'Charters of Crossraguel Abbey'







§ 1. The Foundation of the Abbey. 1200-1268.


The golden age of Scottish ecclesiastical architecture, inaugurated by David the First, the "sair sanct for the Crown," continued long after that monarch's death, and until the country was deluged with the Wars of Independence. King David's barons and their successors emulated their sovereign's example in founding churches and monasteries throughout the land. And thus we find that at the close of the twelfth century one Duncan, Earl of Carrick, to whom the whole country of Carrick had been apportioned by William the Lion, granted some of his lands there to the Abbey of Paisley, under certain conditions;{1} namely, that the monks of Paisley should found a monastery in Carrick after their own Order of Cluny, and that these possessions should at once be handed over to the new community. On the same terms Earl Duncan granted to Paisley the patronage of the churches of Straiton, Dailly, and S. Oswald of Turnberry;{2} and entrusted to its care the books, vestments, and other articles necessary for the use and adornment of the future monastery.{3}


The monks of Paisley evaded the conditions of this munificent grant. The Church of Turnberry was confirmed to them by Florence, the Bishop-elect of Glasgow, in 1202;{4} twenty-three years later, Honorius III. confirmed to their use the lands of Crosraguel and Southblane;{5} and in 1236 they received a confirmatory grant of the churches of Turnberry, Straiton, and Dalmakeran, from Alexander the Second.{6} Meanwhile they built at Crosraguel a cell or oratory, where they had service performed by some of their own community for many years, enjoying all the while the wealthy emoluments of the Carrick lands.{7}


In 1244 the Earl appears to have suddenly awoke to the manner in which his munificent endowments were being misapplied. He accordingly complained to the Abbey of Paisley. William de Bondington, Bishop of Glasgow, was appointed arbiter in the matter; and the "Scriptum de Corsragmol"{8} records his decision. The Paisley monks were


forthwith to erect a monastery at Crosraguel, to be governed by an Abbot, who should be elected by the monks, and be free from the jurisdiction of the Abbot of Paisley. With one exception —that the Abbot of Paisley should visit the younger house once a year with a moderate retinue, and should correct any irregularities which he found therein. Further, the lands held in Carrick were to be ceded for ever to the house of Crosraguel for the yearly payment of ten marks of silver.

Such was in effect the Charter of foundation; and Earl Duncan himself superintended the erection of the church and the surrounding buildings.{9} He died in 1250, and other hands completed the work. He was a great benefactor to the Church. He had granted his lands of Maybottle to the monks of Mel-rose, and the parish church of Maybole to the Cistercian Nunnery of North Berwick.{10}

Duncan was succeeded in the earldom by his son Nigel, who figures in history as a leader of the English party, and as a Regent of the kingdom after the Roxburgh Convention in 1255. Like his father he was a generous patron to Crosraguel, and granted to the monastery various lands from his earldom of Carrick.{11}

Before long, the old disputes as to the conflicting rights of Paisley and Crosraguel to the Carrick lands broke out afresh. The Paisley monks were dissatisfied with the decision of the Bishop of Glasgow, and in 1265 they appealed to the Papal Court for a restitution of their former privileges.{12} Clement the Fourth issued a Papal commission, consisting of three churchmen of high rank, to summon witnesses for the hearing of the case, and to terminate it by judgment within the year. From the charters which follow this appeal{1} it is clear that the commission decided in confirmation of the Scriptum of 1244. True that in later years Crosraguel and Southblane were enumerated among the possessions of Paisley in Papal bulls,{2} but they were confirmed in many subsequent charters to Crosraguel.{3} The Abbey had thus obtained a firm hold over its property, and was at length in a position of prosperity and power.


1 Vol. i. pp. 1-10.

2 Vol. i. pp. 2, 5.

3 yoL i. p. 5 (note).

4 Vol. i. p. 2 (note).

5 Vol. i. p. 1.

6 Vol. i. pp. 2-3.

7 Vol. i. pp. 6-10.

8 Vol. i. pp. 3-6.

9 Vol. i. p. 5 (note). " CJiart. Melrose; Paterson's Ayrshire, ii. p. 367.

11 Vol. i. pp. 17-18.

12 Vol. i. pp. 6-10.







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