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A History of the Border Counties
Chapter V


BORDER LAND NAMES — PROFESSOR VEITCH’S VIEWS — SURNAMES; EARLY MENTION OF SOME, AND ORIGINS OF BORDER FAMILIES : SCOTT, DOUGLAS, KER, ARMSTRONG, ELLIOT—BY-NAMES—CASTLES: THE OLD AND NEW TYPE—FEELS: THEIR EVOLUTION—BURGHS—NARRATIVE OF EVENTS ON THE BORDERS—MALCOLM RESIGNS NORTHERN COUNTIES TO ENGLAND—WILLIAM THE LION: HIS CAPTURE; ENDEAVOURS TO RECOVER NORTHERN COUNTIES; RELATIONS WITH JOHN—ALEXANDER II.—REOPENING AND SETTLEMENT OF NORTHERN COUNTIES’ QUESTION —COMMISSION TO DETERMINE BORDER LINE—FIRST BORDER LAWS— ALEXANDER III.—A “COUP D’ETAT " AT KELSO—THE “CONTRE-COUP’’ —FINDING OF AN ANCIENT CROSS AND URN AT PEEBLES—THE ROYAL FAMILY ON THE BORDERS—THE GHOST THAT DANCED AT JETHART.

The abbey charters, from which we have quoted, prove that most of the local land-names known to us to-day were already in use, in very slightly differing forms, as far back as the twelfth century. In not a few instances the old form of a name is purer than the modern—as Lylliscleff, or cleve, for the unmeaning Lilliesleaf; Edenham for Ednam, and Calchou for Kelso—a name derived from the Anglo-Saxon cealc, chalk, and how or heugh, in allusion to the geological formation at the place now called the Chalkheugh. In some instances in the old charters, where boundaries are to be determined, we see an inadequate nomenclature helped out by reference to such locally conspicuous objects as “the old elm,” “the white thorn,” or “the green ditch.” Then historical monuments, such as hill-forts and Roman roads, are also pressed into the service; whilst it is probable that some at least of those standing-stones which have puzzled antiquarians may have been originally erected as landmarks.

In the valley of Tweed most of the land-names are purely Anglo-Saxon, but a minority enable us to recover traces of other peoples also. Of these, the oldest—could the derivation which has been suggested for them be substantiated—would certainly be the names of the rivers Ale and Allan, which Mr Skene, basing his supposition on the frequent occurrence in Basque topography of the similar syllable II, proposes to assign to that dimly-visioned, dark-haired Iverian race, who preceded the Celts as inhabitants of these islands. The great natural features of the country are just what we should expect to find bearing very ancient names, and it is therefore no surprise that the meaning of the name Tweed has baffled philologists. The earliest spellings of the word are Tuid in Bede’s History, and Tede in the Pictish Chronicle, whence the name may probably be connected with that of the other great river of our district, Teviot, locally pronounced Tee’ot. What would be more difficult to account for, did we not remember that the legions employed in the locality were mainly recruited from Gaul and Spain, would be the scarcity there of names traceable to a Roman origin. As it is, we have the name Chesters and the termination chcster, a camp, to indicate the military character of the Roman occupation. Celtic place-names in the Border district are numerous, and have been divided by Professor Yeitch into three classes— namely, Old Celtic, Gaelic, and Cymric. Of the last two, Gaelic forms are found to be rare and Cymric plentiful, whence is inferred a certain local continuity of the Cymric people. Among the old Celtic roots are ard, signifying high —identical with Orde, the name of a high-lying district near Stobo, and recurring in the Peeblesshire compounds of urd; and the very common glen, dal or dale (though this is also a Scandinavian word), dun, hill, loch, and pol, pool, as in Polmood. These and some other later words of Celtic origin would seem to have been adopted by the later Teutonic settlers in the district, and embodied in their language. Among the rare purely Gaelic place-words occur drum, a ridge—as in Drummelzier; kin, head, in Kingeldores; knock hill, in Knock Knowe. The Cymric forms include cacr, a walled place; lin, a waterfall, or pool at the foot of one (Lyne, Linton); pen, a head, as in Penchrise; cors, a bog; craig, rock; cairn, heap; ros, moor; all, cliff; tor, projecting rock (Torwoodlee); man, a place or district; and Ire, a dwelling-place—all save the last two words specially serviceable in a hill country. The remaining majority of local land-names are referable to Teutonic sources—this designation being understood to include not only the Anglo-Saxon but also the Scandinavian element in our nomenclature, an element held by Professor Veitch to have been hitherto under-estimated. He attests a large admixture of Scandinavian words in the vernacular of the Borders, pointing out amongst these, as denoting places of particular kinds, the words dale, haugh, a place of pasture; gait, when it means a road ; byre, a cowhouse ; myre, a bog; shiel, a hovel; fell and rig in a hill country, and also possibly dod, signifying a hill, and hope, a sloping hollow between hills. From the frequent occurrence of these words in composition he is led to infer the existence on Tweedside of a larger Scandinavian population than has hitherto been supposed; whilst from their distribution he argues that this population was found in greatest strength in the higher and wilder parts of the Tweed valleys. In order to account for this, he supposes the Northmen to have spread northward from Cumberland and Dumfries — where traces of them are still more frequent — penetrating by the vales of Esk and Liddel to the watershed of the Cheviots and the heights about the head of Ettrick, and thence finding their way up Annandale, and passing into the vale of Yarrow and the district of the southern feeders of the Tweed. And in support of this view it is stated that a marked physical resemblance to the Norse type has been observed among the inhabitants of these regions.

