Lost Graveyards – Glasgow Blackfriars

Of the 49 Glasgow burial grounds (a figure based on “Burial Grounds in Glasgow” (1997) by June A Willing and J Scott Fairie), ten no longer exist.  Some were demolished in the 19th century and others as late as the 1960s.  In several instances, either the burial registers are unlocated or no monumental inscription lists have been compiled. 

The earliest such graveyard is the Blackfriars churchyard, formerly on the High Street.  In 1246, a community of Dominican monks (the Black Friars) built a convent on the east side of the High Street.  After the Reformation, the property was gifted by Mary Queen of Scots to Glasgow Town Council, and it subsequently passed to Glasgow University in 1573.  The chapel continued in use by the College until 1635, when the building and its churchyard were transferred back to the Town Council.  In 1670, the church was struck by lightning and had to be rebuilt.  It stood until the 1870s, by which time Glasgow University had moved to Gilmorehill. 

The earthly remains of the University professors who, with their families, had been buried in the Blackfriars churchyard, were moved to the Glasgow Necropolis.  J F S Gordon, author of “Glasghu Facies”, made a record of the legible inscriptions, including that of the lawyer, James Houston Maxwell, “who died in Bucklyvie Moors in consequence of the accidental discharge of his fowling piece” on 2 November 1833, aged 36. The site of the church and churchyard was cleared in 1876 and replaced by a railway goods yard.

The register of burials is almost complete and is held in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow.

[Image of rear view of Blackfriars Parish Church circa 1840 and courtesy Glasgow Archives]

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