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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XXXIX - Leper Hospital and Chapel and their Endowments—Endowments of other Chaplainries—Grammar Schools


IT is believed that the disease of leprosy prevailed in nearly every district of Europe from the tenth to the sixteenth century, after which latter period it gradually disappeared In his work On Leprosy and Leper Hospitals in Scotland and England. [Archaeological Essays, ii. pp. 1-184.] Sir James Y. Simpson remarks that " laws were enacted by Princes and Courts to arrest its diffusion, the Pope issued. Bulls with regard to the ecclesiastical separation and rights of the affected, a particular order of knighthood was instituted to watch over the sick, and leper hospitals or lazar-houses were everywhere instituted to receive the victims of the disease." [Ibid. p. 3. 3 Antea, p. 128.] As previously mentioned 3 Joceline of Furness, writing in the twelfth century, relates that St. Kentigern cleansed lepers. in the city of Glasgow, and that at his tomb lepers were likewise healed. It may thus be inferred that from the earliest times the bishops exercised due supervision and care over the sufferers in their district, and after the constitution of the burgh such attention was imposed as a legal obligation. By an old burgh law it was provided that those afflicted with leprosy who could sustain themselves should be put into the hospital of the burgh and for those in poverty the burgesses were to gather money for their sustenance and clothing. Another act refers to the collection of alms "for the sustenance of lepers in a proper place outwith the burgh," it having been provided that lepers were not entitled to go from door to door but might " sit at the toune end " and ask alms from those entering or leaving the burgh. [Ancient Laws and Customs, i. pp. 28, 72.] In the reign of King James I. parliament ordained that lepers, though permitted to enter burghs on certain occasions, should not be allowed to ask alms except "at their awin hospitale and at the porte of the toune and uther places outewith the borowis." [Ibid. ii. p. 14.] From these references in the old laws it would appear that hospitals for the reception of lepers were usual adjuncts of royal burghs.

There is little doubt that, either in conformity with their traditional observances or in compliance with the statutory enactments above alluded to, the Bishops of Glasgow provided accommodation for the lepers of their burgh. Gorbals, on the south side of the river Clyde, formed part of the Govan lands and its position outside the town's gates complied with the necessary requirements of a site. A bridge over the Clyde existed before the end of the thirteenth century, and it is possible that St. Ninian's hospital, placed only a few yards beyond its south end, would then be in use. [The tradition current in M'Ure's time and narrated in his History of Glasgow (1830 Edition, p. 52), to the effect that Lady Lochow founded and endowed the hospital, receives no support from extant records and some of its historical inaccuracies are apparent. That this lady acquired the lands on which Bridgegate is situated and also St. Ninian's Croft adjoining the hospital is a purely imaginative story, based perhaps on knowledge that the hospital drew revenues from Bridgegate properties and that the name of the croft was the same as that of the hospital. But there is nothing to indicate Lady Lochow's connection with either of these sites, any revenues from Bridge-gate properties, traced to their source, having been derived from other donors, and St. Ninian's Croft having remained with the owners of the barony till near the end of the eighteenth century. If she was really one of the hospital's benefactors, her gifts must have been bestowed, not in 1350, the date given by M'Ure, but in her own time, about a century later, and whatever she gave is now beyond identity.]

A papal bull, issued by Alexander III. in the latter half of the twelfth century, appointed every leper-house to be provided with its own churchyard, chapel and ecclesiastics. [Simpson's Archaeological Essays, ii. pp. 3, 22.] A cemetery adjoined the Gorbals hospital and there was a vacant space in front towards the river. Hospital and grounds were thus close by and on the east side of the thoroughfare which then led southwards in the line of the modern Main Street.

