting and adjusting their common affairs. Thus, on 21st March, 1483-4, "the commissaris of burghis" allocated upon the individual towns their shares of a national tax. The names of the burghs subjected to this impost, situated "beyond Forth," have been preserved, and these include Elgin, Forres, Inverness and Nairn, all on the Moray side of the Spey. Unfortunately there is no corresponding list of the taxed burghs on the south side of the Forth, nor is there a list of such earlier than 1535. In the Roll of that year Glasgow duly appears, showing that at that time it bore its share of national taxation as a constituent member of the Convention of Burghs. The minutes of the Convention are not preserved previous to 1552, and at the meeting held in that year Glasgow was represented by its provost and another commissioner.

Opinions as to the true dates of the capture at sea of Prince James and the death of his father, King Robert III., have been somewhat conflicting in the past, but it is now generally agreed that the former event took place in February or March, 1405-6, and the latter on 4th April, 1406. In this connection it is satisfactory to note that in the "Short Chronicle" inserted in the Register of the Bishopric, the capture is stated to be 30th March and the "obit" 4th April, 1406. King James was in the twelfth year of his age when he succeeded to the throne, but from that time he was detained in England eighteen years, and did not enter upon the personal rule of his kingdom till 1424. Meanwhile the government of the country remained in the hands of the Duke of Albany till, on his death in 1420, it passed to his son, Duke Murdoch, and national affairs were thus conducted much on the same lines as they had been since the beginning of the second Robert's reign. The first duke was virtual ruler of the kingdom for nearly half a century. It was a period during which some of the nobles embraced the opportunity of augmenting their estates at the expense of the crown, a mode of aggrandizement which brought about fearful reprisals when the day of reckoning arrived.

On the death of Bishop Matthew, in 1408, the anti-pope, Benedict XIII., gave the bishopric to William Lauder, Archdeacon of Lothian. The new bishop's appointment was dated 9th July, 1408, and it is supposed that he obtained consecration shortly afterwards, as, on 24th October following, the English king gave a safe conduct to William Laweder, bishop of Glasco, with 24 horsemen in company, to cross from France and pass through England to Scotland." [Dowden's Bishops, p. 318; Bain's Calendar, i, No. 773.] He seems not to have returned in time to enter into possession of the temporalities till after Martinmas, as in the account of the chamberlain of Scotland for 1408-9 credit is given for the rents of the bishopric for the term of Whitsunday and for the half of those falling due at Martinmas, 1408. The other half of the Martinmas rents the chamberlain, by favour of the bishop, expended in paying the fees of the bailies and sergeants, and allowances were also given to certain kinsmen of the late bishop. [Exchequer Rolls, iv. p. 99. The sheriff of Peebles had collected £44, presumably at Stobo and Whitebarony, and the rents collected in the shire of Lanark, within which were the two baronies of Glasgow and Carstairs, amounted to £188 11s. 8d.]

Bishop Lauder's progenitors belonged to an ancient family in the Merse. In a charter granted at Lauder on 1st August, 1414, his father, there designated "Robert de Lawedre," with consent of the bishop as his son and heir, gave to the church of Glasgow two annual rents of twenty shillings each, payable furth of tenements situated in Edinburgh, as an endowment for anniversary services to be celebrated by the canons and vicars of the cathedral. The charter was confirmed by the Duke of Albany on 28th September; and on 19th May of the following year Bishop Lauder gave specific directions for celebration of the obits or anniversaries and for the tolling of the church bells and the bell of St. Kentigern on the vigils of the services. [Reg. Episc. No. 324, 326.]

The upper part of the north-west tower of the cathedral, said to have been struck by lightning and burned down in the time of Bishop Glendoning, was restored by Bishop Lauder. The tower is known to have been vaulted in stone, in the interior, at the junction of the new with the old work. The vault rested on four corbels in the angles, curiously carved with figures. Three of these corbels are now preserved in the chapter-house and have been identified as part of the work of restoration executed by Bishop Lauder. The bishop likewise placed the traceried parapet upon the central tower. His coat of arms, carved on the western side, is the earliest heraldic device in the cathedral. The belfry stage of the tower is supposed to have been erected by Cardinal Walter or by Bishop Glendoning, and the stone spire, rising from Lauder's parapet, was constructed by Bishop Cameron. The lower courses of this tower were obviously intended to carry a stone structure to the top, and if timber was at any time used here in constructing a spire that must have been regarded as a temporary expedient. [Glasgow Cathedral (1901). p. 19; (1914). PP. 39, 40. Mr. Chalmers. states that Lauder's parapet was reconstructed in 1756, in consequence of having been injured by lightning (Ib.).]

