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 XXXII - Reign of James II.—Bishops Bruce and Turnbull—Market Customs—Freedom of St. Mungo—Barony and Regality

THE reign of James II., with its long minority and short period of personal rule, was marked by many dramatic episodes, and owing to the scantiness of authentic records the narrative of these bulks perhaps too prominently in the historian's pages. Notwithstanding the disorders, interruptions and other evils caused by the rivalries between the Crichtons and the Livingstones, alternate custodiers of the young king, the plotting of the Douglases and the measures taken for their final overthrow, the turbulent conduct of other members of the nobility and the efforts required for the subjugation of rebellious subjects, the country had attained a fairly prosperous condition when this chapter . of its history closed with the untimely death of the king at the siege of Roxburgh Castle. In the administration of internal affairs parliament, which was frequently assembled, passed a series of laws for the regulation of commerce, the encouragement of agriculture, the organisation of judicial departments and the protection of various classes of subjects, who had hitherto been too much overlooked, specially including farmers, artisans and merchants. The law passed for the benefit of "the pure pepil that laubouris the grunde," whereby tenants were secured in the lands they leased during the currency of their tacks, still remains on the statute book, the only scrap of legislation belonging to this reign which was allowed to survive the wholesale repeal of the Scots acts in 1906. In this statute Glasgow people had perhaps little concern, as it may be assumed that the system of rental right, with its fixity of tenure, enjoyed by the tenants in the barony was already in operation. Other acts of parliament which affected Glasgow, in common with the royal burghs, but which though superseded or fallen into desuetude, were not formally repealed till 1906, related to such subjects as the restraining of masterful beggars, avoiding dearth of victuals, precautions against the pestilence, holding wapinshawings and regulating measures of capacity; while, for the more speedy disposal of law prosecutions, a "secret council" of from eight to twelve persons was ordered to be appointed in each burgh of the realm. There was also a statute which narrated that the realm was greatly impoverished through sumptuous clothing both of men and women, and it was ordained that no man within burgh who lived by merchandice (unless he should be an alderman, bailie or councillor), nor his wife, should wear clothes of silk, nor costly scarlets in gowns, nor furrings of martens. Wives and daughters were to be apparelled corresponding to their estate, wearing " on their hedis schort curches with litill hudis, as ar usit in Flanderis, Ingland and uther cuntreis ; and as to their gownys, that na woman weir mertrikis nor letvis nor talys of unfittande lenthe nor furryt under, bot on the Halyday." [Ancient Laws and Customs, u. pp. 21-29. " Mertrikis," martens, of the weasel species; "letvis, letteis," gray fur.]

Bishop Cameron retained the chancellorship till 1439, after which it was held for a few years by Sir William Crichton. Crichton's successor in that office was James Bruce, then Bishop of Dunkeld, who followed Bishop Cameron in the bishopric of Glasgow. Bruce is styled Bishop of Glasgow and Chancellor on 19th June, 1447, but he must have died before 4th October of that year, the date of a document in which the see is said to be vacant. William Turnbull, who had succeeded Bruce as Bishop of Dunkeld, Iikewise filled his place in the bishopric of Glasgow, the date of his appointment being 27th October, 1447. [Dowden's Bishops, p. 322. The Auchin'eck Chronicle (p. 41) has this remark: " In that samyn yer (1449) master William Turnbull said his first mes in Glasgu, the xx of September."] In 1441 Turnbull is designated Keeper of the Privy Seal and in 1446 Keeper of the Privy Seal and Canon of Glasgow. [Exchequer Rolls, v. pp. 108, 222.] This official position and the consequent freedom of intercourse between the bishop and the sovereign afforded favourable opportunities, of which advantage was freely taken, for obtaining protection against encroachment on the city's rights as well as for the extension of existing privileges.

