John Guthrie Smith.

The parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history online

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date of his death as 29th March, 1586, and .Mr. Andrew Stuart and Mr. Fraser in their respective
works adopt the same date.

* Regina . . . concessit et quitteclamavit Johanni Archiepisc. S. Andree, Abbati de
Paslay . . . jus patronatus ecclesie collegiate de Dunbertane, ac prebendarum et capel-
laniarum hospitalis et pauperum oratorum lie bedmen vie. Dunbertane. Regine pertinen. ob
forisfacturam Mathei olim Com. de Levenax. Apud Edin., 12 Mar., \^^\-2.— {Reg.AJao. Sig.,
10 Mar., A.D. 1551-52.) On the restoration of Earl Mathew to his estates and honours in 1564
the patronage of the Collegiate Church of Dumbarton returned to the family of Lennox.


of land lying on the east side of the High Street of Glasgow, and on the same
day, an hour later, he was witness to another deed which narrates how "John
Cochran, for reasonable causes and a sura of money paid by an honourable
man, Andrew Hammiltoune, captain of the Castle of Dunbartane, conveyed
with consent of the said Andrew, the said tenement, garden, and acre of ground
to Anne Crawfurde, spouse of the said Andrew Hammiltoune, and thereafter
she conveyed the same to Glodius Hammyltoune, her son, reserving her

Sir David Hamilton continued Provost of the Collegiate Church up to 26th
November, 1552,2 and thereafter we lose sight of him; and before 30th August,
1557, Robert Stewart was again in possession.^


It is a little uncertain when the next Provost succeeded, and whether he
was in orders or not. He was a son of John Cunninghame of Drumquhassle, a
Strathblane laird in right of his part of Easter Mugdock. This Drumquhassle
was a person of very considerable standing in the Lennox. He was early in
reformed times in high favour with its Earl, and as a reward for his share in
the gallant enterprise of Captain Thomas Crawford of Jordanhill, by which
Dumbarton Castle was secured for the Regent, ist April, 157 1, he was placed
in command of it. He was also " Bailie, Chalmerlane, Ressaver, and Intro-
mattour with the maillis, fermes, etc., of the Erldome of Lennox and Lordschip
of Dernlle," and he had also obtained, for his son Cuthbert nominally, but
really for himself, a gift of the Provostry of the Collegiate Church of Dum-

The form of presentation of the youthful Provost to the benefice of the
Provostry was as follows : — " Ane lettre maid be oure souerane lord with awise
and consent of his derrest guidschir Mathew erle of Levinax lord Dernlie his
majesties lauchfull tutour and Regent to his hienes his realme and liegis and
for himself and with awise and consent of James erle of Mortoun lord of
Dalkeith chancellar of Scotland havand the gift of waird of the erledome of
Levinax with advocatioun donatioun and richt of patronage of the provestrie
of the college kirk of Dunbertane as vndoutit patronis To Cuthbert Cuning-

^ Registered in the Protocol Bonk of William Heygate, notary, preserved among the Records
of the city of Glasgow. The witnesses to these transactions are James Edmestoune of Bcllewyn,
John Boyle (Joanne Boyle filio domino Kelburne), James Lyndesay, Sir David Hamyltoun,
Provost of the Collegiate Church of Dumbartane ; William Donaldesomie, John Mertyne,
John Seller, Sergeant, and Sir David Massoun.