The masonry of the chapter-house, begun in the thirteenth century, had remained very much in its original condition for nearly 200 years, the foundation walls showing little more than a mere outline of the building plan. The erection of this building was also resumed by Bishop Lauder, who made considerable progress with the work. His arms are carved on the exterior of the west wall and also upon the cornice of the dean's seat in the east wall, the latter accompanied with an inscription [WILMS: FUDAT: ISTUT: CAPILM: DEI "óWillelmus fundavit istut capitulum Dei. Doubts have been entertained whether this inscription applies to William de Bondington who began the building or to William Lauder, who carried it on, but the preponderance of opinion favours the latter. prelate.] bearing that he had built the chapter-house, but the completion of this work also he had to leave to his successor.

Bishop Lauder took an active share in the administration of national affairs. He was one of the commissioners appointed to treat with English representatives for peace in 1411 and was one of the ambassadors who negotiated for the return of the king in 1423. He was chancellor of the kingdom from 1421 till his death in 1425.

The foundation of the university of St. Andrews, in 1410, was an event of national importance and must have attracted attention in all scholastic circles throughout the country. In cathedrals at that time the chancellors presided over those in their respective localities who taught in letters, and the precentors or chantors looked after the training of the young musicians. By the rule of Sarum, adopted in Glasgow cathedral, it was directed that the chancellor should bestow care in regulating the schools and repairing and correcting the

books, and that the precentor should provide for the instruction and discipline of the boys destined for service in the choir. Taking advantage of the guidance thus provided, municipal authorities freely co-operated with the cathedral dignitaries in the promotion of education within their bounds, as in 1418, when the alderman and community of Aberdeen nominated a master of the burgh schools and presented him to the chancellor of the diocese for approval. Though it is not till forty years later that we have documentary evidence of the magistrates of Glasgow being associated with the Grammar School of that city, it is known that such a school was in existence in 1460, but as to its previous history no information is vouchsafed. Such elementary education as could be gained at these schools would afford the preparation necessary for the student entering a university; but when this stage was reached he had no choice but to leave the country and betake himself to other parts, perhaps to Oxford or Cambridge, if peace existed between England and Scotland at the time ; if not, the continent was the only resort. Latterly it was Paris, where the Scots College had been founded by the Bishop of Moray in 1326, that the Scottish students mainly frequented and there at the close of the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth century large numbers of them were yearly assembled. No doubt many Scottish students embraced the opportunity of completing their education at St. Andrews, though the older universities abroad still continued to be frequented by those who could afford and preferred that course ; but that the educational facilities obtainable at St. Andrews were largely appreciated, and that there was a call for extension of such accommodation in Scotland, is shown by the fact that Glasgow, only forty years later, followed the example set by St. Andrews and secured the establishment of a university of its own.

One of the transcripts supplied by Father Innes to Glasgow College was that of a notarial instrument of some interest as showing the procedure in the borrowing of money on heritable security in the beginning of the fifteenth century. In presence of a notary public and witnesses, Andrew of Kinglas, burgess of Glasgow, in consideration of the loan of ten merks Scots, conveyed to William Johnson, another burgess, a rood of waste land in the front, with a yard at the back, lying on the east side of the street leading from the cathedral church to the market cross, between the land of the heirs of John Bridin on the south and the land of John Smith on the north. The property was to be redeemable by the borrower on his repaying to the lender the ten merks, with any sums profitably expended by him on the property, and that at any Whitsunday, between the rising and the setting of the sun, on the altar of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral church. [Reg. Episc. No. 323 (7th November, 1413). The witnesses were Mr. John of Mortoun, provost of the collegiate church of Bothwell; Sir Thomas Merschel, perpetual vicar of the church of Kilbirny, in the diocese of Glasgow; Adam Massoun, Nicholas of Prendergast and Andrew Smyth, burgesses of the burgh of "Glasgu."] In such cases an altar became so well established as the place of redemption that for some time after the Reformation, when altars had been removed, it was customary to specify as a substitute the place in the church where the altar had stood.


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