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The History of Glasgow

Chapter VII - Diocese of Glasgow

WITH regard to the extent of the kingdom of Cumbria, a

-chronicler of the year 1o69, in the early part of the third
King Malcolm's reign, states that it included the three
bishoprics of Glasgow, Candida Casa and Carlisle. Both
sides of the Solway, as well as the Galloway district, were
thus at that time comprehended within the kingdom; but,
according to the Saxon Chronicle, William Rufus, in 1092,
went with a large army to Carlisle and wrested from
Malcolm the district south of the Solway. [St. Kentigern,
pp. 333-4; Dr. G. Neilson's Annals of the Solway, p. 36.]

At what time the diocese, which originally extended from

the Clyde district to the Derwent in Cumberland, was split
into two, with the Solway as the dividing line, is not
definitely known, but such seems to have been the
position about the middle of the eleventh century. The
Cumbrian region, however, still continued to be viewed as
a whole, and Joceline uses the term in that sense, though
the name of Cumberland began to be exclusively
appropriated by the southern parts. Of the existence of
Bishops of Glasgow during the eleventh century, any
statements in the chronicles are rather vague and some
are of doubtful authority. According to one account,
Thomas, Archbishop of York, between 1109 and 1114,
ordained "a holy man, Michael," as Bishop of Glasgow,
and on the authority of "truthful men" it is also stated that
Kinsi, who was archbishop between 1055 and 1060, had
consecrated his predecessors, Magsula and John, the
only other bishops, besides Sedulius, of whom there is
any mention between the time of St. Kentigern and the
twelfth century. "But," adds the chronicler, "because of
hostile invasion and desolation and the barbarity of the
land, for long the church was without a pastor, until Earl
David (afterwards King of Scotland) appointed, as bishop,
Michael aforesaid, and sent him over to be consecrated
by Archbishop Thomas." Though Michael's name is
mentioned only by English historians and does not
appear in Scottish record, there seems to be little doubt
of his existence, at least as a titular Bishop of Glasgow.
He died and was buried in Westmoreland, and as he
acted as an assistant bishop at York his personal
connection with Glasgow was, probably of the slightest.
That he was consecrated by the Archbishop of York, at
Earl David's desire, is improbable, the claim for canonical
obedience, either to Canterbury or York, having been so
constantly disputed by Scottish rulers. Of Magsula and
John no reliable information is procurable, and it is
suspected that their names are chronicled merely in
support of the claim of the Archbishops of York to
supremacy over the Scottish sees. [St. Kentigern, p. xcii;
Scottish Annals, pp. 133-4 ; Dowden's Bishops, p 294-5.]

Of John, the next Bishop of Glasgow, a monk who has

the reputation of being a learned and worthy man, there
are fuller and more authentic particulars. Formerly tutor to
Earl David, he was consecrated Bishop of Glasgow prior
to izi8. In a letter by Pope Calixtus II. to the bishop, in
1122, it is stated that he had been elected by the chapter
of the church of York and at their request had been
consecrated by the former Pope, and he was therefore
enjoined to render obedience to the Archbishop of York.
Neither this command nor a repeated order in the same
year and to the like effect was complied with; and here it
may be added, as showing the persistency on both sides,
that a similar request by Pope Innocent II., in 1131, was
also ignored. John, having been suspended in 1122, left
his diocese, intending to visit Rome and Jerusalem, but
he was compelled to return to Glasgow in the following
year. From a subsequent absence he was similarly
recalled in 1138. [ Bishops of Scotland, pp. 295-6.]

Most of the high officers of State, in early times, were

churchmen, and in the exercise of these functions
Glasgow ecclesiastics had their full share. In an undated
charter by King David to the Abbey of Dunfermline,
believed to be granted about the year 1130, John,
designated bishop and chancellor, is one of the
witnesses. The chancellor was the King's adviser in all
legal matters, acting as his assessor in courts of justice,
while the King still held them in person, and he was also
usually keeper of the Great Seal. [Reg. de Dunferrnlyn,
No. 12 ; Early Scottish Charters, pp. 74, 336.]