A chapel in connection with the hospital, but situated about a hundred yards farther south, where the thoroughfare just mentioned joined Rutherglen Lone, was built by William Steward, a canon of the cathedral, a few years previous to 1494, in which year he endowed a chaplainry with a tenement on the south side of Bridgegate and various annualrents payable from properties in the city; but whether this was the first chapel of the hospital or one to replace an older building has not been ascertained. Canon Steward was prebendary of Killearn and rector of Glassford, and by his charter of endowment, dated 31st May, 1494, he provided that on the anniversary of his death twenty-four poor scholars were to assemble in the chapel and celebrate certain services for which one penny was to be paid to each, and twelve pennies were to be given to the lepers. The inmates of the hospital were to ring the chapel bell for the Salve Regina every night and to pray in the chapel for their benefactors. As the foundation charter is not extant the terms of the chaplain's appointment are not known, but in 1494 the chaplain was master of the Grammar School, and by the endowment charter it was provided that he should, after the founder's death, commend him every night to all the scholars before they departed, causing them to pray devoutly for his soul and the souls of all the faithful dead. From the terms of this provision as well as of that about the twenty-four poor scholars, it seems to have been intended that the chaplainry should belong to the master of the Grammar School for the time, ex officio. [Reg. Episc. No. 469. Father Innes states that to this charter were appended the seals of (i) the archbishop, (2) the chapter, (3) Martin Wan, chancellor, and (4) William Steward, the granter. Both hospital and chapel were dedicated to St. Ninian, who was the favourite patron saint of such institutions. See Dr. George Neilson's remarks on this subject in the Scottish Antiquary, vol. xiii. pp. 53, 54.]

Endowments of the hospital itself are traced to a slightly earlier date than those of the chapel. On 30th June, 1485, all the men and women lepers dwelling in the hospital appointed John Elphynston, burgess and citizen of Glasgow, their procurator, with authority to receive sasine of an annualrent of 2os. payable furth of a tenement of George Huchonson, situated on the west side of the High Street and adjoining a tenement of the master of the Grammar School on the north. This annualrent had been given, in pure alms, by Thomas Huchonson, burgess and citizen of Glasgow, son and heir of George Huchonson, with consent of his father, for the poor and leprous persons, male as well as female, dwelling in the hospital, they making earnest supplications in their daily prayers for the souls of the donor and his relatives. A gift of 12d, yearly, for similar purposes was made by Robert Adamson, burgess, on 16th August, 1491, and in the document constituting the gift an interesting reference is made to the Chapel of St. Ninian as then "newly built," thus confirming the statement in the charter of 1494 just referred to. [Glasg. Chart. ii. pp. 465-73; Glasg. Prot. No. 1876. Out of an annual rent of 8s. payable from a rig of land in St. Tenew's Croft, Michael Flemyng, a canon of Glasgow and prebendary of Ancrum, assigned 5s. yearly, to the poor lepers in the hospital of St. Ninian beyond the bridge (Dioc. Reg. Prot. No. 152).]

As the hospital was situated close to the city's southern thoroughfare the inmates were accustomed to receive casual donations from passers-by, while others who used the roads and bridge with greater regularity gave permanent endowments. The monks of Paisley contributed six bolls of meal yearly and the lairds of Mearns two bolls. Other two bolls of meal were yearly delivered by the bishops of Glasgow, and various benefactors in the city gave annualrents from their properties. [See Rentals in Glasg. Rec. ii. p. 293; Glasg. Chart. ii. pp. 625-6.] One of the notable donations of a casual nature was made in September 1497, on the occasion of King James IV. passing from Kilmarnock to Glasgow, there being then two shillings given " to the seke folk at the brig of Glasgo, be the Kingis command. [Lord High Treasurer's Accounts, i. pp. 356-7.] Before leaving for Stirling on 14th September, the King gave £3 "to say thre trentalis of messis in Glasgo" and 3s. "to the pur folk in Glasgo." Journeying in the opposite direction from Stirling to Ayr, the king had on 21st February, 1497-8, given 2s. at the town end of Stirling "to the seke folk in the grantgore" and on the following day he gave the like sum "to the seke folk in the grantgore, at the toune end of Glasgo," 14s. to the Blackfriars and £3 to the priests in Glasgow. [Ibid. p. 378. The " toune end " here referred to seems to be the north entrance to the city though the hospital which at one time stood there is not known to have been erected till a few years later.

