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Chapter VIII

Chapter VII: The Abbey 1200-1248

There were other lands in question before the judges besides those wrongly held by the Rector of Kilpatrick, and the name of one portion of them, that of Monachkeneran, appears constantly in the charters, inhibitions, and agreements of the time. These lands, lying to the east of the Church of Kilpatrick, had been tenanted in the end of the twelfth or beginning of the thirteenth century by a person named Beda Ferdan, who lived in a large house built of twigs, and who rendered for his holding the duty of receiving and feeding such pilgrims as came to the shrine of St. Patrick. [23] He had not been allowed to retain peaceful possession of his Lands, and had been slain in defence of the right and liberty of the Church, and at the time of the Papal Commission which dispossessed the rector, Monachkeneran was held by a certain Gilbert the son of Samuel of Renfrew, probably a follower of the house of Lennox. With Gilbert, therefore, the Papal judges proceeded to deal, and summoned him to appear before them in the Parish Church of Irvine. Gilbert treated their citation very lightly, and merely sent them word that he would do what was right, taking no further notice of their summons. They proceeded, therefore, in his absence, to take proof, and to hear the witnesses brought forward by the convent. The evidence of these witnesses is taken in a manner that would do credit to any Court of Justice, and what they said is set down in a very terse and distinct way. Two diets of proof were held, and fourteen witnesses sworn and examined, all of whom testified to the lands in question having belonged to the Church of Kilpatrick. [24] Some of them having been born and brought up in the neighbourhood remembered Beda Ferdan well, and one stated that when he was a boy he and his father had been entertained as strangers by him, and one Anekol swore that when Earl David of Lennox, in the time of King William, sought to raise men from the lands of Kilpatrick as from the other lands of his barony, the Church interfered in defence of her tenants and proved their exemption from military service. The judges held that the Abbot and Convent had amply proved their right to the lands in dispute, according to their own judgment and that of men skilled both in canonical and civil law. They allowed them possession, and condemned Gilbert in expenses, namely, “in thirty pounds, to be sworn to and taxed.” They then asked execution of their sentence of the Bishop of Glasgow. Gilbert was excommunicated for contumacy, and King Alexander II., at the request of the commissioners, put in force against him “the secular arm.” This does not, however, appear to have been done with sufficient energy, for some time afterwards they again have recourse to His Majesty, wishing him “salvation in that which gives salvation to kings,” and asking him not to relax the secular arm which had been extended against the excommunicated Gilbert until he had obeyed the sentence and satisfied his judges. Neither the secular arm nor the sacred arm of the Church appear to have been able, however, to dispossess him, and it was not until two years afterwards that his chief, the Earl, induced him to resign his charters and the claim to his lands, by agreeing to pay him sixty merks of silver, in three portions of twenty merks at a time. Other pendicles of land which had been alienated were one by one brought back, and peace reigned between the Monastery and the men of the Lennox.

William's incumbency as abbot lasted a long time. He thoroughly established and consolidated the prosperity of the Convent. Perhaps his visit to Rome may have helped him in his labours. Besides the commissions which he obtained from the Popes, and which we have noticed, he got in his time several Bulls conferring special privileges on the Monastery. As these privileges were extended by a subsequent Pope, we shall notice them hereafter. They were very extensive, and gave the Monastery power to hold its own against all who might seek to molest it.

[23] Habitantem in quaddam domo, magna fabricata de virgis—Reg. de Pas., p. 166.
[24] Reg. de Pas., pp. 166, 167, 168, 169, where a full account of this investigation is given, and from which we have drawn the narrative above. The following are the names of some of the witnesses:—Anekol, Gilbethoc, Bassin, Nemias, Rotheric Beg, and Gillekonel Manthac.