'Charters of Crossraguel Abbey'

 

AYRSHIRE AND GALLOWAY ARCHÆOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION - 1886

INTRODUCTION  

 

I. THE HISTORY OF THE ABBEY.

§ 2. The Abbey under the Bruces. 1268-1370.

Crosraguel is for the next hundred years inseparably associated with the fortunes of the family of Bruce. The origin of their settlement in Carrick is well known. In 1268 a young knight, Robert de Brus, son of the Lord of Annandale, was riding through the domains of Marjory Countess of Carrick, the daughter of Earl Nigel. There he encountered the fair owner of the Castle of Turnberry, and was led off by her to the castle. They were married within a month, and the issue of their romantic love was the great King Robert.{4} The Countess Marjory had herself been a great benefactress to Crosraguel;{5} and we find that Robert de Brus, who acquired the earldom in right of his wife, followed her pious example in making grants of land to the Abbey.{6} The Castle of Turnberry was now literally a tower of defence to the monks in these troublous times.

In the year 1275, the Pope sent an Emissary named Boiamund da Vicci into Scotland to collect the tenth of all ecclesiastical benefices to defray the cost of the great Crusade to the Holy Land.{1} The tax was sternly enforced, according to the "True Value" of the livings, though the clergy strove hard to have it raised on the "antiqua taxatio." They resisted it tooth and nail, among them doubtless the Abbot of Crosraguel, who had to contribute £53 6s 8d;{2} other churches in Carrick, dependent upon the Abbey, being also taxed. The total amount collected was £7195.

After the calamitous death of Alexander the Third and the accession of the Maiden of Norway in 1286, a powerful party of barons was formed against the young Queen. They met at the Castle of Turnberry in September, when one Patrick was Abbot of Crosraguel,{3} and drew up the famous covenant for mutual protection. Abbot Patrick was on intimate terms with these malcontent nobles. He witnessed a charter{4} by one of the signatories to the covenant, Alexander Lord of the Isles; among the other witnesses being Robert Bruce and his son, the future King Robert the First. Patrick is the first abbot of whom any record is preserved. We do not find his name among those present at the meeting of the Scottish Estates at Brigham in 1290, when the celebrated treaty was concluded confirming to the people their ancient rights. Still more important is it to relate that no Abbot of Crosraguel figured at the Parliament of Berwick in 1296, when multitudes of Scotchmen of every rank, whose names fill thirty-five skins of parchment, flocked at the peril of their lives to swear fealty to Edward.

During the next ten years, memorable for the heroic efforts of Wallace to free his countrymen from the English yoke, and culminating in his execution and the subsequent coronation of Robert Bruce, little is known of Crosraguel. A new figure has appeared upon the scene. Henry de Percy, nephew of Surrey, and one of Edward's bravest generals, was appointed Keeper of Galloway and the Sheriffdom of Ayr in 1296. The country was now dominated by the English party, and in 1306 Percy was again despatched into Carrick. He held the Castle of Turnberry all that year. On St. James' Day we find him writing from the very Abbey of Crosraguel{1} to Sir James Dalileghe for two engines of war; and it is marvellous how Crosraguel escaped the fate of Dunfermline, Paisley, St. Andrews, Kelso, and countless other monasteries, at the sacrilegious hands of the English soldiery. The gifts to the Abbey in 1329 from the royal purse{2} prove that the old buildings of Earl Duncan had not remained intact. But the tide soon turned. The Bruce landed at Turnberry with a few faithful followers. The men of Carrick rose in a solid mass and fought in his favour. Percy evacuated the royal castle; and a series of hardly-fought successes, culminating in the decisive field of Bannockburn, put an end to all hopes on the part of England of accomplishing the conquest of her sister country.

Yet in these stirring times the Earls of Carrick did not forget their Abbey. In 1306 King Robert conferred the earldom on his brother, the gallant Edward, whose gifts to Crosraguel of Dalchorane, Corale, and Hackethinvach we find duly confirmed by royal charter in 1324.{1} The King was himself lavish in his benefactions to the Abbey. In spite of the thun-derings of the Court of Rome, the Scottish clergy knew him to be their friend, and never deserted him. And in the last five years of his eventful life, when peace was partially restored, we find him bestowing many lands upon the Church. We have three Crown Charters to Crosraguel in his reign. By the first, which is dated 1324,{2} he granted to the Abbey the lands of Dungrelach, where in a later day the monks built a mill, which was a source of great profit. By the second of the same date{3} he erected all the Abbey lands into a free barony, implying not only the highest and most privileged tenure of land, but a vast jurisdiction over the inhabitants. The concomitant privileges of the barony included the sac et soc, the right of judging in litigious suits; tholl et teme, the exaction of toll and the bonds of mutual warranty; furca et fossa, the "gallows and pit," or the right of capital punishment in certain cases; infangthef et outfangthef, the right to punish a thief when caught with the "fang," either within or without the Abbey's jurisdiction. These pertinents of the barony belonged de jure to the Crown, and the grant of them was a mark of special favour. By the third Crown Charter, dated 1327,{1} the King confirmed to the Abbey the lands granted by the previous Earls of Carrick.

A few months after David the Second had commenced his ill-starred reign, the Abbot of Crosraguel received the King's Penny for three years for the repair of his monastery, amounting to £100 1s 10d.{2} The Parliament of the previous year had ratified the taxation of the country for the payment of the indemnity of £20,000 to England. This was termed the Contribucio pro pace, and was to be levied according to the tenth penny of the rents for three successive years. Sir Malcolm Fleming, the bailie for Carrick, collected over £430, from which the sum above mentioned was returned to the Abbot of Crosraguel.

We know little of the Abbey for the next thirty years amid the turmoil of the English wars. About 1360 we have the Abbey seal attached to the charter of Marjory Montgomery 3 -ten years before the death of the last of the royal Braces.  

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1 Vol. i. p. 10, et passim. 2 Vol. i. p. 10. 3 Vol. i. pp. 15-16, et passim. 4 Tytlcr, vol. L p. 70; Barbour's Bruce. 6 Vol. i. pp. 17-18. c Vol. i. pp. 17-18.

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1 Statuta Ecclcsue Scoiicance, p. Ixvii.; Tytler, vol. i. p. 70; Lees' Paisley Abbey. 2 Vol. i. p. 11. 3 Vol. i. pp. 12-13. i So. 7, p. 12.

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1 Vol. i. pp. 13-14. 2 Vol. i. pp. 1S-19.

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1 Vol. i. p. 1G. 2 Vol. i. pp. 14-15. s Vol. i. pp. 15-16.

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