'Charters of Crossraguel Abbey'







THE Abbey of S. Mary of Crosraguel has not hitherto been widely known in Scottish history for two reasons; (1) the loss of the Chartulary and the consequently scattered condition of the Charters and other documents, which have been collected from many different sources, and are now printed together for the first time; (2) the fact that its Abbots did not, with few exceptions, play as important a part in public affairs as the heads of other monastic establishments. Yet they were men held in high honour in their own country. Many of them, as we shall find, sat in the various Parliaments of three hundred years; some of their number were from time to time members of the Privy Council, Commissioners of State, Royal Ambassadors, and high legal functionaries ; and under their rule the Abbey was a centre of light to the surrounding districts. The monks of Crosraguel were the agriculturists and the schoolmasters of the time. Constant instances occur in these papers of the care which they devoted to farming, to the working of the coal - heughes, to the cultivation of woods, orchards, gardens; to the development of the fine arts, such as music and architecture; to philosophy, science, theology, and other literary pursuits. Without doubt they did much to keep alive in the hearts of the country people a knowledge of right and wrong in very stormy times.


We shall find two leading features in tracing the history of Crosraguel from its foundation; first, a continuous endeavour on the part of Paisley Abbey to retain its superiority over its dependent house; secondly, a lasting connection between the Abbey itself and the great House of Kennedy, whose dominant influence was humorously expressed in the old saw :—

"From Wigton to the toun of Ayr,

Port Patrick and the cruives of Cree;

Man need not think for to byde there,

Unless he court with Kennedie."

The Kennedies were maternally descended from the old Earl of Carrick who founded the Abbey, and two of the family were Abbots themselves.




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