ST JAMES-THE-LESS EPISCOPAL CHURCH 1872-1914
St. James’ beginnings in the nineteenth century
In the second half of the 19th century, the Episcopal Church in Scotland experienced a revival of its fortunes following the darker days of disestablishment after 1688. The growing problem of the urban poor in the city in the latter half of the 19th century, particularly the ‘unchurched Episcopalians’ was increasingly becoming the focus for the Episcopal clergy’s missionary activity in Glasgow. By 1843 there were estimated to be around 7.000 ‘Episcopalians’ in Glasgow and the Gorbals. These consisted mainly of Irish emigrants from the Church of Ireland in Ulster and a small number of poor, migrant Highlanders. Missions were aimed at those with no direct church links particularly among the working class and immigrant workers as well as members of other churches.
The spontaneous and unregulated creation of missions in shop-fronts or huts wherever there seemed to be a demand were almost invariably begun by local clergy and congregations and only became the concern of the diocese when they ran into debt.
Prior to its removal to its present-day site on Great Western Road in Glasgow’s west-end, the clergy and congregation of the original St. Mary’s Chapel in Renfield Street, later St. Mary’s Cathedral, were actively involved in setting up missions in the industrial areas of Glasgow where there was often inadequate housing and little church activity being carried out either by the Church of Scotland or by others. With the help of subscriptions, donations of land and voluntary help from the active lay members, missions were established in Cowcaddens, Townhead, Maryhill, Port Dundas and Possilpark.
The Rev. Richard S. Oldham, the senior incumbent of St. Mary’s, 1853-1878, started a mission in the Townhead area of the City. He did this to accommodate his ‘poor Episcopalians’ who were shortly to be greatly inconvenienced by St. Mary’s westward move. He was supported by John Tennant of Messrs Tennant of St. Rollox who, in 1867, gave £200 and lent a room in Garngad.
In 1869 the mission, then known as St. Mungo’s, moved to a rented hall in Barony Street. A curate from St. Mary’s was given the responsibility of looking after the gathering congregation. A small iron church was erected in 1872, and was replaced in 1874 by a brick church at Grafton Street near Stirling Rd.  Rev. Oldham helped this new church open a mission in Springburn which eventually became The Church of St. James the Less
The Mission church in Springburn seems to have had a rather shaky start. Diocesan records show that W. Edwin Bradshaw the incumbent of St. Lukes in 1872 was active in trying to raise funds for the Mission church in Springburn by approaching Mr. Tennant of St. Rollox Works and also Mr. Neilson of Hydepark Works for money. 
Correspondence is suspended until 1878 when a Mr. W.H Biggar records his disappointment in a letter to Bradshaw in October on reading in the Glasgow Herald and in the Scottish Guardian of 20th October of that year that the Springburn mission was being abandoned. He personally offered to finance and run the church mission free for ‘2000 members of the Anglican communion in Springburn and the immediate neighbourhood’.  Bradshaw subsequently wrote to the Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, William Scot Wilson, supporting Biggar’s offer to take on the mission and suggests he does so until a clergyman can be found.  This early correspondence offers a fascinating picture of the social history of Springburn at this time; the precarious nature of setting up a new mission as well as valuable insights into the internal Episcopal church debates about its support for either domestic, urban or foreign missions and deserves quoting at length. Mr. Biggar in a letter to Bishop William Wilson on 20 February 1879 wrote,
The great majority of the people are very poor earning only labourer’s wages… and only one family may be said to be of higher rank than the working classes… It is doubtless the duty of the church to minister to those poorer members for if she ceases to do so they will rather be absorbed into the various sects or lost to Christianity altogether. Our home missions ought not to be abandoned merely for the sake of promoting foreign missions. The former are at least entitled to equal if not greater support that the latter. Yet the Scottish Church is spending at present much more money on foreign missions than she is doing on the languishing home missions. The winter.. has been a very severe and trying one many could not venture out for wait of proper and sufficient clothing. In consequence of a strike and the universal depression in trade many have been for a long time out of employment So the time when the mission was recommenced- the 15 November last-was far from auspicious. Still I believe, the mission has succeeded as well as during any part of its history. The number of souls belonging to the Church in Springburn and surrounding district has been estimated by Mr. Bradshaw as fully 2,000 The attendance at the Mission service has never exceeded between 70 and 80 and on some Sundays when it was fearfully cold it has been considerably less I have visited a great many people in their homes including one young woman who died of consumption in the month of December I am sorry to state that one family belonging to the middle class have never made their appearance at the Mission service since I took it up” [They were disappointed at the Mission being given up and had provided themselves with seats in the United Presbyterian church. Their offering was missed. The congregation included English, Scotch and Irish with the last probably predominating.]