-Kirklands of Strathblane Writs. ^Kirklands of Strathblane Writs.


hame lauchfuU sone to Johnne Cunmghame of Drumquhassill Presentand him
to all and haill the benefice of the provestrie of the said college kirk of Dun-
bertane with all landis kirkis teyndis rentis fructis emolimentis and devviteis
belanging thairto Hand in the diocie of Glasgw within the schirrefdome of
Dunbertane now vakand be dimissioun of ane reverend fader in God Robert
bischop of Caithnes Provest of the said college kirk of Dunbertane and per-
tening to oure souverane lordis presentatioun and dispositioun as erle of
Levinax The said Provestrie to be broukit and joisit be the said Cuthbert and
the teindis fruitis rentis and emolimentis thairof and of the landis kirkis and
possessionis pertening thairto to be intromettit with vptakin and disponit be
him his factouris and servitouris in his name for his sustentatioun at the sculis
quhill he be of the aige of xxvj yeiris compleit and fardir induring all the
dayis of his lyfe gif at the said aige of xxvj yeiris he be fund qualifiit and
entir and continew in the charge of ministrie within the kirk of God Or
failzeing thairof the said provestrie at the said Guthbert aige of xxvj yeiris
foirsaid to be vakand ipso facto Providing that he in the menetyme continew
at the saidis scuillis and als find sufficient souirtie for yeirlie payment of the
thrid of the said Provestrie to the coUectouris of the kirk To be haldin and
to be had all and haill the said Provestrie of the said college kirk of Dunber-
tane with all landis kirkis teindis fruitis mailis fermes proffittis and dewiteis
belanging thairto To the said Cuthbert during the space abonewrittin for the
effect abone specifiit off our souerane lord and his successouris with all and
sindrie commoditeis fredomes etc. alsfrelie as the said Reverend fader or any
vthiris Provestis of the said Provestrie vsit joisit and broukit the same in ony tyme
bigane etc. direct to the superintendent or commissionar of the kirk within the
diocie of Glasgw or in his absence to the nixt superintendent or commissionare of
the kirk in the boundis adjacent requiring thame to ressave and admit the said
Cuthbert to the said provestrie in maner and vpoun the conditionis abone expremit
and to caus him be enterit in the reall and actuall possessioun thairof Or-
daning alsua the lordis of counsall and sessioun at the sicht of thir pre-
sentis and of the said superintendentis or commissionaris testimoniall of
admissioun to grant and gif lettres for answering and obeying of the said
Cuthbert of the teindis fruitis mailis fermes proffittis and dewiteis with vthiris
rentis proventis and emolimentis of the said provestrie and of the landis kirkis
and possessionis manssis gleibis and kirklandis of the samin as vse is and to
nane vthiris etc. At Edinburgh the xxj day of October the yeir of God j""
v" Ixx yeiris." ^

Provost Cuthbert Cunninghame was but a boy when he received this ap-

1 From Reg. Sec. Sig., vol. xxxix. Ibl. 25.



pointment, of which the spiritual duties, such as they were, were performed by
Andrew Robinson, one of the chaplains. There was no time lost, however, by
the infant Provost in beginning his temporal functions, for on the loth March,
157 1, he granted in feu farm to his father John Cunninghame of Drumquhassle
the lands of "Ladytoun in Bonyll, Ferkinche and Stockroggert in Luss, Baller-
nikbeg in Cardross, and Knokdorebarbur in Rosneith," all of them the property
of the Provostry ; the feu duty being ;^3o 6s. 8d. usual money of Scotland. This
charter was granted with the express consent of the Chapter of the Provostry,
and of the most illustrious and serene prince, James VI., by the Grace of God
King of the Scots and Earl of Lennox, its undoubted patron, John Earl of
Mar, Lord Erskine, Regent of the Kingdom, being also a consenting party.^

He also granted to his brother, William Cunninghame of Polmaise Cunning-
hame alias Mitchell, " a tack of the teinds, parsonage and vicarage of the
Paroch Kirk of Strathblane," part of the patrimony of the Collegiate Church
of Dumbarton for payment of p^ioo Scots yearly; this transaction being no
doubt at the bidding of his father.

