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Chapter XII: Royal Patronage,
1373-1405

“True son of our dear Mother,
Nursed in her aisles to more than kingly thought.”
                                           Keble.



UNDER royal favour and patronage the Abbey began a course of prosperity which remained unbroken till the time of the Reformation. No endowments like those that marked its early days flowed into its coffers, but the property it possessed was well husbanded, and its possessions firmly consolidated. The reviving activity of the community is marked by an incident which, even as detailed in the formal language of a notary public in the pages of the Chartulary, is not without a certain picturesqueness. When the lands which were given by Duncan, Earl of Carrick, to the Abbey for the erection of a monastery, were wrested from it after a prolonged process in the ecclesiastical courts, [1] and devoted to their original purpose, a monastery was built at Crosragmol, now called Crosraguel, in Ayrshire. This house was governed by an abbot, and was peopled from Paisley by brethren of the Order of Clugny. It was in no way subject to Paisley, except that the Abbot of Paisley was bound to visit it once a year, with a moderate following, and reasonable expenses. The discipline of Crosragmol had, during the distractions of the time, fallen into decay. Abbot John, on visiting it, took note of many faults and direlictions from the rules of the Order, which from various causes he was unable at the time to correct, being probably fully occupied with the misfortunes of his own house. Shortly after the accession of King Robert, however, the times having become quiet, he determined, if possible, to put things right at Crosragmol. He accordingly issued a mandate to the Abbot of that place, commanding him to “admonish his monks, whether within or without the Monastery, wherever they were to be found, to appear before him at Crosragmol on Wednesday next, the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, at the house of the chapter, to hear and perform those things which are known to pertain to our office.” Accordingly, at the time appointed Abbot John, with his attendants, appeared in the chapter house at Crosragmol, and Abbot Roger, and the brethren of that place, were all convened in his presence. There had probably been some private inquiry previously, for the Abbot of Crosragmol saved the Court from the necessity of further proceedings. “At once,” to quote the words of the notary, “the said Lord Roger, without violence, fraud, or circumvention, as it appeared to me, placed, in presence of his Convent, all the dignity and honour of the station of Abbot of the Monastery of Crosragmol, which he had until then governed, in the hands of the Lord Abbot of Paisley of his own free will, purely and simply, without the addition of any condition whatever.” Abbot John then asked him what was the reason of this resignation, to which question poor Abbot Roger plaintively and touchingly replied, that “burdened by old age and debility, he was so constantly vexed by bodily infirmity, that he was not able to govern the flock committed to him by God, their lands and goods, and other possessions, to their benefit, as behoves the office of a good pastor; for,” he said, “he would rather altogether give up the abbatic honour than under the name of pastor have the desolate flock be devoured by the greedy wolf.” This high view of the pastoral office commended itself to Abbot John, for he accepted the resignation proffered him, and released Roger altogether from the office of Abbot of Crosragmol, and commanded the monks to fix among themselves a certain day for the election of one who should be their pastor in the future, piously observing “that it was necessary that this should be done, that the church might not be long deprived of a pastor in spiritual things, or suffer damage in things temporal.” [2]


[1] Reg. de Pas., 422, 424, 425, 427. See ante.
[2] Reg. de Pas., 425.