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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XXXVII - Bishops Andrew "Muirhead" and John Laing—University Privileges—Friars Minors in Glasgow—Chapels of St. Thomas and St. Tenew—Chaplainries—Forfeiture of Unproductive Tenements.

THOUGH Bishop Andrew did not occupy any high office of state he took part in the legislative work of the parliaments which sat between 1464 and 1471; he is said to have been a member of the council of regency appointed after the death of James II., and he served on several important embassies. On 13th July, 1459 the bishop and others had a safe conduct to treat with English commissioners regarding the truce between the kingdoms; he was one of the Scottish commissioners who ratified a fifteen years' treaty of peace at Westminster in 1463; and again, in 1465, he is named as one of the commissioners who negotiated the prorogation of the truce till the year 1519. In 1466-7 the bishop and others, with eighty persons in their company, were authorised to pass between Scotland and England, and four years later a similar safe conduct was granted, but this time the sanctioned retinue was increased to four hundred persons. In 1468 the bishop was on the embassy to Denmark to treat of the marriage between James III. and the Princess Margaret. [Dowden's Bishops, p. 326; Bain's Calendar, iv. No. 130, et seq.]

Besides conferring on the University the jurisdiction specified in his grant of 1461, [Antea, p. 222.] it is probable that the bishop

used his influence in procuring from James III. the letter confirming the protection and exemptions bestowed by James II. in 1433. [Antea, P. 221.] The confirmatory letter, which recites the love, favour and affection which the king bore towards the University, and his desire that students might increase in number, to the honour of the commonweal and profit of many, was granted under his great seal, at Edinburgh, on 10th December, 1472, and the bishop is the first of ten attesting witnesses. Curiously enough the last witness was John Laing, designated rector of Newlands and king's treasurer, who was destined, within little more than a year, to become bishop of Glasgow.  [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 55-57. Simultaneously with the issue of this more formal document, the king addressed to the bishops of his realm a Letter, under his privy seal, exhorting them, in their respective dioceses, not to trouble the rectors, deans of faculties, procurators of nations, regents, masters, beadles, scriviners, stationers, parchment sellers and scholars, incorporated in the university, on the ground of any exactions, collections or taxes whatever, but contrariwise to defend all such persons in the privileges and exemptions granted to them by the king and his father. (Ibid. pp. 58-60.)] In the Glasgow Martyrology the "obit of Andrew Mureheid, bishop of Glasgow," is given as 10th November, 1473.

From various writings, including a papal bull of provision, dated 28th January, 1473-4, it is ascertained that John Laing was appointed the next bishop, but whether after a capitular election or not is uncertain. At the time of his appointment Laing held the offices of rector of Newlands, treasurer of the king, and clerk of the rolls and registers. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 403-4. Newlands, in Peeblesshire, is on the highway from Glasgow to the eastern borders of the diocese. It is likely that Laing was the last rector of Newlands as the benefice was erected into a prebend of the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas at Dalkeith in 1475. (Origines Earochiales, i. p. 192.) Discharges by the king to the bishop of his intromissions as treasurer, dated 11th October, 1475, and 3rd February, 1475-6, are recorded in Reg. Episc., PP. 428-9, Nos. 408-9.] He belonged to an Edinburghshire family and possessed property in Edinburgh. By a deed of gift, dated 9th February, 1481-2, he gave six stones of wax, annually, for candles to the choir of Glasgow cathedral, to be provided from the rents of two booths in that city. [Reg. Episc. No. 427. Within the burgh court of Edinburgh, on 24th November, 1476, in presence of Andrew Hervy, dean of guild, Thomas Mahome, burgh treasurer, and others, George Penycuk, son and heir of George of Penycuk, burgess of Edinburgh, ratified the sale and conveyance which his father and James Creichtoune of Felde had made to John, bishop of Glasgow, of a tenement of land on the north side of the High Street in the burgh of Edinburgh, including the two booths above mentioned. (Ibid. No. 451.)] In 1482, Bishop Laing held the office of chancellor of the kingdom, but he died on iith January, 1482-3. [Dowden's Bishops, pp. 328-9.]

