Jordanhill : the history of a district
The History of a District
A more exact title to this short survey might well include the word "Prehistory", because evidence has appeared, in the area, of life that existed more than two hundred million years ago.
Within brief walking distance of the gate of our college, there stands a group of stumps of fossilized trees, a miniature petrified forest. Visitors to Victoria Park will be well rewarded in seeing this relic of the Carboniferous era, an age when the giant reptiles still roamed the earth. James Smith, of Jordanhill, was instrumental in having erected over the site a fine, glass-roofed building in the year 1888.
Evidence of the effects of the main industries of 19th century Jordanhill can still be seen in the twisted gables of the houses in South-brae Drive. There is one significant gap, where subsidence took its toll, and a house collapsed. Bows of attractive houses of red and blue brick off Crow Road, were once the homes of miners' families.
By 1887 both coal and ironstone seem to have become exhausted, and the brick-works in the area all closed down around the turn of the century.
The district is designated, in early maps, by the name "Temple lands of Campbell", and the name Temple continues to the present applied to the local sawmill and surroundings at Anniesland.
There is evidence, of a circumstantial nature, in the place-names of the district which suggest ecclesiastical connections. Names like Abbey Drive, Mitre Road, and Friarscourt are there, while street names like Saxon, Minstrel, Moat, Truce, Turret, Rampart, Baldric and Pikeman ring like a clarion call of history.
The discovery of a stone quern in the College grounds gives evidence that the site saw human habitation, about the second century A.D. Certainly the Roman legions knew the area, having a small camp at nearby Bearsden, which is now marked by a circular wood. Coins of the reign of Trajan have been unearthed near by, while the wall of Antonine girdled the district to the North of Jordanhill. At Boclair Cemetery, just above Hillfoot Station, a portion of the wall foundation has been preserved for the inspection of the interested visitor.
The coming of Christianity to the West of Glasgow is evinced by a curious collection of carved stones, preserved in Govan Old Church, just over the river. There are some quaintly incised and weirdly shaped examples known as "hog-backs", which may reflect Viking influence. An empty sarcophagus is to be seen, and tradition links it with a Christian martyr called Constantine who came from far south. Like Columba he was credited with having Royal Blood in his veins.
The most striking stone of all is one on which a curious swastika-like emblem is carved. Some archaeologists maintain it is a pagan sun symbol, and, as an object of popular veneration, would perforce be accepted by the early Christian missionaries much as the Moslems accepted the pre-Mohammedan Kaaba. However they carved the Christian emblem on the other side of the stone, the side which now faces the Congregation. The pagan symbol is covered by a purple cloth.
As to the name Jordanhill itself, much debate has gone on about its origin, and no conclusive answer can be given. If the connection with the Knights Templars could be proved, then the origin of the name would be obvious. What more likely than that they would give the name of the holy river of Palestine to this beautiful height by the then clear-limpid river, which was the Clyde?
Such romantic notions were disparaged by the late Lord Lyon King-of-Arms when the suggestion was made that the Maltese cross of the Knights of St. John, should be incorporated into the crest of the college school.
A suggestion was made that the name was a corruption of "Jaurdyne hill" from a family of Jardines that once lived here. I can find no trace of such a family, however, and the name does not appear to be common in the locality.
The traditions of Crusading connections have been wholeheartedly accepted by the planners of the recent Knightswood Housing Estate, and the Crusading novels of Sir Walter Scott have been ransacked for street nomenclature. The builders of the restaurant, at Anniesland, called it Esquire, the servant of the knights.
The Knights Templars were an order founded in 1118 to defend the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. The Templars came to Scotland in the reign of David I, the "soir sanct" for the crown.
There is a charter, which grants land in Renfrewshire, particularly the church of Inchinnan, to the Templars. As the parish of Renfrew sweeps an arm over the Clyde to embrace Jordanhill and its environs, there is a possibility, to put it no more strongly, that these were Temple lands at one time.
In a papal decree of the year 1312, the suppression of the order of the Templars was accompanied by the transfer of their lands and emoluments to the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. These Knights appear in the preceptory of Torphichen in the year 1124, and as their name indicates, one of their functions was to provide medical treatment where it was required. They were the Medical Corps of their day. This transfer made the Hospitallers the wealthiest of all the orders in Scotland, and these possessions were extremely vulnerable at the time of the Reformation.
In I56O the prior was Sir James Sandilands of Calder, a knight of the College of Rhodes. He seems to have acted in a manner, which, for want of a better word, can only be described as diplomatic.
