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The Rising Burgh: 1560 to 1770s


The Gorbals

By Ronald P A Smith

Elphinstone Chapel After the Reformation, in the year 1579, the lands of the Gorbals, including the old village, were sold to George Elphinstone, a Glasgow merchant who had previously leased the ground and who became provost of Glasgow in 1600. He built a tower house in the village Main Street, but unfortunately this was demolished along with St Ninian's Chapel during the city improvements of the 19th century.

Elphinstone Tower The Gorbals was "erected into a Burgh of Barony and Regality" in 1607. Lord Belhaven became the owner of the Gorbals lands in 1634 and then, in 1650, the ownership transferred to Glasgow Town Council in partnership with the Trades' House and Hutcheson's Hospital, the tower house in the Main Street becoming the municipal buildings and prison. The village, now called "Gorbals" rather than "Brigend", was governed by a Glasgow bailie who had the power to banish wrongdoers.

Gorbals Burial Ground, 1907 Local industries of coal mining, weaving, malting and brewing were established, but a century later, in 1748, many of the village's thatched-roofed buildings were destroyed in a disastrous fire. The early 18th century also saw the creation of the Gorbals Burial Ground which, in extended but mutilated form, remains at Old Rutherglen Road as the Gorbals' earliest relic.

In 1771, when the village's population was 3,500, the new Parish of Gorbals was created out of a tiny portion of Govan Parish. Extending to only fourteen acres and probably the smallest parish in Scotland, its boundaries were tightly drawn around the old village and the separate 1715 burial ground.

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