'Charters of Crossraguel Abbey'






§ 8. The later History of the Abbey. 1587-1650.

The death of Abbot Allan and the Act of Annexation took place in the same year. King James had thus an important benefice in his gift, and he decided to confer the Commendatorship of Crosraguel upon John Vaus, eldest son of Sir Patrick Vaus of Barnbarroch.{4} Sir Patrick had rendered yeoman service to the Court in going to Denmark as Special Ambassador, and also as Senator of the College of Justice.{5} The gift of the Abbacy to his son was thus a signal mark of royal favour. Sir Patrick had considerable trouble in collecting the rents of his benefice, —or rather the feu-duties, as most of the lands had been already disponed to Cassillis.{1} We have a notice of the "poor men in the Abbey yairds," in 1589{2} which alludes to the aged retainers of the Abbey who had been pensioned off; and a very remarkable reference to the "monks" who were still in residence at Crosraguel in 1592.{3} In that year Sir Andrew Melvill of Garvok, who had been Master of the Household to Queen Mary, and had accompanied his unhappy sovereign to the scaffold, received a ratification of a yearly pension of 400 marks and 8 chalders of oats from the Abbacy. This was afterwards confirmed to him by Act of Parliament in 1597.{4}

Sir John Vaus had a comparatively brief tenure of the Manor Place of Crosraguel. In 1603 he received a note from the King, requesting him to sign a demission of the place and monastery in favour of his "darrest sone" Prince Henry, without prejudice, however, to his rights to the rents and duties of the Abbacy.{5} King James intended to have it restored as a future residence for the young Prince, but there is no historical evidence that Prince Henry ever actually lived there. Sir John resigned or sold the Commendatorship shortly after this demission, for in 1616 one Peter Hewatt was installed in the Abbacy.{6} Mr. Hewatt, who has been described as "a man fit for making trubles,"{1} enjoyed the profits of Crosraguel for at least thirty years. He was Commissioner of State in 1617,{2} and in the same year he convened the church vassals of the Abbacy for the payment of a national tax.{3} On the 28th of June an Act was passed annexing the whole benefice of Crosraguel, both spirituality and temporality, to the Bishopric of Dumblane;{4} the emoluments of which were at that time insufficient to support a bishop. The vested interests of the Abbacy were, however, secured to Mr. Hewatt, who was granted his own liferent, with all the other duties belonging to the Abbey lands. He also secured a ratification of the teinds of the new church of Ballantrae/ which had just been erected at considerable cost by the Laird of Bargany. The annexation of the Abbacy of Crosraguel to the Bishopric of Dumblane was ratified by the Parliament ot 1633,{6} and eight years later a special Act was passed in favour of Peter Hewatt, the Commendator.{7} By virtue of this, Mr. Hewatt was, in consideration of his advanced age and his inability to support himself and his family, confirmed in the rent of the Abbacy during his life; with the additional proviso that his family should enjoy it for nineteen years after his decease.

He had meanwhile been a minister in Edinburgh, but lost his living there in the religious turmoil at the metropolis during the early part of the seventeenth century, when he had even suffered imprisonment. He died in 1650.{8} The revenues of Crosraguel were therefore enjoyed by the Bishop of Dumblane for a few years. On the final overthrow of Episcopacy in 1689,{1} all that remained of them, consisting of a small property in land, and the patronage of the five churches of Straiton, Ballantrae, Dailly, Kirkoswald, and Girvan, were annexed to the Crown, together with the buildings and "precincts" of the Abbey. Since the recent Act of Parliament abolishing Church patronage, the sole relic of the great Regality of Crosraguel is the small plot of ground, enclosing the ruins of what was one of the simplest, yet one of the most beautiful, specimens of Gothic architecture in Scotland. Within its walls the royal Bruces had attended the ministrations of Holy Church. Through three and a half centuries of the dark ages of Scottish history it had nurtured generations of pious and learned men in a part of the country where the sword was ever more in fashion than the pen. There are many breaks in the chain of continuous events. Yet in bringing these memorials of the Abbey's history to a close, the Editor would gladly hope that they may be still connected by those who in time coming may complete the story of Crosraguel.  


1 Ada Pad. Scot., vol. iii. pp. 127, 427. 2 Vol. ii. p. 58. 3 Vol. ii. pp. 59-60. 4 Vol. ii. pp. 61-3. ° V. Mr. Vans Agnew's Correspmidence of Sir Patrick Waus, passim. VOL. I. i

 1 By several charters, supra. 2 Vol. ii. p. 64. s Vol. ii. p. C7. 4 Vol. ii. pp. 66-8. 6 Vol. ii. p. 69. 6 Vol. ii. p. 72.

1 Vol. ii. p. 72 (note). 2 Ada 'Purl. Scot, vol. iv. p. 523. s Ibid., p. 583. 4 Vol. ii. pp. 71-4. 5 Vol. ii. pp. 70-1. ° Vol. ii. pp. 75-6. 7 Vol. ii. pp. 76-8. s Sprott's Liturgus. =========================================




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