It was during Laing's episcopate that a body of Franciscan Friars settled in Glasgow. The Franciscans, so named from their founder, St. Francis, of Assisi, in Italy, were established in 1206, and confirmed by Pope Innocent III., in 1210. They were otherwise known as Fratres Minores or Minorites (distinguishing them from the Fratres Majores or Friars Preachers), and as Grey Friars, from the colour of their habit. About the year 1415 a branch of the Franciscans adopted certain reforms, calling themselves Observantines, on account of their more strict observance of the founder's rule, and it was the section of the Order holding these views that acquired a residence in Glasgow. A few towns in Scotland had Franciscan settlements in the fourteenth century, but it was not till about the year 1476 that, so far as contemporary records show, members of the Order came to Glasgow. The spot selected for their residence was a short distance west from the High Street, nearly opposite the place of the Friars Preachers, which was on the east side of the street. Access from the High Street was obtained from a lane which acquired the name of Greyfriars Wynd, and is now known as Nicholas Street. The present Shuttle Street was also sometimes called Greyfriars Wynd, and it seems to have formed the eastern boundary of the Friars' grounds. Some particulars regarding the coming of the Friars to Glasgow are ascertained from a charter of James III., dated 21st December, 1479, whereby he confirmed to the Friars Minors of the Observantine Order the sites belonging to them in Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Glasgow. [Reg. Mag. Sig. ii. No. 1434.] The Glasgow site is stated to have been gifted by John, bishop of Glasgow, and Mr. Thomas Forsythe, rector of Glasgow; and, as Bishop John's episcopate began in 1473, the Friars must have got possession between that date and 1479. The ground on the west side remained the property of the bishop and rector respectively, and therefore it may be inferred that the site was taken partly from the rectory or parsonage lands. In 1511 the rector of that time, Robert Blacader, gave to the Friars a strip of ground, twenty feet in breadth, and the bishop gave them a further strip, twenty-two feet in breadth, from his lands of Ramshorn. The two strips, with the ends joined together, extended along the western side of the Friars' property, and were stated to be given for enlargement of their monastery (monasterii), house and yards.  [Diocesan Reg. Prot. Nos. 560, 565.]

There is very little on record bearing on the history of the Greyfriars in Glasgow. Adhering to their original vow of poverty they do not seem to have possessed lands other than those just referred to, and consequently had few title deeds. Then no contemporary writings are extant affording information on the routine work of either the Black or the Grey Friars in Glasgow, and with regard to the latter the references to transactions in which they were concerned are specially meagre. At the acquisition of ground in 1511 the convent was represented by Friar John Johnson who held office as Warden, and the title to the portion given by the bishop was taken to James Peddegrew, Provincia of the Order, in name of the Friars Minors. Two years later Johnson, who was still Warden, along with Friar John Tennant, cleric, and Alexander Cottis and Thomas Bawfour, laics, all members of the Glasgow convent, were witnesses to a ceremony which took place at the manse of the cathedral treasurer. [Diocesan Reg. Prof. No. 632.] This was on 9th April, 1513, and on 4th July following the name of John Akinhede, Observant Friar Minor, occurs. [Ibid. No. 645.] According to the official statutes of the Order, enacted at Barcelona in 1451, the term Warden (Gardianus) is the ,official title of the head of a convent in which twelve brethren could be comfortably accommodated. If, therefore, in the passage just cited the term Warden was used in its strict sense Glasgow convent must have consisted of at least twelve friars. [Scottish Historical Review, vol. iii. p. 184. The Parson's property, part of which was given to the Friars, embraced the piece of rocky ground called variously Craigmak, Craigmacht or Craignaught, where Glasgow Fair used to be proclaimed, as mentioned antea, p. 68.]

About the chapel of St. Thomas, which is believed to have adjoined that of St. Tenew, a few particulars have been gathered from the Papal Registers. On 16th March, 1422-3, Pope Martin V. gave dispensation to David de Hamylton, a bachelor in canon law, " who was of a race of great nobles of the realm of Scotland and a kinsman of Murdac, duke of Albany, governor of the said realm," to hold the deanery of Glasgow and parish church of Cumnock, though he held several other benefices, including the Chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr, which was of value not exceeding £10 yearly. Three years later this benefice, still in Hamylton's possession, was called the Chapel, without cure, of St. Thomas the Martyr, without the walls of Glasgow. The expression "without the walls" was apparently used to denote that the chapel was situated beyond the West Port of the city. On 11th March, 1430-1, David de Hamylton is again referred to as holder of the chapel. A letter from Pope Nicholas to the bishop of Glasgow, dated 4th January, 1450-1, desires him to inquire into a petition by Lord Hamilton, asking that the parish church of Hamilton "called from of old Cadzow," should be erected into a collegiate church. If the statements in the petition should be found correct the collegiate church was to be erected as craved, and the chaplainry of St. Thomas, of a value not exceeding four merks yearly was to be included in the endowments. Regarding the chapel of St. Tenew, the Papal Registers add little if anything to the meagre information derived from other sources. In July, 1370, there is an entry in the Register bearing that Walter de Roulen, designated "Rector of the chapel of St. Thanen, value £4," was to be confirmed in his possession of the Church of Torbolton, if found qualified. [Papal Reg. vii. PP. 258, 425; ix. p. 38; X. P. 75; iv. p. 86; antea, p. 134.] The reference is not quite explicit, but it seems likely that the chapel of St. Tenew in Glasgow was meant, and if so Roulen is the only one of its rectors whose name has been traced on record.

