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The History of Glasgow
Chapter L - Archbishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow—Their Rivalry—Archbishop Dunbar—Vicars-General during Vacant See—Archbishops Gordon and Beaton—Privilege of Sanctuary Claimed for Place of Blackfriars—Seals of Cause to Masons and Other Craftsmen


ANY procedure which might be regarded as indicating a claim of supremacy by the see of St. Andrews over that of Glasgow was jealously watched and repudiated by the archbishop and clergy of the latter city. In the end of November, 1535, Archbishop Beaton, being in the town of Dumfries, in Glasgow diocese, and having taken the opportunity of elevating his episcopal cross and blessing the people, Archbishop Dunbar's official protested that these acts, understood to be done by agreement between the two archbishops, were not to be prejudicial to the privileges of Glasgow. Four years later similar proceedings are recorded, Cardinal Beaton having then elevated his cross in the town of Dumfries, but with the declaration and admission that the rights of Glasgow were not thereby prejudiced. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 500, 502.]

If the two Dumfries incidents were not deemed innovations on Glasgow's rights, different views were entertained regarding similar procedure in the cathedral. Dates and circumstances as variously recounted are conflicting, but it seems certain that towards the end of the year 1543, or in the spring of 1544, within the choir of the cathedral, the archbishop protested that the carrying of the cardinal's cross in the metropolitan church, or elsewhere in his diocese or province, should not be allowed to the prejudice of Glasgow's exemption from the predominance of St. Andrews. To this the cardinal replied that he did not carry his cross, or give benediction within the church to the prejudice of the exemption granted by the Pope but solely by reason of the goodwill and courtesy of the archbishop. [Reg. Episc. No. 504.] But shortly after this came the climax. In June, 1545, when the Queen-mother, Lord Governor Arran, Cardinal Beaton, and several bishops and abbots, were in Glasgow, attending a meeting of the privy council, a contest arose between the archbishop and the cardinal, and their cross-bearers, culminating in a serious riot, in the course of which blows were struck and wounds given, copes and vestments were torn, and the crosses of both metropolitans were broken. [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. i. pp. liv, lv ; Dowden's Bishops, pp. 346-7; Works of John Knox, i. pp. 146-7; Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 39. This incident and also the reception of the French forces referred to antea, p. 372, is thus noticed in the Diurnal:—"31st May. The King of France sent 2000 gunnaris, 300 bairdit hors and 200 archearis of the gaird and landit at Dumbartane with greit provisioun and thair wageis payit for sax monethis to cum and silver to fie 2000 Scottis for the said sax monthis space. Upoun the fourt of Junii thir Frenchemen come out of Dunbartane, quhair thai wer ressavit be the Quenis grace and Governour with greit dignitie; the principall of thame was callit Monsieur Large Montgomery, quha was weill treitit be the quenis grace. Upone the same [day] the bischop of Glasgow pleit with the cardinall about the bering of his croce in his dyocie, and baith thair croceis was broken in the kirk of Glasgow throw thair stryving for the samin."]

Archbishop Dunbar died on 30th April, 1547, and thereafter the see remained vacant for nearly three years. James Hamilton, "natural brother of our illustrious governour," was nominated by the Queen-dowager, under an arrangement whereby £1,000 of the revenues should be assigned to David and Claud Hamilton, but the appointment did not take effect, and it was not till March, 1549-50, that the vacancy was filled by the installation of Alexander Gordon, brother of the fourth earl of Huntly. Gordon did not retain office much more than a year, and on 4th September, 1551, the Pope, at the request of the Queen-dowager, provided to the see James Beaton, son of an elder brother of Cardinal Beaton. The new archbishop had been a chanter in Glasgow cathedral, was abbot of Aberbrothock from about the year 1545, and when he received the archbishopric of Glasgow was in the 27th year of his age. After passing through the stages of acolyte, sub-deacon, deacon and priest, at Rome in July, he was there consecrated as archbishop on 28th August, 1552. From bulls, instruments and other documents recorded in Registrum Episcopatus many particulars are preserved regarding the placing of Beaton both at Aberbrothock and Glasgow. These include an absolution from papal censure, a dispensation on account of incomplete age (the attainment of thirty years being the requisite qualification for a bishop), mandates to the suffragans of the archbishopric, chapter and clergy, and calls for obedience to be given to the archbishop by the people of the city and diocese and by the vassals in the lands belonging to the church. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 507-19 ; Dowden's Bishops, p. 350.]

