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The History of Glasgow
Preface to Volume 2


WITHIN the last ninety years most important additions have been made to the documentary evidence readily available for a complete History of Glasgow. In 1843 the Maitland Club published the entire extant Registrum Episcopatus Glasguensis containing the charters of the bishopric from the twelfth century till the middle of the sixteenth. Three years later the same club published the Liber Collegii Nostre Domine, documents dealing with the affairs of the Church of St. Mary and St. Anne, now the Tron Church, and Munimenta Fratrum Predicatorum de Glasgu, the documents of the monastery of the Dominicans or Friars Preachers in High Street. In 1854 it published the muniments of the University, and in 1875 the Grampian Club, under the name of Diocesan Registers, published a series of Protocols of the Cathedral Chapter, of the years 1499 to 1513, and the Rental Book of the Archbishops from 1509 to 1570. These collections of documents furnished authentic and fairly complete material for a history of the bishopric and city of Glasgow down to the time of the Reformation. Twenty years later, in 1876, Sir James Marwick, then Town Clerk, began publishing the Burgh Records, or minutes of the Town Council, from the year 1573. Under the authority of the Council itself the publication was supplemented by a series of the protocols of the Town Clerks from 1530 till 1600. At the same time Sir James published, in three quarto volumes, Charters and Documents, the actual legal deeds upon which the material fortunes of the city had been built. The civic records which were thus made readily accessible provide detailed data of unquestionable kind for a history of Glasgow from Reformation times downward.
On the rich store of facts contained in these publications Sir James Marwick set to work, and in several compilations—an elaborate introduction to Charters and Documents, The River Clyde and the Clyde Burghs, and Early Glasgow—threw parts of the information into narrative form. But Sir James died in 1908.

After that event the publication of the Burgh Records was continued by Mr. Robert Renwick, Town Clerk Depute and Keeper of the Register of Sasines, and completed down to the year 1833, when the provisions of the Reform Bill came into action, and the old Town Council of selected members gave place to a new popularly elected body. The publication of the records was finished in 1916. Shortly afterwards, in view of the highly interesting and valuable information embedded in these old minutes, Dr. Renwick (he had received the degree of LL.D. from Glasgow University in 1915) was invited by the Town Council to compile a comprehensive History of Glasgow. This invitation, though he was then seventy-five years of age, he was persuaded to accept, and forthwith set about the task. The work was planned to occupy four volumes—(1) from the earliest times till the Reformation, (2) from the Reformation till the Revolution; (3) from the Revolution till the passing of the Reform Bill; (4) from the passing of the Reform Bill till the present time.

Dr. Renwick had completed the first volume of the History, and passed it for the press, when he died, in 1920. The volume was published in that year under the direction of Sir John Lindsay, the Town Clerk. The present writer was then invited to continue the work. While warmly appreciating the compliment, he pointed out that the enterprise could only be undertaken in the intervals of a somewhat busy life. This fact must now be cited to crave the indulgence of the reader for the interval which has elapsed between the publication of the first and second volumes.

The volume now published covers a period which has been less exploited than perhaps any other by writers who have dealt with the annals of Glasgow. It was the period during which the country passed through the greatest of its revolutions —the political and social upheaval which followed the Reformation. It was the time of the greatest of our civil wars—the struggle between Episcopacy and Presbyterianism. Its mighty moving spirits were John Knox and Oliver Cromwell, the brilliant Marquess of Montrose and the astute Marquess of Argyll. Covenanter and Cavalier in turns held the reins of government, and in turns worked their will upon the opposing faction. In all these exciting movements the city of Glasgow played an outstanding part, and its annals throw a vivid and often new and highly suggestive light upon the history of Scotland of that time. Argyll's huge borrowings from the Glasgow magistrates, still unrepaid; the vital effects upon the fortunes of Montrose of his leniency to the city of which he was personally a near neighbour; the experiment of Charles I in "nationalising" the sea fisheries of the West of Scotland ; and a score of other facts illuminated by these annals, all involved issues worthy of more consideration than they have yet received from historians.

In more purely domestic annals also the Glasgow records of the period present a highly interesting panorama. The change-over from ecclesiastical to industrial means of livelihood; the transfer of Church lands and revenues to the town; the rise of a medical profession; the development of a musical tradition; the wise settlement of differences between merchants and craftsmen—the "classes" and the "masses" of that time; the experiments in bureaucratic control of trade; the founding of one of the greatest charitable institutions of Scotland; the building of a civic sea-port on the Firth of Clyde; the methods of meeting national emergencies, and of providing for the unemployed; the occurrence of great city fires, which, like that of London in the same century, helped to wipe out an old order of things and usher in a new ; these are matters of much more than merely parochial interest.

The makers also of the civic annals of the period were a succession of men of whom enough has not hitherto been made. Every Glasgow citizen, of course, knows the story of the capture of Dunbarton Castle by Captain Thomas Crawford of Jordanhill ; but not everyone knows of the damning part played by Crawford in bearing evidence against Mary Queen of Scots. Everyone is acquainted also with that stout soldier of fortune, Dugald Dalgety, in Scott's Legend of Montrose, but few are aware of the intimate connection of his original, Sir James Turner, with the Glasgow garrison and the old mansion in the Gorbals. It is time also that more should be known about notable citizens like Colin Campbell of Blythswood, who entertained Cromwell on his visit to the city; Thomas Pettigrew who commanded part of the Glasgow contingent of fighting men in James VI's raid against the Catholic earls of the north after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and who subsequently showed such business acumen in securing a lease of the town's revenue from burgess fees; George Porterfield, who commanded the Glasgow forces in General Leslie's campaigns against Charles I, and who afterwards became Covenanting provost of the city, and from his exile in Holland sent home letters which implicated the Covenanters in plans for a Dutch invasion: and John Spreull, the die-hard town clerk, cousin of the Paisley "sufferer" known as Bass John, who united to strong Covenanting convictions a singular legal shrewdness and ability in holding fast to the emoluments of office against all comers.

These and many other elements of much more than passing moment or merely local interest substantiate the claim of the period of Glasgow history which forms the subject of the present volume to a greater measure of attention than it has yet received.

In the production of this volume a deep interest was taken by the late Sir John Lindsay, Town Clerk, and a similar interest has been manifested by his successor in office, Mr. David Stenhouse. To the indispensable support of both of these gentlemen, in making the civic records available for the work, and in making the necessary business arrangements, the most grateful acknowledgments must be made. Warm thanks are also due to Lady Mason and her brother, Mr. Alfred Mylne, for the loan of contemporary letters, which throw interesting light on noted characters of Glasgow in the seventeenth century.

GEORGE EYRE-TODD.

GLASGOW, March 1931.


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