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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XLII - Commercial Progress—Shipping—Acts of Parliament—Burgesses—Archbishops Blacader and Beaton—Regality and Diocesan Jurisdictions—King and Archbishop of St. Andrews—Rental Book of Barony Lands

THE end of the fifteenth century is regarded as marking the close of the Middle Ages and the dawn of a new era for modern Europe. The discovery of America and of a fresh sea route to India enlarged geographical knowledge and gave promise of immense advance in commercial enterprise ; and it may be supposed that other countries besides the leading maritime nations of Spain and Portugal would share to some extent in the impetus thus given to trading activity. Of the prosperous condition of Scotland we have a contemporary account given by Don Pedro de Ayala, the Spanish ambassador to the court of King James. Writing in 1498 this foreigner reported that the country had greatly improved during the king's reign, that commerce was much more considerable than formerly and was continually advancing. There were three principal articles of export, wool, hides and fish, and the customs were substantial and on the increase. [Early Travellers, pp. 42, 43. Ayala says: "The towns and villages are populous. The houses are good, all built of hewn stone, and provided with excellent doors, glass windows, and a great number of chimneys. All the furniture that is used in Italy, Spain, and France, is to be found in their dwellings. It has not been bought in modern times only, but inherited from preceding ages." (Ibid. p. 47.)]

About this time, and for a considerable period afterwards, Dumbarton was the chief port in the west of Scotland and the most frequented as a naval base. It was the favourite place of departure and arrival to and from France. Expeditions to the Isles were organised at Dumbarton, fleets were fitted out there, and thence they sailed. At the time King James was making strenuous efforts to create a navy one ship was built at Leith, another in Brittany and a third at Dumbarton. There are many other recorded cases of shipbuilding at Dumbarton, and it long continued to be a harbour for such royal ships as came to the west coast. [River Clyde, pp. 17, 18; Lord High Treasurer's Accounts, iii. and iv. In the year 1512 there are several payments out of the royal treasury for timber and other material used for the building of a galley at Glasgow, a vessel about which, unluckily, there are no further particulars (Ibid. iv. P. 290).]

In 1499 Glasgow and Dumbarton entered into an amicable arrangement for the defence and maintenance of each other's privileges. In future each of the two burghs was to have an equal interest in the river Clyde, neither of them pretending privilege or prerogative over the other. [Glasg. Chart. ii. pp. 62, 72, 119. In connection with the purchase of wine from a ship, in 1531, Glasgow had sued Dumbarton in the consistorial court, and on this ground the latter burgh alleged that the " band " of 1499 had been broken, but the treasurer of Glasgow protested against his burgh being prejudiced by the proceedings (Glasg. Prot. No. rio3). An indenture entered into between the two burghs, in 1590, is on the same lines as the agreement of 1499, and provision is made for the settlement of disputes by six representatives from each who were to meet in the burgh of Renfrew (Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 225-7)] As subsequent records show this judicious arrangement worked satisfactorily and, subject to various modifications, it was renewed from time to time.

Several of the statutes of James IV. deal with the administration of burgh affairs. [Ancient Laws, ii. pp. 49-57. Magistrates of burghs were required to have these Acts openly proclaimed within their bounds.] Thus in May, 1491, better observance of the existing Acts relating to weights, measures and customs was enjoined, directions were given for expenditure of the common good only for the necessary purposes of the burgh and on the advice of the town council and deacons of crafts, and inquiry was to be made regarding such expenditure in the yearly circuits of the great chamberlain. To avoid undue alienation of burgh property, lands, fishings, mills and all yearly revenues were not to be leased for a longer period than three years at a time.

To secure the loyalty of the burgesses both to the nation and to their own rulers it was, by renewal of a similar Act passed in 1457, [Ancient Laws, ii, p. 29.] ordained that no one dwelling in the burgh should enter into leagues or manrent bonds with any landward person in any risings or convocations, but that every one should obey the king or the burgh authorities in the defence of the realm and for the advantage of the burgh. In the words of the statute the inhabitants were not to "ride na rout in fere of were [Not to assemble and march in warlike array.] with na man bot with the king or with his officiaris or with the lord of the burgh thai dwell in, or with his officiaris."

