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The Clyde from the Source to the Sea
Chapter V. Population and Area


Glasgow as a city has rapidly extended its boundaries, and as the years of its history have gradually rolled along, places which once were independent centres with a jurisdiction of their own have been, one by one, assimilated and incorporated into the municipality now existing. Again, as the advance of the city continued, districts which had sprung up on the outskirts were gradually overtaken, and the area now covered by the actual municipal city and the wide-spread and now practically continuously united outskirts, has grown to about 20 square miles in extent. This condition of things at the present time has called for careful consideration, as, although the various newer suburban districts are managed under the Police Act, it is believed by the city authorities that greater efficiency and harmony of action would arise if the municipal boundaries were extended to meet the state of affairs which has gradually grown up.

In a statement recently prepared by the Glasgow Town Council and laid before the Glasgow Boundaries Commission it is shown that, since the parliamentary boundaries were fixed in 1832, the population and rental have nearly trebled; and further, that the present population is about one-sixth of that of the whole of Scotland. The population at present of the city within the municipality is estimated at about 544,000. The population of Glasgow in 1614 was about 8000; in the year 1740, or about a century and a quarter later, the population had fully doubled; about 1770, or only thirty years later, it had again about doubled. In 1791, or about twenty-one years later, another duplication had taken place, the population at this date being 66,578, or fully eight times what it was in 1614, one hundred and seventy-seven years previous. The next duplication was between the years 1811 and 1821. In 1811 the population had reached fully 100,000. A rapid increase now took place in the next ten years of nearly 50 per cent, the population in 1821 having reached the figure of 147,043. Since that time the percentage of increase per ten years has been much less. The following are the figures during the present century:

The population for 1887 is as estimated in connection with the Glasgow Boundaries Commission held in November and December, 1887. If to this be added the population of the suburban burghs, estimated at 187,122, we have a total population in the city and suburbs of 731,117. The rapid extension, with the increase of property, is lucidly brought out in the statement submitted by the Town Council to the Boundaries Commissioners, and published in the Glcisgoiv Herald, thus: “As a consequence of the increase of Glasgow, which since 1840 has proceeded in a manner probably unexampled in Great Britain, various suburbs have sprung up beyond the Parliamentary boundaries, and are in reality part and portion of the city. Although ample provision was believed to have been made by the Boundaries Commissioners of 1832 for future large extensions, the actual growth of Glasgow within the last fifty-five years has far exceeded the expectations of the Commissioners. It has pushed itself westward nearly 2 miles beyond the Kelvin, uniting itself to and going beyond the village of Partick; it has extended to the north-west, so as to include the village of Mary hill; while the district on the north, known as Possil, is being rapidly built over; the ground between Maryhill and Partick, to a distance of nearly 2 miles west of the Kelvin, known as the Hillhead and Kelvinside districts, is either already occupied or is being rapidly covered by the residences of the wealthier citizens. South of the Clyde, Glasgow has united itself to and gone beyond the village of Govan, and has extended over the districts known as Kinning Park, Pollokshields, Govanliill, Crosshill, Polmadie, Mount Florida, Langside, Shawlands, Cross-myloof, Strathbungo, and Bellahouston. As showing the increase of Glasgow within its municipal limits, it is stated (1) that while the population, as given in the report of the Boundaries Commissioners of 1832, was, in 1821, 147,043, and in 1831, 202,420, the census of 1871 shows it to have been 491,495, and the census of 1881, 511,415. At the present time (1887-88) it is estimated to be 543,995. (2) The report of the Boundaries Commissioners also gives the number of houses within the city in 1821 as 33,805, and in 1831 43,513; in 187172 they numbered 103,633; in 1878-79, 118,300; and in 1887-88, they are estimated to number 122,043. The rental of lands and heritages within the city cannot be given authoritatively previous to 1854, when the Valuation of Lands (Scotland) Act was passed, and for the first time established a uniform mode of valuation. In 1855-56, however, the valued rental was £1,362,178; in 1878-79 it was £3,418,322; and in 1887-88 it is £3,336,964. The population resident in the suburbs of Glasgow beyond the Parliamentary and municipal boundaries was estimated in 1878-79 to be 140,493; in 1887-88 it is estimated to be 187,122. The number of dwelling-houses in these suburbs in 1878-79 was estimated at 33,794, and in 1887-88 it is estimated at 41,040. The valued rental in 1878-79 was estimated at £901,152; in 1887-88 it is estimated at £1,058,516.”

