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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XXXIV - Bishop Andrew de Durisdere—Vicars of the Choir—St. Nicholas Hospital


INCLUDED in the series of crowded activities which distinguished, his short episcopate, Bishop Turnbull found time to complete his predecessor's work on the vestry erected over the chapter-house of the cathedral, as indicated by his coat of arms, carved on the exterior near the top of the west wall. So far as is known the next three bishops had no hand in the constructive work of the cathedral, [Glasgow Cathedral (1901), p. 21. Though no constructive work was entered upon the existing buildings were maintained in good condition, and it is specially stated that Bishop Andrew repaired the north aisle of the nave (Reg. Episc., p. xlviii ; Gemmell, p. 33, and authorities cited). His arms are engraved there and also on the south side of the choir (Glasgow Cathedral (1914), p. 85.] and it is not till the time of Bishop Blacader, who was elected in 1484, that any further development of the building is traced.

Varying accounts of the place and date of Bishop Turn-bull's death are given, but the date 3rd September, 1454, noted in the Glasgow Martyrology, [Reg. Episc. p. 616. s Dowden's Bishops, pp. 324-6.] if not correct, cannot be far wrong. Andrew of Durisdere, as he is designated in contemporary documents, though usually named Andrew Muirhead by later writers, was provided to the church of Glasgow by Pope Calixtus III., on 7th May, 1455, and he was consecrated as bishop either in the end of that year or the beginning of 1456.3 The church of Durisdeer, in Dumfriesshire, was the prebend of the sub-chanter in Glasgow cathedral, a benefice which has not been traced to Bishop Andrew, though he may have held it for some little time as he was a noted pluralist. [At the time of his provision to the bishopric Andrew de Durisdere was dean of Aberdeen, subdean of Glasgow, canon of Lincluden, and vicar of the church of Kilpatrick in the diocese of Glasgow.] If not his settled surname or a designation derived from the prebend, perhaps "Durisdere" was adopted from the place of his birth, and as it is known that he was related to a Muirhead family the name by which he was latterly known may be also accounted for. In the Martyrology, containing note of his death on loth November, 1473, it is stated that " Andrew Mureheid," bishop of Glasgow, was founder of the College of the Vicars of the Choir of Glasgow, and this is corroborated by the following inscription found on a stone which it is surmised had originally been placed in a building occupied by the vicars, adjoining the cathedral

Has pater Andreas antistes condidit edes
Presbiteris choro Glasgu famulantibus almo.

[(These buildings Bishop Andrew put up for the priests who serve the auspicious choir of Glasgow.) In the course of operations, under the Glasgow Improvements Act of 1866, on the west side of Saltmarket Street, the stone was taken from the back wall of a tenement entering by close No. 121. That building was comparatively new, having been erected in the eighteenth century, while the lettering on the stone was ancient. The buildings at the cathedral occupied by the vicars were deserted after the Reformation, and from their ruins the decorative stone may have been picked up and after being used in older buildings was eventually built into the Saltmarket tenement where it was recently found. It is now preserved in the Kelvingrove Art Galleries.]

If Bishop Andrew had really at one time held the position of sub-chanter, his consequent responsibility for the choral services in the cathedral would account for the interest he took in providing accommodation for the vicars, but whether or not his connection with the prebend was of this substantial nature it seems to have been sufficient to secure his patronage. The vicars, whose duty it was to furnish the musical part of church services, had a common residence erected on a piece

of ground situated to the north of the cathedral, between a lane called the Vicars' Alley on the west and the manse of the chanter or precentor on the east. In old records this residence was usually called the " place " and sometimes the " manse " of the vicars. There are also several references to the "hall" of the vicars, on one occasion called the hall of the College of Vicars of the Choir (in aula collegii vicariorum chori). [Diocesan Reg., Protocol No. 194.] It has been conjectured that the place and the hall were separate buildings and that parts of the under walls of the latter are now embraced in the low building which stands against the outside of the north wall of the cathedral, between the two buttresses at the west end of the north aisle of the choir. In its complete condition it is supposed that the hall, which was only a few paces distant from the manses of both chanter and sub-chanter, may have been used by the vicars for their business meetings, for music practisings and for a song school, while an upper storey may have provided a robing room for the vicars and a sleeping place for the sacristan. [Archbishop Eyre in Book of Glasgow Cathedral, pp. 292-302 ; Scottish Historical Review, ii. pp. 110-1. The vicars owned, as their common property, many houses, lands and annualrents throughout the city and its suburbs, the management of which, including collection of revenue, was probably attended to by their procurator or other officer. A new plan seems to have been tried in 1507. On 15th May of that year twelve vicars, being the greater part of their number, assembled in the chapter-house of the cathedral, placed the whole of their common property under the administration of Roland Blacader, subdean, who agreed to pay each of the vicars serving in the choir ten merks yearly out of the annual proceeds, and to apply the remainder to the building and repair of the vicar's houses. If there should in any year be a deficiency of money for the pensions the subdean was to make it up from his own benefice. (Diocesan Reg., Protocol' No. 234.)] Though on these points our information is somewhat indefinite there seems to be little doubt that from one or other of these buildings the inscribed stone must have been removed subsequent to the Reformation.

