4.4 Financial Position of the Friary and Notes on Land Holding and Annual Rents

4.4.1 Position of the Carmelite Friary relative to the other friaries in Aberdeen

The Carmelite friars were, in theory, a mendicant order. However, by the time of the Reformation the Aberdeen friary was clearly an economic force to be reckoned with within the medieval burgh. Foggie comments, for the Dominicans, that this was something of a 'fundamental and unresolved conflict' especially in the earlier days of the order in Scotland, although income and property held in common had become 'widely accepted' by 1560 (Foggie 2003, 128). Whilst there is no trace of any unresolved conflict within the early Carmelite community in Aberdeen, the holding of property and a secure yearly income from a number of sources was clearly an accepted part of the life of the Carmelite community in Aberdeen and more widely.

There were four principal means of securing an income: first, grants of money (either as a direct gift or as a quid pro quo for a mass); second, money derived from land owned by the friars (money rent as well as some income in kind, records of which have not survived); third, money stipulated by way of a reddendo and fourth from donations given, for example, at mass. The last element is a variable that cannot be quantified. However, the others can be traced and measured to an extent governed by the survival of historical sources.

The first three means of income can be quantified, to an extent, and they are dealt with in separate sections. First, gifts of money could come in a variety of different ways, either from a person, a corporation or even the crown. They could also be a straight grant of money or rather a grant of an annual rent. If grants of money came from a private individual they could be either a straight benefaction or they could be related to a specific purpose such as a mass in memory of an individual or for building works. Grants from the crown were a significant factor in the income of the Aberdeen Whitefriars. Payments were made from the burgh's feu-fermes as late as 1559 (McNeill 1898, 85). However, comparatively, Carmelite income from the crown did not match that of the Dominicans. Whilst the primary patron of the Dominicans was the crown – as Foggie points out the crown founded 8 out of the 13 Scottish Dominican houses – this was not the case with the Carmelites. The Whitefriars relied more upon support of the local community and this fact is very heavily reflected in their income, the bulk of which was from local burgesses, whether by annual rents, reddendos, gifts of land or any other means (Foggie 2003, 130).

Income derived from land had a number of different forms: firstly it could be money derived principally from a rent from lands owned by the Carmelites and leased to private individuals whilst secondly it could be money secured from a sale of land. The third element is smaller, but nonetheless significant: reddendos could be appended to any charter and stipulate any amount of money.

Unfortunately the following section cannot be a full analysis of the income of the community. As previously noted, income, such as donations, are not recorded in any extant sources and hence form an un-quantifiable variable in the discussion. There does exist one rental of 1542 for the Aberdeen Carmelites but this only includes income from land and annual rents. In the case of the Scottish Dominicans, Foggie has recovered a number of account books, including one for the Perth house. This shows a variety of sources of income including donations but also income from funeral dues (which must have been a significant source of income in Aberdeen) as well as money derived from selling skins. This account book also contains entries for expenditure, none of which survives for Aberdeen. In the case of the Perth Dominicans they clearly had some taste for luxury items, such as treacle (Foggie 2003, 139). Unfortunately as no accounts for expenditure have survived, the sections on the Carmelites' accounts can only look at income and not expenditure.

4.4.2 Gifts of Annuals to the Carmelites

Table 1 is a list of annuals gifted to the Carmelites, which has been reconstructed from Anderson's calendar. The list is as comprehensive as possible, based on the available sources; it includes annuals granted from the reigning monarch as well as private individuals. This section then compares the annuals for the Carmelites with those for the Blackfriars and Trinitarian friaries in Aberdeen (Table 5 and Table 7) and compares this list with a later post-Reformation list of annuals due to the Carmelites. Annuals are gifts of money from an individual, or corporation, which come in part from annual rents derived from land holding and leasing on the part of the individual or corporation.

