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Beginnings: Early times to 1560


The Regality

By James McGrath

Alongside the burgh, the bishops of Glasgow owned several nearby estates, among them "Conclud" (believed to refer to the riverside, near the present Glasgow Green), Ramshorn (land close to the medieval burgh, around the present-day Rottenrow and Ingram Street), Possilpark, Garrioch, Partick, Kirklee, Govan, lands around Shettleston, "Badermonoc" (Kenmuir, Carmyle and other parts of Old Monkland parish) and Bedlay (near Cumbernauld).

These lands plus the jurisdiction the crown allowed the bishops to have over them were known collectively as the barony of Glasgow. The barony's principal subjects were the "rentallers" or farmers who paid rents and other duties to the bishops, through his officer, the bailie of the barony. Justice was administered through the barony court, over which the bailie presided. The bishops' judicial powers in their barony were probably quite extensive from an early date - in 1241, a royal charter had allowed them rights of "free forest" over their barony, a substantial form of feudal jurisdiction.

In 1450 the crown elevated the barony of Glasgow into a regality. This invested the bishops of Glasgow with almost total sovereignty over their estates. The regality court's civil jurisdiction was practically unlimited; likewise its criminal powers, save that the "four pleas" of the crown (murder, robbery, rape and arson) could only be tried before royal justices.

Thus, the regality was almost a state within a state (with the burgh operating as a still more privileged enclave within the regality).

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