Bishop Andrew's episcopate is associated with other buildings which have turned out to be of greater durability than those constructed for the vicars. These other erections consisted of a chapel and hospital dedicated to St. Nicholas, together with a separate tenement, three stories in height and containing three chambers in each storey. The whole group was situated a short distance from the bishop's castle or palace, on the west side of the street leading thence to the market cross. Nearest the castle was the tenement, an oblong building, 54 feet in front and 24 feet in width; a few paces to the south was the chapel, and then a little farther on stood the hospital, which bordered on the small streamlet called the Girth Burn. [It was not till the year 1785 that, in connection with street levelling, arrangements were made for filling up the hollow at the burn, at that time the division line between the grounds of St. Nicholas Hospital and those of the Trades' Almshouse (Glasg. Rec. viii. p. 164).] No contemporary information is available regarding the chronological order of erection, but the natural sequence would be first the hospital, next the chapel and then the tenement to be used as dwellings partly for the officials of the hospital and chapel and partly for the accommodation of tenants as a means of raising revenue. [In his System of Heraldry, published in 1722-42, Alexander Nisbet states that about the year 1471, the Bishop " founded near to the precincts of his Episcopal Palace, at Glasgow, an Hospital which he dedicated to the honour of St. Nicholas. The place where the divine service was is of fine aisler work of a Gothic form, and the windows supported by a buttress betwixt each of them ; upon the front, over the door, is the bishop's arms, surmounted of the salmon-fish, and a crosier or pastoral staff behind the shield. Opposite to the Hospital he built and devoted a house or manse for the priest or preceptor, upon which there is still to be seen the Bishop's arms, the crosier behind the shield, with the three acorns on the bend." (Quoted in GemmeIl's Oldest House in Glasgow, p. 33, and notes added.)] The buildings occupied the site of a piece of ground which from its proximity to the castle stables was called Stable Green.

Bishop William Turnbull, with consent of the dean and chapter, had conveyed Stablegreen lands to another William Turnbull, a canon of the cathedral. From this canon the lands had come into the possession of Patrick Colquhoun, designated of Glen or Glyn or Glinnis, in Stirlingshire, some of whose descendants became influential people in the city. These transfers of Stablegreen are narrated in a Commission by Pope Pius II. for confirming the lands to Patrick Colquhoun, and in that deed some interesting topographical particulars are preserved. [Maxwells of Pollok, i. p. 179. The east boundary of Stablegreen was a road in the line of the present High Street and Castle Street, the northmost point being marked by two crosses placed at the common pasture land, apparently Easter Common, and the southmost point touching the tenement or manse of John of Hawyk, vicar of Dunlop, property to the north of Rotten-row, described in a title deed dated 22nd March, 1430-1 (Lib. Coll., etc., p. 246). The north boundary was a common way leading to a place called Otterburne's Cross, perhaps so named from some connection with William Otterburne who was a bailie in 1435. On the west Stablegreen adjoined the yard or manse of Richard Gardner, vicar of Colmanell; and then returning eastward the south boundary was the pool or stank (stagnuna) which lay in the hollow on the north side of Ratounraw, and the small stream called the Girthburne, till the vicar of Dunlop's property was again reached.] Out of the lands there was payable to the bishop ios. Scots, yearly, together with iod. in name of burgh mail!, an exaction the few references to which contained in the Glasgow records are not so explicit as could be desired.

How the southern portion of Stablegreen came into the Hospital's possession has not been ascertained, but the remainder of the ground, on part of which the Glasgow residence of the Colquhoun family was probably erected, seems to have been retained by them till it was transferred to the Earl of Lennox in 1509. [John Colquhoun, son of Patrick, who first acquired Stablegreen, married Katherine Stewart, daughter of Matthew, earl of Lennox, father of the second Earl Matthew to whom the Lennox mansion or its site was conveyed. It was no doubt through the relationship constituted by this matrimonial alliance that members of the Colquhoun family were selected for the provostship, and, presumably, they also acted as depute bailies of the barony. The Colquhouns, as rentallers and proprietors, were extensive owners in the city and barony. George Colquhoun who, through his provostship, gave name to Provosthaugh, now part of Glasgow Green (Glas. Rec. viii. p. 676, No. 1499) had besides these lands Bedlay, Dfolens and Cuninglaw in rental, in 1535, but in consequence of his daughter and heiress, in that year, marrying Robert Boyd, afterwards the fourth Lord Boyd, all these possessions ultimately became vested in the Boyd family. (Chiefs of Colquhoun, ii. p. 260; Dioc. Reg. Rental Book, pp. 79, 107 ; Glasg. Rec. vii. p. 657.)]

