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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XXXI - Return of King James I.—His Legislation—Bishop Cameron—Cathedral and Castle—Archdeaneries and Prebends—Town Mill—Rentallers


THE period of King James's reign which followed his return from England is marked by much legislative activity and in this connection the burghs were not overlooked. Under statutes then passed regulations came into operation for the more effective supervision of craftsmen and their work; hostels or public inns were to be provided for the accommodation of travellers; burgesses and indwellers, sufficiently equipped, had to appear for inspection of their armour, at the periodical wapinshawings; measures were to be adopted for security against fire; the "array of burgesses and thair wyffis" was regulated by the sumptuary laws; rules were laid down "anent Lipper folk"; beggars were subjected to licensed conditions; playing at football was discouraged as interfering with the practice of archery, and instructions were given to the king's officers and burgh sergeants for the maintenance of order.

By a parliament held on 26th May, 1424, a subsidy was imposed to meet the contribution to England stipulated for on the return of the king from captivity. As Glasgow bore its share of the taxation for King David's ransom it might have been expected that the burgh would also be a contributor to the levy of 1424, but in the Exchequer Rolls, where the contributions of twenty-three burghs are recorded, Glasgow is not included in the list.

Acts of parliament were passed for securing the "fredoine of halikirk"; traffic in pensions payable out of church benefices was prohibited; church lands unjustly alienated were to be restored; and churchmen were forbidden, by themselves or their procurators, to take their law pleas to foreign ecclesiastical courts without the king's consent. These and other regulations, however needful and salutary, did not meet with approval in all quarters, and the responsibility for their introduction having to some extent been ascribed to John Cameron, who was Bishop of Glasgow from 1426 to 1446, he was subjected to not a little opposition and trouble on that account.

It is not known if King James ever held court in, or even passed through Glasgow, though, keeping in view the long official, as well as personal, intimacy which subsisted between him and Bishop Cameron, it is likely enough that he was an occasional visitor. The bulk of the king's charters, so far as recorded in the Great Seal Register, were granted at Edinburgh, and a large number are dated from Perth, but Glasgow is not one of the eight towns from which the remainder emanated. So far as has been noticed, the only charter of James, connected with Glasgow, is one granted under his privy seal, at Edinburgh, on 14th April, 1426, whereby, in consequence of the see being vacant at the time, he presented Thomas Pacock, priest, to a chaplainry in the cathedral founded by Bishop Lauder.

The appointment to the see, which fell vacant through the death of Bishop Lauder, on 14th June, 142.5, had been specially reserved to the Pope, but, in ignorance of the reservation, the chapter elected John Cameron as bishop. On all the circumstances being represented to the Pope he, on 22nd April, 1426, assented to the choice made by the chapter and subsequently authorised the consecration of the new bishop. Still it appears that in these arrangements entire harmony did not prevail. In a papal bull, issued in May, 1430, it is stated that Cameron had, before his promotion, incurred disability more than once, and by subsequent action in parliament had been the author of statutes about collation to benefices which were against ecclesiastical liberty and the rights of the Roman Church, transgressions which had resulted in his excommunication. Through the intervention of the king on the bishop's behalf, and after an investigation, in the course of which the accuracy of many of the charges was disputed, while proper behaviour was promised in the future, the bishop was absolved from the sentences which had been pronounced against him. [Dowden's Bishops, pp. 319-22. rrevious to his appointment as bishop, Cameron had been a canon of Glasgow, provost of Lincluden, king's secretary and official of St. Andrews. (See also Medieval Glasgow, pp. 6o el seq.)]