Sir James Y. Simpson's "Antiquarian Notices of Syphilis in Scotland "contained in his Archaeological Essays, ii. pp. 301-44, may be referred to for particulars regarding the "grantgore" malady and its first appearance in Glasgow and other towns in 1497. In 1600 Glasgow kirk session requested the magistrates "to consult the chirurgeons how the infectious distemper of glengore could be removed from the city" (lb. pp. 316, 322). On 3rd May, 1600, the town council resolved to take " tryall of the inhabitantis anent the greit suspicioune of sindry persones infectit with the glengoir, quhilk, gif it be nocht preventit, will endanger the haill towne." All the " chyrurgianes " were warned to attend a meeting to advise on the subject (Glas. Rec. i. p. 206) and on 6th August, seemingly as a result of the conference, money was given "to a man for bigging a lodge, without the Stablegreen port, to the women that hath the glengorr" (Collections on the Life of Mr. David Weems—Maitland Club—p. 42).]

The consent of Martin Wan, the cathedral chancellor, to the charter of 1494, as indicated by the appending of his seal, was probably given for such right as he had to the oversight and government of the Grammar School, the master of which was then the chaplain of the Leper Hospital. Within four months after the date of the charter the chancellor lodged with the archbishop a complaint that David Dune, a priest and master of arts, residing in the city, had set himself to the teaching and instructing of scholars in grammar and of youths in the elements of learning, within the city and university of Glasgow, of himself and independently, openly and publicly, "without any licence from the chancellor, nay, in his despite and against his will, was publicly engaged in it." Sitting in judgment, in the chapter house of the metropolitan church, on 13th September, 1494, the archbishop, with advice of his chapter and of the rector and clerks of the university, decided that Dune ought not to keep a grammar school, or teach and instruct scholars in grammar or youths in boyish studies, without the special licence of the chancellor. [It was only two years after this time that the well known Scots act of 1496 was passed, whereby barons and freeholders were required to put their eldest sons and heirs, from eight or nine years, to the schools, and keep them at the Grammar Schools till they were competently founded in "perfyte Latyne." Thereafter the pupils were to remain three years at the schoolsof art and "jure," one of the chief objects aimed at, in those days of heritable jurisdictions, being to ensure that on succeeding to their estates the rising generations of barons and freeholders would have "knawlege and understanding of the lawis, throw the quhilkis justice may reign universalie throw all the realme, sua that thai that ar shereffis or jugeis ordinaris may have knalege to do justice." (A.P.S. ii. p. 238, 1496, c.3.)] In these proceedings the chancellor had pleaded that according to the statutes and usage of the church of Glasgow, and privileges of the dean and chapter, confirmed by apostolic authority, he and his predecessors had been in the peaceable possession of the appointing and removing of the master of the grammar school, without interruption and beyond the memory of man. [Glasg. Chart. i. pt ii. pp. 89-92.] But in this claim the town council, if they had been consulted, would probably not have concurred without some qualification, as was shown by the position they took up, fourteen years later, when Martin Rede, by virtue of his office of chancellorship then held by him, appointed John Rede master of the "grammar schools" of the city. On that occasion the provost and other burgesses appeared and asserted that the provost, bailies and community of Glasgow had the right of admitting the masters of the school, and both parties referred to the deed of foundation by Simon Dalgleish in 1460. [Antea, p. 223. Diocesan Reg. Protocol, No. 342, dated 19th June, 1508.] Both parties seem to have acquiesced in the appointment made at that time and it is not known that any similar question was again raised between them. So far as extant records show the town council continued to act as patrons of the Grammar School till its management was taken over by the board elected under the Education Act of 1872.

