Pages iii-viii

Extracts From the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow Vol. 1, 1573-1642. Originally published by Scottish Burgh Records Society, Edinburgh, 1914.

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IN 1832 Mr. John Smith, the youngest, presented to the Maitland Club a volume titled "Burgh Records of the City of Glasgow," consisting of selections from the Records of the Town Council from 19th January, 1573. till 20th October, 1580; and in 1835 he published, for private circulation, a small volume containing further selections from the same records of a later date. These selections, which were made by Mr. James Hill, had previously appeared in the Glasgow Courier newspaper in a series of articles contributed by Mr. William Motherwell. The latter volume is titled "Memorabilia of the City of Glasgow, selected from the Minute Books of the Burgh, 1588–1750," and is now exceedingly scarce.

In 1868 Mr. William West Watson, Chamberlain of the City, edited a volume, which was also printed for private circulation, titled "Memorabilia of the City of Glasgow, selected from the Minute Books of the Burgh." The selections in that volume extended from 13th October, 1588, till 28th June, 1749.

These volumes contain the only selections from the Records of the City of Glasgow which are available to the public.

In his preface to the Maitland Club Book, Mr. Smith adverts to the fact that volumes of the Council Records of a date earlier than 1573 were in existence about the middle of the last century, and that Gibson, whose History of Glasgow was published in 1777, appears to have had access to records from which he quotes in 1566. All these, however, had disappeared previous to the time at which Mr. Smith and Mr. Hill made their selections, and a careful search for them by the Editor of the present volume has, unhappily, been unavailing. But it has resulted in the discovery of four volumes which were not known to be in existence when Mr. Smith, Mr. Hill, and Mr. West Watson prepared their selections. These are the volumes—

From 16 May, 1581, to 27 April, 1586.
From 5 October, 1594, to 29 May, 1597.
From 21 November, 1598, to 27 October, 1601, and
From 13 June, 1605, to 4 June, 1610.

The discovery of these records decided the Editor to prepare for the Scottish Burgh Records Society a continuous series of selections from the Council Records and from the Accounts of the Treasurers of the City, extending from 19th January, 1573, when the earliest extant volume commences. The present volume contains these selections till 17th September, 1642, and if it prove acceptable will be succeeded by another at an early date.

The following is a list of the volumes of the Council Records now in the Record Room of the City from which the selections in the present volume have been taken—

From 19 January, 1573, to 12 May, 1581.
From 16 May, 1581, to 27 April, 1586.
            *                                      *                                       *                                       *
From 22 October, 1588, to 31 July, 1590. (fn. 1)
            *                                      *                                       *                                       *
From 5 October, 1594, to 29 May, 1597.
From 21 November, 1598, to 27 October, 1601.
            *                                      *                                       *                                       *
From 13 June, 1605, to 4 June, 1610.
From 16 January, 1609, to 28 August, 1613.
            *                                      *                                       *                                       *
From 20 September, 1623, to 11 December, 1630.
            *                                      *                                       *                                       *
From 28 May, 1636, to 17 September, 1642.

The present selection contains everything which is to be found in these records illustrative of the constitution of the Burgh, its municipal government, and the social life of its people. The repetition of formal phraseology, and of municipal ordinances— which in all burghs were renewed annually, or at short intervals of time—has been avoided as far as possible. Nevertheless, it will doubtless be found that much matter is inserted which has but a limited and technical interest. In such work, however, more especially when the original records are frail and practically inaccessible, the Editor considers it expedient to err on the side of giving too much rather than too little.

The Editor acknowledges with satisfaction the encouragement he has received from the Lord Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council of Glasgow in the preparation of this volume. They have contributed towards the cost of the transcripts, and have further authorized the collecting, transcribing, translating, and printing of a volume of Charters and Documents relating to the City, copies of which they have also allowed the Burgh Records Society to print off for the use of its members. The latter volume, which will contain all the Charters of the Burgh, and other documents illustrative of its history, from the institution of the Burgh circa 1175–1178, till about the middle of the seventeenth century, is far advanced, and will be ready in a few months.

These volumes will, it may be hoped, prove a welcome contribution to the early history of Glasgow, and facilitate the labours of whoever may address himself to the task, still to be performed, of describing, with full and accurate information, the rise and progress of the City.

The plan of Glasgow which accompanies this volume appears on the margin of Ross' Map of the Shire of Lanark, published in 1773. It is the oldest plan of the City which the Editor has been able to discover, with the exception of a plan of a part of the City prepared in 1764 with reference to an action at the instance of William Fleming, Wright in Glasgow, against the Magistrates and Town Council of Glasgow, decided in 1768. The plan of 1764 has been reproduced in the first volume of "Glasghu Facies," edited by Dr. Gordon, and it has not been thought necessary to give it in this volume. The Editor has to thank Mr. David Laing, LL.D., for the use of Ross' Map, and for permission to photo-lithograph the plan.

It has been considered expedient not to give any historical Preface to the present volume, but to reserve that till the volume of Charters has been completed. The Preface can then apply to both volumes.

In this work, as in the corresponding selections from the records of Edinburgh and Peebles, the Editor owes everything to the care, intelligence, and accuracy of Mr. Renwick, by whom the transcripts have been made, the proof-sheets collated, and the index prepared.


2 Great Western Terrace,
Glasgow, 31st March, 1876.

Since the foregoing Preface was printed a volume containing Records of the City from 18th December, 1630, till 21st May, 1636, has been discovered.

In the course of a casual conversation with John Whitefoord Mackenzie, Esq., W.S., Edinburgh, the Editor happened to refer to the two forthcoming volumes connected with Glasgow, and to express his regret that so many gaps existed in the Records of the City, when Mr. Mackenzie mentioned that he had received from a lady, thirty years ago, a MS. volume relating to Glasgow. On examination it proved to be one of the missing volumes of the Burgh Records, and Mr. Mackenzie at once courteously sent it to the Lord Provost, Magistrates, and Council.

As selections from the volume thus discovered cannot be conveniently added to the present volume, they will be given in the second volume of Extracts from the Records of the Burgh.

J. D. M.

Glasgow, 10th May, 1876.


  • 1. Mr. Smith states that the second volume known to be in existence in his time began in 1588, and ended in 1596. The latter date should have been 1590.