The other endowments of St. Nicholas Hospital chiefly consisted of considerable areas of lands scattered over the crofts in and around the city. These lands, so far as not cultivated by the hospital's own dependents, appear to have been treated on the system in operation on the estates of the bishops. Rentallers were put in possession for payment of rents in grain or money, and the leases were renewable by their successors on payment of certain sums on a specified scale. These rents were no doubt originally adequate, but owing to the rise of prices and the depreciation of the currency the annual money payments can now be regarded as little more than nominal. Rental rights were in course of time converted into feu-holdings, and the rents into feuduties. Some of these feuduties are still collected, but others have been redeemed, while not a few are believed to have been lost on account of changes in management and other vicissitudes. [The earliest preserved Rental seems to have been made up in 1625. See Glasg. Chart. ii. pp. 626-30. The long list of lands and annualrents there given looks imposing when placed beside the meagre rental of 1783 (Glasg. Rec. viii. pp. 87, 88). At the later date the number of the beneficiaries was reduced to four.]

According to the best information now available, the hospital was originally intended for the accommodation of twelve poor men, with a priest, who exercised control over the establishment, and was designated preceptor, magister or "maister." If a foundation charter ever existed, though the formality of granting such a writ was perhaps dispensed with, it has not been preserved; but the scope of some of the regulations can be gathered from the terms of an agreement entered into in February, 1583-4, for the "reparatioun of certane wrangeis and contraversys betwixt the maister and stallaris." Sir Bartholomew Simpson, the priest who then held the appointment of master, was one party to this transaction, and the other party was a representative of the "stallaris and possessouris of the stallis and beddis of the said hospital," eleven in number (there appears to have been one vacancy), all of whom are named. Two of these inmates or "stallaris" have the prefix "Sir," denoting the priestly grade, the Reformation being doubtless responsible for their decayed condition. By the first stipulation for the redress of grievances the master became bound to pay the poor men all arrears and regularly settle their monthly allowances in future. As to clothing, each of the men was to get "ane new quhyte claith goune" every third year, four of them to be thus clad the first year, the like number each of the two following years, and so on with renewals by continuous rotation. Bedding with coverlets and blankets, straw or heather, with "bousters," were to be provided for twelve beds; and each of the poor men was to be supplied with "ane pair of doubell solit schone" on the first of January, yearly; "with sax pence to every ane for thair kaill silvir." Beyond this contribution for "kaill," which seems to apply to only one day in the year, there is no reference to food, and therefore it may be assumed that out of his monthly allowance each had to provide his own meals as well as any article of clothing other than the yearly pair of shoes and the triennial gown. Among other comfotts the inmates were to be supplied with coals for the fire and candle at evening "to the prayeris"; and the hospital and houses pertaining thereto were to be slated, repaired, and kept wind and water-tight. On the part of the "tuelf puir men" it was provided that they should reside in the hospital and not sell their "claithis on bed or back," nor remove the bed or bed clothes out of the hospital, and they were to keep their ordinary hours within the house and attend the kirk for prayers and preaching. Infringement of the rules was to be followed by the ejectment of the defaulter and the appointment of another " stallar " in his place. [These regulations were no doubt adapted from those observed under pre-Reformation conditions which were probably sim :la i to the rules appointed for the hospital in Aberdeen, founded by Bishop Gavin Dunbar in 1531. There the number of inmates or bedesmen was twelve, as in Glasgow, and they were housed in separate chambers, each 14 feet by 12 feet, and having a fireplace. The common hall measured 36 feet by 16 feet, and there was a chapel of the like size, with a belfry and bell. The chaplain was a chantry priest in the cathedral. Each bedesman was to receive 10 merks yearly, by quarterly instalments, with an extra merk at Michaelmas to buy a white cloak. Each week one of the bedesmen was appointed janitor, with custody of the keys of the hospital gate and doors, and he had to ring the bell at the appointed hours. Certain times were fixed for rising and retiring to rest, partaking of meals, attendance at prayers in the chapel and mass in the cathedral, and provision was also made for joining in processions and celebration of festivals, and for " pursuing virtuous exercises," either in the cells or in the orchard, labouring among the herbs and fruits (Reg. Episc. Aberdonensis, i. pp. 399-401; Gemmell's Oldest House in Glasgow, pp. 36-40).]

Subsequent references to both hospital and chapel will appear in due course, but here it may be noted that the former is understood to have been deserted as a residence in the latter half of the eighteenth century, and the building having become ruinous the site was sold in 1789. The chapel appears to have stood for about twenty years after that date, but it too became dilapidated, and the combined sites, extending to 1510 square yards, after being in possession of the town council for a short time, was acquired by a purchaser in 1810. [Glasg. Memorials, pp. 255-63] The tenement is now included in the premises called "Provand's Lordship," and has the distinction of being the oldest dwelling-house in the city. [With the view of securing the efficient maintenance of the building it was acquired by a society called the Provand's Lordship Literary Club in 1906. and there has since been formed in it a library and museum of local antiquities, The house is open to the inspection of the public throughout the year, and during the winter season exhibitions are held and lectures given on subjects specially connected with Old Glasgow.]


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