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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XLV - Blacader's Hospital for Casual Poor—Collegiate Church of St. Mary and St. Anne


DURING the greater part of Gavin Dunbar's tenure of the archbishopric the country was in a state of comparative repose, affording the opportunity for attention to domestic concerns. In this period there were founded in Glasgow a hospital and chaplainry and a collegiate church, each of considerable importance. The founder of the hospital and chaplainry was Roland Blacader, subdean of Glasgow, and a nephew of Archbishop Blacader. The deed of foundation has been preserved in a notarial copy, but the dates are ambiguous, and the precise time when the endowment took effect cannot be ascertained, though 1524, or a few years earlier or later, may be accepted as approximately correct. Blacader was subdean in 1503, and perhaps previously, and it is supposed that he lived till 1540 or 1541. About the year 1527 James Houstoun succeeded to the subdeanery, but, if certain documents are to be trusted, Blacader still retained the title of subdean. [Ina protocol, dated 12th December, 1533, James Houstoun was designated "young subdean." (Glasg. Prot. No. 1'74.) See also Glass'. Prot. Nos. 1161, 1290, 1292, 1313.] The chaplain under the new foundation was to officiate in the cathedral at the altar of St. John the Baptist and St. Nicholas, on the south side of the nave, at the first pillar from the Rood loft. Various lands and a long list of annual rents were bestowed as endowments. Masses were to be celebrated daily, and the chaplain was to be master of the hospital in the Stablegreen, then newly founded by Blacader. The hospital was situated outside the North Port of the city, where Dobbies Loan joined the main northern thoroughfare, and it was adapted for the reception of wayfarers, being described as a "house of the poor and indigent casually coming thereto." The chaplain had his chamber within the house, the keeper of which, appointed by the chaplain, was to be a trustworthy married man, of good life and honest conversation.

The keeper and his wife were required to dwell in the house and take charge of bed clothing for the poor. There were to be six beds furnished with blankets, coverlets, and pillows. Vegetables and herbs for the poor were to be grown in the garden, and lentils were to be purchased, "with which lentils the keeper and his wife shall cook green vegetables, with garden herbs, on the evening of every night, for the feeding and nourishment of the poor assembling there." When herbs were not in season the diet was changed to "white gruel" cooked from the lentils. Coals were to be bought for the fire, an iron grate procured for the fireplace, and special directions were given for the purchase of "an iron pot, containing two quarts, for cooking gruel or vegetables, and a caldron, also containing two quarts, for washing the feet of the poor." [Glasg. Prot. No. 618, where a full translation of the deed of foundation is printed.]

The founder had appointed Sir William Craufurd to be chaplain of the altar and master of the hospital, and that priest seems to have retained the latter charge till about the year 1589. On his successor taking office the building was inspected and the report then made is given below as presumably applicable so far to the hospital's original condition. ["The yaird dyk, the north syd thairof weill dykit and kaipit with stane, and ane haill hedge on the south syd thairof; the well weill kaipit with stane, ane elne above the eird, with the yaird yett sufficient and lokfast ; item, the heich chalmer of the said hospitall weill loftit and jestit, twa windois within the samen staincherit with irne, ane stand bed fixit in the wall of the said chalmer, weill bandit, ane panttrie dure and ane saig dure. . . without hes ane sufficient gude dure and foir yett weill wallit and lokit, with ane raill galrie stair and ane turlies upoun the northmost windo therof ; item, fand the laich hous thairof with six stand beddis of aik sufficient, with ane pantrie lokfast, and ane mekill kist standand within the same claspit with irne on everie nook; fand the coilhous dure sufficientlie lokit and bandit, weill wallit and kapit round about ; item, the haill houssis of the said hospitall sufficient in ruif, tymmer, sklait, and watterfast; item, fand ane doubill foiryett bandit, without ane lok, with the walls of the clois weill kapit round about." (Glas. Rec. i. pp. 147-8.) The founder is here called "Allan" Blacader, by which name he is also sometimes mentioned in protocols.]