Towards the end of Bishop Andrew's episcopate and during that of Bishop John several endowments for religious services in the cathedral were obtained. On 29th January, 1472-3, James Douglas of Achincassil, who is perhaps to be identified as an ancestor of the Duke of Queensberry, founded a chaplainry at the altar of St. Cuthbert, on the south side of the nave, and endowed it with annualrents amounting to £10 yearly, payable furth of lands and tenements mainly in Linlithgow and the remainder in Glasgow, one of the latter properties being described as lying near the market cross, on the north side of the tolbooth. [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. i. Abstract, p. 7, No. 286 ; ii. p. 461, No. viii; p. 605, No. 3; The Scottish Antiquary, vol. xvii. pp. 112-20. ] On 10th March, 1476-7, John of Ottirburn, licentiate in decreets and greater sacristan of the church of Glasgow, conveyed to the vicars of the choir, for observance of specified services, his croft lying on the north side of the city, between the subchanter's manse on the east, the yard or orchard of the rector of Glasgow, then held in feu by Richard Gardner, on the west, the end of the yards of the precentor and chancellor, and the manses of the vicars built by Bishop Andrew, on the south, and the common lands of Glasgow, extending to the two crosses, on the north. [Reg. Episc. No. 412. To the instrument setting forth this endowment the dean and several of the canons gave their express approval (Ibid. No. 413). In the activities of cathedral services the vicars had evidently an important share. Such services, too, seem to have been increasingly valued from a pecuniary point of view, for by a writing dated 5th June, 1480, the dean and canons consented to an augmentation of the stipends or pensions of the vicars, those who formerly got £5 each being in future entitled to receive £10 from the prebendary in whose stall he served (Ibid. No. 426).] On 19th December, 1478, Gilbert Rerik archdeacon, founded a perpetual chaplainry at the altar of St. Michael, the archangel, within the church, behind the great south door to the west, and endowed it with the tenement on the south side of Ratounraw called the Pedagogy; also a contiguous waste tenement acquired from the vicars of the choir. Other two tenements were likewise given, one of them described as lying opposite the subdean's gate, on the south side of Erskine manse and east side of certain stone houses belonging to Glasgow hospital; and the other was situated north of the tenement formerly belonging to Sir Thomas Arthurle and then to the new Pedagogy. It was a condition of this endowment that the chaplain should yearly distribute twenty shillings among thirty poor and needy persons, giving to each either money or meat and drink to the value of eightpence, and that he should maintain and repair the houses and tenements belonging to the chaplainry. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 420, 452.]

The property above referred to which Gilbert Rerik bought from the vicars of the choir consisted of a tenement which, on account of its unproductive condition, had been forfeited to the vicars by a process which may be described as illustrative of practice in the burgh court at that time.

The old burgh laws contained provisions for the forfeiture of property in default of payment of annual rents, and by the Act which latterly regulated procedure it was ordained that no one pursuing for recovery of a waste and undistrainable tenement, because of the annualrent being in arrear, should be bound to lay waste the land or tenement by presenting at the court of the burgh the doors, windows, and timber or such like, no one being bound to injure himself. The former procedure requiring that mode of action was therefore declared inept, "and as it were condemnit be the wise council of the burghs"; and it was provided that whosoever desired to proceed in burgh for recovery of land or tenement unfruitful, on account of non-payment of the yearly rent, should go to the land or tenement with witnesses and the burgh sergeant or officer, and take earth and stone of the tenement and present it to the bailies at three head courts of the burgh. The stones and earth so presented were then appointed to be placed in a bag, sealed with the bailie's seal, and kept by the pursuer till the fourth head court, when the stone and earth exhibited at the three preceding courts were to be shown to the bailie, and possession of the land sought and given. [Ancient Laws and Customs, i. p. 168.] Acting in conformity with that law, the provost, John Stewart, with two bailies, held a court on 27th January, 1477-8, when one of the vicars of the choir, for himself and his colleagues, appeared and reported that the tenement in the Ratonraw, above referred to, was destitute of all "bigging and reparacion," so that it could not be distrained for the payment of the annual rent due in respect of it. Wherefore he sought the court to deliver to him earth and stone in default of payment, according to the burgh laws. The application being deemed reasonable, the applicant, with one of the sergeants of the burgh, was authorised to go to the premises and receive earth and stone of the same before witnesses, after the custom of the city in such matters. All this having been done the applicant reported the procedure to the court. At the second head court, held on 7th April, 1478, the vicar reappeared and renewed his application, which was granted, and a similar course of procedure was adopted and reported to the third head court. At that court, held on 13th October, 1478, the same formalities were gone through, and at the fourth head court, held on 26th January, 1478-9, another vicar, whose authority to represent his colleagues was known, appeared and recited the procedure which had been taken on the three previous occasions, and the fact that proclamation had been made, at the market cross of the city, warning the lawful heritors or heirs to make payment of the annual rent then due. He thereupon claimed the legal remedy. Upon this he was removed, the court was warded, and the application was considered, after which the applicant was called in, and Sir John Michelson, the town clerk, judicially instructed the dempster to give decree sustaining the claim of the vicars. [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 66-71.]

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