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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XLIV - Archbishops Beaton and Dunbar—Custody of the King—Merchants and Foreign Trade—Clyde Shipping—Spread of "Heresies "—John Major, Theologian and Historian—Prebend of Barlanark or Provan—King's Visits to Glasgow—Court of Session


DURING the time Albany remained in France, from 1516 to 1521, Archbishop Beaton was one of the viceregents of the kingdom, but between two of his colleagues, the earls of Angus and Arran, there was a continuous feud, in which the archbishop usually sided with the latter. One of the contentions between the two earls culminated in the famous encounter in the streets of Edinburgh, known as "Cleanse the Causeway," that scuffle being preceded by the dramatic interview between Bishop Gavin of Dunkeld and Archbishop Beaton, when the latter's armour-clad conscience "clattered." This was in April, 1520. The duke's resumption of personal government, from November, 1521, till October in the following year, effected a diversion in factional rivalry. Angus fled to England, and those in this country who favoured France gained the ascendancy. Harassing incursions into the Border country were made by the English during Albany's second absence, which lasted eleven months. Even with the aid of French auxiliaries, brought with him on his return, the Lord Governor was not very successful in repelling the enemy, while attempted negotiations were likewise unsatisfactory. On 20th May, I524, Albany finally left the country, and for a short time thereafter the charge of national affairs mainly devolved on Archbishop Beaton.

By this time Beaton had left Glasgow, and was Archbishop of St. Andrews and chancellor of the kingdom. Though he had been translated to his new see on loth October, 1522, the archbishopric of Glasgow remained vacant till 8th July, 1524, when Gavin Dunbar, son of Sir John Dunbar of Mochrum, and nephew of Gavin Dunbar, bishop of Aberdeen, was installed by Pope Clement VII. In the end of the previous year Archbishop Beaton had been writing to Rome, in evident dread that in the appointment of the future archbishop the Pope might exempt him from the primatial and legatine jurisdiction of the see of St. Andrews. His fears were justified, for on the day of Dunbar's provision to the archbishopric the Pope granted to him and his suffragans as full an exemption from the jurisdiction of St. Andrews as had been enjoyed by his twa predecessors. [Dowden's Bishops, pp. 344-5. It is believed that, notwithstanding the delay in completing the appointment, Gavin Dunbar had, through Albany's influence, been elected archbishop in 1523 (Ibid. p. 344). It appears that after this the king, through pressure from Beaton, represented to the Pope that the bull of 8th July, 1524, was to the primate's prejudice and great loss, and Clement had thereupon ordained that Dunbar's privileges and exemptions should not extend to the rights of the archbishop of St. Andrews so far as they arose from his being primate and legate. But on the Pope, at a later date, being made better acquainted with the circumstances he, on 21st September, 1531, restored to Dunbar all the immunities enjoyed by his predecessors Blacader and Beaton (Reg. Episc. No. 499). A few months before this time (7th February, 1530-1) Henry Wemyss, "bishop of Candida Casa and of the Chapel Royal of Stirling," offered obedience and reverence to Archbishop Dunbar as became the duty of a suffragan to his metropolitan (Ibid. No. 498).] On 27th September, 1524, Archbishop Dunbar obtained from the King a Precept admitting him to the temporalities of the see. [Reg. Sec. Sig. i. No. 3298.]

Early in 1525 an agreement was come to between the Queen and the nobility by which the government of the country was ,entrusted to a secret council consisting of the archbishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow, the Bishops of Aberdeen and Dunblane, and the lords Angus, Arran, Argyle and Lennox. The Queen was to be perpetual president and to have a casting vote. The custody of the King was to be given to the peers in rotation, and at the outset of this arrangement he was to remain with the archbishop of Glasgow and Angus until November. In 1526 the King completed his fourteenth year, and parliament passed an ordinance to the effect that as he was then of major age the royal prerogative was to be assumed by him and all other authority formerly derived from him was annulled. This declaration was issued at a time when the custody of the King had again come into the hands of Angus; and, at the time when he should have passed it on to other lords, he was strong enough to refuse and to oppose by a superior force of arms all attempts to secure the King's release. [Exchequer Rolls, xv. p. xlvi.] In September, 1526, John, third earl of Lennox, lost his life in an attempt to rescue his sovereign from the Angus restraint, and it was not till nearly two years later that James obtained his freedom, an immediate sequel to which was the wholesale forfeiture of the Douglases and all their kin.