At this period of robbery of the Church's possessions, the history of the
Collegiate Church of Dumbarton is very obscure. Though Cuthbert Cunning-
hame is distinctly called the Provost, and acts as such in charters and other
writs, the old Provost, Robert Stewart, Bishop of Caithness, had still some
rights over it, for in a feu charter of the Kirklands of Strathblane granted by
Cuthbert Cunninghame in 1575, it is stated that it is issued "with the advice
and consent of the Earl of I-ennox and the Bishop of Caithness." After the
unjust and cruel execution of his father in 1584 — the story of which is to be
found in our history of the Duntreath family — Provost Cuthbert was often in
difficulties with his elder brother, John, the succeeding laird of Drumquhassle.
In 1587 "Sir Patrik Howstoun of that ilk and Patrik Drummond fiar of
Carnok " are cautioners in 2,000 merks " for Johnne Cunynghame of Drum-
quhassil that he will not harm Cuthbert Cunynghame his brother." ^ In the
following year there is a caution for ;j^2,ooo by "Alexander Master of Elphin-
stone for Johnne Cunynghame of Drumquhassill, that Cuthbert Cunynghame
Provost of Dunbartane, his tenants and servants shall be harmless of the said
Cunynghame,"^ and in 1590 matters between the brothers were brought to a
crisis by a complaint made by the Provost to the Privy Council. In this
document he states that his late father, "Johnne Cunynghame of Drumquhassill,"
having made reasonable provision for all his bairns without hurting or diminish-
ing the old heritage of the house of Drumquhassill, granted to the complainer

"^ Reg. Sec. Sig., vol. xi. fol. 67. The charter is signed at Leith, but the witnesses' names are
not given in the Records.

'^ Reg. P. C. of Scot., vol. iv. p. 197. "' R>^ii' R- C. of Scot,, vol. iv. p. 303.



the Provostry of Dumbarton, " the lands of Boquhanne, half kirk of Dunbartane
and teind sheaves thereof," as his rights and titles show. He was accordingly
in possession of his lands and teinds for many years before his father's death,
"lippynning for na thing les eftir his deceis, than ony unnaturall or extraordinar
behaviour of Johne Cunynghame now of Drumquhassill his broder, bot that in
all his honest and lauchfuU adois be sould have assistit him in a brotherlie
maner." The complaint then goes on to show how Drumquhassill " intruded
himself" into the lands of Boquhoune and intromitted with the ferms and duties
of the same from the year 1584 to 1588. How in 1586, 1587, and 1588 the
said John had masterfully stopped the complainer from leading the teinds of
the half Kirk of Dumbarton and intromitted with the same himself, " and
albeit thair hes bene divers submissionis past betuixt thame yit the said Johnne
nevir abydis thairat afifermying that, albeit thair wer ane cairtfuU of decreittis
obtenit aganis him, it sould not avale unles he wer contentit." The whole winds
up w!th a request to His Majesty " to tak sic ordour heiranent as utheris may
be terrifeit to behave them selffis sa rebellious heireftir." The Council de-
nounced John as a rebel, and advised His Majesty to cause him to be pursued
as a traitor with fire and sword and his castles to be demolished for his " un-
naturall and schamefuU rebellioun and defectioun frome His Majesties obedience"
unless he shall obey at once the decrees obtained against him,^ and this no
doubt he did. Cuthbert was not the only one of his brothers with whom the
laird of Drumquhassle quarrelled. As already mentioned,^ John Cunninghame, of
Drumquhassle, who was executed in 1584, had a large family — John, of whom
we have just been speaking, and who succeeded his father and recovered the
estates by Act of Parliament in 1585; William of Polmaise; Robert of Drumbeg;
Cuthbert the Provost, and others. We have already more or less disposed of
John, Robert, and Cuthbert, and although it is perhaps an improper digression,
still, as William of Polmaise was connected with the Parish of Strathblane as
tacksman of its teinds, we propose to give a slight sketch of his life also.

