Glassary Text



Principal Sources


RMS II (1044) 1471, (1219) 1475-6, (1416) 1478-9, (2052) 1491, (2352-3) 1495

RMS III (345) 1525-6, (1882) 1538-9, (2306) 1540-1, (2641, 2812) 1542

RMS IV (756) 1552-3, (2017) 1571-2, (2194) 1573-4

RMS V (26) 1580, (1540) 1588, (2005) 1591-2, (2358) 1593

RMS VI (209, 215) 1594-5, (1065) 1600, (1419) 1603

RMS VII (265) 1610, (1129) 1614


Historical Manuscripts Commission 4th Report pp 477-8

Paisley Register pp 132-40, 146, 309


AS I (38, 61) 1618, (88) 1619, (97) 1620, (132, 142, 144) 1621, (196, 198, 200-203, 217) 1622, (231, 242) 1643, (284) 1646, (292) 1648, (301) 1649, (346) 1651, (395-6, 413-5, 417) 1659, (446) 1660, (513, 552, 554) 1674, (611-2) 1675


AS II (130) 1622, (203) 1626, (215) 1627, (258) 1628, (317, 320, 327, 333-4, 346) 1630,(427, 429, 443) 1632, (453, 455, 474, 477, 487) 1633, (525, 529) 1634, (548, 555) 1635, (559, 568, 570 576-7) 1636, (613, 616, 626) 1638, (632) 1639, (664) 1640, (666) 1641, (700-1) 1642, (825, 831) 1654, (919, 935) 1656, (956) 1657, (1009) 1661, (1030) 1661, (1029, 1062) 1662, (1116) 1663, (1136-7, 1151) 1664, (1186, 1209) 1665, (1308) 1666, (1341, 1384-5) 1667, (1446) 1668, (1458, 1462, 1499) 1669, (1538) 1670


ER XIV p 626

Argyll Retours (1) 1555, (13) 1609, (30) 1627, (39) 1631, (64) 1651, (65) 1659, (74) 1663, (92) 1687, (100) 1700, (101) 1503, (104) 1589, (106) 1614


GD 1/426/1/23/72 1563

GD 1/426/1/23/83 1564

GD 1/426/1/23/104 1565

GD 1/426/1/22/A1 1436

GD 1/426/1/22/A3 1533

GD 1/426/1/26

Genealogist Vols 29, 32, 38 – (H Campbell)


ILP (85) 1511, (91) 1519 (100) 1524, (129) 1536, (142) 1538-9, (210) 1557-8, (212) 1558, (248) 1563, (292) 1576, (354-5) 1593-4, (359-60) 1596, (361) 1597-8), (1447) 1617


DR 14/1/1/ Rent Book, Argyll & Bute Archives

DR 14/1/2 Argyll & Bute Archives

DR 2/8/Box 14 Argyll & Bute Archives

DR 6/16 Argyll & Bute Archives 1592


Clan Campbell Vols 1, 3 & 6

Misc SHS IV pp 264-5 1592

Mitchell Library, Glasgow, TD 219/24 Cumlodden Estate Papers + Estate Plan 1818

NRAS 886 – Marion Campbell of Kilberry

NLS MS 5056/ 1 & 3 & 4, Estate of Shirvane 1831

RHP 1193/1-3 Kilmory Estate 1816

RHP 1193/4  1812

RHP 1194/1 Estate of Minard 1839 (different state of RHP 14644)

RHP 14644 Estate of Minard 1839

RHP 30070/1-2 Auchnaba etc

RHP 31805/1-2 Lag 1808

RHP 31806 Darrenernoch 1808

RHP 31812/1 & 2 Auchnabreck, Auchnashellach & Dunnamuck 1831

RHP 31813/1-4 1850

RHP 31814 Drimvore


HP II pp 114-245 – Glassarie writs

HP IV p 63 ff, pp 233-6


A Begg, Deserted Settlements of Glassary Parish, Argyll & Bute Council, Dunoon, 2002

A McLean, Chronicles of Cowal, Argyll, Durham, 2001 p 244

Heather McFarlane, Arichonan: A Highland Clearance recorded, Indiana, 2004



We are fortunate that Glassary offers us some of the earliest assessments on the west coast. Of these the most important is a charter by Alexander II to Gillascop MacGilcrist dated 1240 which details 51d in Glassary and 1½d in Cowal. (HP II p 121-4 and facsimile facing p 227). During the period 1226-1250, 1d of ‘Kilmor’ was given to Paisley Abbey (see notes to Glassary table for details). We then have notice of the estate of Knocnagullaran (see notes to Glassary table for discussion) which consisted of 3d – plus another reference to the 5d of Kilmichael – in a charter of c. 1315 (HP II pp 132-4). Then there is a charter of 3½d in Glassary dated c. 1355 (HP II pp 140-2). Finally there is a transumpt of a 1410 charter which details 6d in Glassary (HP IV pp 233-6). After allowing for repeats these four documents detail about 58d in Glassary. Because of their importance I have listed them in Table A and tried to compare the properties with each other and with present-day place-names.


