Historical preface: The city muniments

Pages i-v

Charters and Documents Relating To the City of Glasgow 1175-1649 Part 1. Originally published by Scottish Burgh Records Society, Glasgow, 1897.

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Glasgow having been originally a Bishop's Burgh, the charters illustrative of its early history formed part of the muniments of the Bishopric. But these muniments were removed to France by James Bethune, the last Catholic Archbishop, at the time of the Reformation, and were deposited by his directions, partly in the archives of the Scots College, and partly in the Chartreuse, of Paris.

Recognising the importance of possessing a copy of the chartulary of the bishopric, the University of Glasgow addressed a letter to the superiors of the Scotch College, on 1 May (old style), 1738, in which, among other things, they requested to be allowed, at their own charge, to obtain a notarial copy of that record. A reply to the application was received from Father Innes, Pro-Primarius of the College, and well known as the author of the "Critical Essay on the Ancient Inhabitants of the Northern parts of Britain or Scotland," originally published in 1729. It assured the University of "the kindly and respectful acceptance" that the application had met with from all in the College, and furnished some interesting information as to the records of the Church of Glasgow. A few weeks later, viz., on 22 October, 1738, an official answer was made by the College, accompanied by authentic copies of a number of documents. "With these," it was stated,—

"we send authentic and notarial copies of the three chief records of the foundation of the university, taken from the ancient chartularys, together with some authentic transcripts from the protocols of Cuthbert Simson, notary and scribe of the chapter of Glasgow, containing all we could find among the records of Glasgow of the ancient endowments of the university by the archbishops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Among other pieces, we send you some faithful copies of some of the most ancient charters of the church and city of Glasgow, taken from the most ancient chartularys of Glasgow, especially the introduction of the old chartulary, written about five hundred years ago, and containing the best accounts of the antiquity of the church of Glasgow."

As to a copy of these chartularys, "that is not possible at present to us to send; but without being at the trouble or expense, you may easily cause make one from a very exact copy containing not only the records contained in the chartularys, but others taken from the originals, about the year 1726, for the right honourable earl of Panmure, and still in the hands of the present earl, his son." (fn. 1)

The letter from the College was reported to the University on 12th December, 1738, along with the copies of the several papers which accompanied it, and a committee was appointed to write a letter of thanks to the College, and to request Father Innes to apply, on behalf of the University, to Lord Panmure for permission to make a copy of the chartulary in his possession, and also to ask Father Innes to collate and attest the copy. Whether the application to Lord Panmure thus suggested was made does not appear. But it was not till 1766 that the University succeeded in procuring the transcript of the chartulary which is still preserved in its archives. Professor Cosmo Innes thus describes it:

"This copy of 'the authentic transcript,' is in two volumes quarto, in old French red morocco binding, consisting together of 1216 pages. It contains a full copy of the Ancient Register and the Red Book, and of a very large number of original charters not recorded in either, but which were, at its date, preserved in the archives of the Scots College, or of the Chartreuse at Paris. These materials are arranged chronologically. Each entry refers to the source from which it is taken; and each bears a careful marking of collation, and where taken from an original, a statement with regard to its seal and its state of preservation. At the end, is the attestation of its accuracy by Principal Gordon. (fn. 2) This, the most complete collection of the muniments of the bishopric of Glasgow now known to exist, was entrusted to me for the purpose of this edition by the Principal and Professors of the University." (fn. 3)

Nor were the Town Council of that time awanting in their laudable desire to secure authentic copies of the early charters and documents of the burgh. With the public spirit which has distinguished their successors, and to which the present volume largely owes its existence, they, on 20th February, 1739, remitted to the magistrates "to procure authentick copies of the townes writes "and others belonging to the burgh, which were carried off at the Reformation, "and lodged in the College of Dowie, and to apply to proper persons for "procuring the same." (fn. 4) Inquiry doubtless resulted in their ascertaining that the records of the bishopric were not in the College of Douay, but in the Scots College, and an application to the authorities of the latter institution was rewarded by the presentation to the magistrates of a transcript of such portions of the chartulary as had special relation to the city. The transcript, is a small volume, bound in red morocco, consisting of 136 pages of paper, written, according to Professor Cosmo Innes, (fn. 5) "in the hand of a French scribe, but collated and corrected in the well-known hand of Father Thomas Innes, who has also marked, at every entry, the source from whence the deed is copied, whether from either of the registers, or from an original charter." (fn. 6)

The subsequent fate of the records in the Scots College, so far as is known, is described by Professor Innes in his Preface to the Register of the Bishopric of Glasgow. During the French Revolution, when the College was broken up, several MSS., including the two volumes of the original Chartulary of Glasgow, and the book known as the Red Book, or Liber Ruber Ecclesice Glasguensis, were brought over to England. The Chartulary was placed in the hands of Bishop Cameron of Edinburgh, by whom it was transferred to Bishop Kyle of Aberdeen. The Red Book was lent to, and remained in the possession of, Mr. George Chalmers. These volumes, along with the transcripts belonging to the city, and the transcripts belonging to the university, were communicated to and used by Professor Innes in the preparation of the Register of the Bishopric edited by him, and presented by Mr. James Ewing to the Maitland Club in 1843.

