The Barony Parish had origins in 1595 and it emerged due to the pressure of population growth. There had been concern to serve the community's spiritual needs over the entire parochial district and so the Barony was created by the ecclesiastical authorities as a separate pastoral charge from Glasgow. Its territory covered the country or landward section of the old parish and extended from modern Woodside in the west, across the northern boundary of the town, then eastwards to Shettleston. For two centuries the congregation of the Barony Church met in the Crypt of Glasgow Cathedral until they moved to a new building in 1800.
During the 17th century the Barony was not extensively populated. Even by the mid-18th century it was estimated to have only 4,000 inhabitants. Much of the Barony was farmland and Cowcaddens was originally the pasturage area for Glasgow's cattle. Several of the town's mills were also located in the Barony. Yet unlike the burghal entity of Glasgow, whose lands were owned by the town council on behalf of the community, the Barony contained numerous individual landed estates. Significantly, many of the Barony proprietors, like the Walkinshaws of Barrowfield, were keen to encourage industrial development in order to maximise income from their estates.
Proximity to Glasgow also stimulated the Barony's industrial potential. Coal mining was associated first with Camlachie and then far more profitably with the Shettleston area. By the 1760s steam engines were operating in Shettleston's collieries, preventing them from becoming waterlogged. Textiles were another of the Barony's great growth areas. Calton, in the east, and Anderston, in the west, had become flourishing handloom weaving villages by the mid-18th century. Other increasingly populous textile villages were Bridgeton, Grahamston, Finnieston, North Woodside and Parkhead. By the 1790s the number of Barony inhabitants had risen to 18,500 and the parish had acquired a distinctly urban profile.
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