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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XXXV - Friars Preachers of Glasgow and their Endowments


SOME of the early donations to the convent of Friars Preachers. in Glasgow have already been referred to, [Antea, pp. 159-60.] and as bearing the burden of voluntary poverty had ceased to be a binding vow upon the Order, these were followed by a long series of endowments which must have sufficiently provided for ordinary wants. [Many of these grants are specified in Munimenta Fratrum Predicatorum, issued by the Maitland Club in 1846. In that work the word "chetis," which strangely enough puzzled the editor, and is commented on at p. xlvi. is obviously a misprint for "thecis," the letters "t" and "c" in old writing being often indistinguishable. Thus in the earl of Argyle's grant, in 1481 (p. 192), instructions were given to pay twenty shillings yearly, "de thecis nostris"—from our coffers.] Of several grants of revenues and lands from country districts, the gift of Balagan in the parish of Strathblane, Stirlingshire, by Isabel, duchess of Albany and countess of Lennox, was perhaps the most notable. [Ibid. (Lib. Coll., etc.), pp. 171-2.] The charter is dated from Inchmyrryne, in Loch Lomond, on 18th May, 1451, twenty-six years after the tragic deaths of her father, her husband and her two sons, for whose repose the lands were mortified.

From about the year 1430 the grants of lands and other extant muniments enable us to trace the succession of the Priors, though not in a complete line. On 19th September, 1430, the Prior of Blantyre bought and transferred to the Friars a tenement lying on the west side of the High Street, symbolic possession being given by John Wyschart, bailie of Glasgow, to James Boyd, prior, in name of the convent.

[Lib. Coll., &c. pp. 164-5. The Friars thereby became liable for the yearly "ferm" owing to the bishop and the other accustomed duties; and from this condition and similar stipulations occurring in other title deeds it seems likely that the bishops collected from city tenements dues similar to the burgh maills levied in most royal burghs.

The following is a list of the Priors and their periods of rule so far as ascertained :—James Boyd, 1430; Friar Oswald, 1434 ; John of Govan, 1447-56; John Mure, 1468; William Knokis, 1471; Patrick of Govane, 1471-6; John Smyth, 1478; Andrew Cunyngham, 1481; David Crag, 1484-7; Thomas Symson, 1497-1514; John Spense, 1517-8; Robert Lyle, 1519-22; Alexander Barclay, 1529-30; George Crechtoune, 1532; Robert Lyle (second rule), 1542; John Huntar, 1553-8; Andrew Leich, 1560. In 1470 Prior John Mure was, by the provincial council of England, appointed Vicar General of the order of Saint Dominic in Scotland; and this kingdom itself having been erected into a province before the year 1487, he became its first Prior Provincial (Ibid., pp. xlvii-lxv).]

Four years later Brother Oswald was Prior, as is shown by an Indenture between him and the convent, on the one part, and John Flemyng of the Cowglen, on the other part, dated 22nd January, 1433-4. By this document, which is written in the vernacular, Flemyng conveyed to the Friars a rood of land on the south side of their place and east side of the High Street, for which they were to pay ten shillings Scots yearly, and to provide "stabylling for twa hors in that samyn place, or ellis within the Freris, tyll the said John Flemyn, quhen hym lykis tyli cum tyll do hys erandis or mak residens within the town." If he chose to come and dwell in Glasgow the Friars undertook to build for him "an honest hall, chamir and butler, with a yard for to set cale in"; and so long as he should possess these conveniences the money payment was to cease. [Ibid. pp. 166-7. An indenture was written, in duplicate, from a blank space in the middle towards each end of the used parchment or paper which was then divided, along a wavy or indented line in the blank space, and the appropriate section was retained by each party. In the present case the common seal of the Friars was set to the part of the indenture remaining with John Flemyng, and his seal was set to the part remaining with the convent.] Cowglen is situated in the parish of Eastwood in Renfrewshire, and the laird in this way secured a town residence. Perhaps resort to similar practices was not uncommon at that time, for it is known that in the following century many country people possessed houses in the city. Of the early fifteenth century houses in Glasgow we have scarcely any definite knowledge, and it is interesting to learn that a town house of three apartments was considered sufficient for the requirements of a country laird. [One of the few early references to buildings in Glasgow occurs in a title deed dated 11th February, 1435-6. There it is narrated that a burgess sold to Robert de Moffat, treasurer of the church of Glasgow, (i) the half of three booths and two lofts lying at the south end and on the east side of the great street leading from the cathedral to the market cross, between the land of John of Dun on the north and the "Conyhe" to the common street on the south, of which booths and lofts John Dun held one half; and (2) an annual-rent of one merk payable furth of a tenement, newly built and covered with "sklate," lying on the north side of Gallowgate, between the tenement of William Raite, burgess, on the east, and John of Dun's land on the west. It thus appears that in the reign of James I. the buildings at the corner of High Street and Gallowgate, fronting the market cross, consisted of merchants' booths on the ground floor, having storage lofts above, and that an adjoining tenement, newly erected, was roofed with slate. Lib. Coll., etc., p. 250.]

