From Town to City
It is difficult for those who are used to Glasgow being a large metropolitan city to realise just how recent the development of the city has been. In 1770 Glasgow was but a small merchant town, fifty years later it was almost unrecognisable as a large industrial city.
In 1750 the population of the City was less than 32,000 and by the time of the building of Saint Andrew’s Cathedral in 1816, the population was heading towards 150,000.
The speed of the growth was not recognised very quickly by the national authorities and it was only in 1832 that Glasgow was given its first Member of Parliament.
This vast increase in population was fuelled by the arrival of up to 50,000 Irish Immigrants a year. Whilst the majority of these immigrants were Catholic, a significant minority were Protestant, estimates suggest up to 25%.
Many of the Protestant immigrants found employment in the weaving trade and so moved to Bridgeton and Calton.
Of course the majority was Catholic and when added to the numbers of Catholics heading to the City as a result of the Highland clearances, the Catholic population literally exploded.