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 XLVIII - Protocol Book for City Properties—Traffic on River Clyde—Liberties of Glasgow, Rutherglen and Renfrew—Tax Roll of Burghs

OUR fullest information regarding the situation and ownership of properties within the city of Glasgow, in the sixteenth century, is obtained from the protocols of the town clerks of Glasgow which are preserved in a fairly continuous series from the year 1547. An earlier instalment of this class of record is embraced in the protocols of Michael Fleming, between 1530 and 1537, averaging in number about forty transactions in the year, all written in the vernacular, [Glasg. Prot. Nos. 1050-1317.] a practice rarely followed by notaries of that period, their instruments being almost invariably written in Latin.

In his instruments Fleming is styled clerk of the diocese of Glasgow, notary public by apostolic and imperial authority, and he was probably town clerk though his name coupled with that designation has not been traced. One of his protocols narrates proceedings which are referred to as recorded at length in the "ak bwkis of the town," thus indicating the ready access to a municipal record such as a town clerk would possess. [This protocol is dated 15th December, 1534, so that the cited act book must have been at least forty years earlier in date than any now existing.] Another protocol records proceedings which took place in the "court of Glasgow," the clerkship of which was held by the town clerk, and it would naturally fall within the province of that official to note the particulars as contained in Fleming's protocol book. [lasg. Prof. NToi. 1103, 1194.]

The protocol last cited is that dated 9th December, 1531, [See also antea, p. 332.] narrating that representatives from Dumbarton alleged that the contract between that burgh and Glasgow providing for a joint interest in the river Clyde had been broken. But that there was no material rupture between the two burghs at that time may be gathered from a letter which King James V., on 3rd April, 1533, addressed to their provosts, bailies, aldermen and communities, requiring them to deliver to the deputy captain of the castle of Dumbarton three or four tuns of wines out of every ship that came to their waters with wines, for provisioning the King and the castle, he paying therefor the same price as was paid for the remainder. [Stirlings of Keir, p. 351, cited in Glasg. Chart. i. pt. i. Abstract, p. 14,]

In July of this year large quantities of provisions were collected for the King's ship, the payments relating to which include 10s. "for careing of the foresaid stuff to the brig end of Glasgu," and 15s. "for fraucht of the forsaidis wittallis Ira Glasgu to Dunbritane." On 7th September the King was at Inveraray, his presence in that direction being probably connected with the chronic state of disturbance which affected that part of the country. In Argyll the King remained till at least 10th October. On his return he spent a few days in Glasgow, whence a boy was sent to Edinburgh for his lute; and on 19th October the sum of 6s. was paid for " ane dosane of luyt stringis sent to the kingis grace in Glasgew." He was in Falkland by 2nd November. [L. H. T. Accounts, vi. pp. 164, 179. On 25th October, 1533, the sum of £5 15s. 6d. was paid for "ane ryding coit of Dunde gray, velvot to begary the samyn and Iyningis thairto, coft to the kingis grace in GIasgew." The "expensis maid upoun the schip and maryneris feis sen scho cum to Dunbartane" include L28 as a month's wages "payit in Glasgew to 14 men quhilk wer left with the schip to bring the king out of Argyle." (Ibid. p. 233.)]

A charter granted to the burgh of Rutherglen, by King James V., "after our legal and perfect full age of twenty-five years and general revocation," is expressed in terms which at first seem somewhat puzzling. Apparently overlooking all the material changes made since the foundation of the burgh, the charters granted by previous sovereigns are confirmed without qualification, the limits of the burgh's privileges are those of the time of King David, as set forth in William's charter, and thus embracing the area of the burgh of Glasgow and a large part of its liberties, and it was again ordered that no one except the officials of Rutherglen should uplift customs or other rights pertaining to the town within these original bounds. The charter, to which Archbishop Dunbar, chancellor of the kingdom, was a witness, is dated 12th June, 1542, and sixteen days later the burgh of Renfrew got from the King a charter confirming in its entirety that of Robert III., granted to the latter burgh in 1397. [Reg. Mag. Sig. iii. No. 2705.] So far, therefore, as appears ex facie of these two charters the existence of the burgh of Glasgow and all its privileges, conferred by royal authority, were ignored, but when read, as they require to be, alongside other writings their true import becomes obvious.

It may safely be assumed that neither Rutherglen nor Renfrew, in applying for a ratification of their privileges, contemplated any derogation from those of Glasgow, especially keeping in view that its archbishop held office as chancellor. But no doubt the chancellor and other state officials entrusted with the issue of the new charters would be anxious to avoid the responsibility of reviewing the scattered evidence and defining the existing rights and limits of the respective burghs. Accordingly the common device was adopted of simply confirming or renewing to the several burghs their former charters and writings, leaving the meaning and effect of these to be interpreted by immemorial usage.

As the result, seemingly, of simultaneous negotiation and arrangement, an act or decreet, dated loth June, 1542, was obtained by Glasgow, whereby the inhabitants of Rutherglen and Renfrew were directed to acquiesce in the city's market rights, presumably on the lines set down in the Letters granted by James II. in 1449-50. [Antea, pp. 65, 206.] Unfortunately the charter granted by James VI., in 1596, embodying the contents of the decree, has been abstracted from the city's archives since the inventory of writs was compiled in 1696, but the brief description there given sufficiently indicates its scope.

From the few notices bearing on the subject it may be gathered that in the interval between 145o and 1596 the burgesses of Rutherglen were regular frequenters of Glasgow market and they likewise contributed their share of the dues levied by the bailies and community "for sowping and clanging of thair calsay"; [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 27, 164, 247.] and the like reasonable procedure may be inferred of the burgesses of Renfrew. The inhabitants of all the three burghs were entitled to deal with each other, free from exaction of crown customs, and no revenue was derived from that source, but for spread of trade and payment of petty customs it must have been mutually advantageous for the several burghs to encourage buying and selling in each other's markets, and it is probable that commercial intercourse on these lines was regularly maintained.

Regarding the relative importance, from a commercial point of view, not only of the three burghs towards each other, but also of that of Glasgow to Scottish burghs in general, indications are from time to time obtained from tax rolls, showing the proportion of national taxation borne by each, according to a periodically adjusted scale, based on its financial condition at the time. Thus in the year 1535, when the sum of 5,000 merks was contributed by the burghs to sustain the King's expenses in France, Glasgow stood eleventh on the roll, with a contribution of £67 10s. while Renfrew's share was £33 15s. and that of Rutherglen £22 10s. [Cony. Rec. i. pp. 514-5. The burghs rated higher than Glasgow were Edinburgh, £833; Dundee, £321 ; Aberdeen, £315; Perth, £247; Haddington £101 ; St. Andrews, £100 ; Montrose, £90; Cupar, £90; Stirling, £84; Ayr, £78. Fractions are omitted.

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