[The following passage from the Chambers 1838 Gazetteer of Scotland appears on page 463-65. — George P. Landow.]

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lasgow shared considerably in the troubles as well as in the triumphs of the Reformation, in an especial manner suffering by the contests of the Regent Hamilton, Earl of Arran, and the protestant lords. Glencairn and his forces having posted themselves in the town, to prevent an attack from the Regent, and opposing him on his approach, they were put to flight, when, upon the successful Roman Catholic army entering the city, and being exasperated against the inhabitants, they subjected it to a complete process of plundering, and even in their rage pulled down the doors and windows of the houses.

In these trying times, the archiepiscopal see of Glasgow was filled by James Beaton, abbot of Aberbrothock, and nephew of Beaton, archbishop of St. Andrews. He succeeded, in 1551, just about the period when the country began to be agitated with matters of religion, and when the Romish hierarchy began to quake for its existence. Under the fear of a commotion, Archbishop James Beaton acted with much more prudence than courage. Seeing that there was little safety in this country, he collected all the valuable articles of the cathedral, including all the writings and documents pertaining to the see, and in 1560, retired to France. He was afterwards constituted ambassador in that country from Scotland, by Queen Mary and King James VI. who, in 1588, restored him to the temporalities of the see. He, however, remained in France, where he died in 1603, after bequeathing every thing he took from Glasgow, to the Scots College at Paris, and to the monastery of the Carthusians, to be returned to Glasgow so soon as its inhabitants returned to the mother church, — a circumstance which never has, and never will take place.

In 1567, Glasgow was visited by Queen Mary, on the occasion of her husband, Darnley, being infected by the small pox, which he caught at this town, where it was epidemic at the time. Two yeats after, when on her flight to Dumbarton from confinement in the castle of Lochleven, she was intercepted, and her forces defeated by the Regent Murray, who, at the time, happened to be holding courts of justice in Glasgow, and marched with 4000 troops from the town, to meet her at Langside, a village two or three miles south of the city.

After the principles of the Reformation had been fully established in the town, the houses of the prebends were either sold or gifted to court favourites. The manse of the prebend of Cambuslang, situated on the south side of Drygate, was given to the Earl of Glencairn, who, in 1635, sold it to the city of Glasgow, and the magistrates afterwards converted it into a house of correction. The religious houses in the town were in a similar manner saved and put to proper uses. Some of the manses of the prebends still exist.

Though only once dignified by the sitting of a parliament, Glasgow was honoured by being frequently the seat of the ecclesiastical synods, which, from the character of the age, were fully of more moment than the visits of royalty One was held, April 1581, another in June 1609; and a third, and by far the most remarkable, on the 21st day of November, and subsequent days, 1638, when by an act of singular boldness the whole episcopal system introduced by Charles I., and fortified by his utmost power, was declared null and void, and the presbyterian polity restored in its place. Influential as this important event has subsequently proved, it was some years before Glasgow obtained any quiet, being visited and fined by Montrose, and in 1645 made the place of execution of three of the royalist gentlemen taken prisoners at Philiphaugh.

We are now called on to remark the difference betwixt the behaviour of the magistrates of Edinburgh and Glasgow in the matter of the famous “Engagement,” one of the strangest transactions in which the Scottish nation had acted a part at this unhappy period. Three times the Scotch had sent out an army against King Charles for the protection of their religion, until at length he was brought near to the close of his career; and now dreading the ascendency of the Independents, the nation became suddenly divided as to the propriety of taking up arms in his behalf. The clergy strongly opposed such a measure, and influenced a number of the burghs in the same opinion, but the parliament thought otherwise, and ordered levies to be made throughout the kingdom. Distinguished for several years as zealous presbyterians, and fearing the re-elevation of Charles to the throne, unless their peculiar system of church polity were firmly guaranteed, the citizens, and especially the magistrates and council of Glasgow, stood foremost in resisting the contribution ordered by the estates. While the Edinburgh magistracy paid their contribution of £40,000 Scots, by borrowed money, and afterwards attempted to resist payment to the lenders because the same was contracted for “an uncovenanted purpose,” the guardians of the community of Glasgow at once resisted making the slightest contribution, and for their contumacy were imprisoned for several days, as well as being more severely punished by the quartering upon them of four regiments of horse and foot, who were ordered to live in bodies of ten, twenty, and thirty men, on individual members of the magistracy, council and session. Events showed that the levies of the Engagement were of no avail, the army under the Marquis of Hamilton being defeated, the number of 10,000 of his soldiers being sold to the plantations at two shillings a-head, and the king being beheaded shortly afterwards, January 30, 1649. In the year 1650 Glasgow was visited by Cromwell.

While these dismal events occurred, Glasgow was subjected to the domestic and complicated ravages of plague, famine, and fire. A dreadful conflagration, the greatest that ever occurred in the city, happened in July 1652. It broke out in a narrow lane in the High Street, part of which it destroyed, with both sides of the Saltmarket, and other parts adjacent. Nearly a third of the town was destroyed; the citizens had to betake themselves to huts in the fields, not less than a thousand families being deprived of their habitations. The loss was estimated at £100,000 sterling. The houses of the town having hitherto been formed of wood, as would seem to have then been common over all Scotland, this calamity induced the fabrication of stone edifices, and in that open regular manner still characteristic of the town.


Chambers, Robert. The Gazetterr of Scotland. Glasgow: Blackie and Son, 1838. Internet Archive online version digitized with funding from National Library of Scotland. Web. 30 September 2018.

Last modified 1 October 2018