While the country was disturbed both by outside aggression and internal dissension, the merchant class were not remiss in their efforts for the extension of foreign trade. So far back as the middle of the fourteenth century Scottish burgesses and merchants had a contract with the burgesses and merchants of Middleburgh in the Netherlands, where the staple port for the disposal of merchandise from this country had been established. [Cony. Rec. i. p. 537.] In the beginning of the fifteenth century Bruges was the recognised staple of the Scottish trade in the Netherlands, but in consequence of the marriage of Mary, daughter of James I., to the lord of Campvere in Zeland, in 1444, the staple was

changed to his state, where it continued till 1539. [Halyburton's Ledger, pp. liv, lv. In 1539 the staple was removed to Antwerp, and two years later to Middleburgh, but it soon returned to Campvere, and with short interruptions it remained at that port till the French Revolution (Ibid.; Edin. Rec. ii. pp. 97, 105).] But these arrangements do not seem to have been always continuous. On 27th February, 1519-20, the Lord Governor represented to the town council and community of the merchants of Edinburgh that he thought it necessary there should be a staple in Flanders where the Scots merchants might resort, and he asked which of the three towns, Campvere, Middleburgh or Bruges, they preferred as most convenient for the purpose. The choice fell on Mi ddleburgh. [Edin. Rec. i. p. 195.]

The proceedings just referred to seem to be those which were adversely discussed in parliament in 1526, when it was alleged that commissioners had been appointed by the king, on the advice of the Duke of Albany and lords of council, with consent of the principal mercantile towns of the realm viz., Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Stirling, St. Andrews, Perth and Dundee, to carry through the requisite negotiations. After inquiry, and on the ground that the "pretendit contract" had been obtained by "circumvention of our Soverane Lord, and in his les ayge," and that such was contrary to the commonweal of the realm and detrimental to the burghs and their merchants, parliament annulled the arrangement for having the staple and residence of the Scottish merchants at Middle-burgh and granted full licence and liberty to all merchants to pass with their ships and goods where they thought most profitable and where they could be best treated in future. For obtaining this privilege money had been promised to the King, and the amount was to be raised by taxation laid on each burgh. [Ancient Laws, ii. pp. 58-65. Agreements with staple ports thus Ieft merchants free to choose their own markets, but in the event of the staple port being preferred merchants had the benefit of whatever privileges it afforded (Edin. Rec. ii. pp. 106-7).

On account of their situation the Clyde burghs could not derive much if any benefit from the staple ports in the Netherlands and they must always have had freedom to trade elsewhere, ports on the west coast of France being probably the most favoured. A reference to such trading occurs in a document dated 18th May,1524, being the record of a conference of representatives of Dumbarton and Renfrew, held in the parish kirk of Kilpatrick, under the arrangement between these burghs, in 1424, for settling any disputes that might arise. [Antea, p. 245.] Renfrew now complained that Dumbarton had made a bond and federation with Glasgow, apparently that of 1499, [Antea, p. 246.] without their leave, and had intromitted with a French ship within the bounds and freedom of Renfrew; but the discussion did not result in any definite settlement. [Irving's Dumbartonshire, (1857) pp. 155-7.]

An allusion to one of the sea dangers of the time is contained in a notary's protocol, dated 2nd February, 1525-6, where authority is given to a citizen of Glasgow, and others, to appear before the regent of England and obtain restoration of gold, silver, hides, woollen cloth and pickled salmon, which had been captured off the coast of England, by Englishmen and Spaniards on the ship James of Dumbarton, belonging to the earl of Arran. [River Clyde, p. 20.]

Between 1494, when the Lollards of Kyle were brought before James IV. [Antea, pp. 268-70.] till about thirty years later, when the doctrines of Luther found their way into Scotland, there is little or no notice of the spread of opinions contrary to the teaching of the church. But, in 1525, to avoid the dangers of "the dampnable opunyeounes of heresy spred in diverse cuntreis, be the heretik Luthere and his discipillis," parliament, on 17th July in that year, ordained that no strangers arriving with their ships, within any port of the realm, should bring with them any of Luther's books or works, or rehearse his heresies or opinions, except for refutation, and all other persons propagating such opinions were to be suitably punished. [Ancient Laws, ii. p. 58.] But these repressive measures had the opposite of the desired effect, and according to John Knox it was the teaching and death of Patrick Hamilton, who had been a pupil of John Major, while in Glasgow, [Major's History, p. lxxi.] and who was burnt at St. Andrews, for heresy, in the beginning of the year 1527-8, that decisively marked the beginning of the Reformation in Scotland. [Works of John Knox, i, p. 36.]