Last and most numerous of all are the land-names conferred by the Anglo-Saxon branch of the Teutonic family; and just as the Celtic land-names, when resolved into their component parts and traced to their origins, suggest visions of hill life, so do these call up pictures of the settlement of the valleys. Probably the paramount idea revealed by them is that of isolation—of a fencing off by each man of his own. In this connection, first among them are the tuns, met with, for example, in Roberton and Eddleston—the word tun signifying originally a hedge, then an enclosure, and hence a yard, farm, dwelling. On the Borders it is still used in this derived sense, the word “ town ” being there applied to farm-buildings. Then there are the hamcs or hams—such as Ednam, Oxnam, and Midlem, or Middleham—from name, a covering, hence a house; the wicks, as in Hawick, Borthwick, Dawick—wick signifying a dwelling-place; the worths or villages, and the boroughs or walled places, both of which are seen in the successive names of the town of Jedburgh. There is also hall— from heal, a stone—a house of stone, as in Hallrule; and cote, a clay cottage, as in Hoscote. Among words more directly applicable to the land, as distinct from dwellings, are ridding, a cleared woodland, fold, an enclosure made by felled trees, croft, enclosed cropped land, and haigh, a hedge, and hence hedged ground. Then among our local hill terms, the Anglo-Saxons have given us law, the commonest of all; swire, a dip or hollow on the top of a hill—as in the celebrated Reedswire, the passage from Roxburghshire into Reed Water; cleuch, a hollow between steep banks, and hcugh; among woodland terms, shcnv, and dene, a wooded hollow; and among terms relating to streams, burn, water, and ford. More might be added, but these, with their compounds, will suffice to show the predominance throughout the Border counties of land-names of Anglo-Saxon derivation.

