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The History of Glasgow
Volume 3 - Preface


THIS is the third volume of the History of Glasgow, produced under the aegis of the Corporation of the city in pursuance of their resolution of 6th September, 1917. The three volumes cover the period from the earliest times to the passing of the Reform Acts of 1832 and 1833 and afford a detailed account of the origin and development of burghal life in Scotland. The first volume dealt with the burgh as a possession of the bishopric. The second volume, covering the period between the Reformation and the Revolution, detailed the change from an ecclesiastical dependency to a trading community. The third volume tells the story of the free burgh and the men who, during nearly a century and a half, by their genius and energy, built up its fortunes and reputation and made Glasgow one of the great cities of the world.

Of these men the present volume takes particular account. There is tragedy in the fact that so few of these makers of prosperity have representatives in the community to-day. We still have a Speirs of Elderslie, an Oswald of Auchencruive, a Buchanan of Drumpellier, and a few more. But of Walter Gibson of Balgray and Balshagrie, John Anderson of Dowhill, William Macdowall of Castle Semple, Allan Dreghorn of Ruchill, Patrick Colquhoun of Kelvingrove, and a score of others, hardly more than a memory now remains. Each of them gave notable service in his time, and in each case the story of endeavour and achievement, and sometimes, alas, of ultimate catastrophe, forms a human document of real and permanent interest.

In those years the story of Glasgow was not the story of Glasgow alone. The city played its part stoutly in the general affairs of the kingdom. From the first it supported strongly the Revolution Settlement and the House of Hanover. Its fortunes were deeply involved in events like the Darien Expedition and the revolt of the American colonies. Its development of the steam engine and the steam ship contributed more than anything else to the making of modern Britain. And if its contribution, by riot and mass meeting, to the passing of the Reform Acts was not entirely a matter to be proud of, that contribution affords a typical illustration of the spirit of the time.

It was long a popular and plausible complaint that history dealt too exclusively with matters of battles, dynasties, and statecraft, and too little with the life, actions, and achievements of ordinary folk. To that reproach the annals of Glasgow go a long way to provide an answer. The records of the Town Council itself, which furnish the main source of information for the narrative contained in this volume, afford a close and intimate picture of burgess life in Scotland in the eighteenth century. Full use has also been made in these pages of sidelights furnished by such works as Chambers's Domestic Annals of Scotland, Henry Grey Graham's Social Life of Scotland in the Eighteenth Century, and The Social and Industrial History of Scotland, by Professor James Mackinnon, as well as the colourful descriptions of such first-hand recorders as Daniel Defoe, "Jupiter" Carlyle, James Strang, the author of Glasgow and its Clubs, and Senex, author of Glasgow Past and Present. From such materials an impression may be got, in fairly abundant detail, of the character, habits, and circumstances of the burgess life of the period.

For valuable suggestions, elucidations, and information the writer has been indebted to a number of friends, notably to Mr. A. C. Scott, Town-Clerk Depute and Keeper of the Sasines; to ex-Bailie Ninian MacWhannell; and to Dr. Harry Lumsden, Clerk to the Trades House, whose scholarly edition of the Trades House records forms the most recent addition to the printed materials of Glasgow's history. Most especially must be acknowledged the interest and extreme kindness of the Town Clerk, Mr. David Stenhouse, whose careful reading of the whole work, as it passed through the press, has been of the utmost value. To these gentlemen I tender my most grateful thanks.

GEORGE EYRE-TODD.

AUCHENLARICH, 16th April, 1934.


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