Lost Graveyards – Glasgow’s Town Hospital

In the 18th century, the growing problem of dealing with Glasgow’s poor had increased to the point where the local parish churches could no longer cope and, through the General Session, an approach was made to the Town Council for help.  As a result, in 1733 the Town’s Hospital was erected in Clyde Street on the edge of the Old Green, to act as a work house, old folk’s home, orphanage, asylum and infirmary.  (‘Hospital’ meant a hospice or shelter for the needy.)

A non-denominational burial ground for inmates was opened next to the Hospital in Dunlop Street, and the first interment took place in 1733.  The most notable burial was that of Jean Adam, “Scottish poet from the labouring classes”.  Jean had been born in Crawfordsdyke near Greenock in 1704.  She was orphaned at an early age, and earned a living from a school which she kept in the village.  Her best known work is “There’s Nae Luck Aboot the House!”, the song of a mariner’s wife waiting for her husband to come home. 

Sadly, Jean’s writing career foundered and  for many years she worked as a hawker, ultimately finding her way back to Crawfordsdyke.  From there, the local baillies had her committed to the Town Hospital in Glasgow as “a poor woman in distress; a stranger who has been wandering about”.  She died the following day and was buried “at the house expense” in the Town Hospital graveyard on 5th April 1765. 

The burial ground was closed some time before 1831 and demolished prior to 1858.  Canmore, the online database of Scottish monuments, states that in June 1981, roadworks revealed the remains of at least four inhumations on the south side of Howard Street and that the site is almost certainly that of the burial ground of the Old Town Hospital. 

Registers for burials 1763-72 are with the Mitchell Library.  There is no known monumental inscription list. 

[Image of engraving from the 1830s showing the Town’s hospital and poor house in Great Clyde Street and courtesy Glasgow Archives]

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