On 19th April, 1456, Duncan Flemyng, then laird of Cow-glen, resigned to David of Cadioche, precentor of Glasgow, all claim which he had to a tenement on the east side of the High Street, described as lying between the land of the late Katherine de Ennerphefvr on the north, and the land of William of Robertson's heirs on the south. [Reg. Episc. No. 380. The witnesses were John Steuart, provost of Glasgow; William of Otterburne, and John Rede, bailies; John Schaw, Andrew Brady, John of Hall, John M'Mulan and John Rankyne, burgesses; Sir John of Restown, vicar of Kilbryde and notary, Sir Nicholas of Hall, chaplain, ministering in the choir of Glasgow, and Robert Hyne.] The relative positions of the rood of land and the tenement are not specified, but it rather looks as if the whole of Flemyng's High Street property had not been transferred to the Friars in 1434.

Friendly relationship and the desire for neighbourly accommodation always existed between the College authorities and the Friars, and it was only befitting that mutual benefits should be conferred as opportunity occurred. As an illustration of such intercourse reference may be made to an endowment bestowed shortly after the university was established. David de Cadzow or Cadioch, first rector of the university, having used the chapter-house of the Friars for the reading of some of his lectures on canon law, besides receiving other favours at their hands, was desirous of making some suitable return, and being possessed of a large number of annualrents, he, in May 1454, transferred to the Friars twenty-eight of these, amounting to twelve merks yearly. In his deed of gift and foundation the rector avowed the regard entertained by him for the Friars, expressing his desire for the more efficient celebration of divine service, and he directed that the annual revenue should be applied towards the maintenance of the Friars and the repair of their church and place, due provision being made for a daily mass at the altar of the Virgin Mary. On the anniversary of the donor's death (which it may be noted occurred on 19th August, 1467) there were to be various religious observances, and the handbell of St. Kentigern, or another if it could not be got, was to be tolled through the town. The document bearing record of the prior and convent's undertaking to fulfil their part of the arrangement is authenticated with their own seal and also the seal of David Raite, vicar-general of the Order of Friars Preachers in Scotland, and these two seals are still preserved in good condition. The common seal of the burgh of Glasgow which had likewise been appended is now missing. [Reg. Episc. pp. 173-6; Glasg. Chart., ii. pp. 441-4. The seal of the Friars is thus described :—Within a canopied niche a representation of the coronation of the Virgin. The Father seated on the sinister with arched crown and nimbus, his right hand holding up the chrism, the Virgin seated on the dexter with open crown and nimbus. Above is what is supposed to be the dove. Legend S • CMME • FRATRV • PREDICATORV • GLASG.---Common seal of the Friars Preachers of Glasgow. There are some grounds for identifying David Raite as the author of Ratis Raving and other poetical pieces preserved in MS. in the University Library, Cambridge. See articles by Dr. J. T. T. Brown in the Scottish Antiquary, xi. pp. 145-55 ; xii. pp. 5-12.]