From Border land-names we now turn to the closely allied subject of names of Border landowners—closely allied, for, by the usual practice, the name of the owner is derived from that of his land. This rule, however, does not apply to the pre-Norman period—the land under the Celts being held not by the individual, but by the tribe; whilst under the Anglo-Saxons we have instances—such as in Eddleston for Eadulfs-ton, Edgerston, probably for Ecgred’s-ton, and Maxton for Maccus’-ton — of names given on a principle exactly the reverse of that of the Normans. It was not, however, until the twelfth century that surnames came into use in Scotland, and not until the thirteenth that they became at all general. At that period some of the Norman barons who came northward brought with them surnames which they had taken from their estates in Normandy, and it is to this class that the names of the great benefactors of the Border abbeys, as revealed by Church documents of the time, chiefly belong. Such names as De Morevil, De Vesci, De Vipont, De Nor-manvil, De Soulis, De Balliol, Avenel, Umfraville, Randolph, were then all-powerful on Tweedside, and it is a remarkable fact that to-day there is scarce one of them which still lingers there even in tradition. One or two may perhaps have been transformed, as De Vesci is said to have been transformed into Veitch ; the rest have entirely passed away. Besides the above, there were other names assumed by Normans from lands granted to them in this country—as De Ridale or Riddel, De Haddon, De Witun or Whitton, De Molle—some of which have lasted longer than those brought from abroad. Still the fact remains that the names now most conspicuous upon the Border are not of Norman origin, whence it may be inferred that families belonging to the Anglo-Saxon or Celtic substratum of the population in the twelfth or thirteenth century have worn better than their superiors.

We may here devote a page or two to the origin or early mention of some of these names. Beginning with Scott, we find that pleasantly garrulous veteran, Satchells, relating how, towards the end of the tenth century, the first of the Border Scotts, expelled from Galloway in consequence of a riot, arrived at the keeper’s house in Rankleburn, and there winding upon a horn, with his single companion, made the keeper conceive that they were “better keepers than he”

Soon afterwards the king, Kenneth III., came that way hunting. A buck was started, which, by taking advantage of the steep and boggy nature of the ground, distanced all but footmen and the hounds. At length, when it turned at bay before the latter, near the Water of Rankleburn, Scot, who was foremost in the chase, caught it by the horn, and casting it alive upon his back, brought it to the king, who rewarded his prowess by committing the forest and the deer in it to his charge :—

“And for the buck thou stoutly brought
To us up that steep heugh,
Thy designation ever shall
Be John Scot of Bucks cleuch.”

This story is now classed with that which traces the origin of the Scottish nation to Scotta, daughter of one of the Pharaohs. But even in the present day—when perhaps the chief risk run by the historian is that of doubting too much—we may at least accept that part of the tale, warranted as it is by inherent probability, which traces the origin of the family to Galloway. The Scots came from the west. Maxwell gives the meaning of the word, written scuite, as “wanderer ”;whilst Innes3 supposes that it may have come to be applied as a surname to Scotsmen who had left their own country and wandered into England. Sir William Fraser4 contents himself with saying that the name is obviously derived from the nationality of those who bore it, and is certainly of high antiquity, but that it is difficult to determine at what time it became a family name. Uchtred filius Scot, who signed as a witness to David’s Inquest regarding the see of Glasgow about 1116, is probably the first member of the family known to history, and the fact that Uchtred is a Galloway name tends to strengthen the probability of a Galwegian origin. The earliest historical habitation of the leading branch of the fanrly is not, however, at Buccleuch or Balcleuch, in Selkirkshire, but at Scotstoun in Kirkurd, in Peeblesshire, and their earliest recorded burials were in the Church of the Holy Cross at Peebles, erected in 1261. The first member of the family to be styled Lord of Buccleuch was Sir Walter Scott of Kirkurd, in the middle of the fifteenth century.

The service rendered in verse by Satchells to the “honourable name” of Scot was performed in prose for the house of Douglas by Hume of Godscroft. His story of the origin of the family is to the effect that in the reign of Solvathius, whom he dates 767, a certain noble, by lending valuable aid. at a crucial moment, turned the tide of battle against an insurgent and would-be usurper. When the fight was over, the king, inquiring to whom he owed the day, was answered in Irish, “To yonder black-grey man.” The warrior thereupon received large grants from his sovereign, and was thenceforth known by the name of Sholto Dhu-glas. For this story the author claims the authority not only of tradition but of a manuscript “ of great antiquity ” as well; notwithstanding which, it may be dismissed as an essay in the school of Boece — the more readily that the form of words on which so much depends is said by Gaelic scholars to be impossible. The fact is that the word was in use as a place-name before it came to be borne by a family. Its meaning is “dark water,” from the Gaelic dubh glas, the exact equivalent of the Saxon “ black burn,” and it was first adopted by holders of lands on the Douglas Water in southwest Lanarkshire. The Douglases were thus in-comers in the Border, where the first historical mention of the name occurs between 1174 and 1199, when William of Douglas witnesses a charter in favour of the monks of Kelso.1 The family rose into distinction with Wallace and Bruce in the War of Independence, and for a hundred and fifty years were practically all-powerful in Scotland.