Practices introduced and dues exacted by craftsmen, with regulations passed by deacons of crafts, had the effect of unduly raising prices and interfering with the completion of work, and in June, 1493, some interesting statutes were passed to remedy such evils. In June, 1496, magistrates of burghs were instructed to fix the prices and quality of victuals, bread and ale, but this maybe regarded more as a parliamentary sanction of existing practice than as the introduction of a new system, because from the earliest times of which their proceedings are extant town councils seem to have exercised control in that direction.

An Act passed in March, 1503, providing that all officers, provosts, bailies and others having jurisdiction within burgh should be changed yearly, and that none should hold office except those who "usis merchandice" within the burgh, may have been strictly observed in Glasgow, except in the case of the provost whose office, as formerly, seems to have been regarded as an appendage to the bailieship of the regality. [Antea, p. 210.]

Membership in the community of a royal burgh, termed burgesship, originally implied the possession of real property within the burgh, with the privilege of sharing in its trade, responsibility for the administration of its affairs, and liability for the defence of its interests. From an early period the regulation of admission to the burgess roll was in the hands of the community, one of the points on which the great chamberlain inquired on his periodical visitations of a burgh being "gif the balyeis sell the fredome of the burgh till ony without leif of the comunite." [Ancient Laws, i. p. 153.] In accordance with the practice here indicated, it was, in the parliament of 1503, ordained that the provost and bailies should not make burgesses without the advice and consent of the great council of the town and that the profit should go to the common good and be spent on common works. As representing the community the Town Council fixed the entry money, which long formed a substantial item in the Common Good assets of royal burghs. Under numerous legislative enactments burgesses of royal burghs possessed the exclusive privilege of trade, both home and foreign, and expenditure in enrolment as a burgess was thus a remunerative investment. In Glasgow the rights of burgesses are recognised in the foundation charter of the burgh. "I will and straitly enjoin," so runs the royal mandate, "that all the burgesses who shall be resident in the foresaid burgh shall justly have my firm peace through my whole land; and I straitly forbid any one unjustly to trouble or molest them or their chattels." [Glasg. Chart. i. p. 4.] It may safely be assumed that Glasgow burgesses have all along enjoyed the usual privileges of their class, but on account of the extant council records not beginning at an earlier date than 1573 there is little actual evidence on the subject prior to that date.

On a vacancy in the chaplainry at the altar of St. Kentigern, founded by Sir Walter Stewart of Arthurle, on the south side of the nave of the cathedral, [Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 45-52.] occurring in the year 1505-6, Sir Bartholomew Blare, chaplain, was inducted, by delivery of the chalice, missal and ornaments of the altar. It had been provided that on failure of heirs-male of the founder the patronage was to belong to the bailies and community, and though it is not recorded that they nominated the new chaplain they took part in some of the necessary arrangements. The induction took place on loth February, 1505-6, and two days later Patrick Culquhoune, provost, and two bailies, in name of the whole community of the city, delivered to the inducted chaplain the furnishings and ornaments of the altar, conform to a list which is quoted below as indicating the vast amount of valuable material which must have been stored in the cathedral, assuming that each of its many altars was fitted up and decorated in a somewhat similar manner. ["First, an image of the Saviour with a pedestal, in a wooden chest, of alabaster; an image of the glorious Virgin, on a table of alabaster; two large chandeliers, and two small brass prikkets; two extinguishers for torches, of tin; two silver phials, one of which wanted 'the strowp'; a chasuble of blue, with the hood, stole, and apparels thereof; a chasuble of dun-coloured `sathyne,' without the hood, stole, and apparels; a chasuble of burd alexander; two white albs, with an old alb; a missal, with a wooden boss of overlaid work; two curtains of taffety; six coverings for the altar of linen cloth; two amices; a hanging of arras cloth, suspended at a pillar before the altar; a frontal of black velvet, with a frontal hanging to the ground joined to it of arras work, also an arras frontal with a hanging front of worsted reaching to the ground ; two cushions of blue and red velvet; a stole with a fillet of Liege cloth of gold—'the luke'; two apparels of red velvet upon the tail, with an apparel of green burd alexander upon the sleeve of an alb; an apparel upon an amice of green burd alexander; a large hanging chandelier before the altar." Burd alexander was a kind of cloth manufactured at Alexandria and other towns in Egypt.] The chaplain accepted the custody of the articles delivered to him, but protested for the replacement of those which were wanting, when they happened to be restored to the altar. [Diocesan Reg. Prot. Nos. 148-9.]