William Cunninghame had been given by his father the part of Polmaise
which he had got through his wife, Isobel Cunninghame, and otherwise. This
estate was called " Polmais Cwnynghame alias Mitchell," to distinguish it from
" Polmais Murray," the property of the Murrays of Touchadam. He had also
got from his father in reality, though in name from his brother Cuthbert, the
provost, a tack of the teinds " parsonage and vicarage of the paroch Kirk of
Strathblane," part of the patrimony of the Collegiate Church. Among the Writs
at Buchanan Castle is a tack by William Cunninghame of Polmaise, " Tacksman
of the teinds of the paroch of Strathblane, lying within the Diocess of Glasgow

'^Reg. P. C. of Scot., vol. iv. pp. 523-4. ^ Page 86.



and Sheriffdom of Stirling," with consent of John Cunninghaine of Drumquhassle,
his father, and with consent of " the provost and prebendaries of the Colledge
Kirk of Dumbarton, patrons of the same," in favour of John Earl of Montrose,
of the lands of " Ledregraen, Dumburgh, Edinkill, Milndavy, and the aikers within
Strathblane, The Peitch, New Park, Old Park, Craigailzean, Achingilzean, Quinloch,
Carbeth, Woodend of Mugdock, with the airds all lying within the paroch of Strath-
blane and pertaining heretably to the said noble Lord for nynetyne years from
Lambas 1583, for ;^35 yearly of tack teind duty," dated 20th July, 1583.
There was probably some profit made on this transaction, and also on another
which he afterwards made, assigning this tack of teinds of Strathblane to Andrew
Wood of Largo. The laird of Drumquhassle had therefore clearly made for
this son what his brother Cuthbert calls "a reasonable provision." WilHam
Cunninghame of Polmaise had his difficulties like the rest of the family. He
was implicated in the charge brought against his father and others for con-
spiracy against the King, and he was summoned by the Parliament which met
at Edinburgh, 22nd August, 1584, along with many more, to appear before the
King and his Parliament to answer to a charge of treason and lese majestie.
In the summons he is styled " William Conynghame, secund sone to the laird of
Drumquhassill." Neither he nor the others appeared, and certain of them were
found guilty in absence, and forfeited. Whether or not this befell the laird of
Polmaise does not appear, though it probably did. In 1585 the Cunninghames
and others were repossessed in their lands by Act of Parliament, and a curious
little Act of Parliament in the same year, in favour of James Murray and the
" Lady Polmais," shows that there had hitherto been no great friendship between
the Murrays and the Cunninghames, and that there had been disputes as to their
respective parts of Polmaise. This Act narrates how a supplication was given in
by " James Murray, brother-german to the umq" William Murray of Touchaddame
and Agnes Cunynghame, Lady Polmais," praying that certain decisions that had
been obtained by them, relating to the lands of " Polmais Cwnynghame alias
Mitchell, lang befoir the convictioun of umq" Johnne Cunynghame of Drum-
quhassill for crymes ffor the qlks he was justifeit to the deith," should not be
annulled by any of the provisions of the Act removing the forfeiture and
reversing decisions following thereupon, the Murrays alleging that these de-
cisions regarding the lands in dispute had not been given " eftir nor be
ressoun of ony causes proceiding vpoun his forfaltour." The Murrays got their
Act of Parliament, and apparently the disputes as to the possession of Polmaise
were also satisfactorily settled, for five years afterwards, in a roll of " landit men,"
the lairds of Polmais Murray and Polmais Cunnynghame both appear, and
Cuthbert Cunninghame, at least, was on good terms with the Murrays, for when
a Bond of Caution was subscribed at Polmaise, by John Murray of Touchadam,


on the 1 8th August, 1590, James Murray and Thomas Murray, his uncles, were
present, and also Cuthbert Cunynghame, Provost of Dunbaitane.^