The name of Ker is first heard of in Peeblesshire. In the reign of William the Lion, about the year 1200, steps were taken to fix the boundaries of Stobo, a property of the see of Glasgow, and among the signatures of witnesses to the deed in which these are recorded appears the name of Johannes Ker, the hunter, at Swynhope.2 This signatory Professor Veitch takes to be a Briton, deriving his name from caer, a fort, and he further points out that Caersman, the place of the fort, still exists in Swinehope or Soonhope. Though thus apparently of the old native stock, the Kers seem to have been admitted to the privileges of the predominant race, for they rose into prominence side by side with their hereditary enemies the Scotts. The family of the present main representatives of the name was ennobled by James VI. in 1599, and raised to the Dukedom of Roxburghe rather more than a hundred years later, for services rendered in bringing about the Union.

Of the two great Liddesdale names, Armstrong and Elliot, neither is of remarkable antiquity on the Border. Armstrong, the Norman Fortinbras—an instance of a name assumed from a personal attribute—does not occur in connection with Liddesdale until 1376. But the clan soon made up for lost time, for after this they increased so fast that during the sixteenth century, in the plain words of their synonymous historian, “they were compelled to seize on any waste lands in the neighbourhood,” and thus occupied not only a large portion of the Debatable Land, but also spread into Ebkdale, Ewes-dale, Wauchopedale, and Annandale. The name of Elliot can be traced back in Liddesdale no further than to the end of the fifteenth century,1 whence perhaps has arisen the tradition that the clan was originally seated at the village of Ellet, in Forfarshire, and was transplanted thence by the Earl of Angus, about the time of James I., with a view to strengthening the Douglas influence on the Border. Mr George Elliot has examined judicially the evidence on which this story rests, and finding that it too depends on a supposed identity of the name of the family with that of the village, which identity does not exist —the former being anciently written Elwald, Elwood, and Eliot, the latter Alith and Alycht —concludes to reject it. The remarks of the same writer upon the subsequent career of the clan, until its history as such may be said to end with the pacification of the Borders under James VI., are also to the point, and worth quoting for their historic fairness of view. During the sixteenth century the Elliots played a prominent part in Border history. “Neither more nor less lawless than their neighbours on both sides, they led the life characteristic of most natives of border lands, where plundering the enemy is held an honourable calling. In the political strifes, whether internal or external, from which Scotland was seldom free, their aid was eagerly sought by the contending parties, and though not always particular as to which side they took, they had the name of being more hostile to the English than any other clan. . . . And generally, if sharing the evil reputation which attached to the Borderers in the eyes of more peaceful citizens, they showed at least that they belonged to a race endowed with courage, determination, and endurance.” The same writer also bears witness to the Scandinavian characteristics of these hill-men noted above.

Though surnames came into general use, as has been said, during the thirteenth century, the practice of designating by “by-names” lingered on the Borders until a much later date. Thus in a list of the Border clans printed in 1603, we read, after the name of the Laird of Mangerton, “the Laird’s Jok,” “Christie o’ the Syde,” and so on. Though the chronology does not quite tally^the Laird’s Jock was probably the hero of Scott’s fine tale, and in the interesting map, dated 1590, of the “Opposite Border of Scotland to the West Marches of England,” his land is marked with that name. The calling of local lairds by the names of their estates has not yet quite died out upon the Borders, whilst among the fishing and semi-gipsy populations the by-name is still the mode of designation in general use. If we may trust the Ettrick Shepherd, clans as well as individuals had their nicknames. He cites the rough - riding Riddels, red - wud Rutherfords, touzy Turnbulls, copper-nosed Kers, doughty Douglases, hurkle - backit (crook - backed) Hendersons, hard - rackle  Homes, dorty Dunbars, proud Pringles, and strait - laced Somervilles. But the Shepherd’s luxuriant fancy makes us suspicious of his guidance in matters historical.