In the deed of foundation precise rules were laid down for the celebration of masses and exequies for the founder and his friends. By one of these conditions sixty poor people, possessing hearth, house and home in the city, were to attend in church yearly, on the day of the founder's obit, and pray for his soul; and on the same day eight chaplains were to sit around the founder's tomb, in their surplices, and celebrate the obsequies of the dead. Each of the poor householders was to receive 8d., and each of the chaplains 12d. for their services. On the occasion of each obit the minor sacristan was to get fourteen pennies for the tolling of the bells and four pennies were to be paid to the ringer of the little bell of St. Kentigern through the town. Ten yearly masses were to be celebrated with the Friars Minors and twelve with the Friars Preachers dwelling in the city. Blacader had at one time paid 260 to the Convent of the Friars Preachers in Glasgow and obtained their obligation for the celebration of thirteen masses, weekly; and when the provincial and visitor of the Friars made their annual visitation the chaplain was directed to show them the obligation and arrange the places for celebrating the masses for the ensuing year. [Glasg. Prot. No. 618. In 1605 the craftsmen of Glasgow purchased the hospital buildings for the purpose of using the site for their own hospital, then proposed to be erected. But another site was subsequently fixed on for the crafts' hospital and Blacader's hospital, then ruinous, was sold by the crafts in 16io. The site has since been possessed by private owners. (Glasg. Prot. Nos. 619-21.)]

The collegiate foundation to which allusion has been made was promoted by Blacader's successor, James Houstoun, who was subdean from about the year 1527 till his death in 1551. As early as the year 1516 Houstoun began to acquire properties in the vicinity of what is now the site of the Tron church, on the south side of the Trongate, then usually called the street of Saint Tenew. At first the title deeds of these properties were taken in the purchaser's own name, but on 22nd February, 1523-4, a tenement, back area and yard, which he purchased, were resigned by him in favour of a chaplain, " in name of the church founded by the said Mr. James." Similar purchases and investitures of many adjoining properties are recorded [Lib. Coll. etc.] and progress had been made with the erection of the church before 1525 when the first step was taken for its formal constitution. On 29th April of that year " master James Houstoun, perpetual vicar of the parish of Eastwood," appeared in the chapterhouse of the cathedral, in presence of the archbishop, dean and canons, and intimated his intention to complete, on the foundation already laid, and to endow, a church to bear the name of the holy Virgin Mary of Laureto, and of her mother, Saint Anne, on the south side of the street of Saint Tenew, on lands acquired at his own charges and expenses. The scheme was approved of by the archbishop and chapter and their assent was heartily accorded. [Glasg. Chart. ii. pp. 494-7, where an instrument narrating the proceedings, as prepared by Cuthbert Simson, notary, is printed. Representations of the archbishop's seal and the notary's sign are also given.]

As originally announced there was no allusion to a collegiate arrangement, but as the work proceeded its scope gradually expanded and when next heard of, four years later, several chaplainries had been established in the church. On 1st May, 1529, James Houstoun, then designated "subdean of the metropolitan church of Glasgow," appeared in the presence of notaries public and witnesses, assembled in the chapter-house of the cathedral, and constituted the bailies, community and burgesses of Glasgow, patrons of seven chaplainries in the new church, but reserving to himself the patronage during his lifetime. At this meeting the provost of the city, Robert Stewart of Mynto, was present and accepted the charge on behalf of the bailies and community.

That this ceremony was one side of a transaction, mutually negotiated, is indicated by the terms of a charter, three days later in date, which narrates that the provost, bailies, councillors and community of the city, assembled in the tolbooth, bestowed on the new church, and on eight chaplains therein, sixteen acres of land in the Gallowmuir, two of these acres being assigned to each of the chaplains. To this grant the archbishop and the chapter consented, and by a separate charter, dated 15th May, 1529, it was confirmed by the archbishop as the city's " immediate lord superior and ordinary in things spiritual and temporal." [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 107-17.]

Very little is known as to the architectural features of the church, its size and precise site. [In the year 1566 the provost and prebendaries, with consent of the magistrates and council, as patrons, sold to John Stewart and spouse a "waste fore tenement" described as lying on the south side of the street of St. Tenew and bounded by the cemetery of the church on the west and the "north wall of the choir of the said church" on the south. The purchasers were to be allowed to "build and raise their tenement upon the vestry or vestibule" of the church in such a way that it might not be prejudicial to the vestibule and church, but that the vestry should belong to the provost and prebendaries for the "necessary things" of the church being placed therein and for their chapter being held there weekly. (Glasg. Chart. ii. p. 530.)] Between the building and the street a vacant space was set aside as burying ground and there were plots to the south and west laid out as gardens for the prebendaries, while immediately adjoining was the open field called 117utland Croft. A building used as a song school stood on the west side of the church.