John Major, theologian and historian, was principal regent of Glasgow college during the last four or five years of Beaton's tenure of the archbishopric. Returning from Paris and coming to Glasgow when about to enter the fiftieth year of his age, Major had attained a great reputation as a scholar and teacher and had made considerable progress with his History of Greater Britain. On his admission to the university in November, 1518, he was designated a Doctor of Paris, principal regent of the college and pedagogy of Glasgow, canon of the Chapel Royal and vicar of Dunlop. Major is referred to as treasurer of the Chapel Royal in 1520 and also in 1522. On 9th June of the latter year he removed to St. Andrews. [History of Chapel Royal (Grampian Club), pp. liv. 97.] While in Glasgow Major was active in the general business of the university as well as in teaching, his History was published in 1521, and he could scarcely have had much time to devote to his treasurership or vicarage, his chief official connection with which being probably concerned with the emoluments which seem to have come to him as college endowments. The name John Knox occurs in a list of students who were incorporated at Glasgow in 1522, and it has generally been assumed that the great Reformer was a student at Glasgow. That Knox studied under Major all ancient accounts agree, but it seems doubtful whether that was at Glasgow or St. Andrews. [Coutts, p. 45. In his History Major refers to Glasgow as " the seat of an archbishop, and of a university, poorly endowed and not rich in scholars. This notwithstanding, the church possesses prebends many and fat; but in Scotland such revenues are enjoyed in absentia just as they would be in praesentia, a custom which I hold to be destitute at once of justice and common sense.... St. Andrews possesses the first university; Aberdeen is serviceable to the northern inhabitants, and Glasgow to those of the west and south." In another passage Major refers to Glasgow cathedral as " second to no church in Scotland for its beauty, the multitude of its canons, and the wealth of its endowments." (Major's History, pp. lxvi-vii, 28, 29, 86.)]

In the first year of Beaton's archbishopric King James IV. continued to the regents, students and officers of the university the exemption from taxes and impositions granted by his predecessors. The letter, under the king's privy seal, dated at Edinburgh on 7th June, 1509, is general in its terms and refers to the previous and more specific charters of exemption for particulars. In Beaton's last year in Glasgow a tax had been imposed on beneficed persons for the defence of the kingdom and the members of the university were relieved of payment as reported to a meeting on 24th May, 1522, at which John Major was present. Four days before, an ample Letter of Exemption had been granted by James V., with advice of the Duke of Albany, whereby all previous exemptions by royalty were specifically confirmed and all taxations, exactions, and other charges against the rectors, deans of faculty, procurators, regents, masters and scholars of the university were discharged. [Glasg. Chart. i. pp. ii. pp. 100, 106 ; Munimenta, ii. p. 143; Major's History, p. lxvii.]

The few recorded grants of the canonry of Barlanark came direct from the popes, though with regard to the lands forming the prebend, King Robert I. authorised their being held by the canon with special privileges which were eventually construed as baronial. [Antea, p. 149.] In the year 1431 there was assigned to Walter Stewart, canon of Glasgow, bachelor of canon law, the deanery of Moray which Pope Eugenius IV. authorised him to hold along with "his canonries and prebends of Barlanark in Glasgow and Balhelvi in Aberdeen," the combined value of which benefices did not exceed £ioo sterling. [Papal Reg. viii. p. 411. In 1441, during the reign of James II. his secretary, William Turnbull, sometime a prebendary and afterwards bishop of Glasgow, is designated in charters "dominus prebende," i.e. lord or laird of the prebend, and this is understood as indicating that he held the prebend of Barlanark. The Latin prebenda is equivalent to the English Provender, and appears in the Scottish vernacular as Provand. So far as is known Turnbull did not possess the prebend during his episcopate. (Keith, p. 251; Reg. Mag. Sig. ii. No. 264-5, 267-8.)] Several benefices held by Robert de Lawedre, canon of Glasgow, in the year 14.q.7, included the prebend of Cardross and "a yearly provision for life of £6 sterling, assigned to him by papal authority on the fruits, etc., of the prebend of Barlanark, in the church of Glasgow." [Papal Reg. X. p. 310.]

Bishop Blacader obtained from the Pope authority to annex the prebend of Barlanark to the bishopric, but by a document dated 19th September, 1487, the bishop not only promised to preserve the liberties and privileges of the chapter but he also renounced all claim to the prebend and to its union and incorporation with the bishopric. [Reg. Episc. No. 450. Connected with his translation from Aberdeen to Glasgow, Bishop Blacader had incurred heavy debts, and to assist in their liquidation he, on 31st March, 1487, obtained a papal bull granting certain subsidies, with the half of the first fruits of all benefices in his diocese ; (Dow-dens' Bishops, pp. 331-2) and the annexation of the prebend of Barlanark may at the same time have been authorised.]

