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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XLVII - Legislation Relating to Burghs—Accounting for Common Good —Sailing of Ships—Foundations of Religious Services—Song School—Spread of Reformed Doctrines—Martyrs

FOLLOWING on the lines of the statutes 1457 and 1491, forbidding the inhabitants of burghs to enter into covenants with landward men to the prejudice of the burgesses, protection against encroachment of neighbouring lords and lairds was also provided by the legislature in other forms. An act passed in 1533 narrates that royal burghs were injured in their goods and policy through "outland" men being provosts, bailies and aldermen Within burgh, for their own benefit, and it was therefore ordained that no one should be chosen to these offices except burgesses, merchants and indwellers. Under the acts of 1457 and 1491 no one dwelling within the burgh was to "purchess lordship" beyond its bounds, meaning apparently the procuring of outside authority, whereby his neighbour could be troubled or disturbed. So far the remedy against injustice was in the hands of the burgesses themselves, but those from whom aggression might be anticipated were also put under restraint. No man, earl, lord, baron, or other person of whatever degree, was allowed to molest or trouble the provost, aldermen, bailies, officers and merchants of any burgh in their neighbourhood, in using their liberties and privileges; and the clerks of the justice courts were enjoined to see to the observance of this enactment. [Ancient Laws, ii. pp. 68, 69.]

Up till this time royal burghs had been in the practice of rendering their accounts in exchequer and settling the crown dues for which they were liable. To secure more effective supervision over revenue and expenditure, provosts, bailies and aldermen were now required, at the day set for giving in their accounts, to bring yearly to the exchequer the account books of their common good, to be seen and considered by the lords auditors "gif the samin be spendit for the commoun wele of the burgh or not." At this examination of a burgh's accounts an opportunity was given for any one from that burgh attending to argue and impugn the intromissions, "sua that all murmour may ceis in that behalf." [Ancient Laws, ii. p. 69.] Though, as already explained [Antea, p. 98.] Glasgow did not at first render accounts in exchequer, it may be that from the year 1535, as was certainly done at a later date, they produced a yearly statement of revenue and expenditure in compliance with the act, but it is a long time after that date that we have authentic information on the point. [The earliest preserved statement of this nature for the burgh of Glasgow is that for the year 1621 (Glasg. Chart. ii. p. 577). If Glasgow did not render exchequer accounts in consequence of obtaining its crown charter of 1611 (Ibid. i. pt. ii. pp. 278-83) it must have done so after obtaining the charter of 1636 (Ibid. pp. 375-95). By the latter charter the burgh became liable to the crown for the yearly payment of 20 merks (£13 6s. 8d. Scots) of burgh maul, and it was thereafter necessary to pass in exchequer yearly accounts similar to that rendered in 1662 (Ibid. ii. p. 50).]

Along with the other burgh statutes passed in 1535 parliament ratified previous acts granted to merchants within burghs and enjoined the magistrates of port towns to see to their observance. An act of James II. ordaining that, as a precaution for the safety of trading vessels, no ship should be freighted out of the realm with any staple goods, from Saints Simon and Jude's day (28th October) till Candlemas (2nd February), was renewed and the penalty for its infringement was increased, but merchants were allowed, within the forbidden time, to export merchandise in ships that brought in salt or wine.

[Ancient Laws, ii. pp. 67, 68. This concession would sometimes be of advantage to Clyde mariners. French wine and salt were among their chief articles of import.

According to a satirical contemporary, Sir David Lyndsay, some insatiable merchants were not pleased with the restrictive acts and evaded their provisions. Such inconsiderate traders,

"Quhen God has send thame abundance
Ar nocht content with sufficiance;
Bot sailis into the stormy blastis
In winter, to get greter castis,
In mony terribill gret torment,
Aganis the actis of parliament.
Sum tynis thair geir, and sum ar droun'd."

Lyndsay's Works (1806 Edition), ii. p. 150.]

