Over the course of the nineteenth century, the Faculty continued to grow and expand its membership. Learn about some of the interesting characters who made up the Faculty membership.
A mortification board in the small library dedicated to John McUre in recognition of his contribution of 200 merks to the Faculty's Poor Fund.
In the course of the Faculty's existence, it has had several members of note, and some who were rather eccentric. One such member is John McUre, a procurator who left £200 to the Faculty Poor Fund upon his death. McUre wrote the first history of Glasgow in 1736, of which the library holds a first edition copy. Patrick J. F. Parsons describes him thus:
“John McUre ‘alias Campbell,’ is one of the earliest authors associated with the Faculty and one of its more colourful characters. His legal practice is reputed to have been mostly with farmers who often paid him in kind. This resulted in the spectacle of him riding home after collecting his accounts with the heads of chickens and geese hanging from his coat pockets and on one occasion leading a calf over Rutherglen Bridge. His office was generally littered with farm produce. Nonetheless, he seems to have been successful enough to leave £200 to the Faculty. In 1736 McUre published his ‘A View of the City of Glasgow.’ Failing to obtain funds from the Town Council to publish it, he added an appendix dedicated to the Duke of Argyle who, no doubt suitably flattered, provided the required finance. Yet there may be more to Argyle’s donation of money. McUre may well have had a darker side in his connection with the Campbell Duke, whom he ‘conveyed from Glasgow to Inveraray several times,’ in the suspicion that he was the Duke’s secret political agent and spy in the city.”
Portrait of George Baillie by William Pratt held by the Mitchell Library
George Baillie's tomb by the side entrance of Glasgow Cathedral, which he described as his "cave of Machpelah."
Another member of the Faculty with an interesting life was George Baillie. Baillie was a Scottish lawyer, a member of the Faculty, and a philanthropist. When he died, he left money to establish Baillie's Institution: a library for students, which he stipulated had to be a good place to study, and nurture inquisitive minds. The Faculty is still involved in the running of Baillie's Institution. Although Baillie's library no longer exists, Baillie's Institution has a fund which helps libraries to acquire books. During his youth, Baillie did not particularly want to be a lawyer, but did as his father asked of him. He travelled extensively, and always kept a diary of his travels, all but one volume of which is in the possession of the library. The missing volume was confiscated during his travels in Russia by Russian police who suspected him of spying because he kept such a detailed diary. When he died, he left his diaries to a friend, and asked that they not be published, as he had not edited them.