On this as well as on subsequent occasions when the bishop had to defend himself against accusations lodged at the papal court, one of his chief accusers seems to have been William Croyser, Archdeacon of Teviotdale. Between the bishop and the archdeacon there had been a controversy with regard to the jurisdiction exerciseable by the latter; and the dean and chapter, to whose arbitration the dispute had been referred, pronounced a decree on 14th January, 1427-8, whereby it was found that the bishop was entitled to have his commissaries throughout the whole diocese, qualified to decide all causes to the same extent as in the archdeanery of Glasgow. The commissaries appointed by the Archdeacon of Teviotdale were entitled to hear and decide all minor causes within their jurisdiction, but the archdeacon had no power to dismiss or incarcerate the clerks in his archdeanery or to appoint them to or deprive them of benefices without the special authority of the bishop. It was also declared that the losers in causes ,decided by the archdeacon or his commissaries should have recourse by appeal to the bishop or his auditor. [Reg. Episc. No. 332. Croyser was deprived of the archdeaconry in or about the year 1433, but it was subsequently restored to him, and by the decision of the dean and chapter in 1452 it was declared that the Archdeacon of Teviotdale had precisely the same jurisdiction in his district as the Archdeacon of Glasgow had in his part of the diocese (lb. No. 373. See also 'James I., Bishop Cameron and the Papacy " in the Scottish Historical Review, vol. xv. pp. 190-200).]

Bishop Cameron held, successively, the offices of secretary of state and keeper of the privy and great seals. He was chancellor of the kingdom from 1426 to 1439, and he also served on several embassies to England ; but notwithstanding the calls upon his time involved in the performance of official duties and the unpleasant interruptions arising out of his contests with ecclesiastical superiors and others, diocesan affairs, and especially those connected with the cathedral, were attended to with conspicuous efficiency. To the cathedral chapter already embracing twenty-six members, he procured an addition of seven prebends, and passed a series of statutes, regulating the attendance and duties of the canons, and the yearly sums payable by them to their vicars, and he ratified the ordinance issued by Bishop Matthew in 1401 for payment of certain sums on admission of prebendaries in order to provide the vestments and ornaments needful for service in the cathedral. [For a list of the prebends in Bishop Cameron's time see p. 193.]

The term vestments and ornaments, as used in Registrum Episcopatus, included the necessary equipment and furniture of the cathedral, whether of a decorative character or not, and as considerable expenditure was incurred in procuring and upholding these the money raised from taxed prebends would have been insufficient for the purpose unless supplemented by gifts from pious benefactors. A donation obtained from Walter Fitz-Gilbert in 1320 has been already referred to; [Antea, p. 149.]

(a) The prebendary of Durisdeer had to provide for the maintenance of six boys in the choir.
(b) Sanquhar is entered in list, but the sum is left blank.
(c) The prebendary of Cumnock paid II merks to the inner sacristan (sacriste interiori) for his maintenance.
(d) The prebendary of Polmade had to pay 16 merks yearly for the maintenance of four boys serving in the choir (Reg. Episc. Nos. 338 and 341).

and on 2nd February, 1429-30, Alan Stewart, Lord of Dernele, gave to the church a set of vestments and ornaments on condition that he should have such use of them as he needed during his lifetime. [Reg. Episc. No. 337.] The noting of these two transactions in the Register was apparently thought necessary to secure the donors in their reserved rights; but there must have been numerous unconditional gifts of similar objects no record of which can now be traced. At the command of the bishop and chapter an inventory of all the ornaments, relics, jewels and books in the cathedral was made up by the chanter, the treasurer and two canons, in 1432-3. [Reg. Episc. No. 339. A translation of the inventory is given in Dr. J. F. S. Gordon's Scotichronicon, ii. pp. 451-7; and Bishop Dowden has given a partial translation and supplied valuable notes on the vestments and ornaments in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, 1898-9, pp. 280-329. The books are described by Professor Cosmo Innes in his Preface to Reg. Episc. pp. xlii-xlvi.] Among the relics enumerated in the inventory were two silver crosses, each ornamented with precious stones and containing a piece of wood, part of the true cross; a phial or casket, with hair of the Blessed Virgin; in a silver coffer, parts of the garments of St. Kentigern and St. Thomas of Canterbury, and part of the hair shirt of St. Kentigern; in one silver casket, part of the skin of St. Bartholomew, the apostle, and in another a bone of St. Ninian; a casket with a portion of the girdle of the Blessed Virgin Mary; a phial with a fragment of the tomb of St. Catherine; a bag containing a portion of the cloak of St. Martin; a precious case with combs of St. Kentigern and St. Thomas of Canterbury; and two linen bags with bones of St. Kentigern, St. Tenew, and several saints. At the Reformation most of the relics and jewels were carried to France by Archbishop Beaton, and such of them as were not otherwise removed for safety, and were found about the cathedral, ran the risk of being destroyed as objects of idolatry.