There are a number of comments that can be made concerning how each friary measured up to the next. The Carmelites received the largest number of annuals: 47, then the Dominicans, 29 and finally the Trinitarians, 14. However, the Dominicans attracted annuals from the most important people in Aberdeen, for example the Earl Marischal. In the case of the Earl Marischal, it would seem that the Dominican friary was the burial place for the family. An entry in Principal Howie's rental for Marischal College, of 1598, reads: 'the house of Marschal had ther burial plaice in the Blak freres M Thomas Molyson hes in the old tounis bookis a coppie of the donation of this anvel to the Blak freres…' (Anderson 1889, 99). Further, the Blackfriars also attracted the largest valued annuals: hence two annuals of £10 each. Although it should be noted that the anonymous donor of the Trinitarians left the largest at £13 6s 8d. That said, the Carmelites certainly also attracted some prominent families, for example, the Forbes and Menzies'. Finally, it might also be noted that none of the friaries received any annuals after 1542 (1523 (Trinitarians) and 1536 (Dominicans). Although it may be noted that the Carmelites continued to receive annuals up to a decade after the last gifted to the Franciscans.

In addition, what is startling is the almost complete lack of any evidence concerning annuals from either the Black or Trinitarian friars prior to 1400. This seems more surprising when compared to the volume of annuals granted to the Carmelites prior to 1400. It is possible that there were simply far fewer annuals granted to the other friars: however it may well also be the case that the evidence has been lost or destroyed. The surviving Trinitarian friars' documents and charters are not as voluminous as they are for the other orders of friars, so they probably received more annuals than we know of. A later confirmation by James III, to the Blackfriars, of 30 September 1477, confirmed the various royal donations as well as 32 annual rents and 11 rents from crofts and arable riggs (Paul 1882, 266-7). By 1479, according to extant charters we would know of only 6 annuals from private individuals.

Table 1 is interesting when compared to the 1542 and 1592 lists. The total number of entries in the register of annuals created here is 47. In 1542 there were 36 annuals collected by the Carmelites whilst by the time of the 1592 list only 25 are associated with the friary. The problem with the 1542 rental is that it does not show whether the annual being collected was an annual rent received via a grant or an annual rent from a land that they owned. Table 1 with 47 entries is close in number to the 1542 number of 36. The discrepancy can be accounted for as some of the annuals were undoubtedly disposed of or changed over the years. However, Table 1 and the 1542 list both reveal that the Carmelites had a significant interest in the Green. Fifteen out of the 49 entries in the register are to annuals from the Green, whilst in 1542, 13 out of the 36 annuals collected then were from lands in the Green. Castlegate was the next largest with seven.

At several points the Carmelites in Aberdeen also entered into claims against people who had defaulted on payments of annual rents to the friary. In these cases it is not possible to determine whether or not the annuals resulted from gifts to the friars or from lands feued out by the friars. Nevertheless, there are a number of such cases in the mid fifteenth century. From 1438 all of the friaries in Aberdeen at one point or another found their way into the burgh court to press for some unpaid annual. Out of the twenty extant cases that we know of, between 1438 and 1448, the Carmelites were involved in eight (Anderson 1909, 29-31). Rent can be a cause of bad feeling and landlords are often thought of with scant regard and it is tempting to wonder what strain this put on the position of the friars. For example, in the early 1480s the Carmelites took to the Baillie court of the burgh a case against Alexander Lesley who had defaulted in payment of annuals to them from lands in Netherkirkgate and the Green. The Carmelites won this case but there is an extant promise by the prior that if Lesley paid the bygone annuals he would have 'regress' to those lands (Anderson 1909, 48 and ACA, CR VI, 241). This implies that the friars were given total possession of the land in lieu of payment. Perhaps the lands had been theirs in the first place, but either way this promise was obviously an important one. Perhaps Lesley had been worried about now being debarred in perpetuity from the lands. Clearly some strain, even at a personal level, must be felt in cases of this nature.

On the other hand, however, there is occasionally evidence of the Carmelites granting annuals of their land for other pious uses. Thus on 13 January 1511 Provincial Friar Storour declared that the chaplain of St Katherine's altar, in St Nicholas church, was to be infeoffed in an annual of 5s from the Carmelites' house in the Green (Anderson 1909, 69). Whilst the Carmelites also made other reddendos to altars in St Nicholas (Blessed Virgin, 8 March 1491 and St Katherine's, 7 February 1495) (Anderson 1909, 55, 60 and 62).

