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Mearns

Meorns—Mernes—Le Mernis. [Regist. Glasg., and Regist. de Passelet.]

The district long known by the name of the Mearns was one of those parts of the diocese (partes parochiæ) confirmed to Jocelin bishop of Glasgow, by Pope Alexander III. in 1178. [Regist. Glasg., p. 42.] That was a mere grant of episcopal jurisdiction, for ten years later, Helias the son of Fulbert and the brother of Robert and Peter de Polloc, all followers of the Stewards, himself a clerk, granted to the monks of Paisley the church of Mernis, with all its pertinents, for the souls of Walter Fitz-Alan and Alan his son, the patron (advocatus) of the granter, and bishop Herbert of Glasgow. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 100.] His charter was confirmed by Peter de Polloc, his brother, [Regist. de Passelet, p. 98.] and by King William the Lion. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 100.] Bishop Jocelin allowed the monks to hold the church for their own use and support. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 101.]

The cure of the parish was served by a perpetual vicar. In 1227 the vicar’s pension was fixed at 100s., or the altar dues, with two oxgangs of land beside the church. There was other church land within the parish which remained to the monks. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 321.]

The rectory of Mearns is valued in the Libellus Tax. Reg. Scot. at £50. It yielded the house of Paisley, in 1561, £104 in money, and six chalders, 10 bolls, and 3 firlots of meal. [Rental of Assumptions.] The vicarage is rated in Baiamund at £40, and in the taxation of the 16th century at £34. The vicar’s lands were 13s. 4d. of old extent. [Retours.]

The church was situated in the end of the 13th century near the south-eastern extremity of the parish, between the Kirk burn and another called the Broom burn, on the other side of which was the old village and the castle of Mearns.

About the year 1300, Herbert de Maxwell knight, endowed a chapel in the parish church with six merks, payable from his mills of Mearns, and his grant was witnessed by Sir Alan, perpetual vicar of Mearns. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 103.] The Templars, and after them the Hospitallers, who had land close to the church, seem to have had a chapel on their lands of Capelrig, which were of 6s. 8d. old extent, bounding or perhaps mixed with the lands of the monks in the new town. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 101, and Retours.]

When the high stewards portioned out their great territory of Renfrew among their knights and followers, Mearns, along with Upper and Nether Polloc, fell to a family who in the course of a generation or two adopted their surname from the lands of Polloc. They disappeared as lords of Mearns in the war of the succession, an era of remarkable changes of families and property. Before 1316, Herbert de Maxwell knight, was proprietor of Mearns and Lower Polloc, and gave to the monks of Paisley 8½ acres and 28 perches of land in the Newton of Mearns, in exchange for a like quantity in the land of Aldton. The acres granted in the Newton, bounded thus: ’As the kirk burn crosses the highway leading from the church to the Newton, and so up that burn northwards to a standing stone in a green furrow in the Crosteflatt, and so by that green furrow northwards to a syke leading westward to another standing stone, and from it directly northwards to a rill at a well head, and so by that rill to Poddocford, and thence by the highway to the place where the kirk burn crosses it—excepting the land which belongs to the house of Torphichin. The greater part of those lands in the territory of Aldton lay between the syke which bounds the crofts on the east side of the Aldton, and the syke on the west of Thorny flat, descending into Kirkhilgat, and from thence to the highway; and three acres lay on the east bank of the lake of Aldton, and were called Spragunflat. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 102.]

The family of Hamilton held the lands of Fingerton under the Maxwells.

The common of Mearns was of considerable extent, and seems to have been a pertinent of the villages of Aldton and Newton. There are notices of several ancient mills both in Mearns and Polloc, more than one of which was at Aldton of Mearns.

The house of Mearns is described by Wishaw as ‘an old castle situated on a rock’. It is a large square tower commanding a beautiful prospect. It was surrounded by a strong wall, and the entrance secured by a drawbridge. The castle of Upper Polloc was a handsome old tower in the ordinary model, with a large battlement. [Crawfurd.]