The parishes which, by Bishop Cameron's additions, had their rectors constituted members of the cathedral chapter were Cambuslang and Eaglesham in the county of Lanark, Tarbolton in Ayrshire, Luss in Dumbartonshire, Kirkmaho in Dumfriesshire and Killearn in Stirlingshire. [The patrons consenting to the erection of these prebends were Archibald Earl of Douglas for Cambuslang, Sir John Stewart of Dernlie for Tarbolton, Sir Alexander Montgomery for Eaglesham, John Colquhoun, Lord of Luss, for that parish, Sir John Forestar and his lady, Margaret Stewart with Sir William Stewart, her son, for Kirkmaho, and Patrick Lord Graham for Killearn (Reg. Episc. Nos. 336 and 340; also, vol. i. p. xlii.).] The remaining new prebend was in a peculiar position. Some particulars have already been given about the Hospital of Polmadie.io At a conference held in the chapel on the west side of Edinburgh Castle, on 7th January, 1424-5, the Earl of Lennox acknowledged that the Bishop of Glasgow had full right to the patronage of the hospital with its annexed church of Strathblane, and he accordingly resigned any claim he had in favour of Bishop Cameron and his successors. [Antea, pp. 147-8, 158, 163. 'Reg. Episc. No. 344.] Having thus obtained a free hand in the disposal of these endowments, Bishop Cameron, with consent of his chapter, erected the hospital and church into a prebend of the cathedral, stipulating that the church should be served by a vicar, to whom should be paid 14 merks yearly besides getting the use of about thirty acres of land as a glebe. [Reg. Episc. p. ci; letters by the bishop and chapter dated 12th January, 1427-8 ; ratified by a papal bull dated 5th December, 1429; Ib. No. 338.] It is not known if the hospital, as a refuge for poor men and women, was now discontinued, but even as a prebend of the cathedral its connection with Glasgow was soon severed. In 1453 Isabella, Countess of Lennox and Duchess of Albany, founded the collegiate church of Dumbarton; and by some arrangement, to which the Bishop of Glasgow must have been a party, though particulars of the negotiation have not been discovered, the whole endowments of the hospital were transferred to the Collegiate church.

Most local historians, following the lead given by John M'Ure, state that the building of manses for the prebendaries originated with Bishop Cameron, but in reality these churchmen, bound to give attendance at the cathedral during a considerable part of each year, must always have had suitable residences in Glasgow, and it is probable that the arrangement proposed in 1266, whereby the bishop then to be appointed was required to provide such additional space as might be required for the erection of manses, was substantially carried into effect about that time. Of the few recorded notices bearing on the possession of prebendal manses there is the narrative of an inquiry which took place in the chapel of Edinburgh Castle on 2nd March, 1447-8, for the settlement of a controversy between Mr. John Methven, canon of Glasgow, and Sir John Mousfald, chaplain, as to the ownership of a tenement on the north side of Ratounraw. The arbiters, consisting of Lord Chancellor Crichton and others, found that Mr. John had full right to the tenement as being annexed and belonging to the prebend of Edilston. At that time Methven was apparently prebendary of Edilston and thus entitled to occupy the tenement as his manse, a building about which some interesting particulars of later date have been collected.

The great stone spire of the cathedral, from the level of the parapet of the central tower, was placed by Bishop Cameron, and he also completed the chapter-house, on one of the carved bosses in the vaulting of which his arms are shown. The erection of the consistory house and library, an oblong structure of two storeys, which, with the addition of a third storey added in the seventeenth century, formed the south-west tower of the cathedral, is also believed to have been accomplished in the bishop's time [Glasgow Cathedral (1901), pp. 17, 19; (1914), pp. 25, 26. As mentioned, antea, pp. 128-9, it has been suggested that the south-west tower may have been so far erected in Bishop Robert Wischart's time.]; and, not confining his building activities to the cathedral and its accessories, Cameron made an addition to the adjoining episcopal residence by adding the tower, which, according to M`Ure, bore his name and on which his arms were visible in 1736. [Mediaeval Glasgow, p. 77. Dr. Primrose points out that the tower erected by Bishop Cameron was not, as generally supposed, at the southwest angle of the wall facing Castle Street, but was placed towards the east within the palace grounds.]

