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Chapter VII: The Abbey 1200-1248

All without is mean and small,
All within is vast and tall,
All without is harsh and shrill,
All within is hushed and still.
                            C. Kingsley.


THE beginning of the thirteenth century found the Convent still in the second rank of religious houses, and under the government of Roger the Prior. Its wealth was steadily on the increase. Various individuals of high and low degree contributed to the monastic revenues, but the chief support continued to come from the lordly house of the Stewart. Alan the son of Walter, the founder, followed in his father's footsteps, and gave with a liberal hand for the repose of his father's soul. Little is known regarding this second Stewart. He was a friend and counsellor of King William the Lion, and was helpful to him both as a soldier and adviser. He married a daughter of Swene, the son of Thor, of whom we know only through his benefactions to the Abbeys of Holyrood and Scone. He is said to have joined in the fifth Crusade proclaimed by Pope Innocent III. The Chartulary of Paisley bears strong testimony to his piety and munificence. Gifts from him of the most varied kind are chronicled in its pages. He gave to the Priory the Mill of Paisley, [1] and a piece of ground for the miller's house, charging only four chalders of wheaten flour and four of grain as an annual rent. He transferred to the monks five marks of silver, which the convent of Melrose used to pay him for his lands of Maphelim.[2] He ordered three of his knights—Robert Croc, Henry de Nes, and William the son of Maidus, —with other honest men, to perambulate and designate for the Monastery the valuable lands of Moniabroc, [3] near the great boulder stone of Clochroderick. [4] He gave the monks rights of fishing in Lochwinnoch, and he bestowed on them the church of Kingarth and its chapels, in the Island of Bute. [5] This Island had been granted to him in his father's lifetime. In the eyes of churchmen, it was a very sacred spot. Thither, in the beginning of the seventh century, had come St. Blane in a boat without oars. Here he had ruled as bishop and worked many miracles, and on the headland of Kingarth had placed his church, which was associated for centuries with his presence and regarded with the greatest reverence. The custody of this sanctuary, with all its revenues, Alan gave to the house of Paisley, for the soul of his father, and mother Eschina. “The Church of Kingaif, in the Island of Bute, with all the chapels, and the whole parish of that Island, together with the whole of those lands of which the boundaries, said to have been fixed by St. Blane, are still apparent from sea to sea.” This was his last gift to the Church. In 1204 he died, and was buried before the high altar of the Priory. His son Walter, the third Stewart, was better known in public life than his father ; but, like him, his gifts are the chief record of his life. He was appointed by Alexander II., in 1231, the Justiciary of Scotland ; and in 1238 he was sent as an ambassador to negotiate for that King a marriage with Mary, the daughter of Engelram, Count de Coucy. This indicates the position he occupied in the transactions of the time, but most of the interest of his life centred in Paisley and its convent. Four years after his father's death he gave the Monastery all the land between the two small streams that still bear the names of the Altpatrick and the Espedair, “as the Altpatrick descends into Kert Lochwinnoch, and the Espedair descends to the land of the monks lying between le Linne and Kert.” [6] He gave them wood for building and dead wood for fuel in his forest, and pasturage there for an hundred swine in time of mast. He gave them also all the land between Mach and Calder, and the portion of ground to the east of the Mill of Paisley, to the burn on the south of The Cross of the Lord, as that burn rises at the boundaries of the monks and falls into the Kert. He excambed with them the land they possessed in Ennerwick for the land of Hillington, which Radulphus the chaplain held, and thirty bolls of flour paid by Ada de Kent for his lands of Ingliston, and some other privileges which he possessed. [7] But all these donations sink into insignificance compared with the munificent gift of his later years. Imitating his grandfather, the first Stewart, Walter had founded a monastery on the north bank of the River Ayr, [8] at a place called Dalmulin. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and peopled by canons and nuns of the Order of Sempringham, from Sixile, in Yorkshire. He endowed this house with lands, mills, fishings, and with many churches and chapels in Ayrshire. The canons and nuns, however, did not stay long at Dalmulin. The northern air did not agree with them, and, pleading want of health, they returned to Yorkshire. The Stewart then with liberal hand transferred all their possessions, temporal and spiritual, to Paisley. [9] Dalmulin became a cell of the Priory and was filled with Clunaics, and its great wealth passed into the hands of the Paisley chapter, subject only to a payment of forty merks annually to the Master of Sempringham, who waived his rights to all the property.


[1] Reg. de Pas., p. 13.
[2] Reg. de Pas., p. 14. Now called Mauchline.
[3] Reg. de Pas., p. 13.
[4] This is the first notice we have of this curious rock.
[5] Reg. de Pas., p. 15.
[6] Reg. de Pas., p. 17.
[7] Reg. de Pas., p. 17, et seg., where all Walter's gifts are chronicled.
[8]1229.
[9]1238—Reg. de Pas., p. 24.