By an indenture dated 18th December, 1454 John Stewart, who is there designated "the first provest that was in the cite of Glasgw," gave to the prior and convent a tenement lying in "Walcargat," as Saltmarket Street was then called, a rig of land lying in the "Palyhard Croft," [This croft is now usually called PaIlioun Croft in title deeds. It lies on the north side of Argyle Street, between Queen Street and Mitchell Lane. The lands of Meadowflat formed the northern boundary, and on the west was Glasgow (now called St. Enoch's) burn. The ground was low lying, and during spates must occasionally have been flooded. From a pool in the burn's course, or a pool in the adjoining land, occasional or permanent, the descriptive designation pol-yard, varying into pal-yard, may have been derived. See other conjectures on the origin of the name in Regality Club, 3rd series, p. 115.] and certain annual-rents. In consideration of this gift the Friars were to perform certain masses at St. Katherine's altar in their kirk "for the said Johne Stewartis saule, hys eldyris saulis, and all Chrystyn saulis," and the De profundis was to be said in presence of the people. On the day of the provost's decease St. Mungow's bell was to be rung through the town, and each friar who said a mass for his soul was to receive "sex pennyes and a galown of the best sale ale of the town" to his collation. The prior and convent agreed that Stewart and his wife and heirs should have their " bodyis and banys sepulturyt at the north end of the said altar of Sant Katryne." [Lib. Coll. etc., p. 16; Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. p. 43.] Provost Stewart died before 25th June, 1485, leaving as his heiress a daughter, Jonet Stewart, wife of Robyn Hall of Fulbar. These spouses, on the date just mentioned, made an indenture with the prior and convent similar to that which the provost had entered into. The same allowance of ale was to be provided, and it was specially added that there should be "brede and chese to the collacioune." [Lib. Coll. etc., pp. 195-8.]

John Stewart, who is referred to as the first provost of Glasgow, is found in office on loth May, 1454, and was probably appointed at the usual period of election in October preceding. In a charter dated 1st December, 1453, whereby Bishop Turnbull conferred various privileges on the university, the provost is referred to, but no earlier notice of his holding office has been discovered. It has been conjectured that the appointment of a provost in Glasgow was an outcome of the charter of 1450, whereby the bishop's city and lands were declared to be held in free regality. In that charter there is nothing said on the subject, but in a confirming charter, granted by King James III., on 15th July, 1476, it was specially provided that the bishops should have power to appoint a provost, bailies, sergeants and other officers, for the rule and government of the city. If, therefore, the first appointment of a provost was made by the bishop in his capacity of lord of regality he must have acted under the implied authority contained in the grant of 1450.

Provost Stewart is understood to have belonged to a family who had a long and influential connection with the city. In the year 1429 Sir William Stewart of Dalswinton and Garlies obtained the estate of Minto, in Teviotdale, and bestowed it upon his third son, Sir Thomas Stewart of Minto, ancestor of the Lords Blantyre. John Stewart, the provost, was the younger brother of Sir William. By the marriage of Sir Thomas with Isabel, eldest daughter and co-heir of Walter Stewart of Arthurly, of the Castlemilk family, he acquired extensive estates in the counties of Lanark and Renfrew, and thus was commenced the family connection with Glasgow and its neighbourhood. Sir Thomas was himself provost in 1480-1, and his descendants frequently filled that office.

With the University in active operation and the neighbouring Friars prosperous there seems to have arisen a demand for building accommodation in that vicinity, and as the Friars had some ground to spare they, as set forth in an Indenture dated 12th June, 1467, agreed to feu certain roods of land lying to the south of their cemetery, for payment of such annual sums as might be adjusted by the provost, bailies and community and the prior and his council, and to this arrangement the bishop, as represented by his chancellor, gave his express consent. In the following April the provost, bailies and community, with consent of the prior and convent and also, of the bishop, feued to Thomas Kerd, burgess, and his spouse, two roods of land described as lying on the east side of the High Street, upon the Friars' fore and west walls, between the lands of John Rankin, smith, on the south, and unbuilt lands on the north; for payment of ten shillings Scots money, yearly, to the prior and brethren and of the accustomed burgh ferms owing to the bishop. The successors of the original feuars were to pay 13s. 4d. yearly, and the two roods were not to be sold for a higher rate without the consent of the community and the friars. On 27th July, 1468, other two roods of ground, described as lying in the vennel called Freir Wynd, in the yard of the Friars, and adjoining a stone wall, were sold to William Jaksoune, burgess, and his wife, for payment of a yearly feuduty of 6s. 8d. On 24th March, 1470-1, Thomas, Kerd acquired additional ground which was described as lying near the cemetery, extending from his house at the entrance to the cloister, between seven aspen trees, on the north, and the enclosure at John Rankyn's building on the south. Other sales are recorded, including one of unbuilt lands conveyed, in 1478, to Robert Forester, who bound himself to construct, under his building, a gate and passage to the Friars' church, with a niche or window above the entrance for the reception of an image of the Blessed Virgin.

