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Beginnings: Early times to 1560

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Bishop Jocelin

By Norman F Shead

Seal of Bishop Jocelin Jocelin, or Jocelyn, (fl 1175-1199) is important in the development of Glasgow as a burgh, as builder of the second cathedral, and as defender of Glasgow's independence from York. Jocelin was abbot of Melrose when elected bishop through the influence of King William I. He secured Glasgow's independence by obtaining a papal bull declaring that Glasgow was directly subject to the Pope. He was not, therefore, under the authority of the archbishop of York. This privilege was soon granted to all the Scottish bishops.

Jocelin's Crypt

Jocelin was close to the king, frequently witnessing royal charters. He acted as one of his envoys to Rome in a serious dispute over the See of St Andrews, blessed the king and queen after their marriage, and baptised their son. From William he secured the granting of burgh status for Glasgow and the creation of Glasgow fair. Jocelin commissioned a new Life of St Kentigern, and after a fire set up a fraternity to promote the rebuilding of the cathedral. It became a major romanesque building with brilliant wall paintings; the east end was consecrated in 1197. He created one new prebend and instituted the offices of treasurer and (probably) precentor. He decreed that the books and vestments of canons who died intestate should belong to the cathedral.

Ancient Chapter Seal of Glasgow

There is evidence of his interest in developing diocesan administration, creating the office of official and greatly increasing the number of deans of Christianity. Jocelin retained his connection with Melrose, where he died and was buried.


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