The Irish as a rule are very low church. I have been asked to preach a sermon against the Pope. They may ask 10,000 times before I would comply with such an uncharitable request. 
This fascinating extract offers an indication of a tussle between two factions seeking to gain control of the Episcopal Mission Church in Springburn at the time. During this period of rapid Industrialisation and the growth of new urban communities due to the influx of migrant and immigrant labour, the various churches and denominations of the period clearly felt they were competing for territory in the rapidly expanding frontier which was Springburn during this period. The main priority for the Diocese and its supporters was to secure patronage and finance from suitable benefactors. Other factors, however, began to arise.
Two gentlemen emerged as potential curates for the charge of St. James. The official candidate was the Rev Charles H. Brooke who was appointed by the Bishop and commenced duties on 17 August 1879
…in the nick of time as strange rumours are floating about of the great things the English Episcopal Party are going to do under the auspices of the Rev. Joseph Rice when he makes his second advent in Springburn. It is devoutly to be hoped that the scheme of the Rev. Joseph may be nipped in the bud by the excellent appointment made by your lordship.
Brooke takes up the tale in a letter to the Bishop on 14, August 1879. While visiting Mr. and Mrs. J. Wilson, the Manager of Hyde Park Works at his home the couple, at the same time, received a visit from Joseph Rice and a friend who were seeking to erect an iron church costing £200 with financial support from Mr. Wilson. The situation was potentially embarrassing but although the Wilsons kept their visitors in separate rooms, Brooke did manage to overhear most of the conversation which took place between Wilson and Rice. He continues,
The situation has a serious aspect and Mr. Rice’s policy [has been] to become an Orangeman in full form in order to gain the Orangemen. I rejoice therefore that owing to your Lordship’s prompt action, we shall be free to occupy the field. I distributed bills in shop windows announcing my appointment and calling upon Episcopalians, “English, Irish and Scotch” loyally to attend the services thus provided for them and to unite in support of the present effort. I do not think that Mr. R. has any strong point except his new blown orangeism. On Sunday I hope to enlist the people’s confidence and sympathy. I told Mr. W. to ask him for his authorisation from the Bishop of the Diocese which of course he will have if he be a true Episcopal. 
The emergence of Orangemen during the re-establishment of the Springburn Mission can be viewed in the wider context of Irish immigration to Scotland during this period. Orangemen from Ireland who were former communicants of the Church of Ireland found when they arrived in Scotland that what they thought was an equivalent to their home church was not. The Scottish Episcopal Church was a different body in terms of its history, worship, class composition and strength. It had consisted mainly of a largely anglicised gentry who were quite unprepared for the large influx of working class migrants from Ireland: According to Gavin White, the bishop ‘was either English or anglicised, he had been trained to lead and he was regarded as a link with the higher social classes.’ 
‘The Church of Ireland was not as High Church as the Scottish Episcopal Church and its rituals, Tractarianism and liturgy were abhorrent to the Orangemen.’ 
The political and social prejudices of the Scottish Episcopal clergy towards the new communicants is aptly summed up by Brooke in his letter to the Bishop William Wilson on 18 August 1879,
The extreme Orangemen (at his first service] it would be hopeless if not absolutely wrong to attempt to please their present uneducated condition and one can only persevere in kindness and generosity towards them, but nothing deserving the name of the Catholic faith, will ever suit them as their religion is simply political. I found the Orangemen at Jordanhill gradually adopted my views…but no doubt it is very difficult to neutralise the inveterate prejudice of half-educated man. Once gained, this Orange element is a tower of strength. As has been well said they will either kill you or die for you…PS Mr. Bradshaw says Mr. Rice has left the country. 