During the vacancies in the see archiepiscopal affairs were administered by vicars-general, James Houston, sub-dean, having been vicar-general for part of the years 1547 and 1548; and on several occasions between the years 1549-51 Gavin Hamilton, dean of the metropolitan church, is found acting in that capacity. The revenues of the see were under the charge of "Archibald Hammiltoun, captain of Arrane," who actedias "chamberlain of the archbishop," from the decease of Archbishop Dunbar, in 1547 till the entry of Beaton in 1551. [Glasg. Prot. No. 1348.]

Archibald Hamilton seems to have been succeeded by "Mr. Stevin Betoune, chamberlain of the castle of Glasgow," who, along with the magistrates of the city, had to defend himself on a charge of violating the sanctuary privileges alleged to belong to the Place of the Friars Preachers of Glasgow. On 3rd June, 1553, two men named William Culquhoune and Hew Lockhart, in the course of a quarrel, had hurt each other, within the city, and Culquhoune " fled into the said Place and sanctuary for girth." Thereupon Lockhart's kin and friends came and took him by force furth of the kirk and delivered him to the provost and bailies of the city and chamberlain of the castle, all of whom refused to restore him to the freedom and privilege of the sanctuary. In a complaint made to the lords of council, the prior and convent of the Friars Preachers alleged that since the foundation of their Place, "or past memor of man" it had possessed the privileges of sanctuary and girth, at least for recent and sudden crimes, and so reverently observed that it had never formerly been violated by any person so far as could be remembered. It was accordingly maintained that the conduct of the magistrates and chamberlain was " to grait hurt of the freedome and privilege of Halie Kirk, violatioune of the said sanctuarie, nane uther being in the west parteis of the realme fra Torphiching [Torphichen, the chief seat in Scotland of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. ] west, bot the said place allanerlie, sen the tulye was committit upone suddantie, and na partie is slane be ather." The defenders called upon the complainers to produce evidence of the privilege claimed by them, and the court having heard the declaration of the priors of other "places" in Scotland, to the effect that "thai never newe sic privilege of girth grantit to thame," it was held that the claim of sanctuary had not been established. [Lib. Coll. etc. pp. lxiii, lxiv. r From the statement that there was no other sanctuary than the Blackfriars west of Torphichen, it may be assumed that by this time the Gyrth crosses and Gyrth-burn had ceased to be regarded as the bounds of a privileged area around the cathedral.]

By the middle of the sixteenth century, most of the different craftsmen employed in the building trade were grouped together in one society and it was under these circumstances that, on the application of the head men and masters of the masons, wrights, coopers, sawyers, quarriers, and others, dwelling within the city, the magistrates and council confirmed to them a series of statutes and articles whereby the combined crafts attained the quality of an incorporation in the usual way. To the altar of St. Thomas the customary contributions were to be given, and the usual conditions of apprenticeship, service, inspection and sufficiency of work were likewise inserted in the seal of cause. Its date is 14th October, 1551, a month after Archbishop Beaton had been provided to the see, but some time before he entered on the duties or obtained consecration, and consequently the document has this peculiarity that it was granted and sealed by the magistrates and council alone, without the expressed consent of the archbishop. [Cruikshank's Incorporation of Masons (1879), pp. 3-6.] All other pre-Reformation seals of cause were granted by the magistrates and council, with the consent and under the seals of the respective archbishops.


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