Like Cuthbert, his brother, WiUiam Cunninghame of Polmaise was harassed
and bulhed by his eldest brother, John of Drumquhassle. In 1588 there is a
" Caution in 3,000 merks by Cuthbert Elphingstoun of Henderstoun for Johnne
Cunynghame of Drumquhassill, that Williame Cunynghame of Polmais Cunyng-
hame shall be harmless of him till loth August next,'"' and next year there is a
similar one, "Caution in 3,000 merks by Johnne Cunynghame of Drumquhassill,
as principal, and AUane M'Caulaw of x'lrnecapill, as surety for him, that Williame
Cuninghame of Polmais Cunynghame, his tenants, and servants shall be
harmless of the said principal."^ Very probably, however, the prompt and
severe measures taken against Drumquhassle by the Council, at the instance of
his brother Cuthbert, may have brought him to reason, and it is to be hoped
that the good name of a prominent Strathblane family was not again sullied by
farther unbrotherly and rebellious proceedings on the part of this fractious old
parishioner. The Polmaise branch of the Drumquhassle and Blairquhosh family
is now extinct.

It is unnecessary to trace the history of succeeding Provosts of the Collegiate
Church of Dumbarton, and indeed Cuthbert Cunninghame was the last of them
who had the faintest claim to a spiritual character, and that was in his extreme
youth. ^ The titles of the Provostry were transferred to the Lennox estate in
1618, and succeeding Provosts were mere " Tulchans," laymen put in possession
by the Earls and Dukes of Lennox and the family of Montrose, their successors,
for the purpose, so to speak, of milking the old Collegiate Church and handing
over the cream to the patrons or their nominees.

It is only at long intervals, however, that a Provost re-appears at all, and
latterly his sole function was the execution of certain formalities when ministers
were presented by the Montrose family to the parishes of Strathblane, Fintry,
and Bonhill.

In 1672 Charles Duke of Lennox and Richmond died witliout issue, and
his estates, superiorities, and patronages devolved on King Charles II. as nearest
collateral heir male. The King settled the liferent of the whole on the Duke's

'^ Reg. P. C. of Scot., vol. iv. p. 528. ''^ Reg- P- C. of Scot., vol. iv. pp. 293-348.

^ His wife, Janet Alexander, was apparently a Stirling lady, and that such a person ever
existed is known only from the fallowing entry in the Session Records of Stirling : — " Augt.
14, 1607. The brethrein thinkis meet that Cuthbert Cunynghame provest of Dunbartane
Colledge sail pay ad pios usus fyve pundis money, for the passage thrugh the Kirk to burie
the corps of umquhill Jonet Alexander his spous." The Provost's son, Mr. John Cuninghame
— a Glasgow student — was minister of the parish of Lecropt before 1627. He married Margaret
Stewart and had a son, Captain John Cuninghame, whose brother, Adam Cuninghame, is
mentioned in Nisbet's Heraldry as "one of the macers to the Senators of the College of
Justice, descended of Cunninghame of Drumquhassell."

2 B



widow, the beautiful Frances Therese Stuart of the Blantyre family, and in 1680
granted to his natural son, Charles Lennox, whom he had created Duke of
Richmond and Lennox in 1675, all that remained of the once great Earldom
of Lennox, including its superiorities, jurisdictions, and patronages.

After the death of the Duchess Frances of Lennox in 1702, the Duke of
Richmond and Lennox sold his property in Scotland, and the Marquis of
Montrose purchased part of it, including all the superiorities, rights, and
privileges of the Collegiate Church of Dumbarton, and all that is left of them
is still in the possession of the Montrose family.

We have already shown how a great part of the lands of the Provostry were
feued off to John Cunninghame of Drumquhassle, and it is no part of the design
of this work to trace their history farther, nor yet that of the other lands and
teinds feued off or set in tack to different families. The history of the Kirklands
of Strathblane, with which alone we have to do, and which formed a consider-
able part of the lands of the Provostry, is given in full elsewhere in this book.

When the minister of Strathblane was put in possession of all the remaining
unexhausted teinds of Strathblane at the last and final augmentation, he
became again, after the lapse of many centuries, " Rector of Strathblane,"
and the Act of 1874, doing away with patronage in the Church of Scotland,
broke the last feeble link of the chain that bound Strathblane to the Collegiate
Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dumbarton.