Raising finance for a permanent church building was a difficult task in an era with such a poor congregation: The correspondence in the Diocesan papers mentions the matter first in 1879, when Mr Biggar wonders where the money is to come from. There is mention of erecting a brick church costing £600 and plans by Mr. Biggar’s brother in Edinburgh were then being considered by Mr Wilson, Manager of the Hyde Park Works. Patronage was sought from the proprietor of Hyde Park Works, Mr. James Reid of Auchterarder who, although not a member of the Anglican Communion, was expected to donate £100. It was also thought that Lady Campbell of Garscube may give £100; the Earl of Glasgow, Mr. Speir of Caldees and other distinguished Laymen could also be approached well as possible funding from the Representative Church Council. The Chaplaincy of the Royal Infirmary and the Poor Houses could be put in abeyance or combined with Springburn and bring in £50 stipend.  The foundation stone for the new Church now known as St. James the Less was laid in October 1880 and the architect was Mr. Biggar of Edinburgh,
‘who was brought up in the offices of your Lordship’s old friend John Henderson, the architect of Glenalmond and was for several years his principal assistant. Like his old and revered master he would only look for a fee considerably below what is usually allowed.’
The church was completed in 1881 on a site in Mollinsburn Street, Springburn, and shortly after, the church was extended.
‘The name [Mollinsburn] is Gaelic English [sic] for ‘the burn of the little hillocks and the street was named for the village of Mollinsburn situated midway between Chryston and Condorrat on the Cumbernauld Road. 
After a number of approaches to different local landowners, the Mollinsburn site was secured following a gift to the Church by Thomas Christie of Bedlay. The site was part of the lands of Bedlay, Mollins and Petershill which trace their ownership from Mr. Christie back through the Dunlop family, Merchants of Glasgow in the 18th century, via Robert Fourth Lord Boyd in the reign of Queen Mary in the 16th century. Ownership can be traced back through George Colquhoun in 1535 to more ancient times when the estate formed part of the Cathedral Church of Glasgow and was gifted to the bishopric by William the Lion in the twelfth century,” 
Thomas Craig Christie (1816-1910) was a merchant in the City of Glasgow whose family came originally from Aberdeenshire.  His grandfather settled in Paisley in the 18th century and over the next three generations the family were involved in manufacture and trade to the Baltic, Rio de Janeiro and latterly in Glasgow. Thomas Craig Christie of Bedlay succeeded to the estates of Bedlay, Mollins and Petershill on the death of his wife Catherine Cameron Campbell in 1854. As the only surviving daughter, she had inherited them from her father James and her uncle Alexander Campbell. 
Church records dealing with management issues for the period between 1879 and 1886 are patchy but by 1886 Mr. Christie and the clergy are again concerned about the viability of the Mission church at Springburn. In that year Mr. Christie expressed his doubts as to whether the Bishop would keep Springburn mission as a separate charge or continue to maintain it as a satellite of St Luke’s. The Missions Committee were considering placing it under the supervision of a neighbouring incumbent as it was felt that there was not sufficient scope for a church in the district at that time.
The church’s own records begin with Baptism records dating back to 1875 and the first Church Register dates from 1883. From these and subsequent sources it is possible to gain a more consistent picture of the life of the congregation of St. James the Less as well as the community of Springburn
The Growth of Springburn
Springburn had grown from a small rural community at the beginning of the 19th century into the largest locomotive-building centre in Europe by its end. On 27th September, 1831 Glasgow’s first locomotive-worked railway was opened at St. Rollox. The Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway was built to bring coal into the city from the Monklands coalfields to Tennant’s Chemical Works in Sighthill.
In 1841 the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Company drove a line through Springburn and later established The Cowlairs Locomotive Works in 1842, probably among the first railway workshops in Britain. The first employees settled in Springvale village to the south of Springburn which was home to the workers employed by Joseph Findlay’s cotton spinning mill. This was followed by the establishment of the Caledonian or St. Rollox Works in 1856; Neilson’s Hydepark Locomotive Building works moved to Springburn from Hydepark St., Anderson in 1861. In 1903 Hydepark, and Atlas Works amalgamated with the Queen’s Park works of Polmadie in Springburn to become the North British Locomotive Company. Springburn thus became what has been described as the ‘Scottish Railway Metropolis’.