Not long after the introduction of a national literature, as exemplified in the writings of Barbour and Wyntoun, with whose historical works it may be assumed that most intelligent clerics, including those professionally employed in the preparation of legal decuments, would be to some extent acquainted, occasional specimens of title deeds written in the vernacular begin to make their appearance. The earliest extant document of that description relating to property in Glasgow is of some intrinsic interest, as it specifies the conditions under which a piece of ground was disposed of for building purposes. As printed for the Maitland Club,

[Appendix to Lib. Coll. etc., p. 249. The deed is inscribed " vj schillingis viii penyis out of Thorne of Welkis land in the Densyd " and is in the following terms : " Be it mad kennyt tyil al men be thir present lettres me Johne Stewart, sudan of Glasgu, with the consent and the assent of a reverent fadyr in Crist, Wilyame throu the grace of Gode byschop of Glasgu, and the chapiter thairto callit till hat gyffyn and grantit and in fe heritably latyn ane akyr of land of my land callit the Densyde lyand in lynth and brede on the north syde of the comown strete callit the Ratownrawe next a west half the tenement of Thom Curouris wyth al fredomys and esementis that to the said akyr pertenys or may perten in tym to cum, til Thome of Welk, burges of the said burgh of Glasgu, his airis and assignez of me, my successouris, sodenes of Glasgu for the tyme beand : Gyfiand to me and my successouris, sodenes of Glasgu for the tyme beand, at two usuall termys, Quhitsonday and Martynmes, yherly, sex syllingis and acht penys [of usuale move] of Scotland, the said Thom of Welk, his airis and assignez, anerly, for ony demandis, exaccioun ... said Thome of Welk beand oblist to byg a sufficiand tenement on the said akyr of land within a yher folowand the date of thir letrez, and alsua to mac the half of the calse before the forfront of the said akyr als far as to thaim pertenys and til uphald. And I the said Jon Steuart and my successouris sudenez of Glasgu sal warande the said akyr of land to the said Thorne of Welk, his airis and assignez aganys al men and women and perpetualy sal defend. In the witnes of the qwhilk thyng the sele of the said reverent fadyr byschop of Glasgu and the sel of the chapiter togedyr with my sele ar put to thir present letrez, the xx day of the monethe of Octobyr, the yher of our Lord m. cccc. xxxiiij. Witnes, atour bodely takyn, Schir Jon of Dalgles, Schir Jon of Neuton, Schir Richard of Are, vicaris in the quere of Glasgu, and Schir water Ra, notar, persoun of the Garvald, with mony othyr witnes takyn and to callit, etc." (Probable date, 10th October, 1424.)

Glossary:—acht, eight; anerly, only; atour, besides; atour bodely takyn, besides the writing's own evidence; beand, being; brede, breadth; byg, build; calse, causeway; fadyr, father; kennit, known; latyn, let or set; mac, make; mad, made; persoun, parson; quere, choir; sodene, sudan, subdean; takyn, token, taken; thir, these; tyil, to.]