In 1539, the year in which the martyrs Russell and Kennedy are said to have been condemned at Glasgow, we have the record of two foundations for the celebration of religious services, one of them on rather an elaborate scale. On 31st October, 1539, Richard Bothwell, canon of Glasgow and prebendary of Ashkirk, gave twenty-four shillings, yearly, from the rents of a house near the market cross, for obituary masses to be celebrated by the vicars of the choir, with the tolling of bells, and for the passing of the bell of St. Kentigern through the town. [Reg. Episc. No. 501.] Bothwell's obit is at the head of the list in Glasgow " Martyrologium," a document which was originally printed from a manuscript preserved in the Advocate's Library, and the date is 1st January, 1548. [Ibid. No. 545. Of the thirty-six obits noted in the list, the eighth to the thirty-fourth are given in exact sequence of days and months from 11th January to 30th December, the earliest being that of Duncan, earl of Carryk, died 13th June, 1250, and the latest that of Rolland Blakader, subdean of Glasgow, died 9th March, 1540, subsequent to which latter date that part of the list must have been compiled. The following is the full list:


By the other foundation above referred to a tenement and yard, on the east side of Castle Street, the site of which is now occupied by the Royal Infirmary and the Asylum for the Blind, was burdened with various sums of money, payable yearly to the master of the ". sang scuyll " of the Metropolitan Church, the vicar pensioner of the burgh, the vicars of the choir, and others, for anniversary services at the altars of Our Lady, "Sanct Mungo" and St. Peter, in the lower church. Singers, poor scholars, twenty-four "puyr howshalderis," and others, were assigned their respective duties, minute instructions were given as to music and the lighting of candles, and St. Mungo's bell was to be rung through the town by the "belman." These conditions were contained in a "Memorandum" by Sir Mark Jamieson, vicar of Kilspindie, in the diocese of St. Andrews, acting as testamentary executor under the will of his mother's brother, John Paniter, formerly preceptor of the song school of the metropolitan church of Glasgow. Sir Mark survived the Reformation period about thirty years, by which time the revenues of the tenement and yard were being applied to other purposes, and in the year 1590 he appeared in the council-house of Glasgow and delivered to the town council all the documents relating to the foundation, placed "in ane litill box, to be keipit in the commoun kist." [Glasg. Prot. No. 1318; Glasg. Chart. ii. p. 501; Glasg. Rec. i. p. 155. The deed of foundation (5th November, 1539) contains a reference to vicars in burgo and in rure, thus shewing that in pre-Reformation times there existed an arrangement similar to that introduced when, for ecclesiastical purposes, the landward district, sometime known as the Barony parish, was disjoined from the urban or burghal territory.]

On the last day of February, 1538-9, five executions for "heresy" had taken place on the Castlehill of Edinburgh, and within a few months later, Jerome Russell, a Grey Friar, supposed to belong to Dumfries, and a youth, eighteen years of age, named Kennedy, a native of Ayr, both in the diocese of Glasgow, were tried for a like offence, and after condemnation, in which it is said Archbishop Dunbar was unwilling to join, both were burned at the stake in Glasgow. Particulars regarding the cruel tragedy are scant and the places of the trial and execution are not specified, but it is probable that the judges would preside somewhere in the cathedral and that the last scenes would be witnessed in its vicinity. [Works of John Knox, i. pp. 63-66 ; Dowden's Bishops, p. 348.]

In a parliament held at Edinburgh on 15th March, 1542-3, it was resolved that the Bible might be read in a Scots or English translation, whereupon "ane maist reverend fader in God, Gavin, archbishop of Glasgow, chancellor, for himself and in name and behalf of all the prelates of this realme," dissented and opposed the resolution till a provincial council of the whole clergy of the realm should decide " gif the samyne be necessare to be had in vulgare toung to be usit amang the Queenis lieges or nocht." [Reg. Episc. No. 506. The act of parliament embodying the prelates' dissent was confirmed by a charter in name of Queen Mary, under the great seal, dated 8th May, 1545 (Ibid.).] Dunbar was at this time chancellor of the kingdom, but shortly afterwards he was replaced by Cardinal Beaton, who had succeeded his uncle, James Beaton, as archbishop of St. Andrews, in 1539.

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