In the old laws injunctions were repeatedly given for the market of each burgh having a monopoly of the trade within its own district or "liberty," [Ancient Laws and Customs, i. pp. 61, 162, 183.] a term which in the case of a royal burgh usually denoted the shire within which it was situated, but for Glasgow its "liberty" was the barony. The burghs of Rutherglen and Renfrew being situated within so short a distance of each other, and Glasgow being placed between them, it was not surprising that questions as to precise limits should arise in places where there was no well-defined physical boundary. Towards the west Renfrewshire lands stretched along both sides of the Clyde and, similarly, on the east Rutherglen's market territory embraced portions of Lanarkshire on both sides of the same river. At these extremities the precise boundaries were perhaps dubious, and either through ignorance or wilful encroachment custom was being unjustly withdrawn from Glasgow market. Not only so, but the inhabitants of the Rutherglen and Renfrew districts were being obstructed in their attendance at Glasgow market, thereby curtailing the trading privileges of the city. This led to a complaint by Bishop Turnbull, who represented to the king that the bailies, burgesses and communities of Renfrew and Rutherglen impeded the lieges and communities "of burgh and land" who brought goods to Glasgow market, thereby prejudicing the "privilege and custum grantyd to the kyrk of Glasgu of auld tyme" by the king's predecessors and observed in time past. The king thereupon, by letters granted under his privy seal, at Edinburgh, on 4th February, 1449-50, charged the communities complained against, and all others whom it might concern, that they should not trouble or impede any of the lieges coming or going to Glasgow with merchandise or other goods to sell or buy, but should suffer them to come, go, buy and sell, freely and peaceably without any hindrance. It was also ordered that no one of the burghs, nor any others, should come within the barony of Glasgow, "na within ony landis pertaining to Sant Mongos fredome," to take toll or custom, by water or land, of any person coming or going to the market, notwithstanding any letters of the king's predecessors, granted to Renfrew, Rutherglen, or any other burghs. By this stipulation the sanction given to the burgh of Rutherglen, by the royal charter of 29th October, 1226, for collection of toll or custom at the cross of Schedneston, must have been withdrawn, if indeed the practice had not already been discontinued. Besides the relief thus afforded, Glasgow was also secured in the collection of dues exigible from traders coming from other burghs, as well as from all other frequenters of the city's markets.

In his representation to the king the bishop refers to the privilege and custom granted to the "kyrk of Glasgw of auld tyme," an expression which may be taken as comprehending the interests of all concerned in the market. Originally the market rights were conferred on the bishops and their successors as an essential privilege of the burgh they were authorised to establish and maintain, and "kyrk" was here used as an equivalent term. Though the bishops as overlords might, by the restoration of appropriated area, have received augmented custom, yet the chief benefit derivable from market extension and development must have accrued to the trading community.

It was customary for continental sovereigns and princes to be honorary canons of religious establishments in their respective territories, and following these precedents both James II. and James IV. became canons of Glasgow cathedral. In some remarks on cathedral services, based on information contained in the MS. Register of Glasgow Bishopric, then preserved in the Scots College at Paris, Father Innes refers to "King James IV. who was honorary canon of Glasgow, as the Kings of France are of St. Martin of Tours."  The position in the cathedral thus attained by James II. is a further indication of his intimacy with the bishop, on whom in turn not a few favours were conferred. By this time the landed estates of the bishops in the vicinity of Glasgow, going by the name of the "Barony," must have been managed under some recognised form of jurisdiction; but so far as is known, the only writing bearing on the subject was the charter of Alexander II. confirming some of the lands in free forest.8 As early as the reign of the first Alexander churchmen were accustomed to hold courts within their own lands, and it is probable that the grant of free forest, and even that of free regality, next to be noticed, indicated not so much concession of new authority as confirmation of existing privileges. On loth April, 1450, King James, having regard to the honour of the church of Glasgow, "in which he was a canon," and for the favour which he bore towards Bishop Turnbull, "his well-beloved councillor," confirmed to him and his successors the city and barony of Glasgow, and lands commonly called Bishopforest, to be held in free regality or royalty, with all the privileges attaching to that tenure ; and in acknowledgment of the grant the bishops were to offer devout prayers and to deliver to the sovereign a red rose, yearly, in name of blench farm.

[Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 28-31. The original charter is still preserved. Its attached seal, in white wax, was entire when examined by Father Innes, but it is now somewhat broken and defaced. A copy of the charter, but unaccountably bearing date 22nd February, 1450-1, and having the name of one attesting witness omitted and four others added, is engrossed in each of the collections known as the Ancient Register and the Red Book of the Church (Ib. p. 36 ; Reg. Episc. Nos. 356, 362).

