"Barony" means "lordship" and the pre-Reformation barony lands of Glasgow originally came under the direct jurisdiction of the bishop and later archbishop. From the 12th century the town of Glasgow was the bishop's burgh, which formed the market centre of the surrounding district. The bishop's barony was far more extensive, eventually covering an estimated 18,200 hectares. By the 16th century it had come to be divided into four wards: Govan, Partick, Badermonoc and Shettleston.
The wards were administered for the bishop by the barony bailie and chamberlain. The former was a layman and the latter was a cleric based at the Bishop's palace next to the Cathedral. The Bishop derived revenue, or "temporalities", in rents from his lands and payment was often in kind rather than cash. Chalders of meal, malt and corn were standard forms of bishop's income by the mid-16th century. The chamberlain organised the rent collecting while the bailie presided over the barony court and, at the local level, the mill court. Tenants were obliged to grind their grain at the barony's mills.
Much of the barony's territory was uncultivated and inaccessible, but certain areas had practical value. The Easter and Wester Commons and the Gallowmuir were used for cattle pasturage and fuel supply. The bishop also had residences, or "manors", located in different areas of the barony. Partick had extensive grounds, famous for its orchards. Lochwood, in Monkland, to the east of Glasgow, was noted for hunting, while Bishop's Loch – not surprisingly – yielded fish. Several of the Cathedral's dignitaries held endowments on barony territory; for instance, the eastern prebendary of Barlanark or Provan. In the 1490s King James IV reputedly held the prebendary as a canon of the Cathedral.
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