Illustrated Encyclopedia of Tartan

The Last Expedition -- Stanley's Mad Journey Through the Congo

Chapter I.
George Square
And The Growth Of The City.

It is made out of a cow’s horn, (fit emblem of vocation!) with an indentation round the mouthpiece in which to put a cord for suspending, for safety, the instrument round the official’s neck.”

The Square is part of the croft called “Ramsholm,” “Ramshorn,” and in older time “Ramshoren,” which extended from the Deanside Brae and Candleriggs to the Cow-lone, now Queen Street, and from Rottenrow to the Back Cow-lone, now Ingram Street. It has been alleged that the Earl of Angus with his adherents encamped here when in rebellion during the minority of James V. But, more probably, this statement refers to what was done by John Mure of Caldwell when he stormed the Bishop’s Palace on behalf of the Earl of Arran, during his quarrel with Beaton in 1575. Hence it was called for a time the “Pavilion,” or “Palzean,” or “Pilon” Croft.

In 1609 this became the property of George Hutcheson, the founder of Hutcheson’s Hospital, and subsequently of the hospital itself. It was leased by the patrons to a number of small crofters and gardeners. They do not seem to have made much of it, for in 1703 they sent in a petition for an abatement of their rent, in respect that “Notwithstanding of ye labour, and pains, and industry in cultivating and improving said yeard, yet the same is so unprofitable that it doth not only disappoint ye expectation, but that ye families are like to be ruined yrby, throw the barrenness of the ground.”

For about fifty years similar crofters’ complaints had to be dealt with. Then it began to acquire a new value through the demand for building purposes. Hitherto the district had been outside of the city, and the magistrates, afraid of so many of their citizens going beyond the bounds of the Royalty and being free from taxes, wisely purchased the lands of Ramsholm and Meadowflat in 1772, and extended their boundaries to include them. Dr. Hill in his ‘History of the Hutcheson’s Hospital” states: “Almost immediately after their acquisition the magistrates proceeded to dispose of the lands in detail, and in a very few years realised from their sale feu-duties amounting to many hundreds per annum”—and he naïvely adds, “a revenue which it may not unfairly be urged should have been secured to the hospital instead.” By reference to the advertisements in “Old Glasgow” by “Senex” we find that this feuing was mostly about George Street and the “New Town” to the east of the Square.

The Square was laid out in the year 1781. Not much more was done than simply to mark its boundary; for a writer, describing it nearly twenty years later, states that it was a “hove” or “hollow, filled with green-water, and a favourite resort for drowning puppies and cats and dogs, while the banks of this suburban pool were the slaughtering place of horses.”

By the termination of the American war there set in the tide of prosperity which continued unabated all through the period of the Peninsular war, and down into the present century. The city went westward and northward with rapid strides. New streets were laid out, the names of which commemorate the great personages and events of the period. We have royalty represented in George Street, Duke Street (after the Duke of York), Frederick Street, Hanover Street,* Regent Street; the cabinet in North

* It was suggested that Miller Street should be named South Hanover Street, but the name of the sturdy old Maltster Miller was too strong for this. Just the opposite happened with Queen Street. It ought to have been named after M’Call, whose black house stood at the corner, but Queen Charlotte was so popular at the time it was opened up that her name carried the day.


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