In I563, having embraced the reformed faith, he resigned all the lands to the crown and received them back from Mary, Queen of Scots. They are listed in the Book of Deliberations of the Venerable Tongue of England which was recently translated by a Maltese historian. Here districts are nominated, from Aboyne in the North to Inchinnan, near Renfrew.
If we grant the ownership by the Knights of St. John, it would appear that part of the lands gradually passed into secular hands before the sixteenth century. In 1338, the Livingstones, one of whom was Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, were local land-owners.
In 1546 Jordanhill was in the possession of a certain Lawrence Crawfurd of Kilbirnie. Conscious, probably, of its ecclesiastical associations, he founded a chaplaincy in neighbouring Brumry, and endowed it with the lands of Jordanhill. These he had acquired through his marriage with Helen, daughter of Hugh Campbell of Loudoun.
Thomas Crawfurd, after whom the new College building opened by the Queen in 1963, was named, was the sixth son of this marriage.
In 1562 he decided to re-acquire the patrimony of Jordanhill, and this transaction was carried out between himself and the then chaplain, Bartholomew Montgomerie.
Shortly after he acquired the site, he began building the fortalice on the brow of the hill. Though this was probably begun in 1563, a neat centenary for the modern building now on the site, the charter for the building and its environs, confirming him in possession, is not given under the Great Seal until 8th March, 1566.
Before these events, however, he played a notable part in the troubled politics of the time.
In 1547, Crawfurd, as a captain in a hastily summoned Scottish force, was a member of the defeated army which vainly opposed the "Rough Wooing" of the English. This was at Pinkie, near Musselburgh, and the end of "Black Saturday", as it was called, saw him a prisoner of the English.
On his release, he entered the service of Henry II of Prance, his sovereign, the young Mary Queen of Scots, having already fled there for safety. Here he acquired a thorough knowledge of military tactics, particularly siege warfare, a knowledge that was to serve him well in the future.
The Auld Alliance at this time seemed set fair. The entrancing young Scots queen married the Dauphin, and when he became king, Scotland and France appeared more firmly thrilled than ever they had been. Some of the Scots barons hinted far too firmly.
But the young Francis II sickened and died, and a sad young monarch returned unwillingly to the land of her fathers.
Back too, came Thomas Crawfurd, and he immediately came to Glasgow, his father's district. He appears to have been a distant relative of the Earl of Lennox, and so of his son, the young Henry, Lord Darnley. Burton describes him as a "kinsman" to Lennox.
He first acted as personal attendant to the Earl, and then was accepted as the trusted confidant of the son, who had just returned from an English sojourn.
At first the marriage between Mary and Darnley seemed to prosper. Soon, however, it ran into storms, and Mary denied her consort the title of King, through the crown matrimonial, a dignity which she had promised him.
Crawfurd, who never wavered in his loyalty to his young master, acted as a go-between to the estranged couple, and he, probably better than anyone, understood the torturous and mixed motives that caused the principal actors in the unsavoury drama to behave as they did.
Darnley, at this time, had a small cottage near the Bishop's Castle close to the Cathedral. He had left Stirling in a black mood of depression and outraged pride after being slighted at the christening of his son, James. He had hinted darkly about going abroad, an outcome which would have scandalized Europe. Then again he was suffering from a debilitating disease, perhaps small-pox, though rumour, voiced later by Buchanan, suggested that the hapless young man had been deliberately poisoned.
After an interview with Crawfurd, Mary visited her husband in Glasgow and, unless the letter is a very clever forgery, from here she wrote an account of what went on, to the Earl of Bothwell. There is a suggestion that this letter and another, later, were written in the Provand's Lordship, a building which has been preserved.
The main purpose of the visit appears to have been to persuade Darnley to go to Edinburgh, a course of action against which Crawfurd strongly advised.
In evidence which he gave at York in an enquiry into Darnley's murder he deposed that "The King asked me at that present time what I thought of his voyage. I answered that I liked it not, because she took him to Craigmillar". He goes on to aver that the Queen treated Darnley like a prisoner but that "he would go with her though she should murder him".
The tragic outcome, with the mysterious death of his master in Edinburgh, left him with a martyr to avenge. In September 1569 he burst into a council meeting in Stirling, and boldly accused Maitland of Lethington, the Secretary of State and the Governor of Edinburgh Castle, Sir James Balfour, of complicity, in Darnley's murder.
The year 1571 saw Crawfurd's finest hour. After Langside, Mary had fled to England, leaving isolated pockets of resistance still holding out in her name.
One of these was the Castle of Dumbarton, and this was besieged by the regent Moray. His assassination in Linlithgow gave the Governor, Fleming, some respite and a truce was arranged until May 1. Crawfurd was the natural leader of an assault force because of his French experience and he planned a night assault.