As territorial lords the bishops had several grain mills throughout the barony. A mill on the River Kelvin served the Govan and Partick wards. Baddermonach ward, corresponding to the modern Cadder parish, had its mill at Bedlay, and Clydesmill supplied the wants of Cuik's ward or West Monk-land. Two of the cathedral prebends also had mills as part of their endowments—the barony of Provan having its mill on the Molendinar Burn, and farther down the stream, at the foot of Drygate, the subdean having his mill, for the grinding of grain from his own lands and perhaps from others within the thirl.

So far as has been ascertained the burgesses of Glasgow, previous to the fifteenth century, were thirled to no mill in particular, and it is not till some years later that we have definite knowledge of the means provided for grinding their grain. Originally hand mills may have supplied all demands, but, in the interest of those overlords who possessed water mills, burgh laws of the thirteenth century forbade the use of hand-mills unless they had to be resorted to in consequence of great storms or want of water. In any case, it may be assumed that this primitive process would be superseded at an early date, and that the bishops would see to the supply of the requisite grinding facilities at one or other of the mills on the Molendinar Burn. At length a definite arrangement was concluded with Bishop Cameron whereby the burgesses and community were empowered to construct a mill on their lands of Garngadhill, on the north side of the Molendinar Burn, in consideration of their contributing two pounds of wax, yearly, for the lights around the tomb of St. Kentigern in the cathedral. These facts are ascertained from a document which is still preserved, being a Notarial Instrument, dated six weeks after the bishop's death, and certifying that the keeper of the lights acknowledged the yearly delivery of the specified quantity of wax from the time when the arrangement was made, a date, however, which is not given. [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 25-27 (4th February, 1446-7).]

From another source a further supply of lights was secured for the cathedral. Lands called at one time Collinhatrig, afterwards Conhatrig and now Conheath, in Dumfriesshire, formerly belonged to the Bishops of Glasgow, and under an arrangement between the Duke of Albany, then governor of the kingdom, and Bishop William, the revenues were annexed to the Hospital of St. Leonard in Ayrshire. But by a charter, dated 7th June, 1442, King James II. dissolved this union, and the rights in the lands were restored to Bishop Cameron, who bestowed the rents on the cathedral for the better supply of wax and upkeep of lights; and he also stipulated that any surplus of income should be applied in providing white lawn and other ornaments of the high altar. [Reg. Episc. No. 347; also p. cii. The yearly feuduty payable to the archbishop for the lands of Conhatrig in 1632 was 3 6s. 8d. (Descriptions of sheriffdomns of Lanark and Renfrew (1831), p. 149).]

Bishop Cameron also instituted a mass to be called the Mass for the Dead Bishops and to be celebrated by the vicars of the choir and the four boys of the Polmadie prebend. For their services the vicars were to be paid eighteen merks yearly out of the ferms of the burgh of Glasgow, [Reg. Episc. p. cii.] a most interesting stipulation, on the working out of which information would have been welcome. The only burgh ferm payable to the bishops, of which we have any trace, was that of sixteen merks for the lands possessed by the burgesses; but, following the practice prevailing in royal burghs, additional "ferms" were probably exacted for customs and other dues leased to the community. Out of these combined revenues the vicars might draw their annual allowance of eighteen merks. [During the English occupation King Edward's collectors, in 1302-4, took £48 6s. 8d. and 40s. from the burgh ferms. Bain's Calendar, ii. p. 424; antea, p. 141.]