About four months later Andrew Stewart, son of the founder of the chaplainry, and then archdeacon of Candida Casa, founded another chaplainry at St. Kentigern's altar, endowing it with four tenements on the west side of the High Street. [Reg. Episc. No. 485. Provision was made for the tenements being kept in repair; and on the day of the founder's obit the chaplain was instructed to bestow sixpence each on forty poor fathers and mothers of families, the procurators who distributed the money receiving 3s. for their trouble, and the priest who served the original chaplainry was also to get 3s.] Some little time must have been occupied in preliminary details, but on 17th November, 1507, the founder conferred the new chaplainry on Sir James Houstoun, deacon, who latterly came to be well known as subdean and founder of the Collegiate Church of St. Mary and St. Anne in the city. In the instrument recording the appointment the founder takes the opportunity of narrating that the endowments of the chaplainry consisted of goods bestowed by God and collected by his own industry and labour. [Dioc. Reg. Prot. No. 281.]

Archbishop Blacader died in the end of July, 1508, while on a voyage in pilgrimage to the Holy Land. News of his reported demise probably reached Scotland by October, as James Beaton, then bishop of Galloway, [Archbishop Beaton was the sixth son of John Beaton of Balfour in Fife, his mother being INIarjory, daughter of Sir David Boswell of Balmuto. Bethune, Betone and Betoun, are varying forms which this name takes in sixteenth century MSS. "Beaton" is adopted here in conformity with modern usage.] was at the king's desire chosen by the chapter of Glasgow as his successor, on 9th November, but under reservation of the right and possession of the former archbishop, "if he still survived." All doubt as to the actual vacancy having been removed, the chapter, on 8th April, 1509, complied with letters sent by Pope Julius and received the new archbishop as the father and shepherd of their souls. Similarly cordial welcome was given by the university and clergy and by the bailies in name of the citizens and people of Glasgow, and on 18th April the archbishop himself, sitting in judgment in the chapter house, "for restoring rights and hearing causes," declared that he was prepared to render justice to those who desired to prosecute any ecclesiastical persons of his diocese, repledged from the court of justiciary to the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical liberty. [Dioc. Reg. Prot. Nos. 288-90, 358-60; Dowden's Bishops, pp. 334 40.]

The jurisdiction here referred to was that exercised in the court of the archbishop's Official, otherwise called the commissary or consistory court. Four months later the archbishop granted a commission to Lord Gray, the king's justiciar, authorising him to hold a court of his (the archbishop's) regality of Glasgow, within the tolbooth of Edinburgh, for the trial of Alexander Likprivik and his accomplices for the murder of George Hamilton within the regality and city of Glasgow, the accomplices being also charged with other crimes. The commission, which was presented by John Stewart of Minto, bailie of the regality and provost of the city, was accepted by Lord Gray and, while the reason for holding the trial in Edinburgh is not stated, the archbishop, who was present, took the precaution of protesting that this should not be to the prejudice of the regality of Glasgow. [Reg. Episc. No. 488. The trial ended in the conviction and capital sentence of Alexander Lekprevik, but he had a royal pardon. (Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, pp. 62*; 110*.)]