Unfortunately it is not always possible to match these early pennyland assessments with our later merkland valuations. For instance we know of 7½d Rudol in 1240. I think the exchange rate between pennylands and merklands locally was 1d to 4 merks so this would represent a 30 merkland holding. Our later valuations for Over and Nether Rudill only come to 7m so it must be the case that in 1240 Rudol included several surrounding farmsteads which later earned separate names and separate assessments.


The other problem is that Glassary in earlier times may have been more extensive than it was later. In 1240 Glassary is not mentioned by name but most of the properties are in what became known as Glassary – and Glennane is included in the list at 5d. In 1410 Barrinlayginch (Barsloisnoch?) is worth 1d and is described as in the barony of ‘Glastre’. In the various charters of the Maclachan estates in Glassary we always find reference to Kilchoan.  Glennane, Barsloisnoch and Kilchoan (NR 8096) were reckoned, in later times, to be within Ardskeodnish or Kilmartin parish so it may be that the northern and north-western boundaries of Glassary contracted at some time. (See notes on Kilchoan below table for an alternative location).


Accordingly I have provided two maps to accompany the table. One gives all the pennyland assessments, the other lists all the later merkland valuations. Despite the differences they do not really contradict each other. Our pennyland assessments give a total of about 58d which suggests at least 3 ouncelands for a Glassary that was once more extensive. In the ‘New Statistical Account’ Glassary is given as 225¼ merklands – a figure probably derived from Smith’s Agricultural Survey of Argyleshire (1798). I find 233¾m. These two totals suggest a notional figure of 240m. Given that the exchange rate was 1d to 4m this would mean that even the later contracted Glassary was 3 ouncelands (60 x 4 = 240). Equally the maps make clear that there are some parts of Glassary for which we lack pennyland data.


There were several historic estates in Glassary which are worth detailing. The Scrymgeour estate was defined as worth 66m in 1479 (HP II pp 184-5) and is given in detail in a retour of 1563 (HP II pp 204-6). I count 21 distinct farms which are not given individual valuations but which I reckon were worth 64m. (The missing 2m are easily accounted for since separate properties were sometimes combined under one valuation. Lettirnamolt, for instance, is sometimes given as 1m, at other times 2m). What is slightly confusing though is the statement that the properties are now worth 66m yearly but ‘tempore pacis’ were only worth 33m. The phrase ‘tempore pacis’ (time of peace) is often used to refer to the period before the wars of Independence and, by extension, to suggest a valuation under the ‘Old Extent’. In this case we might infer that 66m was a ‘New Extent’ valuation. What compounds the confusion is that the lands are clearly stated to be now worth 66m ‘per annum’ or yearly. This implies a rental not a valuation.


Given that we have lots of assessment data for Glassary which is all compatible with a Scrymgeour estate of 66m, I think we should ignore these otherwise confusing remarks in the 1563 retour. Perhaps in the circumstances in which it was drawn up it was thought necessary to make a nod in the direction of comparing Old and New Extents but we should look past it (and documents derived from it) to other sources of information which are all consistent.


The next big estate in Glassary was that of the Campbells of Auchenbreck, held of Argyll. The original Argyll estate is listed (without individual valuations) in RMS III (2306) of 1540-1, (2812) of 1542, RMS IV (2017) of 1571-2, RMS V (26) of 1580 and RMS VII (265) of 1610. I reckon these farms total about 64½ merks which makes it almost exactly the same size as the Scrymgeour estate. (The only name which is puzzling is ‘Hozellew’ which I think is Uillian). Many of these farms went to make up the Auchenbreck estate which is referred to in HP IV p 64 for 1462 and listed in AS I (346) of 1651 and AS II (1030) of 1661. There are several references to Argyll’s ‘third’ of Glassary, an issue I shall return to shortly.


There is also what was probably a very old Maclachlan holding in Glassary. These farms are listed (without valuations) in RMS IV (2194) of 1573-4, RMS V (2005) of 1591-2, RMS VII (1129) of 1614, AS II (529) of 1634, Argyll Retours (74) of 1663 and (92) of 1687. We also have references to the toiseachdeorship of these lands in 1436 (Genealogist Vol 38 p 71 No 1 or GD 1/426/1/22/A1) and 1502 (Genealogist Vol 38 p 71 No 2). One of these farms – Kilchoan – is possibly in what we would now call Ardskeodnish and I can find no valuation for another – Derinloch – which is located by Pont. Apart from these, the farms total a minimum of 37¾m which suggests that the original Maclachlan holding may well have been a 40m or 10d estate.