According to a tradition which George Buchanan says was current in his time, Bishop Cameron had the reputation of dealing harshly with his rentallers, [Buchanan's History of Scotland, 1821 edition, vol. ii. book xi. p. 225.] but this may imply no more than that he took greater care than some of his predecessors had done to collect his yearly revenues as well as to exact the occasional heavy fines or casualties falling due on renewals of investiture. The agreement with the burgesses as to the town mill may be regarded as an example of the bishop's methodical way of transacting business; and if previous bishops had not already begun to keep the rental books, of which specimens are still preserved, bearing dates between 1509 and 1570, it is not improbable that Cameron introduced the system. Buchanan also states that the bishop was reported to have died, under mysterious circumstances, "in a farm of his own, about seven miles from Glasgow," on Christmas eve, 1446. Subsequent writers assume this "farm" to have been the bishop's manor-house of Lochwood, which was situated about six miles east of the cathedral. But grave doubt is cast on the accuracy of the story, not only on account of its inherent improbability, but also by the following entry in the Auchinleck Chronicle (p. 6), which is regarded as containing a contemporary narrative of events :—" Ane thousand iiii ° xlvj. Thar decessit in the Castell of Glasqw, master Jhon Cameron, bischop of Glasqw, apon Yule ewyne, that was bischop xix yere." Besides, tradition was not altogether one-sided in its dealing with the bishop's character. John M'Ure, who wrote in 1736, found it hard to credit the story recounted by the earlier historians about Cameron, "from what good things we hear " about him. Viewed from M'Ure's standpoint the extortionate laird getting in his "racked rents" from "poor tenant bodies, scant o' cash," is transformed into the "great prelate, seated in his palace," and bounteously distributing favours among " his vassals and tenants, being noblemen and barons of the greatest figure in the kingdom." [M`Ure's History of Glasgow (1830 edition), pp. 18-20, 48.] Exaggeration seems apparent in both accounts, but the fact of these being in circulation at so great distances of time bears witness to the exceptional influence exercised by Bishop Cameron while he ruled the see.

In the reign of James I. Scotland was visited by two observant strangers, one from the continent and the other from England, each of whom has left a record of his impressions of the country, in general, and the Englishman likewise refers to Glasgow in particular. Æneas Sylvius, afterwards Pope Pius II., was a guest at the king's court in the winter of 1435, and he describes Scotland as a cold, bleak, wild country, producing little corn, for the most part without wood, but yielding a "sulphurous stone " which was dug out of the earth for fuel. The cities had no walls, the houses were mostly built without lime, with roofs of turf in the towns. Hides, wool, salt fish and pearls, were exported to Flanders. [Hume Brown's Early Travellers in Scotland, pp. 25-27.] Though there is no evidence that Glasgow came under the notice of this keen observer most of his quoted remarks may be adopted as applying to its condition at that time, including the allusion to coal digging, which was then probably carried on in open quarries.

The other visitor just referred to was John Hardyng, who was sent to Scotland by Henry V. and Henry VI. of England, to procure deeds confirming the claims of English superiority over Scotland, and who, being unsuccessful in the search, returned with documents suspected to be of his own manufacture, but which he stated had been procured by purchase in fulfilment of the purpose of his mission. In his metrical Chronicle which propounds different schemes for the conquest of Scotland, Hardyng has the following remarks on Glasgow:

"Returne agayne unto Strivelyne,
And from thence to Glasco homewarde,
Twenty and foure myles to S. Mongo's shrine,
Wherewith your offeryng ye shall from thence decline,
And passe on forthwarde to Dumbertayne,
A castell stronge and harde for to obteine.
In whiche castell S. Patryke was borne,
That afterwarde in Irelande dyd wynne...
.... Than from Glasgo to the towne of Ayre,
Are twentie myles and foure wele accompted,
A good countree for your armye everywhere
And plenteous also, by many one recounted ...
.... Next than from Ayre unto Glasgew go,
A goodly cytee and universitee,
Where plentifull is the countree also,
Replenished well with all commoditee."

A plan is sketched for three armies traversing the country in a sort of conquering march and all three meeting at

"Glasgo
Standyng upon Clyde, and where also
Of corne and cattell is aboundaunce,
Youre armye to vittayle at all suffysaunce."

The Chronicle was written by Hardyng in his advanced age, and some of his remarks, such as his allusion to the "universitee" of Glasgow, are applicable to a period later than the reign of the first James. But in any case, the Englishman's observations convey the impression that in the first half of the fifteenth century the country was in a fairly prosperous condition.


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