In the years after 1840, the rapid industrialisation transformed Springburn into a place of high employment with a large influx of people from all over Britain seeking work. Initially 15,000 railway navvies were engaged there in building the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway. As the boom progressed, people came from the rural areas of the Scottish Highlands and Ireland as well as from Edinburgh and England. In 1856 the Caledonian moved their 350 employees from Greenock to new premises at St. Rollox. By the end of the 19th century almost every family in Springburn was dependent, directly or indirectly on the railways for a living. 
By mid-century Springburn’s almost frontier character was described by an early missionary to the Garngad and St Rollox areas in 1854:
Intemperance, Sabbath Desecration, and other forms of wickedness prevail to a fearful extent in the district. 
The first church was built in Springburn in 1842 and by the end of the century a dozen churches had been built in the area.
The congregation of St. James the Less
Attendances at services seems to have stabilised in the late 1880s and 90s. While attendance figures are not available, the Church’s Register of Services show just over 700 communicants annually. This figure gradually grew in the late 1890s to a peak in 1900 of 1357. Annual average number of communicants from then until 1908 remained around 850. After the First World War numbers stabilised at around 1100 per year. Confirmation statistics reveal the nature of the growth of the congregations. According to Sykes and Booty,
A new theology of confirmation came to have a dominant influence within the Anglican communion from about 1890…..as an optional rite for those who, having come to a stage of Christian maturity, wish to make a public reaffirmation of their faith in the presence of a congregation, were considerably older than the early teens, the traditional age for confirmation.
Since confirmees tend to be adults or adolescents, and since Springburn was populated in the main by immigrants there are valuable clues about the birthplaces and faiths of those who came to the area and joined the congregation of St. James the Less. Although this information is not consistently recorded throughout all the registers, it provides some insights into Springburn’s population at the time. During the period 1900-1919, out of a total of 346 people confirmed, 158 were Anglican, 41 Presbyterian, 5 Scottish Episcopal, 2 Roman Catholic, I Church of Ireland and the rest comprised small numbers of Wesleyan, Methodist, Lutheran or unknown. The registers covering the years 1890-1899, 1903, 1915-1923 show the original place of baptism for a total of 500 confirmations ( Table 1).
|Place of baptism||Number|
|Rest of Scotland||92|
Baptism registers offer a valuable source of information about the employment profile of the fathers of the infants baptised in the Church. The numbers baptised show a healthy increase from 1875 onwards: the annual average number of baptisms in the 1870s was 13 growing to an average for the decade of the 1880s of 29, 41 in the 1890s and reaching 74 in the first decade of the twentieth century.
Fathers’ occupations reflect the industries and services of an active industrial community. There were those employed in road, rail and sea transport: sailors and ship’s platers, drivers, gards, coachmen, stokers, clerks, mechanics, bookkeepers; locomotive and engineering manufacture: turners and fitters, boilermakers, blackmith, and coppersmith, iron forger, springmaker, hammermen, brass and iron moulders, drillers; building and ancillary trades: joiners, carpenters, bricklayers, builders, plumbers, coachbuilders, carters, enamellers, sweep, patternmakers; other tradesmen: baker, sawyer, butcher, hairdresser, tailor, glass, pottery and watchmakers. Large numbers of labourers from a wide range of industries were represented as were also policemen, a foreman engineer, spirit merchant, draughtsmen, clergymen, men from the armed forces and one travelling showman! Few women’s occupations are listed with the exception of the occasional laundress, machinist or domestic servant.
Like the rest of the city of Glasgow, Springburn at this time had its share of epidemics of smallpox, scarlet fever and measles which were rife in the area. A temporary fever hospital had to be set up at St Rollox in 1872. Unemployment was high during this period and a soup kitchen was up in St Rollox serving women and children only. Around 1500 were served every day. Men were employed at relief works in Springburn and Ruchill parks in stone breaking and were paid a minimum of 7/- per week.  The weekly death rate was noted in the local press as being 25 per 1000 population in the week of 15 February 1892.  The Register of Burials for St. James during the 24 period 1889-1907 shows an extremely high proportion of infant and child mortality.  Of a total of 349 burials registered at St James in this period, 132 or 37.8% of the total were of children under three, 65 of those were of babies under one year old. Although the causes of deaths are not registered we have good knowledge from other sources of the major causes of mortality in Glasgow during this period.
