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.
AUCHENLARICH, 16th April, 1934.