'Charters of Crossraguel Abbey'

 

AYRSHIRE AND GALLOWAY ARCHÆOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION - 1886

INTRODUCTION  

 

I. THE HISTORY OF THE ABBEY.

 

§ 4. The Abbacies of Colin, David, and Robert  1460-1520

 

In the year 1460 one Colin was elected Abbot of Crosraguel. He was an important figure in its history. His first care was to restore the buildings of his Abbey, which had been shattered by the violence of the English; and Father Hay (quoting apparently from the lost Chartulary) describes him as spending whole days in superintending the work of restoration.{4} Abbot Colin's work was doubtless a great one. To him we probably owe the richly designed chapter-house and other monastic buildings of the same period; and the restoration of the greater part of the church. His taste for architecture found him favour with that patron of the fine arts King James the Third, and he was a constant attendant at the various Parliaments of that monarch's reign. Twice in 1478,{1} when the subsidy of 20,000 marks was granted to the King; three times in 1481,{2} when energetic measures were adopted in view of a war with England; in December 1482,{3} when the supreme power was usurped by Albany as Lieutenant-General of the kingdom; and twice in 1485.{4} So far back as 1465 he was appointed arbiter, with Lord Cathcart and others, in the event of any disputes regarding certain dowries of the Kennedy family;{5} and in 1477 he witnessed an Act of the Great Seal.{6} He obtained many special privileges for his monastery. Among others an important renunciation of any right of episcopal visitation within the monastic precincts.{7} In his time, too, occur the first series of writs relating to the Fergussons of Knockgarron{8} —full of interest for the information they afford us on the solemn methods of transfer of land from father to son in early times, by resignation and subsequent infeftment through bailies specially appointed for the purpose by the lord of the regality.

 

In the last year of Abbot Colin's life a charter was signed by the Abbot and five of the monks to one of these Fergussons,{9} and the first mention is made of the Chapter House.{10} He died in 1491,{1} and Robert de Quintfort or Whytefoord, a brother of Whytefoord of that Ilk,{2} and previously cellarer in the monastery of Paisley{3} was elected to the vacant Abbacy. He took no part in public affairs, and his rule at Corsraguel was brief and colourless. Yet he watched over the interests of his Abbey with a jealous eye, and when the Laird of Bar-gany in 1493 usurped a portion of the decimoe garbales of the regality—the most precious privilege that a monastery enjoyed —Abbot Robert summoned him before the Lords Auditors of Causes and Complaints in Edinburgh.{4}

 

He was succeeded by David, perhaps the David Chalmer mentioned in a charter of 1492{5} as being one of the Community. He witnessed an Act of Privy Seal in 1498.{6} In his time the Fraternity were much disquieted by the appearance of one John Hamilton, who pitched his sacrilegious tent at the very gate of the Abbey, occupying four dwelling-houses, a smithy, an orchard, and a yard. And as Hamilton stoutly refused to give up his occupancy, the Abbot obtained a decree from the Lords of Council ordaining this troublesome neighbour to quit before term day.{7} But Abbot David did more for Crosraguel than this. From the Archbishop of Glasgow he obtained a confirmation of all the spiritual rights of the Abbey.{8} And in 1515, when the Archbishop of St. Andrews was delegated by the Pope to visit every monastery in Scotland, and to punish the "excesses and enormities of the brethren dwelling "therein," the Abbot of Crosraguel obtained a special dispensation from any inspection of so equivocal a nature.{1} The fact that the Archbishop bound himself by oath never to visit or reform the monastery of Crosraguel speaks volumes for the excellent discipline which had been maintained under the rule of its late abbots, in an age when the luxury and indolence of the clergy had passed into a byword.  

 

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1 Vol. i. p. 40. 2 Vol. i. p. 42. 3 yoi ; pp, 40-42. 4 Vol. i. pp. 45-6.

 1 Ada Pad. Scot, vol. ii. pp. 115, 120. 2 Ibid., pp. 133-6. 3 Ibid., p. 142a. i Ibid., pp. 1C6-9. 6 Vol. i. p. 43. ° Beg. Mag. Sigilli, vol. ii. p. 270. 7 Vol. i. pp. 43-5. 8 Nos. 29, seq. 9 Vol. i. pp. 53-4. 10 P. 53.

 1 Vol. i. p. 54. - Vol. i. p. 47 (note). 3 Vol. i. p. 47. 4 Vol. i. p. 57. 5 Vol. i. p. 56. ° Reg. Mag. Sigilli, vol. ii. p. 523. 7 Vol. i. p. 63. s yol i p Gi ============================================

 

 

 


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