the deed is dated 10th October, 1434, but as it was granted by John Stewart, subdean, during the bishopric of William Lauder, it must really have been written before 1426. It is likely that "xxxiiij " is a misreading for "xxiiij," thus making the true date loth October, 1424. If, as is usually understood, the whole of the subdean's lands of Deanside were situated on the south side of Rottenrow, there is a further misprint of "north" for "south." Effect being given to these corrections it appears that in 1424 an acre of land fronting Rottenrow, and worth 6s. 8d. yearly, was sold to a burgess for the erection thereon of a sufficient tenement within a year, and it was stipulated that half of the causeway in front was to be formed and maintained by him. Such conditions are usual in the laying out of building ground at the present day, and it is to be assumed that the subdean or his feuars, as owners of land on the north side of Rottenrow, would be responsible for the other half of the causeway. As indicating the state of possession of ground in this quarter, it is noticed that, in the year 1425, the owner of a tenement on the north side of Rottenrow who had fallen into arrear with his annual payments, resigned his property to the subdean, under reservation to himself and spouse of the inner garden, bushes and pertinents, during their lifetime. [Lib. Coll. etc., p. 243.]

From the many transfers and other deeds relating to Glasgow properties, the particulars of which are accessible in printed volumes, it may be gathered that besides the canons occupying their manses and the vicars of the choir lodged in their common building, the other vicars and clergy dwelling in the city had their residences mainly in Rottenrow, Drygate and other places in the vicinity of the cathedral. [A few of these maybe mentioned. On 16th November, 1410, it was agreed between Sir Thomas Merschell, perpetual vicar of Kilbirnie, and John Leiche, burgess, that the vicar should have part of a tenement lying opposite the gate of the subdean, between the Gyrthburne and the street called Dreggate. On 14th June of the same year a burgess sold to John of Dalgles, a vicar serving in the choir, a tenement and ground containing presumably four particates (misprinted " carucatas ") or roods, on the south side of " Ratounraw," between the land of Jonet Pyd on the east and the subdean's lands of Deanside on the west. On 9th February, 1417-8, it was agreed between Sir John of Dalgles and Sir Roger Schort, priests, and John Broun, cleric, that Sir Roger should have a manse in the street of Ratounraw, between the land of Sir John on the east and a yard of Sir Roger in Deanside on the west. On the death of Sir John Schort, his uncle, Broun was to have a chamber in the yard, and on the death of Sir Roger he was to inherit the manse. On 22nd March, 1430-1, Sir John of Hawyk, priest, perpetual vicar of the church of Dunlop, gave to John Yonge, his nephew or grandson (nepoti), his tenement lying near the Stablegreen, on the west side of the street, between that green on the north and the tenement of Sir Thomas MerschelI, priest, vicar of Kilbirnie, on the south, in which tenement Sir Thomas then dwelt. On 6th October, 1524, Mr. James Houstone, subdean, resigned several annual rents in favour of the vicars of the choir, and in return was vested in the tenement and place called the Aulde Pedagog, on the south side of Ratounraw. (Lib. Coll. etc., pp. 237-8, 246, 260.)]

The originals of most of these printed documents came into the possession of the University at the time of the Reformation, in connection with the transfer of church property to that body, but several are preserved in the city's archives. Of the latter collection the earliest in date is a notarial instrument which may be described as illustrative of its class. William Wischart, vicar of the church of Govan, was proprietor of a tenement and two roods of land, with an adjoining yard, lying on the north side of Ratounraw and east side of a tenement belonging to Sir James Cameron, another priest. By the old burgh laws an heir in heritage could not dispose of it without consent of the next heir, and Wischart had apparently acquired his property by inheritance, as his brother and heir formally consented to its sale. It is narrated in the notarial instrument that, on 13th April, 1434, in presence of a notary public and witnesses, Wyschart, with consent of his brother, sold the tenement to Mr. Patrick Leche, vicar of the church of Dundonald, at the price of 20 merks Scots, and the seller caused John Wischart, a bailie of the city, to give the purchaser sasine or possession of the property. These proceedings, part of which had taken place in the cathedral, having been completed, John of Hawyk, priest and notary, set down the particulars in the notarial instrument, which he authenticated with his signature and sign, and to which, for greater security, the seal of the official of Glasgow was appended." [Glas. Chart. ii. pp. 437-9.]


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