There is also evidence that the Blackfriars granted annuals. This dates from 28 September 1397 when Friar Bothwell granted John Crab, the younger, an annual of 9s from land in the Gallowgate (Anderson 1909 21). On 29 October 1398 the burgh court assigned this annual to Simon Lamb, stating that it had been granted by the Friars Preachers (Anderson 1909, 21). Whilst later in 1501, there is an example of land belonging to the Blackfriars providing an annual to the altar of St John the Evangelist in St Nicholas Church (Anderson 1909, 60). There is also some evidence that the Redfriars were involved in a similar way: in 1506 there is a record showing that there was an annual due to St Christopher's Altar from land of the Redfriars (Anderson 1909, 65).

4.4.3 Land holding and gifts of land

The Carmelites came into possession of a significant number of lands, by a variety of means (Table 2 and Table 4). All of these lands (and indeed gifts of money) were held corporately by the house, or friary, as a whole. Certainly there seem to be some examples whereby the evidence might suggest that a friar was acting as an individual. However, this is misleading: ownership remained corporate to the friary as a whole. For example, on 9 September 1496 sasine was given to Prior Anderson of the Blackfriars of certain lands and annuals (Anderson 1909, 56). He would seem to be acting as a private individual, however there is a previous resignation of these lands which makes it clear that the friars (corporately) rather than the prior (as an individual) are the intended recipients (Anderson 1909, 56).

Lands held by the Carmelites between 1273 and 1560 are listed in Table 2, which shows that the Carmelites had a significant interest in the Green. Ten out of the 24 lands in the possession of the friary were located in the Green. These lands were put to two different principal uses: firstly and in a limited sense they were for the friars to build on and secondly they were leased, tacked or feued out in order to provide a source of income.

The fact that a mendicant order leased, or feued, its lands for profit was probably common practice for most of the Whitefriars in Scotland, as well as the other orders of friars, although Foggie notes that the Observant Franciscans did not feu their property (Foggie 2003, 150). The earliest evidence for this practice, for the Aberdeen Carmelites, dates from as late as 10 August 1401, when the burgess John Yhule defaulted on paying the annual rent of 8 shillings from land in Futy which had been feued to him by the Carmelites. Yhule was ordered to resign the lands to the Carmelites (Anderson 1909, 22). However, feuing had probably been a policy of the Carmelites from an earlier time, possibly from the early fourteenth century. In 1405 there is evidence that the Carmelites granted land in the Green to Mathew Pynches. Moreover, this document mentions that Mathew was not to destroy or damage any of the buildings on that land (Anderson 1909, 25). Later, on 19 January 1438 the Carmelites granted to Friar Robert Barowne, a burgess, a land in the Green (Anderson 1909, 29). The lands of Glensaucht (Figure 4), acquired earlier by the Carmelites, also provided a steady and significant income: on 18 January 1446 Alexander Strathauchine was obliged to return these lands to the friars if he defaulted for three terms on the payment of 33s 4d annual (Anderson 1909, 31).

On 20 February 1450 Friar William, prior of the Whitefriars, granted a waste-land in the Green to William Peterkin, a burgess. This grant incorporated both a 4s reddendo to the Carmelites and 2s to the heirs of John Crab, also a landowner in the Green. On 27 May 1465 Friar William Liel, procurator of the Carmelites, granted to the burgess Andrew Alanson a waste land in the Ship Row, with a reddendo of 13s 4d Scots, presumably to the friars (Anderson 1909, 38). On 10 June 148- Friar John Wauch, who was both Provincial of the Order in Scotland and Prior of the Aberdeen friary, granted to Stephen Gray and his wife, Agnes, a land in the Green, with a reddendo of 6s 8d (Anderson 1909, 46). Further, on 6 April 1486 sasine was given to William Correleth, or Tortoleiche, and his wife Alison, on either a land near the Denburn or in the Green, resigned by the prior of the Carmelites, Friar John Ratie. The confusion over names arises as there are two entries in the Calendar, each of same date and each being substantially the same and concurrent on the same page (Anderson 1909, 48). On 8 March 1491 the friars granted land to a burgess of the Royal Burgh, with reddendos of money to both themselves and to the altar of the Blessed Virgin in St Nicholas (Anderson 1909, 51). Whilst on 17 March 1491 Bryson, the prior, sold a waste land in the Netherkirkgate to Sir David Waus (Anderson 1909, 51).

