The ancient hierarchy of Scotland ended with the death of Archbishop Beaton of Glasgow at Paris on 24 April 1603 at the age of 86. The ending of that ancient hierarchy had, of course, followed the Reformation in Scotland. Following on that, initially Prefects Apostolic were appointed and then Vicars Apostolic under a titular bishop.
For 100 years from 1727 to 1827 Scotland was divided into two Vicariates: the Lowland and Highland Districts; and then from 1827 to 1878 into three Vicariates: the Eastern, the Western and the Northern. The last Vicar Apostolic in the Eastern District, based in Edinburgh, was John Strain – he became Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh on 15 March 1878 on the occasion of the Restoration of the Hierarchy in Scotland.
On the Restoration of the Hierarchy in 1878, Scotland was divided into the Province of St Andrews and Edinburgh, with a Metropolitan See and four Suffragan Sees of Aberdeen, Argyll and the Isles, Dunkeld and Galloway; and the Archdiocese of Glasgow was created, directly subject to the Holy See.
Since 1878, following on Archbishop Strain, the Archbishops were: William Smith, Angus MacDonald, James Smith, Andrew Joseph McDonald OSB, Gordon Joseph Cardinal Gray.
Cardinal Gray, the first residential Archbishop to have been created a Cardinal since the Reformation, retired on 30 May 1985 and died in Edinburgh on 19 July 1993. His successor, Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien, was nominated Archbishop on 30 May 1985, ordained Archbishop in St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh on 5 August 1985 and created cardinal priest by the Pope John Paul II on 21 October 2003. His resignation was accepted nunc pro tunc by Pope Benedict XVI on 13 November 2012 and definitively accepted on 25 February 2013.
The Archdiocese is far flung: from the north of Fife to the south of the Borders and from east of Edinburgh to within 10 miles of the City of Glasgow.