According to Flinn et al,  in the second half of the nineteenth century, there was continuing heavy mortality from a group of diseases that had also been serious in the preceding decades and which were mainly endemic. The percentages of deaths caused by these diseases for Scotland as whole were follow:. scarlet fever 4%, whooping cough and diphtheria 3% each, diarrhoea, dysentery and bowel related diseases 4%, and typhus nearly 5%. Mortality was higher in urban than in rural areas and infants were the most vulnerable group of all. However tuberculosis and the respiratory diseases of bronchitis and pneumonia accounted for over 30% of deaths in Scotland in the second half of the nineteenth century. This percentage in Glasgow was even higher at 39%. As people survived the lesser infectious diseases,
More of the inhabitants of the cities lived long enough to succumb ultimately to respiratory diseases resulting from overcrowding and the poisoned, smoke-laden atmosphere. In the 1870s the toll from these two groups of diseases in Glasgow (43.4%) was rising towards one-half of all deaths and it still stood at 38.6% in the 1890s. 
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries however, St James played a full part in the spiritual and social life of the community. The Church sustained an active social programme of Social Gatherings and Children’s Operas while its Literary and Debating Society offered regular lectures The Literary society boasted over fifty members ‘including a number of young ladies of the congregation’. As St. James levied no seat-rents, all of these events, annual Bazaars and Spring Fairs, concerts and soirees of the St. James Amateur Minstrels were regularly held in aid of the Church organ fund, the building debt and the Parsonage fund.  A Church organ was estimated to cost £200 in 1893 and the Building debt in 1894 was £5676. The Church was continually seeking to top up its income to cover the initially the building fund and later for ongoing repairs and received this from the Bishop of Glasgow’s fund, donations from local businesses and individual lay people. Entries in the Church accounts show donations to rental of the parsonage by the Managers of Atlas Works and of Braby and Co.’s Works in Petershill Road. St. James also supported a Cricket club, a Sunday School, their own branch of the Glasgow Foundry Boys Religious Society and annual picnics and outings.  The Church’s annual income steadily increased from £156 in 1892 to £308 in 1900 and grew to £938 in 1923. A great many regular donations were recorded against the names of a group of women but it is unclear whether they were personal donors or collectors. Offertories from Sunday services, Sunday School and bible classes are regularly recorded with seat rents making an appearance in the 1910 accounts. The main expenditure was in the priest’s salary. This was recorded as £65 per annum in 1892 and grew to £96 in 1900 and £120 in 1922.
St. James was well established by the time of the outbreak of the First World War. Its early inauspicious beginnings as one of the mission satellites of St. Mary’s set up to cater for the urban and immigrant poor in the working class districts had coincided with the gradual transformation of Springburn into one of the major industrial centres of the world. In the early pioneering days of railway development in Springburn when unskilled labour was needed, when housing and the local infrastructure was meagre and social conditions were impoverished, unhealthy and squalid. The missions were looked upon as serving a desperately needy population who had no source of spiritual guidance. Over the years the area became established as a centre for highly skilled heavy industry and the sources show that the congregation attracted more and more of the skilled English artisans who moved to the district. According to White, working class Episcopalians were largely English and this period of the late nineteenth century is one of continued growth in the size of Scottish Episcopal congregations. A steady decline in numbers , in Glasgow did not begin until 1920 partly due to the constant stream of new immigrants which compensated for any internal decline. White also maintains that financially, working class congregations were holding up better than middle-class.  These changes in character are reflected in Church policy towards missions. In 1904, Bishop Archibald E. Campbell tried to abolish the ancient differences between funds for incumbencies and funds for missions’ in response to the changing nature of congregations and the decline in urban missionary zeal within the church.
