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Renfrew I

Renfriu—Reinfru—Ranfru—Rinfriu. [Chron. Mailr. Regist. Glasg.]

This parish which is popularly called Arrenthrew, consists generally of that level plain which extends from the base of the Kilpatrick range to the heights of Stanley. About two-thirds of the parish lie on the left bank of Clyde, the remainder on the right. The southern division is intersected by the White Cart. The Black Cart and the Gryfe bound the parish on the west and north-west.

The surface along the river has undergone some change within the period of record. The marshy woodlands which formerly covered both hanks have disappeared, and the Clyde, which once spread and wandered amongst numerous islands, and of which one branch at least washed the burgh of Renfrew, has been reduced within a narrow and steady channel. Pont’s map, published by Bleau, in the middle of the seventeenth century, but drawn considerably before, gives six small islands between the mouth of the Kelvin and the place where the Gryfe flows into the Clyde. The two largest were called the White Inch and the King’s Inch, the former of which now makes part of the lands of Partick in Govan, and the latter, the park of Elderslie house between the burgh of Renfrew and the present channel of the Clyde.

When David I. erected the burgh of Renfrew upon his own domain, (in fundo proprio construxisset) he gave the church of the place to John, bishop of Glasgow, who erected it into a prebend of his cathedral, probably soon after 1136. Twenty years later, Walter Fitz-Alan having conferred the church of Paisley upon his new monastery, the monks pretended a right to the church of Renfrew, as being within the parish of Paisley; but it was confirmed as a separate parish to Glasgow by Pope Urban III., 1185-1187, and the monks of Paisley renounced all right to it early in the following century. [Regist. Glasg., pp. 60, 96.]

The cure was at first served by a chaplain, but afterwards a vicar discharged the duty. The ancient church appears to have been situated upon the site of the present, and was probably dedicated to St. James. In it were two endowed chaplainries of St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Thomas the martyr, one of which yielded £13, 6s. 8d. yearly at the Reformation. [Retours, 36. Compt. of Coll. Gen. of thirds.] It is said there were also altars dedicated to St. Mary, St. Christopher, St. Ninian, St. Andrew, St. Bartholomew, and the Holy Cross.

A chapel dedicated to the Virgin stood adjoining on the south to a mill at Renfrew, which belonged to the monks of Paisley, and which was latterly held under them by the burgh. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 247.]

In Baiamund’s roll and in the Libellus Tax. Reg. Scot. the rectory is taxed according to a value of £106, 13s. 4d. In the taxation of the sixteenth century, it is stated at the value of £90, 7s. 6d. In 1561, it was given up for the assumption of thirds of benefices, at 19 chalders of victual, let for 240 merks. [MS. Rental of Assumptions.] The prebendary of Renfrew paid 12 merks to a choral vicar in the cathedral; three pounds for the ornaments of service: and the benefice was astricted to a yearly payment of six and a half merks to the hospital of Glasgow. [Regist. Glasg., pp. 344-5. MS. Rental of Assumptions.]

The vicarage in 1561 was let for 12 merks, after the Pasque offerings and other dues had been discharged by Act of Parliament.