The jurisdiction exercised by the Official throughout the diocese was so comprehensive as to leave few subjects beyond its range, but the bailies of the burgh maintained that none of the citizens ought to summon another citizen before a spiritual judge ordinary respecting a matter which could be competently decided before the bailies in the court-house of the burgh. A citizen who was fined in the burgh court for transgressing this rule appealed to the court of the Official, and some of the proceedings, including the decision of the burgh court, are recorded in documents dated in December and January, 1510-z. While the magistrates, through their provost, the Earl of Lennox, appear to have adhered to their position, it was declared that the magistrates and citizens would not do anything against the liberty and jurisdiction of Holy Mother Church.  [Dioc. Reg. Prot. Nos. 498, 503-4. One of the points of inquiry to be made by the great chamberlain on his circuit of the burghs was "gif ony drawis his nychtbouris in the christiane court fra the secular." (Ancient Laws, i. pp. 152-3.)]

Alexander Stewart, a son of the king, had been provided to the archbishopric of St. Andrews, in 1504, while he was yet a child of about eleven years of age, the actual administration of affairs being entrusted to churchmen of mature experience. On the occasion of a visit to Glasgow by the young archbishop, when in his seventeenth or eighteenth year, the feeling of independence and anxiety for the maintenance of their privileges was manifested by the clergy of Glasgow diocese, as represented by the cathedral chapter. Hearing that the archbishop, who was likewise primate of Scotland and papal legate, was approaching the city, and that the archbishop of Glasgow was going to meet him for the sake of paying homage and obedience, the chancellor, president- and chapter of Glasgow, on 21st June, 1510, formally declared that they were to go with the archbishop to please the King, who was to accompany his son, the primate, and also to please the archbishop, and not otherwise; and that they were exempted "both by their ancient and modern privileges, granted by the Roman pontiffs and by kings from doing homage to the primate and to the archbishop of Glasgow and other judges ordinaries whomsoever." They therefore solemnly protested that whatever homage or obedience or courtesy the archbishop of Glasgow, to please his Majesty, should render by walking in procession to meet him should not prejudice them or their successors. [Dioc. Reg. Prot. No. 468. The privileges of the chapter of Glasgow were ,confirmed by Archbishop Beaton on 8th July, 1512 (Reg. Episc. No. 490).]

Long before the time of Archbishop Beaton all the available lands in the barony of Glasgow which had been at the disposal of his predecessors were put into the possession of rentallers, but the earliest preserved Rental Book, containing the record of changes in ownership, only begins in the first year of his episcopate. After the original grant from the bishop, as lord of the barony, a rental right might be acquired by succession, by purchase from a rentaller, or by marrying the daughter of .a rentaller; and a widow was entitled to hold her husband's possession during her viduity. Relaxation of a widow's forfeiture on remarriage was common, and when a right came by succession to a son, and sometimes, though rarely, to a daughter, the liferent of the surviving father or mother was invariably reserved. It was a common practice for one member of a family to be entered as rentaller during the lifetime of both parents, but in that case actual possession was ,contingent on survivance. The preserved Rental Book embodies holograph entries by the several archbishops, recording in brief form the transmission of rental rights between 1509 and 1570, and thus affords much desirable information regarding the people in the barony and their estates, some of which were •continued in direct lines of succession for many generations. [In 1918 the corporation of Glasgow purchased from the trustees of William Allan Woddrop, recently deceased, part of the estate of Dalmarnock, which had come to him through ancestors and relatives whose successive possession can be traced since 1522 (Dioc. Reg. Rental Book, p. 83). The Rental Book was taken to Paris by the second Archbishop Beaton, who -continued to enter the names of rentallers therein till 1570. This book and Cuthbert Simson's Protocol Book, 1499-1503, were published by the GrampianClub in 1875 under the title Diocesan Registers of Glasgow.]

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