Some credit for the success of St. James during this period might also be due to the incumbency of Canon Rollo (son of Lord Rollo of Duncrub) which lasted for twenty four years (1889-1913), the longest of any incumbent before or since. Six incumbents had preceded him during the very shaky early years between 1875 and 1888 when the mission was establishing itself in the community, the previous three staying for less than a year each. During his time St. James was raised to an incumbency, its buildings and parsonage were paid for, church income and attendances increased significantly and its social calendar was full. By the time of the outbreak of World War One, St. James the Less had matured from its early mission beginnings, had consolidated its position in the area and had firmly established its role in the Springburn community.
Due to the redevelopment and destruction and depopulation of large areas of Springburn in the 1970s and 1980s, the Church of St James the Less was scheduled for demolition. In 1980, the congregation moved to a newly built church building in the nearby suburb of Bishopbriggs where it continues to thrive today.
 Statement by The Very Revd. William Routledge in Lawson, J. P. (1843), History of the Scottish Episcopal Church from the Revolution to the present time. Edinburgh. Gallie and Bayley. in MacLeod, S. (1994), St. Mary’s Episcopal Church 1871-1908 unpublished dissertation for Certificate of Scottish Studies. University of Glasgow.
 White, G. (1979). Ideals in urban mission: Episcopalians in twentieth century Glasgow. The church in town and countryside, 441-448. In Ecclesiastical History Society & Baker, D. (1979). The church in town and countryside: Papers read at the 17. summer meeting and the 18. winter meeting of the Ecclesiastical History Society. Studies in church history, 16. Oxford. Blackwell.
 The Church News Scotland, 156 May, 1874.
 Letters dated 28 October and 30 October 1878 respectively. Diocesan Papers TD/147 Glasgow City Archive
 Letter from Bradshaw to the Bishop of Glasgow 3 July 1872. Ibid.
 Letter from Mr. Biggar to the Bishop, 20 February 1879, item 4 Diocesan Papers Ibid.
 Biggar to Bishop 12 August 1879. Item 10, Diocesan Papers Ibid.
 Brooke to Bishop 14 August 1879. Item 11, Diocesan Papers Ibid.
 White, ibid. p 448
 McFarland, E. W. (1990). Protestants first: Orangeism in nineteenth century Scotland. Edinburgh. Edinburgh University Press.
 The Rev. Charles H. Brooke, 11 Victoria Street, Hillhead, letter to Bishop 14 August 1879 Item 11, Diocesan Papers Ibid.
 James Reid’s youngest son Edward Reid (born 1871) was later ordained in the Scottish Episcopal Church and served as Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway from 1921-31.
 Biggar to The Bishop 4 March 1879, Item 6 Diocesan Papers op cit.
 Biggar to The Bishop August 1879, Item 9 Diocesan Papers ibid
 Macintosh’s Glasgow Streets. Vol J-M Glasgow City Archive LK5/43
 Annan, T., Mitchell, J.O., Smith, J.G. (1878), The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry. Glasgow. J. Maclehose.
 Thomas Craig Christie registered as a Merchant on 12 October 1852, Index of Burgess Entries, Glasgow City Archive.
 Annan et al. op. cit.
 Smart, A. (1988), The villages of Glasgow. Vol 1. Edinburgh. John Donald
 Quoted by an early missionary in Ralston, A.G. (1984), A History of St Rollox Church referred to in Hutchison, G., & O’Neill, M. (1989). The Springburn Experience: An Oral History of Work in a Railway Community from 1840 to the Present Day. Edinburgh. Polygon. p.4
 Sykes, S., & Booty J., E. (eds.) (1988), The Study of Anglicanism. Philadelphia: SPCK.
 Hutchison and O’Neill, M. Ibid. p.4
 St. Rollox and Springburn Express 8 Dec. 1892. Glasgow City Archive.
 St. James the Less Register of Burials 1889-1907, Book 4.
 Flinn, M. W., Gillespie, J., & Hill, N. (1977). Scottish Population History from the 17th Century to the 1930s. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 408-9.
 Flinn et al. op.cit. pp 410-412
 St Rollox and Springburn Express, 8 December, 1892.
 St James the Less Minute Book.
 White, ibid. pp 443-444.
Additional picture credits:
Stuart, A. (1991), Old Springburn. Glasgow. Richard Stenlake. ISBN 1-872074-12-X
Stuart, A. (1994), More Old Springburn. Glasgow. Richard Stenlake. ISBN 1-872074-35-9