Cosmo Innes says: "A grant of regality took as much out of the crown as the sovereign could give. It was, in fact, investing the grantee in the sovereignty of the territory" (Legal Antiquities, p. 40). Though there is no extant charter of an earlier date than 1450 investing the bishops with regality powers, it is not improbable that such had been conferred before that time. So far as form is concerned the charter may be taken either as a confirmation or an original grant, and in the ratification by James III., noticed in the text, reference is made to the fact that " several " of his predecessors had granted to the church and see of Glasgow sundry liberties and privileges, and particularly the city, barony and lands in free regality. Accordingly, the charter of 1450 may merely so far have given formal expression to a condition of things which already existed, either under express grant or the operation of general law.]

The privileges thus bestowed, as more fully set forth in a charter of confirmation by King James III. on 15th July,1476, include authority to administer justice (reserving only the f our pleas of the crown), privilege of " chapel for serving brieves," and power to appoint a provost, bailies, sergeants and other officers of the city, and also a sergeant or officer of the regality. The sergeant was to carry a silver mace or wand with the royal arms on the upper end and the arms of the bishop on the lower end, for making arrestments and executing the bishop's precepts within the regality and throughout all his lands within the diocese. [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 6o-65. An act of parliament (1436, C. ii) regulated the kinds of wands to be carried by different officers. The king's officer had a red wand, three quarters of a yard long; a regality officer, a wand of the same length, one end red and the other white ; a barony sergeant, a white wand an ell long; and a burgh sergeant, a red wand like the king's officer (Ancient Laws and Customs, ii. p. 20).]

The right of "chapel (capella) for granting brieves," mentioned in the charter, consisted of the jurisdiction exercised by the bishops in the service of heirs, the process whereby an heir acquired a title to his ancestor's estate. In Ducange one sense of capella is given as equivalent to cancellaria; and to this definition may be traced the use to which the word was applied in connection with the service of heirs in Scotland. The king's chapel (ca/ella regis) from which writs relating to the making up of the titles of heirs, technically called services, were issued, and to which, after inquisition, such writs were "retoured" (i.e. returned), was simply the chancellary or chancery office, and similar nomenclature was extended to subordinate judicatories. Erskine, in his Institute of the Law of Scotland, says: "A lord of regality had a chancery proper to his jurisdiction, from whence he might issue brieves to his bailie for the service of heirs; and the service proceeding on such brief, when recorded in the books of the regality, was as effectual as a retour on a brieve issuing from the king's chancery."  [Institute, B. i. tit. iv. S. 7. Examples of brieves issued from the Glasgow chancery are referred to in Glasg. Protocols, Nos. 40, 186, 1314, 2033.]

The passage in the charter of 1476 authorising the bishop to constitute within the city a provost, bailies, sergeants and other officers and to remove them was appropriate to a deed setting forth the original foundation of a burgh of regality, but in the case of Glasgow, a city already possessed of all the privileges of a royal burgh, it can scarcely be taken in its literal significance. If there had been any intention to interfere with the already existing practice of appointing the provost and bailies of the burgh, something more specific than mere words of ordinary style would have appeared in the charter ; and therefore it may be assumed that, subject to such modification as the circumstances rendered necessary, the mode of election prevailing in royal burghs still remained applicable to Glasgow. Originally the provost was not an essential member in the constitution of a royal burgh, and in many towns no provost was appointed till a comparatively late period in their history. The " first provost that was in Glasgow " makes his appearance in 1453, and for more than a hundred years after that date the office was usually held by the bailie or depute-bailie of the barony and regality who was charged with the judicial administration of the landed district. Though nominated by the bishop, it is probable that from the first, as the extant records show was latterly the case, the provost was accepted by and received his commission from the bailies and council. The bailies themselves could only be chosen by the bishop from a leet presented to him by the old bailies and council, and the bailies so chosen received a formal commission which proceded in the name of "the comburgesses and whole community of the burgh," an expression which may be taken as a survival of the early time when the bailies were appointed or leeted by the good men of the town assembled at the Michaelmas Court. [A judicial document dated in 1554 (Glasg. Chart. i. pt. i. pp. dxl, dxli) narrates that "beyond the memory of man" it had been the custom for the old bailies and councillors to present to the archbishop, at Michaelmas, a leet of persons from which he chose the bailies for the ensuing year; and the earliest extant record of a municipal election in Glasgow farther illustrates the practice. This election was carried through at the head court held on the first Tuesday after Michaelmas, 1574, when Archbishop Boyd nominated his kinsman, Lord Boyd, bailie of the regality, as provost, and desired the bailies, council, and community to give him a commission of provostry, " conforme to use and wont." Then the provost, with the old bailies and council, presented a leet of eight persons, including the three old bailies and two craftsmen, to the archbishop, who chose from the leet three bailies, being one more than the usual number "in respect of the multitude of the people and trublis in office" (Glasg. Rec. i. pp. 22, 23).]