It must have been about the time of John's instalment that

the reconstitution of the Bishopric of Glasgow was
accomplished. One of the durable acts of King David's
administration was the establishment of a diocese co-
extensive with his Cumbrian territory, and shortly after
that the bishop entered on his duties. About the same
time David caused an official inquiry to be made
concerning the possessions of the church, and the result
was set forth in a document, a copy of which, in what is
supposed to be twelfth century handwriting, is engrossed
in the ancient Register of the Bishopric. In a preliminary
narrative the founding of the church as the see of the
"bishop of Cumbria," ["Cumbria," as applicable to this
early period, is erroneous, but the slip was natural to a
twelfth century narrator. ] the reception of St. Kentigern as
bishop, and the flourishing condition of the holy faith
throughout the district, are referred to; but in course of
time evil influences prevailed, whereby the church and its
possessions were destroyed, the former inhabitants were
driven into exile, and tribes of different nations poured in
and possessed the desolated territory. Different in race,
unlike in language and not agreeing among themselves,
these intruders clung to heathenism rather than the
worship of the Faith.

At last, in the time of Henry, King of England, while

Alexander, King of the Scots, was reigning in Scotia, God
sent to the people David, brother german of the Scots
King, to be their prince and leader, "to correct their
shameless and wicked vices and curb their insolent
pride." Towards this purpose David, by the aid of his
nobles and clergy, chose as bishop, John, "a religious
man who had educated him and had vowed not without
effect that his life should be devoted to God." Unwilling to
accept the charge, on account of the savage state of the
unhappy people, John was consecrated by Pope Paschal
against his will, but being accepted by the inhabitants and
welcomed by the prince and nobles of the kingdom, he
assumed the charge and succeeded in spreading abroad
the Gospel throughout the Cumbrian diocese.

It is then related that David, chiefly from love to God, but

partly through exhortation of the bishop, caused inquiry to
be made concerning the lands pertaining to the church of
Glasgow, in each of the provinces of Cumbria which were
under his dominion and rule, "for he did not rule over the
whole of Cumbria," [See preceding note.] so that there
might be left to future generations a certification of those
possessions which "of old" the church had held.
Accordingly, by the help and counsel of the old and wise
men of all Cumbria, and on the oath of four persons who
are named, three of them being designated "judges in
Cumbria," a list of the church's possessions, so far as
these could be ascertained, was compiled. [Reg. Episc.
No. i ; Inquisicio, with translation printed in Scots Lore,
pp. 38-41.] Like many other church lands throughout the
country at that time some of the lands contained in the list
had probably passed into the hands of laymen, but if so
they must to a large extent have been restored, as most
of those specified can be identified among the
possessions of the bishopric at a later date.

From the form of the document narrating the investigation

and its result, it may be assumed that the first part of the
procedure consisted in a supplication to Prince David,
prepared by Bishop John, with the assistance of clerics
associated with him in the reorganization of the restored
see and well versed in such historical matter as was
obtainable from the Annals and Chronicles then extant.
On such an application a breve or order for inquiry and
the gathering of evidence from the "old and wise men"
throughout the several districts would naturally follow, and
the scribe whose duty it was to record the verdict has
summarized the statements contained in the writings
placed before him as well as the result of the inquiry. It
has been surmised that both the compiler of the original
document and the transcriber who engrossed it in the
register may have been imported clerics not familiar with
the names of the churches and lands reported as
belonging to the see, and that this may partly account for
the difficulty now experienced in their complete
identification, especially in the vicinity of Glasgow. Less
difficulty is encountered in recognizing the recorded
names of places in the shires of Dumfries, Selkirk,
Roxburgh and Peebles, and in the landward parts of
Lanarkshire, all of vital importance to the local historian.

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