Later on 7 February 1495 Friar Andrew Liel, then prior, granted to the chaplain of the altar of St Anne in St Nicholas both a yard and a ruinous house in the Green, again with two reddendos attached. On 28 June 1501 the then prior, Andrew Storour, granted to the burgess John Fynne a land in the Green, with a reddendo of 12s, presumably to the Carmelites themselves (Anderson 1909, 61). Later, on 27 February 1506 Storour granted to Alexander Gothray a wasteland in the Green, again with a reddendo of 10s (Anderson 1909, 65). Curiously, on 13 January 1511 Storour, by that point Provincial of the Carmelite Order in Scotland, recorded that there was an infeoffment of an annual of 5s from the Carmelites' house in the Green to Sir John Stirling, chaplain of the altar of St Katherine in St Nicholas Church (Anderson 1909, 69). Storour, on 8 February 1519, granted by charter a wasteland in the Green to John Williamson, with a reddendo of 5s: again presumably the reddendo was to the Carmelites (Anderson 1909, 72). Much later, in 1543 John Cristesone, then prior, granted to Walter Leslie, burgess, and his wife Agnes Fudes, lands in the Northtoun of Ardune (Figure 4). These lands had been granted to the Carmelites on 26 June 1506 by Gilbert Fechart (Anderson 1909, 85). However, this practice was not confined to the Carmelites. On 23 June 1543 the Trinitarians granted to John Cunningham, a burgess of Aberdeen, various crofts located in the Green, Rubislaw and Fittie (Anderson 1909, 85). Whilst in 1557 the Carmelites issued a tack on three of their crofts (Hill, Sow and Poynerneuk) (Anderson 1909, 95).

It is clear from Table 7 and Table 8 that the documentary evidence concerning the Trinitarians is very patchy. It would seem to imply that most of their charters were lost at some point. In 1434 Friar John appeared in the burgh court on 4 October to press claims for defaults of payments from lands in the Green and Shiprow, whilst Friar David appeared claiming a default from a land in the Guestrow on 30 September 1437 (Anderson 1909, 28). Later there were claims from the Redfriars in respect to their land at the foot of Castlehill (Anderson 1909, 31). It is significant that these records are ones from the city archives, none of the documents formerly belonging to the Redfriars themselves have survived. It is also clear that there are documents missing from the Blackfriars and the Whitefriars also. Thus a number of claims in the burgh court by the Blackfriars in the 1440s shows that they had land in the area of the quay (Anderson 1909, 30) and land in Upperkirkgate (1464) (Anderson 1909, 37) Schoolhill (1468) (Anderson 1909, 39) Castle Street (1468) (Anderson 1909, 39). Whilst the Redfriars had land in the Netherkirkgate (Anderson 1909, 31), Gallowgate (Anderson 1909, 32) and Ferryhill (1492-3) (Anderson 1909, 52-3).

The issue of the burgh court was hand in hand with property holding and feuing thereof. As problems arose, such as defaults on payments from those who had taken up the land from the friars, the friars had to have recourse to the aillie courts of Aberdeen in order to protect their income. There were a number of cases in the Aberdeen aillie court concerning Carmelite lands. This was the common pattern both in Aberdeen and across Scotland where any friars owned and feued land.

4.4.4. Reddendos

Another way in which the Carmelite friary could accrue money was by reddendos. A reddendo is defined as the duty or service to be paid by a vassal to a superior as set out in a feu charter. Table 3 is a list of charters of sale that include reddendos specifying the Carmelites as the recipients. The majority of the transactions are carried out by townspeople and presumably the reddendo to the Carmelites was for some reason such as a personal connection with the friars. These provide only a one off payment to the friars nevertheless the value of these should not be underestimated in the finances of the community.

The evidence for reddendos to the other friaries is considerably scantier, although as we have seen this probably relates to the less than perfect survival of their documents. The first evidence for the Blackfriars comes from the very late date of 14 August 1487, when James Anderson bought a 'yard and tail' in the Gallowgate and made out a reddendo of 32s to the Blackfriars, which is a large amount and in keeping with the often quite large donations and gifts to the friars preachers (Anderson 1909, 49).


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