Though, as has already been suggested, the lands around the city of Glasgow may have been subject to regality jurisdiction from earlier times it is not unlikely that Bishopforest, the territory bestowed on the church by the widow of the Lord of Kilbryde, remained as an ordinary outlying estate till it was incorporated with the regality of Glasgow in 1450. Before that date these lands, lying in the parish of KirkpatrickIrongray and stewartry of Kirkcudbright, were probably cultivated by rentallers, whose successors eventually got their possessions converted into feu-holdings. Archbishop Dunbar, as is shown by the statement of his executors made up in 1548, drew rents from the lands, but it is not till seventy years later that we have specific information on the subject. During the archbishopric of John Spottiswoode, Lord Herries, who seems to have been connected with the estate as mid-superior, resigned his interest to that prelate, who apportioned the lands in feu-farm among the old tenants. In the year 1613 eighteen separate holdings were in this way conveyed to twelve feuars for payment of yearly feuduties, amounting in cuntulo to £33 13s. 3d. Scots of old rental with 8s. 8d. of augmentation. Described as a twenty merk land, the area of Bishopforest may be approximately put down at boo acres; and, assuming that the feuduties were allocated in proportion to extent, the largest holding must have contained about 100 acres and the smallest about three acres. In addition to the money payment the feuars had to contribute specified services to the archbishop's bailie on the lands retained in his possession. Seventeen horses for ploughing his fields, and twenty-nine reapers in autumn were thus requisitioned from the feuars to serve for specified times in the year, making up 131 days' work in all. The largest holder supplied three reapers and two horses for one day, and the smallest was required to provide half a reaper for a day, an obligation which could be implemented by combining with another feuar similarly liable. The feuars were likewise bound to attend the courts of the "barony and regality of Bishopforest," for holding of which courts the archbishop undertook to appoint a fit bailie from among his servants and attendants, whom failing one was to be deputed from the qualified feu-farmers of the lands. [Reg. Mag. Sig. vii. No. 1025.] Distinctive names of farms on the lower grounds now supersede the original designation, but a conspicuous height in the north-west of the parish, reaching to 1,285 feet above sea-level, still retains the name of Bishopforest.

[The writer of the Old Statistical Account (vol. i. p. 525) says that the hill though apparently the highest near Dumfries was " yet of no very steep or difficult ascent in most places, owing to a very extended and regular base, around which are planted several large and distinct farms and properties. Foxes bring forth in holes upon the Bishopsforest. When they begin to kill sheep anywhere in the parish, the huntsman, who is paid by the county, is sent for, and he seldom fails to unkennel a fox on that hill or in the woods around it."

Communion stones on the side of the hill, with a granite monument erected in 1870, commemorate Covenanting scenes and the conflicts between prelacy and presbytery. Tombs of martyrs "hanged without law by Lagg" are likewise to be seen near the parish burying ground, while in the churchyard itself is another attraction for pilgrim feet. This consists of a grave, over which a stone was "erected by the author of 'Waverley' in memory of Helen Walker, who died in the year of God i79i, and who practised in real life the virtues with which fiction has invested the imaginary character of Jeanie Deans." (Ordnance Gazetteer—" Kirkpatrick-Irongray "—iv. p. 436.)]

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