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Chapter VIII: The Prosperous Times of Alexander III. 1248-1286

In one of the many controversies which he waged in defence of the possessions of the Abbey, he was unsuccessful. Sometime before 1240, Duncan, the first Earl of Carrick, gifted certain lands, churches, and possessions to the Convent on condition that they should establish in his domains a monastery of their order. The Abbot and Convent were in no haste to do so. They built an oratory or chapel, which they served by monks of their own, and used the gifts of Earl Duncan for the benefit of the Abbey. The Earl, however, was determined to have his contract with them fulfilled to the very letter, and, after considerable controversy, he and the Abbot submitted the matter to the decision of the Bishop of Glasgow. The Bishop decided in favour of the layman. He ordained that a monastery should be erected at Crosragmol, [6] the monks of which should be drawn from Paisley, and who should have full power to elect an abbot for themselves. The abbot and monks of the new house should be free from all interference on the part of the Abbot of Paisley, except that he should visit them once every year. All the possessions which Paisley had in Carrick were to be made over to the use of Crosragmol. The parent house, however, was to receive ten merks sterling annually from its daughter, and the monks of the offshoot were to wear the habit and observe the rules of the order of Clugny. Very wrathful were the Paisley brotherhood at this decision of the Bishop. The ten merks annually, and privilege of an annual visitation, were poor compensation for the goodly possessions of Carrick. The Abbot appealed to the Pope in 1265, stating the “enormous lessening” of revenue his Abbey had sustained, and praying earnestly for redress. The Pope granted a commission of enquiry, which appears to have given them three churches, [7] but, beyond this, the gift of the Earl passed altogether away from Paisley.[8]

In 1246, Walter Stewart, who had been so generous a benefactor to the Abbey, died. He had stood well by the Abbots in their many contentions, and more than one agreement favourable to the Abbey was made at Blackhall, where he from time to time resided, probably effected by his influence and authority. The last time he appears in connection with the Abbey is giving an annual payment of two chalders of meal from the Mill of Paisley for the support of a monk to perform divine service for the soul of Robert de Brus. The Lord of Annandale, who bore this great name, died in 1245, a year before the friend who held his memory in so great reverence. It shews an early connection between the house of Stewart and that of Bruce, which became more close in after years. The Stewart, or Senechallus, as the monks delighted to call him, was, like his ancestors, buried in the Abbey he had loved so well.

He was succeeded by his son Alexander, a man of action and wisdom, like his ancestors, and distinguished also by their piety. Alexander lived in the closest relationship with the Convent, and added in some measure, though not on so munificent a scale as his predecessors, to their possessions. Shortly after his accession he finished the enclosing of a park for deer, which he had begun in his father's time, in the neighbourhood of his house, and to the east of the Rivulet Espedair. The wild deer which his father and grandfather had hunted in the forest of Fereneze had probably begun to disappear before the encroachments of agriculture, and he enclosed this space near his house that his larder might not want for venison. He took into the park some of the lands belonging to the monks, but honourably gave them acre for acre in land near their chapels of Innerkip and Lochwinnoch.
[10] He also gave them permission still to draw water from the Espedair for their mill, and bestowed on them eight chalders of meal from the rents of Inchinnan.

[6] Now called Crosraguel.
[7] Turnberry, Stratton, Dalmakeran.
[8] Reg. de Pas., p. 427 et ante.
[9] Chalmers' Caledonia, Vol. II., 779. Fordun and the Chronikil of Melrose give his death in 1241.
[10] Reg. de Pas., pp. 87, 88.