Beside the surname, an appurtenance of feudalism which became naturalised in Britain at about this time was the castle. In the words of the English Chronicle, the Normans “wrought castles throughout the land.” Of these, on the other side the Border, the Conqueror’s keep at Newcastle, and that of the oppressor Flambard at Norham, were doubtless designed to check incursions on the part of the Scots; whilst Wark, Alnwick, and Carlisle, which had opened their gates to David on the occasion of his march southward to support the claims of his niece, as well as Bamborough, whi^h had withstood him, had also probably castles of the newer type. In the reign of William the Lion, King John endeavoured to build a castle at Tweedmouth, in order to strike at the shipping-trade of Scotland through its centre at Berwick; but this was prevented by the Scots. Norman innovations generally took longer to reach Scotland, but we .know that the chief abodes of royalty from the time of Da\id I. to the death of Alexander III. were the castles of Roxburgh, Peebles, and Traquair, whence are dated many of the most ancient and important of State papers.

Roxburgh has been already spoken of. In a ‘ Brevis De-scriptio Regni Scotie,’ dated about 1296, it and Jedburgh are the castles of Teviotdale. The Castle of Peebles, which must not be confounded with that of Neidpath, and of which no traces remain, occupied a strong position at the highest point of the peninsula dividing Tweed and Eddleston, at the head of the present High Street, and a little behind where the parish church now stands. It seems to have been dismantled by Bruce lest it should be turned to the purposes of the enemy, and it is only after this event that the name is formally applied to Neidpath.1 Of the ancient Castle of Traquair, a remnant now forms the northern portion of that quaint and romantic mansion which is generally considered to be the oldest inhabited dwelling in Scotland. Of David’s castle at Jedburgh, which commanded the entrance to the burgh at the “town-head,” as little trace now remains as of that of Peebles; whilst of his Castle of Selkirk the very site is now a matter of uncertainty, though Mr Craig-Brown shows good reasons for placing it on the Peel Hill. Of course the character of these castles cannot now be determined, and from the total and comparatively early disappearance of those of Peebles and Selkirk, it may perhaps be argued that they conformed to the older type, being formed of wood and wattles, and rudely fortified with earthworks.

It was a part of the policy of David and his successors to discourage the pastoral and migratory habits which they found in Scotland, and to lead the attention of the nobles and people to a settled life and to agriculture, and hence we may be sure that the royal castles were not the only ones now springing up throughout the Border country. At the same time, we must be on our guard against exaggerating the progress made in this direction. The process of supersession of the older by the newer type of castle was a gradual one, and if, as is thought, the early “ mote ”—of which our district shows an example at Hawick—was in use in England at least as late as the time of the Conquest, it is probable that in Scotland it lingered still later. Thus in thinking of the castles of the period, it is desirable to keep the process of their evolution in view. Of the Border castles which now remain as ruins, some may no doubt have lost their outer walls, but, excepting Roxburgh, there is no ground for supposing that any of them were on what, judged by the English standard, would be considered a large scale. Hermitage, the best preserved of them—a building of sufficient importance to be judged a main cause of war1—is believed by Hill Burton to be “about the oldest baronial building in Scotland,” and dates from the reign of Alexander II.

The most distinctive form of Border fortress was, however, not the castle, but the “ peel,” of which specimens, in more or less ruinous condition, stud the district to this day. These specimens represent, however, its later form, which consisted of a strong compact tower—a reduced copy of the Norman keep—protected by a wooden palisade, which was known as the “barmkyn,” and corresponded to the “ fortified enclosure.” The purpose of the peel was to afford a place of safety in times of disturbance, not only for the inhabitants of a district, but for their cattle and goods as well; and as in the case of the castle, its later form had been arrived at through intermediate stages. In a monograph devoted to the subject,2 Mr George Neilson has shown how, beginning as a mere moated and palisaded enclosure, it came at a later time to be strengthened and rendered incombustible by being daubed with clay, and having earth and turves piled round it—a form to which the author assigns a date as late as the fourteenth century. This discovery of the evolution of the building enables him to derive the word “peel”—heretofore a puzzle to antiquaries—from the French pel Latin palus, a stake. Records of the building of peels of the early type go back, as he tells us, to the time of Edward I., at which period one amongst several was constructed at Selkirk, probably on the site of the castle, which may have been even at that time already demolished.