In the preparation of the present collection of charters and documents relating to the city of Glasgow, the Register of the Bishopric, edited by Professor Innes, has been used—such of the charters contained in it as are given in this volume having been also collated with the transcript belonging to the city. Occasional reference has also been made to the transcript belonging to the university. The sources from which the other documents in this collection are taken are stated in the Abstract of Charters and Documents appended to this volume. (fn. 7) In printing the present collection it has been considered expedient not to retain the contractions as they appear in the university and city transcripts, and in the Maitland Club edition of the Register, but to print the words with their terminations in full, and in every case to subjoin a translation in English, which may be verified by a reference to the Latin of the document itself.


  • 1. This correspondence is printed in volume ii. of the Miscellany of the Spalding Club, pp. 367–375, from copies in the possession of James Dennistoun of Dennistoun, made by Andrew Lumsden, the private secretary of Prince Charles Edward.
  • 2. As follows:—Ego infrascriptus Joannes Gordon Collegii Scotorum Parisiensis Primarius testor omnia quae utroque hoc volumine mille ducentarum sexdecim paginarum continentur instruments, ex veteri Cartulario Glasguensis ecclesiæ, ex registro novo (vulgo reide buike) et ex autographis partim in nostris, partim in Carthusianorum archivis depositis accurate descripta cum exemplari autentico a me collata fuisse. Joannes Gordon. Parisiis die Decembris 31. A.D. 1766.
  • 3. Registrum Episcopatus Glasguensis (Maitland Club), Preface, pp. xiv., xv.
  • 4. Council Records of Glasgow, Vol. xxiv., p. 69. Memorabilia of Glasgow, p. 406.
  • 5. Registrum Episcopatus Glasguensis (Maitland Club), Preface, p. xiii.
  • 6. On the first page is written—"Per-illustribus Viris D.D. Præposito Magistratib. et Incolis Insignis Civitatis Metropolitanæ Glasguensis D.D. Thomas Innes."And at the end, is the following attestation:—"Nos infrascripti Primarius, Magistri et Socii Collegii Scotorum in Academia Parisiensi fidem facimus et testamur suprascripta exemplaria seu copias quinquaginta novem instrumentorum sive chartarum ad Ecclesiam Metropolitanam Glasguensem spectantium, paginis centum triginta sex contenta, summa fide esse exscripta respective tum ex vetustissimo chartulario pergamineo Glasguensi, tum ex altero recentiori ejusdem Ecclesiæ chartulario pergamineo, scripto ut plurimum circa tempora Roberti III. Scotorum Regis, vulgo olim dicto Libro Rubro Glasguen: (The Rede Buke of Glasgw) tum denique ex ipsis authenticis sive originalib: litteris seu chartis, quemadmodum initio cujusque chartæ seu instrumenti in his exemplarib: respective notatur. Testamur insuper hæc omnia instrumenta, litteras seu chartas a Rmo D. Jacobo de Bethune Archiepiscopo Glasguensi Collegii hujus Scotorum secundo Fundatore ab interitu servatae, in Gallias ante annos centum circiter, et septuaginta octo delata, partim in Cartusia Parisiensi, partim in hoc Collegio, cum aliis ejusdem Ecclesiæ et ipsius Archiepiscopi litteris summa diligentia servari; testamur denique omnia et singula suprascripta exemplaria fuisse a nobis accuratissime cum ipsis authenticis collata. In quorum omnium fidem et testimonium praesens instrumentum consueto predicti Collegii sigillo munitum subsignavimus in dicto nostro Collegio die vigesimo septimo Augusti Anno Domini millesimo septingentesimo trigesimo nono. Geo. Innes, Primarius. Joannes Mackenzie, Proæf. Studior. Tho. Innes, Senior. "Andreas Riddoch, Procurator." The seal of the College is affixed—a Saint Andrew with his cross, between two coats of arms which cannot be deciphered. A copy of this transcript in a contemporary hand, and bound in dark morocco, is in the archives of the city. It bears the following attestation in the hand-writing of Professor Innes:—"This is a transcript by Professor Innes's copyist of the collection of charters in a thin volume of 138 [sic] pages of paper, bound in red morocco, also presented by him to the City of Glasgow and now its property."—C. I.
  • 7. Pp. 429–498.