Finally there was the 24m holding of Ardcalmasaig which was held of the Lamonts of Inveryne. We have several listings of this estate along with valuations of the individual farms (eg ILP No 100 of 1524, No 129 of 1536, RMS III (1882) of 1538-9). It appears to have been a 6d holding. However if we add these 24m of Ardcalmasaig to the notional 40m of Maclachlan property (on the grounds that a common ancestor of both families may once have held both parts together) then we arrive at a total of 64m which is remarkably similar to the estates of the Scrymgeours and Argyll. The references to Argyll’s third of Glassary now make better sense although I think that each of the three families actually only held about a quarter. Nevertheless we can see how a phrase such as ‘Argyll’s third’ could pass into common speech.


Mention should also be made of Ederline which was long the subject of dispute between the Scrymgeours and the MacCorquodales (HP II pp 152-65). These lands are often just referred to as Ederline and Cammysnew but were once part of a larger set of farms given to Gilbert of Glassary in 1346 and described in HP II pp 136-8 as including ‘Edyrling’ (Ederline), ‘Cambyseneu’, ‘Garwalde’ (Garbhallt), ‘duas Carvenys’ (two Carrons), ‘Craggeneure’ (Craig an Iubhair), ‘duas Oywoldys’ and ‘Calkylkest’ – see also RMS I App 2 Index A No 1046 & Index B No 10. (I cannot identify the last two properties or ‘Cambyseneu’ which was presumably for Camus + ? Iubhair and was probably in the SW corner of Loch Awe just W of Kilneuair). ‘Gareald’ (Garbhallt), ‘Craginewir’ (Craig an Iubhair), and ‘Tanglandlew’ (conceivably ‘Calkylkest’?) were resigned by Duncan Makane and granted by James III to the Earl of Argyll in 1478-9 (RMS II (1416) & Historical Manuscripts Commission 4th Report p 478). Ederline, ‘Cambyseneu’ and one of the Carrons ended up with the family of MacCorquodale who finally exchanged them with Argyll for properties near the NW end of Loch Awe in 1495 (RMS II (2352-3)).


Kilmory by Lochgilphead provides us with concrete evidence that the exchange rate in Glassary was 1d to 4m. 1d of ‘Kilmor’ was given to Paisley Abbey c. 1226-1250 and we have several references between 1593 and 1730 that the church lands of Kilmory were worth 4m. Kilmory is also interesting because its northern boundary is mentioned in a 1410 charter by Robert Lamont. The document details a grant of 6d in the area north of Lochgilphead and mentions ‘Polnagonalach’ as the boundary of the pennyland of ‘Kilmorre’. In NRAS 886 Marion Campbell of Kilberry mentions Polnaconally or Polnaconalie as a lost name and I wonder if she had come across other references to it. I would expect it to be at the SE end of the town.


She also mentions a Creish Chamaig in the vicinity of Kilmichael Glassary and wondered if this was for Crois (cross). Since a Cross Gillesbuig is mentioned c. 1355 this raises the possibility that there may have been more than one standing cross on the approaches to Kilmichael Glassary.


Knockmady and Dowirnoundoun are mentioned in HP II pp191-3 for 1492 but without valuation. Presumably they lay close to Auchlech and Feorlin.


I have found no direct evidence for davachs, quarterlands or eighthlands in Glassary. However it is remarkable that of the 14 named farms in Glassary in 1240 no less than 8 are 5d units or quarter-ouncelands. (One of these is the 5d Kerchennan where the first element of the name is possibly for ceatramh or quarter). One could argue that these 5d units represent Norse practice. However if we look at Glassary in relation to the rest of the West Highlands it seems more likely that this was a form of division that the Norse found when they arrived and which they simply reflected in their overlay of pennyland assessments. (Of the 14 quarter-ounceland farms only two – Askol & Rudol – have Norse names). If, on the basis of the Kintyre evidence, we claim that a pennyland was a davach then these quarter-ouncelands are 5 davach units.


The name Glassary has invited different interpretations. The minister in the Old Statistical Account offered ‘grey strath’, the minister in the New – ‘grey sheiling’. The documents in HP II offer about 20 different spellings from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries alone. These make it plain that it is not glas + airidh (sheiling) but I have wondered at glas + tir (land) with the emphasis in glas more on the green than the grey. (There is a Cruach Glastir in South Knapdale in NR 8267).


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