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The History of Glasgow
Chapter LI - Mode of Election of Glasgow Magistrates—Royal Commission on Archbishop's Rights—Dues Claimed by Archbishop—Convention of Burghs


SIR ROBERT STEWART of Minto seems to have been succeeded in the provostship by Archibald Dunbar of Baldoon who is found in office in 1538. The name of " John Punfrastoun, provost of Glasgow," is noted as a witness on 16th October, 1539. [Lib. Coll. etc. p. 60.] The next provost whose name is traced was Andrew Hamilton, but all that is found regarding him is the statement that for causing his death the laird of Bishopton, and others, were "dilated" on 8th October, 1541. John Stewart of Minto was provost in 1543, Andrew Hamilton of Middop in 1545, Archibald Dunbar of Baldoon in 1547, James Hamilton of Torrens in 1549-50, and then it is probable that Andrew Hamilton of Cochnocht, in Dumbartonshire, held office from 1551 till 1559, and perhaps longer, though, apart from the dates mentioned, his tenure of the provostship has not been traced in more than one of the intervening years. The appointment of provost belonged to the archbishop, but as the bailie-depute of the regality was usually selected, the holder of the office for the time was likely to be acceptable both to the archbishop and to the chief bailie of the regality. [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. i. P. 634 ; A.P.S. ii. P. 471. Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, i. pt. ii. p. 36i.* In his History of Glasgow' published in 1777, John Gibson, who seems to have had access to records not now extant, says that Lord Belhaven was provost in 1541. The title " Lord Belhaven " in the Scottish peerage was not conferred till 1648, but the ancestors of the first lord were the Hamiltons of Broomhill, in the parish of Dalserf, Lanarkshire, and it may have been one of these who was provost about the year 1541.]

At a parliament held at Edinburgh on 14th August, 1546, the city of Glasgow was represented by a commissioner named Andrew Hamilton, presumably the provost of that name, who was designated of Middop, supposed to be Midhope in the parish of Abercorn, Linlithgowshire. No earlier parliamentary representative of the city appears on record. This perhaps is to be explained by disappearance of parliamentary sederunts or it may be that the city had hitherto neglected to appoint a commissioner. There was no change of circumstances in 1546 to account for the attendance of a Glasgow representative for the first time in that year, and therefore it may be assumed that, whether advantage was taken of the privilege or not, the city was entitled before that time to send a commissioner to parliament.

As the bailies were chosen by the archbishop from a leet selected by former members of the town council, at the head burgh court held after Michaelmas, yearly, it is probable that, on account of the unsettled condition of episcopal affairs, there was no opportunity for an election in normal form between Michaelmas, 1546, preceding the death of Archbishop Dunbar, and Michaelmas, 1552, following the consecration of Archbishop Beaton, and to judge from the sequel there was some irregularity even then. At the approach of Michaelmas 1553 preparations were made for preserving a record of the proceedings for future guidance, and a notary was instructed to set down the facts in a formal instrument. From this document it appears that on the Tuesday following Michaelmas, being 3rd October, 1553, the provost and magistrates, at the desire of the town council, came into the inner flower garden, beside the Bishop's Palace, where the archbishop was conversing

with some canons of his chapter. There much discussion arose, on both sides, regarding the election of the bailies, thus showing that one side or the other was dissatisfied with the previous practice, and perhaps parties were not quite at one in their conception of the actual facts regarding former procedure. At last the delegates from the town council presented to the archbishop a list or leet of "some of the most eminent and worthy men of the city" and asked him to nominate two of them as bailies for the ensuing year. On the archbishop complying with this desire by pointing out with his finger the names of John Hall and John Muir, the attending provost and magistrates promised that these two should be elected as bailies, using these words:—"We sail do your lordship's will." So saying, the deputation returned to the tolbooth; and after they left, the archbishop said to the canons that for removal of all "further" contention respecting the nomination and election of bailies, all the business then transacted would be set down in an instrument which a notary was instructed to prepare. [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 119-21.]

Complete information is not available regarding the revenues derived by the archbishops from the burgh. It is known that sixteen merks were yearly paid to them by the burgesses as rentallers of the community lands, and they also drew the customs of the Tron to which they obtained a grant from the crown in 1489-9o, as well as other customs, particulars of which have not been ascertained. The mode of collecting the latter customs, both before and after 1547 is gathered from a tack entered into on 16th April of that year, whereby Archbishop Dunbar, with consent of the dean and chapter of the metropolitan kirk, set to Henry Crawford, parish clerk of Cadder, the whole of the archbishop's customs of the burgh, all as the same had been let to the same tacksman for several bypast years, and that for the space of nineteen years from Whitsunday, 1546, for payment to the archbishop and his successors of X24 yearly. But the money was not to remain in the archbishop's hands. The sum of L20 was to be given to the regents of the College and the remainder went to the chaplains of the altars Nominis Jesus and Our Lady of Piete, founded by Archbishop Blacader. [Antea, p. 294 ; Reg. Episc. 100. 486; Glasg. Chart. ii. pp. 511-2.]

But over and above these revenues which, presumably, were regularly collected, Archbishop Beaton seems to have claimed certain duties from the community, liability for which they repudiated, and the lords of secret council were called on to decide the question. The decree, another of the inventoried documents abstracted from the city's repositories, was pronounced on loth December, 1554. From its description as contained in the city's Inventory of Writs it is gathered that the community was sued "for alleging itself to be doted and infeft by the bishop's predecessors in certain privileges and liberties and to be infeft be the king," and for not paying certain duties to the archbishop. The community were also called upon to produce the writings concerning the bishop, but owing to the loss of the document the purport of the proceedings is not disclosed in an intelligible form, nor is there much to be learned from the reported negative result when "the lords assoilzies this burgh frae the lybell." [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. p. 121.]