When next traced the prebend was in the possession of one William Baize (i.e. Balye or Baillie). On 13th February, 1506-7, King James IV. granted to James Bailzie of Carfyn, "bruther to Mr. William Bailzie, prebender of Barlanrik," a respite relating to "his lands and lordship of Provand." Under this grant James Bailzie, Alexander, his son, and "also Mr. Williame's servants "were to be free from appearing in justice courts within the regality of Glasgow for a year. [Reg. Sec. Sig. i. No. 1429.] About sixteen years later William Bailzie, reserving the revenues during his own lifetime, resigned the prebend in favour of Thomas Balze, canon of Glasgow. By a Bull or Letters of Provision dated 3rd February, 1522-3, in which William Balze is designated " clerk, lately canon of Glasgow," Pope Adrian VI. ratified this arrangement and bestowed the prebend on Thomas Balze during his survivorship of William. [Regality Club, i. p. 74, where a facsimile and translation of the bull are given; Glasg. Chart. ii. p. 350, No. 755. The Bull was one of the many documents which have been abstracted from the city's archives since the Inventory of `writs was compiled in 1696, but fortunately it was deposited in the Hunterian Museum where it is accessible. In 1549 the prebend was ,conferred on "Mr. William Baillie," presumably a relative of the first William Glasg. Memorials, p. 210).]

After the secret council had taken Albany's place in the government of the country, the comptroller reported to parliament the necessity of economy in the administration of the King's revenues and the upkeep of his household ; and, though household accounts are known to have been kept from 1508. it is probably in consequence of the regulations adopted in 1525 that we have the extant series beginning at the latter date. All earlier accounts have disappeared. The books are in substance journals of the cost of provisioning the royal table, the expenditure being classified under three heads, pantry, buttery and kitchen, and interesting particulars regarding the movements of royalty are chronicled. One of the King's visits to Glasgow was made on i5th October, 1525, when he and his council, arriving from Stirling, were entertained by Archbishop Dunbar the whole of that day and part of the next. After dinner the royal party rode to the palace of Enchenzean (Inchinnan), the residence of the Earl of Lennox, where they had supper. The earl entertained the King and his retinue till after dinner on 17th, when they left for Dumbarton. Coming from Stirling to Glasgow on 14th December, 1529, the King, two days thereafter, was at Cumbernauld, perhaps on his way back to Stirling. On 25th January, 1529-30, the King rode from Stirling to Glasgow. There the purchases for the royal table were 160 loaves, 30s.; 40 gallons of ale, 53s. 4d.; 3 carcases of beeves, £4 10s.; 4 quarters of a calf, 20s.; 16 sheep, £5 6s. 8d.; 4 ox tongues and 2 lbs. of suet, 3s. The King, on his return from Ayr, was again in Glasgow on 4th February, when he gave to the Friars 96 loaves and four gallons of ale. On 11th June, 1533, he passed through Glasgow, on his way from Stirling, making a pilgrimage to the church of St. Ninian at Candida Casa. [Excerpta Libris Dornicilii (Bannatyne Club), 1836, pp. vi, 15, 16, 224. Appx. pp. 5, 27, 28, 42.]

In 1504 a reform in the administration of justice in the supreme court of the kingdom had been secured by superseding the itinerary system, under which courts were held for brief periods in different parts of the kingdom, by the establishment of a daily council, chosen by the King and sitting permanently in Edinburgh, or wherever the King should make his residence. [The evolution of the daily council from its origin as a committee of parliament is clearly traced in the Introduction to the recently published Ada Dorinorum Concilii, vol. ii.] After nearly thirty years' experience of the working of this judicial body its shortcomings, naturally enough, were revealed and changes and improvements became desirable, and at a parliament held in Edinburgh, on 17th May, 1532, the College of Justice was instituted. Consisting so far of a development of the daily council, and modelled largely on the Parliament of Paris, but with modifications suggested by observation of the judicial systems of other countries, this new court, with its jurisdiction as in the case of the council limited to civil actions, was to be composed of fourteen persons, seven lay and seven spiritual, and a president who should always be a churchman, all named by the crown. But it was provided that the chancellor of the kingdom might take the place of president when he pleased and that the king, at his discretion, might add three or four members to the permanent body. Archbishop Dunbar was chancellor at this time and in that capacity presided in the new court when, in presence of the King, it commenced its sittings on 27th May, 1532.


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