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                   The Scottish Baronies of Fulwood & Dirleton

The Barony of Fulwood in History

Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Mentions Lord Baron Sempill de Fulwood as " Nobles of the first rank "  and as one of those eligible for ruling the county of Renfrew (for this small province was at that time an exceptional nurse of nobility) at that time held by the Sempill who held Fulwood and Cathcart and whose Lord Baron Sempill was than by ancient  right  Sheriff of  this  Barony  of  Renfrew ( This feudal Barony, is feudal in nature and creation, but considered a Peerage Barony it is held by Prince Charles as heir to the Kingdom of Scotland, I believe this again shows that when suitable and convenient a Feudal Barony is a Peerage of Scotland ) It is also important to mention  that the Fulwood was considered as  a  " Noble of the first rank " in 1654 long after the Barons renounced their obligation in so far as they had of coming to Parliament in 1587.

English Versions of Introductory Material and Descriptions

  by Ian C Cunningham, translator of the Latin texts


Volume V of Joan Blaeu's Atlas novus, containing maps and descriptions of Scotland and Ireland, was published at Amsterdam in 1654, in Latin, Dutch, French and German editions, with a Spanish one added in 1659. No English edition was published, or even (as far as is known) projected, and so the complete text of this volume has never been available in English, although some of the introductory material has been translated from earlier versions (but not completely or entirely accurately).

The following pages attempt to redress this want, with a translation of the Latin texts (the other editions have not at present been consulted) of the introductory matter and of the Scottish descriptions. Seventeenth-century Latin rarely goes easily into modern English; I have attempted to make the text readable, without departing too far from the structure of the original.

The introductory material consists of Blaeu's letter to the reader in both shorter and longer versions, the latter with his verses in praise of Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit; Robert Gordon's letter of 1648 to Scot; and the Imperial privilege to Blaeu for 12 years (the British and Dutch privileges, for 14 and 25 years respectively, are in English and Dutch and so are not translated). All of these texts are important sources for the method of working of Timothy Pont, for the history of his maps after his death, and for Blaeu's use of them and the assistance given by Robert and James Gordon and Sir John Scot. They have been utilised (in slightly earlier versions of these translations) in The Nation Survey'd (2001), especially Chapter 1.

The descriptions of Scotland and of each area of it come from various sources, which are detailed below. Material in square brackets is from the original, either additions by Sir John Scot to existing texts, or taken from side-notes where they add something to the information in the text (mostly they are simple summaries and are omitted). Pop-up notes by the translator mostly relate to misprints and other errors in the originals.

Some of the geographical terminology has been modernised, e.g. in directions, 'aestivus ortus' ('summer rising [of the sun]'), etc., have been rendered as north-east, etc. (except in Andrew Melville's poem, where they are frequently amplified in accordance with poetic diction, and are translated literaly). Likewise 'vicecomes' and 'vicecomitatus' when they mean 'sheriff' and 'sheriffdom' have been so rendered. 'Urbs' and 'oppidum', 'montes' and 'colles' have been given their conventional equivalents of 'city' and 'town', 'mountains' and 'hills', although often there seems no distinction between them. But 'amnis', 'flumen' and 'fluvius' are all translated 'river' (sometimes 'water' if that is the modern term), while 'torrens' is 'burn'.

Place names have caused considerable problems: as the same one can appear in one or more Latin forms and also one or more vernacular forms, the only consistent and intelligible method seemed to be to modernise all, as far as possible (with the exception of unidentified places, or original forms required for an etymology, etc.), and to collect all variations in an index, with references to the original passages.


Cunningham, I., ed., The Nation Survey?d: Timothy Pont?s Maps of Scotland (East Linton: Tuckwell Press in association with the National Library of Scotland, 2001)

Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Pagination: 63  
Title: Renfraw  
Translation of text:
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On the nearer bank of the Clyde is located the Barony of Renfrew, named from the main town, which seems to be Ptolemy's Randuara on the River Cathcart; it has a resident of the same name of ancient nobility, Baron Cathcart; near to him are (for this small province is an exceptional nurse of nobility) Crookston, formerly seat of the Lords of Darnley, from whom it came by right of marriage to the Earls of Levinia or Lennox, whence Henry father of King James VI was called Lord Darnley; Halkhead, of the Barons of Ross of English origin, undoubtedly they derive their race from that Robert Roos of Warke, who once he had left England gave his loyalty to the King of Scots; Paslet, in the vernacular Paisley, formerly a celebrated monastery founded by Alexander  second of that name Steward of Scotland, which yielded to few in splendour and fitments of the church, now it gives a dwelling and title of Baron by the kindness of King James VI to Claud Hamilton younger son of the Duke of Chatelherault [his son James now enjoys the title of Earl of Abercorn]; and Semple, whose Lord Baron Sempill is by ancient right Sheriff of this Barony. But we read that the title of Baron of Renfrew pertains by special right to the Prince of Scotland.


The province of Renfrew, commonly called the Barony of Renfrew, is so named from the main town on the left bank of the Clyde.

It stretches in length 26 miles, and where it is broadest 13, ending in a wedge at Inverkip Church. The total circumference is 70 miles.

On the north it is washed by the Clyde, and is opposite Lennox; on the west where it ends in the wedge it is washed by the Firth of Clyde, and is opposite Cowal and Argyll; on the east it is contiguous with Clydesdale, on the south with Cunningham.

The land is more pleasant than fertile, yet it supplies everything abundantly to the inhabitants, and enjoys a healthy climate.

It has two principal rivers, the Cart and the Black Cart, of almost the same name, into which all the other smaller rivers and burns flow; they join together at Inchinnan Church and discharge into the Clyde at one mouth.

It numbers two towns, Renfrew, on the left bank of the Clyde, the head of the whole province, and place for the gatherings of the prefect or Sheriff; it is ruled by the Provost, Bailies and Town Council, like the other Royal Burghs, which enjoy the right of voting in the supreme assemblies of the Kingdom. The town of Paisley is more splendid and larger than Renfrew, on the left bank of the River Cart, on an elegant and beautiful site: it has in a low valley the most brilliant palace of the region, which was formerly the seat of Abbots of the Cluniac Order, but now along with the revenues of the monastery has come into the possession of the Earls of Abercorn, who chooses  the Bailies, as they are called, by whom Paisley is ruled.

It is governed by a prefect who is called the Sheriff; he is selected each year by the King?s Supreme Senate in the King?s name from the nobles of the province; the office formerly belonged by hereditary right to the Baron Sempill, who either in person or by prefects selected by him was in charge of administering the law.

Ecclesiastical governance has after the ejection of the Episcopal hierarchy returned to the aristocracy of Minsters and Elders in Presbyteries; of these it presents a single one which normally is convened at Paisley.

Nobles of the first rank possessing here Baronies or Lordships are: the Duke of Lennox, at Crookston and Inchinnan; the Earl of Eglinton, at Polnoon; of Glencairn, at Finlayston; of Abercorn, at Paisley. The greater Barons, in the vernacular Lords: Sempill, at Sempill; Ross, at Halkhead; Blantyre, at Cardonald. Among the lesser nobles of knightly rank stand out Stewart of Minto, Stuart of Castlemilk, Stewart of Blackhall, Houston of Houston, Maxwell of Pollok, Maxwell of Newark, Bursby of Bishopton, Wallace of Elderslie, Wallace of Johnstone, Fleming of Barochan, Cuninghame of Craigends, Sempill of Fulwood, Sempill of Cathcart, Schaw of Greenock, Porterfield of Duchal and Cochrane of Cochrane.    

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