It is gratifying to find that, notwithstanding this rapid increase in the size of the city, the death-rate should be lessening, a hopeful sign that the increased improvements in the construction of houses, width of streets, plentiful supply of pure water, and close attention to sanitary matters, together with the increasing skill of our physicians, has enabled the citizens to bear the strain of a great industrial centre better than their forefathers. Speaking of this Dr. Russell, the medical officer of health for the city, says: “The death-rate of Glasgow has been improving. Previous to 1871 the average death-rate was 30; from 1871 to 1880 it was 2G; in 1885, 26; 1886, 25; and during the present year 23.”

In connection with this it may he interesting to notice the influence of a rapid change of temperature as affecting the death-rate, and to which reference was lately made by Dr. Russell in dealing with the health of the city about the middle of October, 1887: “The death-rate in the first week of the fortnight was 23, and the mean temperature 39° F.; in the second week 18, and the mean temperature 46° F. This sudden rise of the death-rate with the sudden fall in temperature was an illustration of the extreme sensitiveness of our population to cold, and a warning of what might be expected if a severe winter, especially with fog, followed the warm and genial summer of this year. The deaths and mean temperatures of the last four weeks were as follows:—50° F., number of deaths 172; 49° F., ditto 188; 39° F., ditto 236; 46° F, ditto 185; so that a fall of 10 degrees in the mean temperature added at once 48 or 41 per cent to the number of deaths, which was immediately taken off by the rise of 6 degrees in the next week. Although the fall in temperature was general and very uniform over Scotland, there was no such proportionate effect exercised on the other chief towns.”

Glasgow has not been the scene of so many stirring historical events as its sister city Edinburgh; still, from the time of Wallace’s time for the freedom of his country, when he made a dash at the English garrison in the Castle of Glasgow, onwards, we find that Glasgow has heard the roll of the war-drum on several occasions. About the middle of the sixteenth century the castle was again a point of attack, during the regency of the Earl of Arran, who appears to have attacked this stronghold in the cause of the future Queen Mary, what was known as the Battle of the Butts being fought and won by this nobleman, whose army afterwards entered Glasgow.

The battle of Langside, which resulted in the overthrow of the unfortunate Queen Mary, was fought in 1568 at a place near Glasgow at that time, but now covered with streets and the villas of the citizens. Glasgow appears to have favoured the party opposed to the Queen, as we read that the Regent Murray showed his gratitude to the citizens for their help. After the victory at Langside he returned to Glasgow and bestowed 011 the Incorporation of Bakers a charter, whereby certain lands on the bank of the Kelvin were granted them for the building of a mill, so that they might grind wheat for their own rise, and this on account of the liberal supplies of bread with which they had provided his army.

In 1645 the Marcpiis of Montrose, after the battle of Kilsyth, entered Glasgow; and Cromwell in 1650 established himself for a short time in the city, living, it is said, in a house in the Saltinarket.

In 1678 the Highland Host entered Glasgow on their way south to suppress the conventicles or meetings of the Covenanters, and they get credit for disturbing the peace of the town and plundering the inhabitants.

Again in 1679 a struggle took place after the battle of Drumclog in the streets of the city, between Viscount Dundee and the Covenanters, followed shortly afterwards by the battle of Bothwell Bridge.

In 1715 the citizens declared for the Hanoverian cause raised an army, and fortified the city by intrenchments during the disturbed period, from the standard of the Stuarts being set up by the Earl of Mar, until shortly after his defeat at Sherift-muir. And again in the ’45, when the Stuart cause for a short time was revived and the clans rallied round Prince Charlie, Glasgow heard the wild music of the great war-pipe, and saw the targets and claymores of his devoted followers on their return from their incursion into England. They remained in the city for about ten days, Charles residing, it is said, in a house in the Trongate. A levy was made for articles of clothing, after which the Highlanders departed for the North, the Duke of Cumberland and General Wade, with the English forces and the supporters of King George, closing upon them, till, a few months afterwards, the decisive battle of Culloden was fought, and the Prince became a wanderer. As the sun of his short-lived day of success set amidst the clouds of misfortune there was heard from many a stricken home the wail arising:

“Drummossie Muir, Drummossie Muir,
A waefut day it was to me,
For there I lost my father dear,
My father dear, and brethren three.
Their winding-sheet the bluidy clay,
Their graves are growing green to see,
And by them lies the dearest lad
That ever blest a woman’s e’e.
Now wae to thee, thou cruel Duke,
A bluidy man I trow thou be,
For mony a heart thou hast made sair,
That ne’er did wrang to thine or thee.”


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