His plan entailed climbing 120 ft. of rock before reaching the wall. A guide was procured in the person of a disaffected soldier called Robertson, who had once served in the garrison.
The first two ladders were speedily erected and they just as speedily collapsed. No one was hurt, and there was no sign from the sleeping castle.
Again the ladders were erected, but it was found that they fell twenty feet short of their first objective, an ancient ash tree growing out from the rock.
Crawfurd was undaunted. In the fitful moonlight he and Robertson precariously clambered up the intervening twenty foot gap between ladder and tree. From this vantage point they let down ropes by which the men ascended. His total force consisted of two hundred and twenty soldiers.
Suddenly the stillness was broken by half-choked moans. One of the men had been seized with a fit, and was clinging almost insensible to the ladder, with no power to move. Crawfurd describes this dramatic incident in a letter to John Knox.
The Captain, however, had intelligence and resource to add to his undoubted courage. Firmly binding the unfortunate soldier to the ladder, he and two of his men succeeded in turning it completely round, so that it could be used.
They reached the wall, and their weight caused the old structure to collapse inwards, making a breach for the whole party. Finding their own cannon turned against them, the bemused garrison fled in disorder. Lord Fleming hastily threw on some clothes and escaped, in a small boat, across the estuary.
As a reward for his services, Crawfurd was allowed to add a castle to his escutcheon, the motto of which was "Expugnavi" and "God show the Right". He had become an active member of the league for the Defence of the Young King's person and right.
In 1573 he was one of the officers selected to carry out the final assault on Edinburgh Castle, held for the Queen by Kirkcaldy of Grange. Crawfurd commanded the trench-works, and was assisted by Captain Hume, who had been by his side at Dumbarton. On May 28th they led an assault on the spur of the Castle, which fell to their attack. The commander, seeing the hopelessness of his cause, now surrendered the last Marian stronghold to the intrepid commander.
The youthful monarch, James VI was fully aware of the value of Crawfurd's services, and there is extant a personal letter dated 15th September 1575 expressing the king's debt to him and promising to "Remember the same, God willing, to your great contentment". James fulfilled this promise in 1581 when the charter of several properties was awarded to him.
By this time, Crawfurd had settled down to municipal affairs. In 1577 he was elected Lord Provost of the city, and he rendered it important services. One of these was to provide a bridge to replace the ford over the Kelvin at Partick. He must have built solidly for it stood until the year 1895. His name is mentioned in connection with a meeting of the Convention of Estates, and, in addition to business and commerce, it is interesting to note that he took a part in furthering education. This took the practical form of a bursary, which he founded in 1576 for students attending Glasgow University.
There were bursaries before this provided from public funds. In the course of a letter dated 1563, Mary Queen of Scots mentions amongst "elements of desolation" from which the College was suffering, that "provisioune for the pouir bursouris and maisters to teche ceiasit", and she founds certain bursaries from state funds.
Crawfurd, however, may be reckoned the earliest founder of a Scottish bursary from his own pocket. He "mortified" to the University an annual of sixteen bolls of oat-meal from the Mill of Partick for the support of a student of philosophy and letters at the University.
About 1579 he was involved in a quarrel about the provost-ship, and he retired to live on the estate of Janet Kerr, his second wife, at Kersland near Dalry. The estate of Jordanhill went to his second son Hugh. He died in 1603 at Kilbirnie and his bones lie buried there in the old church yard. One of his grandsons achieved the rank of Governor of Moscow, and another was a general in the army of Gustavus Adolphus.
Lawrence, a sixth son of Hugh Crawfurd had the temerity to accuse the great Oliver Cromwell himself of cowardice. Known as a brave but impetuous soldier, his rashness at the siege of York led to a severe repulse. He fought at Marston Moor and was killed by a bullet at the siege of Hertford.
A branch of the family, on the distaff side, lived for many years in the old house of Clober or Cowdenhill. The inhabitants of the housing estate built on the site, preserve at least the name of the old mansion in Cowdenhill Circus. The owner was Isabella Crawfurd, who married John Sprewl in 1707. He adopted her name on marriage. Not far from Cloberhill, about three miles from Jordanhill stood an old fortified tower, known as the Peel of Drumry. For many years this structure, associated with the Crawfurds, stood as a monument to a by-gone era. Unfortunately it was decided recently that the Peel, which in latter days had sunk to the indignity of a hen-house, could not stand in the way of progress and it was demolished.
The last of the Crawfurds, another Lawrence, in 1710 repaired the old mansion and beautified the terrain with pleasant orchards and gardens.