Two years after his endowment of the Leper Hospital, William Stewart, canon, prebendary and rector, founded a perpetual chaplainry in the church of the Preaching Friars and endowed it with annual rents amounting to fifty shillings yearly, besides undertaking to erect, at his own charges, houses for the use of the Friars between the church and their dormitory. The new buildings were to consist of six vaults beneath, above these were to be two halls, two kitchens and four chambers, and in the upper part houses well roofed with tiles or slates. The walls of the building were to correspond in height with the walls of the church and to have on the outside well hewn stones. The rector of the university and the regents of the college of arts, with the provost and bailies of the city, were constituted conservators of the chaplainry and they were enjoined to watch over it and to give heed that it did not decay through neglect of the Friars. [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 72-79. This foundation was approved of at a Provincial Chapter of the Friars, held at Edinburgh on 15th June, and the common seal of the city of Glasgow was appended to the duplicate of the document remaining with the Friars, on 6th July, 1487.]

Some additional chaplainries which were about this time founded in the cathedral may here be briefly noticed. On 1st April, 1486, James Lindesay, dean of the cathedral chapter, founded a chaplainry at the altar of Saints Stephen and Laurence, the martyrs, in the church of Glasgow and behind the High Altar, and endowed it with the lands of Scrogys, in the barony of Stobo, Peeblesshire ; ten merks furth of the lands of Sanct Gelisgrange, Edinburgh ; and 6s. 8d. payable furth of a tenement in the High Street of Glasgow, belonging to Gerard de Brabancia, physician (medico). After the founder's death the chapter were to have the patronage. The dean also founded an obit for his anniversary, assigning 4os. to the canons and vicars, out of which the vicars of the choir were to receive £1 6s. 8d. The minor sacristan was to get 2s., the keeper of the church, 3s. for two new wax lights and 12d. for his own services, the curate 18d., the keeper of St. Kentigern's bell 6d. and forty poor persons 8d. each. [Reg. Episc. No. 441.]

Thomas Forsyth, prebendary of Glasgow Prieto, founded a new perpetual chaplainry on the north side of the nave, at the altar of Corpus Christi, then built by him with stones, at the fourth pillar from the Rood loft. The endowments included four merks payable from part of the Tolbooth, opposite the market cross, and extending on the west to the chapel of the Virgin Mary; 40d. of annualrent furth of the yard behind the chapel on the north; and 8s. furth of a tenement in Walkergait which belonged to the late John Steuart, provost. Among the other places mentioned are Lady's Yarde on the north side and Eglasamis Croft on the south side of Gallowgait, the hill of Kyncleth on the east side of Suzannys Ryge, a tenement at Barresyet, belonging to Robert Steward, provost, and lands on the west side of High Street belonging to the abbey of Paisley. [Ibid. No. 446.]

Archibald Quhitelaw who acted as secretary of James III. and James IV. from 1463 to 1493, is found in office as archdeacon of Lothian from 1470 to 1494 and as subdean of Glasgow from 1488 to 1494, and his obit is entered in Glasgow "Martyrology" [Reg. Episc. No. 545.] as 1498. By a charter dated 31st May, 1494, in which he is designated subdean of Glasgow and archdeacon of St. Andrews, within the parts of Lothian, Quhitelaw founded a new chaplainry at the altar of St. John the Baptist on the south side of the nave of the cathedral, at the first pillar from the Rood loft. The endowments consisted of tenements at the "quadrivium" and in Drygate, two acres of land in Denesyde, three roods of land in Provansyde, and several annualrents, including one of 8s. payable from what are described as the lands and yard of Malcolm Renald, [Several properties at George Street, Deanside Lane and Portland Street are still described in title deeds as part of Rannald or Douglas Yard.] lying on the Denesyde, near the monastery of the Friars Minors, between the lands commonly called Ramyshorne on the west and the lands of the late Alan Dunlop on the east. After the founder's death the patronage of the chaplainry was to belong to the chapter and instructions were given to ensure the reputable conduct of the chaplain. [Reg. Episc. No. 468 ; Book of Glasgow Cathedral, Pp. 309-10.]


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