One dispute seems to have led to another, and the period of annual election having again come round about two months before the Privy Council gave their decision in the proceedings just alluded to, a body of citizens, thirty-five in number, elected two bailies of the city without submitting a leet to the archbishop, as had been done with such formality so recently as the preceding year. Information on this subject is obtained from a Commission by Queen Mary, under her great seal, with consent of James duke of Chatelherault, earl of Arran, as bailie-principal of the regality of Glasgow, dated 12th February, 1554-5, whereby Robert Heriot and three others were authorised to hold courts of the bailiary of the regality of Glasgow, within the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, for the purpose of hearing and deciding upon the complaint of Archbishop Beaton regarding the election of the magistrates of Glasgow. The archbishop represented that the privilege of nominating the provost and choosing the bailies from leets belonged to him and had been enjoyed by his predecessors beyond the memory of man, "or at least for sixty, fifty, forty or twenty years preceding Michaelmas last." The circumstances connected with the disputed election were then narrated and the archbishop's claim to be supported in his rights and privileges was submitted to the commissioners, it being considered inexpedient to have the action prosecuted before the bailie-principal of the archbishop or his deputes in the city of Glasgow. The commissioners were sworn before the lords of council at Edinburgh on 25th February, 1554-5, but the proceedings cannot be further traced. From what is known of subsequent election procedure and specially from the action of the magistrates and community at election time in 1561, when to show their willingness "to obtemper and obey the decreet of the lords of council," commissioners sought the archbishop or his representative at his castle and mansion place, [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. i. pp. 540-2; ii. pp. 126-7.] it would appear that the regality commissioners decided in favour of the archbishop's claims. So far as can be ascertained, the archbishop up till the time he left the city, continued to nominate the provost and to choose the bailies from a leet, but after that was done the commissions both to provost and bailies were no doubt granted by the town council in the manner previously explained. [Antea, p. 210.]

The earliest minute book of the Convention of Burghs begins on 4th April, 1552, on which day, within the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, there convened " the provestis and commissaris of the Borrois of this realme," including "Andro Hamiltoun, provest of Glasgow, and John Mwre, commissinar thairof." At the outset a series of statutes was ratified and approved, the first of these referring to an ordinance made "of lang tyme bipast," for the convention holding yearly meetings, and it was resolved that this rule should in future be observed, representatives convening in July, yearly, in such place as the convention might appoint. In this renewed vitality an improved administration was contemplated in several particulars. Uniformity was to be attained in weights and measures, the Lanark stone, the Stirling pint, the Linlithgow firlot and the Edinburgh elwand. Complaints had been made against burghs for innovations in exacting petty customs and each burgh was in future to conform to the Edinburgh table. Edinburgh was also to furnish the model for the election of provost, bailies, treasurer, dean of guild and council. All the burghs sustained loss through some of their burgesses dwelling outside the burgh, and not bearing their shares of burgh charges, and to remedy this neglect proclamation was to be made at the market cross of each burgh, calling upon their freemen to reside in the burgh and watch, ward and bear taxation proportioned to their substance.

At the convention held at Edinburgh, in the following July, that burgh and Stirling produced their measures, but Lanark and Linlithgow were defaulters. Of the ensuing convention, appointed to be held at Stirling, no record has been preserved. The next convention of which there is a minute was held at Edinburgh in May, 1555, when Glasgow was represented by William Hiegait, probably the notary of that name, who for several years held the office of town clerk of the city. Owing to changes in the condition of some of the burghs, tending to decay through the effects of war, pestilence and other troubles, since the time of James IV.,a committee was appointed to make the necessary inquiries and to frame a new tax roll, adapted to the ability of the respective burghs to share the contributions levied from the general body. It was reported on 18th September, 1555 that the tax roll had been altered, but unfortunately no particulars are given. In an allocation made in 1556, Glasgow still stood eleventh on the roll, as it did in 1535, but perhaps the alterations reported in 1555 had not yet come into operation. In a taxation allocated on 6th September, 1557, Stirling, St. Andrews and Haddington got lower places and Glasgow stood eighth on the roll. [Conv. Rec. i. pp. 1-14, 21, 26.]

Inequality in the exaction of petty customs as well as of haven duty still prevailed in 1555, rendering travellers liable to the exactions of " ignorant and gredie keparis of portis and hevynis of the borrowis of this realme." A table of dues from the petty custom books of Edinburgh was therefore to be transmitted to each burgh, with instructions to adhere to the rates there specified and avoid " extortions " in future. Burgesses were subject to lower rates than unfreemen, and to secure this benefit unfree merchants sometimes joined with burgesses in partnership and the convention passed an act against the continuance of such practices. In sea traffic, also, skippers and shipowners communicated privileges to unfreemen, and to prevent evasion of that sort merchants were directed to freight their ships in presence of the dean of guild or a bailie and not to sail without a ticket which was to be granted to none but freemen. [Ibid. pp. 10-12. Referring to an act of parliament requiring burghs to have just weights and measures, the convention ordained each burgh to choose, yearly, a dean of guild who should see to the observance of that order (Ibid. p. 14). Glasgow had many reminders from the convention about the appointment of a dean of guild before the establishment of its guildry in 1605.]


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