It is supposed that the collegiate church had not attained completion and full equipment before 1548, by which time the establishment consisted of a provost, eleven canons or prebendaries, and three choristers. The abbot and convent of Kilwinning transferred to the church the vicarage of Dalry, as an endowment for the provost, whom they, as patrons, appointed. The prioress and convent of the Cistercian nunnery of North Berwick, as patrons of the church of Maybole, gave half of that benefice to the first prebendary, styled the arch-priest. Under the same patronage the " greater sacrist," who kept the books, chalices, copes, vestments and ornaments, held the second prebend, and received one-half of the fruits of the vicarage of Maybole. The "lesser sacrist," elected by the provost and prebendaries, had to ring the bells, light the candles, open and shut the church doors, and keep the keys. The magistrates and council nominated the third prebendary, who had charge of the organ, and was bound to keep a song school for the instruction of youths. His prebend consisted of the rent of a house in Saltmarket Street. The fourth and fifth prebends (St. Mary and St. James) were also in the patronage of the town council, and their endowments consisted of lands, houses and rents. St. Roch or Roque was the designation of the sixth prebend, the holder of which had to continue religious services in the chapel on the moor, as well as perform duties in the new church. St. Kentigern, St. Nicholas and St. Andrew were the designations of the next three prebends, all of which were under the patronage of the town council. Sir Martin Reid, chaplain of the altar of St. Martin in the cathedral, founded the tenth and eleventh prebends, and assigned the patronage of both to the magistrates and council. The twelfth and last prebend was that of the three choristers, one of whom was to be chosen by the town council and the other two by the provost of the collegiate church.

Both the church itself and the houses bequeathed for its endowment were to be kept in good repair, in roofs, windows, and walls, at the sight of the city bailies, under the care of a master of work, to be chosen from the number of the prebendaries in their yearly chapter at Whitsunday.

For ensuring strict observance of the rules the dean of the cathedral chapter, with one of the canons, and the rector and dean of the arts faculty of the University, were appointed. visitors of the collegiate church, with sufficient powers for correcting faults and enforcing amendment. Many minute directions were given for masses and other religious services and if these were all regularly observed continuous supervision must have been necessary. As a specimen of standing requirements the services on the Feast of Saint Anne (26th July) may be noticed. At a certain hour all the prebendaries. and choristers were to assemble for prescribed singing, reading and prayers, which being ended three shillings were to be distributed among them in bread and ale. On the same day and at the mass on the morrow, thirty poor people, old men and. matrons, were to take their place on a wooden bench, in the middle of the choir, set apart for the images and wax lights, and receiving each of them, three pennies in wheaten bread, three pennies in flesh or fish, and two pennies for ale. Eight poor scholars, after repeating psalms, etc., were to get two, pennies each. The poor, of "both chambers," of the hospital of St. Nicholas were to be invited and four shillings divided equally among those present or detained in the Almshouse through infirmity. The lepers of St. Ninian's hospital were to assemble in the cemetery of the collegiate church, there to offer up prayers, and among them twelve pennies were to be distributed. St. Mungo's bell was to be tolled through the city, both on St. Anne's day and on the morrow; the bells of the church were to be rung and images and wax lights were to be set out in the choir. [Lib. Coll. etc. pp. xv.-xxv.]

The collegiate church appears to have superseded the old chapel on the north side of the street, that building having been taken possession of as an endowment. There is still in existence a charter, dated loth February, 1555-6, whereby the chaplain and prebendary of St. Mary in the collegiate church (in consideration of eleven merks yearly payable to him and his successors), with consent of, (z) the other prebendaries, (2) the town council as patrons of the collegiate church, and (3) the Archbishop, feued the disused building and its site to George Herbertsone and spouse. The building was described as a tenement, " otherwise called the chapell," and it is said to have been " then ruinous and would come to complete ruin unless immediate provision should be made for repair thereof." [Glasg. Chart. ii. pp. 513-7; Glasg. Prot. No. 3728. Subsequent to the Reformation the church site and cemetery were disposed of by the town council, but they reacquired the property about the year 1592 and fitted up the church as a protestant place of worship. Since that time the building has been extended over a larger area, and the church was wholly rebuilt about the year 1793, but still the present site of the Tron church is practically that which was occupied by the collegiate church of St. Mary and St. Anne.]


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