We have said but little yet as to the vicars of Strathblane, upon whom
had devolved for some three centuries the pastoral charge of the parish,
deprived as it w^as of its rector ; and, in truth, there is but little to tell.

After the church of Strathblane was made over to the Hospital of Pol-
madie, some time before 13 16, there probably was a vicar appointed with
some slender payment ; but we do not know this for certain. When the
church was, along with Polmadie, given to the Cathedral of Glasgow in 1427
it was stipulated that the Vicar of Strathblane was to be paid 14 merks Scots,
15s. 6|d., and have a glebe of a merkland of land, 34I acres, and he
probably received also the altar dues and offerings. We are still unable, how-
ever, to give the name of a single vicar. After the church was made over,
about the middle of the fifteenth century, to the Duchess Countess Isabella of
the Lennox for the endowment of her Provostry of Dumbarton, the vicars were
continued on the same footing as to pay and glebe as before, and at last, but
not till about fifty years after its foundation, we can name a Vicar of Strath-
blane. This was Sir Walter Logane, who was witness to a charter signed at



Stirling, loth May, 1498.^ He is styled in it Vicar of " Strablayan," chaplain,
and notary public. He was still in possession i8th March, 1502,2 but by 23rd
October, 1507, Sir Humphry Cuninghara, Dominus Winfridus Conigham, was
serving the cure, and doing it too in very discouraging circumstances, for his
rector, Master Walter Abernethy, Provost of the Collegiate Church of Dum-
barton, was attempting to withhold from him his salary, and the matter was
in the Church Courts of the diocese.^ Sir Humphry Cuningham disappears
before 24th August, 15 18, for on that day "Sir Robert Cochrane, vicar of
Strablane," was the notary public on duty when Mr. James Stewart was
instituted to the Provostry of the Collegiate Church of Dumbarton.^

Sir Gilbert Provane, witness to a deed, 6th June, 1549,^ is the next vicar on
record, and probably the last was "Sir Jhone Crawfurd, Vicar Pensioner of
Strablane," who served the cure in 1558,^ and whose existence would probably
have been unknown had he not, as recorded in a legal document, guided the
pen of Margaret Buchanan, widow of George Stirling of Glorat, and wife of
Mathew Douglas of Mains, as she signed her name to a deed.'^

Corrupt as was the Church of Rome at this time all over Europe, there was
no country where it was so bad as in Scotland. The higher clergy in most
cases did not make even a pretence of attending to their sacred duties ; the
parish clergy were sunk in ignorance so dense that many of them could barely
read the service, and when they could, they did not understand it, Latin being
utterly unknown to them. Preaching was quite given up, except by the Begging
Friars, and their sermons were a wretched mixture of superstition and profane
levity. Sunday was neglected, or rather often spent in the representation of
profane plays or Robin Hood games, of which the people were exceedingly
fond. All the clergy, both regular and secular, were sunk in gross immorality,
and utterly neglected the poor ignorant people ; and as this was the case all
over Scotland, so, no doubt, would it be in Strathblane at the date of the

^Reg. Mag. Sig. 11, Jac. IV. A.D. 1498.

^ Craigbarnet Charters.

^Diocesan Registers of Glasgow, vol. ii. pp. 218, 240.

* Protocol Book of Master Mathew Forsyth. '

^ Printed in Stirlings of ICeir, p. 165.

^ Acts and Decreets of the Court of Session, vol. xviii. fol. 117.

"^ The names of three at least of these vicars are local, and possibly these old clergy m ere
sons of the families of Logan of Balvie, Cunninghame of Blairquhosh, and Provan, afterwards of



The Reformation in Scotland was completed by the action of the Estates of the
Kingdom in 1560. On the 17th August of that year the Confession of Faith
drawn up by John Knox was adopted. On the 24th of the same month Acts
were passed annulling all previous Acts relating to the Church. The Pope's