Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The History of Glasgow
Chapter X - Bishop Herbert—Cathedral Organization—Somerled's Invasion

BISHOP JOHN, who during his episcopate was frequently away from Glasgow for lengthened periods, died in 1147 and was buried in the monastery of Jedburgh. He was succeeded by Herbert, who had been third abbot of Selkirk and was first of Kelso, having held that office at the time when the abbey which Prince David had established at the former town, in 1113, was transferred to Kelso in 1128. The new bishop was consecrated by Pope Eugenius, at Auxerre in France, on 24th August, 1147. In addition to gifts of churches and endowments, in places more distant, King David, in 1150, gave to the Bishop of Glasgow the church of Cadihou or Cadzow, near Hamilton, [Reg. Episc. No. 8.] a church which subsequently became the prebend of the dean of the cathedral chapter. Other two grants of uncertain though probably prior dates may also be noticed.

By the first of the two undated charters just alluded to, David gave to the church of Glasgow the whole tithes of his "chan" in the beasts and pigs of Strathgrif and Cunningham, Kyle and Carrick, in each year, unless the King should go to dwell there and consume his own chan; and by the second charter the King gave to the church the eighth penny of all pleas throughout Cumbria. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 9, xo. Sir Archibald Lawrie places these charters circa 1239-41 (Early Scottish Charters, pp. 95, 96).] Evidence of the continuation of these allowances, till near the end of the thirteenth century, is found in the published Exchequer Rolls, from which it will be seen that in the diocese of Glasgow the bishop had his eighth of the fines and escheats of both justiciary and sheriff courts, his right also extending over the diocese of Galloway in respect of the issues of the former but not of the latter courts. [Exchequer Rolls, i. p. Iviii, etc.] Chan or can, it may be explained, was the share of produce of crops or animals delivered as part of the rent and dues payable by tenants and vassals for the lands they possessed under a superior.

During the reign of his brother-in-law, Henry I., David's relations with England were altogether friendly, but in 1136, when Stephen seized the crown in violation of the arrangement for the succession of the late King's daughter, Maud, David entered on a course of warfare with England which lasted intermittently for a number of years. These contests resulted in his securing possession of a wide district in the north of England, and for the remainder of his reign the Eden and the Tees became the boundaries between the two kingdoms. But owing to the death of Prince Henry, his only son, David was succeeded by the youthful Malcolm, who was forced to relinquish these gains, and thenceforth the Scottish border line did not cross the Solway.

At the desire of Bishop Herbert a foreign ecclesiastic who had travelled much, but whose name is not known, composed or at least began a Life of St. Kentigern, but only a fragment of it has been preserved and it is not known if the task was ever completed. The extant fragment has often been printed and commented on, and it seems to have been known to Joceline, who compiled the fuller biography of the saint about twenty-five years later. The Prologue is interesting as showing the views current in Bishop Herbert's time. Many regions, the writer says, he had traversed, carefully investigating the manners of the same and the devotion of their clergy and laity. Every land he had found venerating its own provincial saint, but when he came to Scotland, though he found it rich in the relics of saints, illustrious in its clergy and glorious in its princes, it was, in comparison with other kingdoms, behind-hand in its reverence for the saints. Noting the scantiness of such attention, the writer, for the honour of the most holy confessor and bishop Kentigern, who in comparison with others, "glittereth like Lucifer among the stars," took up his pen at the instance of Herbert, the venerable Bishop of Glasgow, and had composed the work " from the material found in the little book of his virtues and from the oral communication of the faithful." [St. Kentigern (Historians of Scotland), pp. 123-4.]

Along with these researches into the past history of the see, the bishop also devoted some attention to its existing organization, and the constitution of the cathedral chapter, based, as already mentioned, on that of Sarum, is understood to have been framed by him. At a subsequent period, when the constitution was again under consideration, full particulars were obtained from Salisbury, with a ritual composed so early as the year 1076, and as will hereafter be seen these were adapted to the requirements of Glasgow cathedral. Like his predecessor, Herbert seems to have disregarded the supremacy claims of York, though in 1155, Pope Adrian addressed a joint letter to all the Scottish bishops ordering them to submit to the archbishop of that see as metropolitan. Similar claims were put forward from time to time, but the controversy was interrupted in 1176 by Pope Alexander III. commanding the archbishop not to exercise metropolitan jurisdiction over the Scottish church until the question was examined and decided. [Lawrie's Annals, pp. 18, 206; Scottish Annals (Anderson), p. 238; Reg. Episc. No. 38. See also postea, ch. xii.]

In the year 1161 the same Pope had issued three documents relating to Glasgow's ecclesiastical affairs. By a Bull dated 17th January the clergy and people of the bishopric were enjoined to visit the cathedral church yearly, according to the custom observed in the bishopric of St. Andrews and other sees, and on 7th March it was intimated to the dean and chapter that the prebends of canons, for a year after their death, should be given to the poor or applied in satisfaction of the just debts of the deceased canons. [Under changed circumstances, and with a different destination, there is still in operation a law for the disposal of stipends payable for the first year after the death of parish ministers, that portion of the stipend payable for the current half year falling into the deceased's estate and the remainder, called annat, going to his widow and family.] The third document, which is dated 24th June, is included among several royal and papal writs for enforcing the payment of tithes in the several parishes throughout the diocese. As enumerated in one of these documents, teinds were payable from grain, lint, wool, cheese, butter, lambs, victuals, swine, goats and poultry. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 13, 14, 17, 18 ; Lawrie's Annals, pp. 61-63.]

During his reign Malcolm had been much troubled by the rebellion and invasions of Somerled, "under-king of Argyle." In 1164 Somerled assembled a fleet of 16o ships and landed at Renfrew with the intention of subduing the whole kingdom, but the invaders were suddenly attacked by the people of the district and sustained an unexpected defeat, and Somerled and his son were slain. This collapse was attributed by the chroniclers to divine interposition, and the author of a curious contemporary poem attributes the chief credit to the merits of St. Kentigern. The poet says that Somerled landed near Glasgow, the people fled, and one Marcus alone of the clerics remained in the church. In answer to a prayer St. Kentigern recalled Bishop Herbert, accompanied by Helias, a canon of the cathedral, and the people, encouraged by the arrival of the bishop, became brave and attacked and slew Somerled. His followers, panic-stricken, fled to their ships, but many were killed. A cleric cut off the head of Somerled and gave it to the bishop, who ascribed the victory to St. Kentigern. [Skene's Celtic Scotland, i. p. 473; Fordun's Chronicle, i. p. 449.] Sometime before 1165 Walter, the Steward, by an undated charter, granted in perpetual alms, for the lights of the church of St. Kentigern of Glasgow, two shillings yearly from the rents of the burgh of Renfrew, [Reg. Episc. No. 20.] and though this seems to have been in continuance of an Easter donation which had already been bestowed for several years, it is not unlikely that the grant was now formally constituted in gratitude for the assistance rendered by churchmen in quelling Somerled's invasion.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus