'Charters of Crossraguel Abbey'





THIS collection comprises all the documents at present known to exist relative to the history of Crosraguel Abbey. The Chartulary or Register of the Monastery, which was quoted by several writers of last century, and was actually in the possession of the Earl of Cassillis in 1729, has been irretrievably lost; and when I commenced some years ago to collect and edit these Charters, the only materials at hand were a few worthless legends, to be sternly discarded by the historian. The present collection will, it is hoped, be found to contain much that is entirely new to our local history, and to give a tolerably complete narrative of the fortunes of the Abbey, with many glimpses at its interior economy, for a period of over 350 years. There are many gaps in the sequence of events, notably during the latter part of the fourteenth, and earlier part of the fifteenth centuries. Yet those were the dark ages in our national history, and few monasteries can boast of many memorials of that stormy period, save sacrilege, plunder, and oppression. The cream of the collection is undoubtedly the series of muniments from the charter chest of the Marquess of Ailsa at Culzean, to whose courtesy in allowing the documents to be printed the Association is much indebted. Looking to the fact that the private collections throughout the country constitute an almost unexplored mine of historical wealth, we cannot too highly commend Lord Ailsa's public-spirited example.


The Charters themselves are printed, as usual, without the old contractions, which only serve to puzzle and fail to instruct. I have endeavoured to weave them into a continuous narrative in the Introduction, which, with the Explanatory Notes, will enable the reader, it is hoped, to follow with ease and interest the fortunes of an opulent Ayrshire Abbey from its foundation to its fall.


Engravings are given of many of the most important among the charters, seals, and royal autographs; and the reproduction of several old prints of the Abbey will be found to be of interest.


In conclusion, I must express my thanks to those who have at all times given me generous assistance in the work, which has been essentially a labour of love; especially to Mr. Cochran-Patrick; to the Rev. J. Cameron Lees, D.D., St. Giles, Edinburgh; to Mr. Joseph Bain, London; to Lord Talbot of Malahide; to M. Bruel, Archéviste Publique, Paris; to Mr. Thomas Dickson, of the Register House; to the Rev. Walter Macleod; to Mr. Vans Agnew of Barnbarroch; to the Rev. J. F. S. Gordon, D.D.; to the Keepers of the various Public Libraries; and to many others. A special meed of praise is due to Mr. James Morris, F.S.A. Scot., for the care and skill which he has displayed in executing the drawings of the existing ruins of the Abbey buildings, and for his valuable remarks on their architectural history.





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