A southeastern suburb of the Greater Glasgow conurbation, Rutherglen lies to the south of the River Clyde 2 miles (3 km) south of Glasgow city centre and 3 miles (5 km) northwest of Cambuslang. Chartered in 1126 as one of the first of Scotland's royal burghs, the town developed as an important trading centre at the head of navigation. By the late 13th century it was overshadowed by Glasgow but was known for its horse fairs. The town was transformed from a handloom weaving and mining village in the early 19th Century into a shipbuilding centre with the arrival of the firm of Thomas Seath in 1856. Seath also provided excursions on the upper Clyde for thousands of passengers, and a commuter service into Glasgow until the arrival of trams in the late 19th century. At that time the town also manufactured steel and soap. Modern industries include milk bottling and the manufacture of household products, duvets suggests the chronicler Blind Harry, that Sir John Menteith agreed to betray William Wallace, and where the Scottish Parliament met in 1300. The Declaration of Rutherglen was read out on 29th May 1679 by a band of armed Covenanters. Three days later they won a battle against John Graham of Claverhouse at Drumclog, but were defeated only three weeks after that by James, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch, at Bothwell Bridge.
Rutherglen was incorporated into Glasgow in 1975 but became part of South Lanarkshire in 1996. Notable buildings include the ruined parish church of St Mary's and Rutherglen Town Hall, built in 1862 to a design by Charles Wilson (1810-63). The local museum which was located to the north of Main Street is now home to a criminal court.
Notable sons and daughters of the town have included statistician William Gemmell Cochran (1909-80), comedienne Janet Brown (b.1924), Robbie Coltrane (b.1950), playwright Tom McGrath (b.1950) and broadcaster Magnus Magnusson (1929 - 2007) lived here for a time.