Under a king so nobly distinguished as David I. for encouragement of all that made towards civilisation, so important an agency as the towns had naturally not been neglected. But if David is to be regarded as the creator of their free population, it is perhaps to the reign of the younger of his grandsons that their definite incorporation must be specially referred. The germ of municipal self-government was, indeed, of much more ancient origin, so that the very charters of erection and incorporation reveal the existence of bodies already “enjoying some definite constitution or government” which had survived from the Roman period. But it is not until the thirteenth century that we meet with such an institution as the Court or Parliament of the Four Burghs — of which Roxburgh was one — presided over by the chamberlain of the kingdom, possessing a code of laws of its own, and sitting for the purposes of regulating trade and burgh affairs, and of advising the Crown officer in burgh cases appealed from his court. Roxburgh seems to have been one of those burghs which, springing up round a royal castle, had in time been taken under the royal protection, and had its rights recognised and defined by a charter. Kelso, Jedburgh, and Selkirk are, on the other hand, examples of burghs grown up round the nucleus of the monasteries.

It is regrettable that the early charters of the Border burghs, unlike those of the Border abbeys, have not been preserved, and that thus we are deprived of documentary evidence regarding the creation and early history of the burghs. Some light is cast on the loss of these records in the earliest charter preserved at Selkirk, where, in consideration of their destruction by “assaults of war, pestilence, fire,” and of the consequent cessation of the usages of trade among the burgesses—“ to the great hurt of them and of the commonweal,” and to the prejudice of the king in the matter of customs—James V., in 1535, infiefs the burgh anew to the burgesses and community. .This he does, to quote the charter, “in free burgh, with the commons and possessions belonging to the same, with power of electing bailies, of holding a fair annually on St Lawrence Day and during the octave thereof, with court-house, prison, power of holding burgh courts, and with liberty to buy and sell vine, wax, ale, spices, broad and narrow woollen and linen, and other merchandise whatsoever, and of having bakers, brewers, vendors of fish and flesh, as freely and in the same manner as any other burgh within the kingdom: To hold of the Crown in fee and heritage and free burgage for ever, for the payment of the burgh fermes and other duties, use and wont as in times past.”

In default of particular information respecting the early history of the Border burghs, we are compelled to fall back on such as is of a general character. From this we may infer that some such charter as that quoted above formed the basis of the liberties of each one of them. Originally, in the case of a royal burgh, each burgher would pay a fixed yearly rent to the king’s officer, who also collected the fines paid in the burghal courts, and the custom-dues which were paid on nearly all articles brought to market. Later on these rents, fines, and dues were farmed to leaseholders, known as propositi (provosts) or ballivi (bailies), who were responsible for them to the Crown. In 1327 Roxburgh paid 20 and Peebles 23, 16s. 8d., which rents were equalised in 1332, and raised to ^26, 13s. 4d. Besides the sources of revenue enumerated above, forests, fisheries, and rabbit-warrens formed valuable possessions of different burghs; whilst each burgh also had its mill, the receipts of which were generally included in the rents farmed by the provosts, who on their part were expected to keep the mill in repair.

We may also presume that these towns, like others of the period, were divided into four wards, each of which was presided over by a bailie, and that they elected a provost annually. The burghers were thus privileged to be judged by magistrates of their own choosing, whilst, on the other hand, they incurred obligations of military defence, and of taking their turn in keeping watch and ward—duties which they appear to have discharged in a most effectual manner. In each of the Border burghs, says Professor Veitch, the “jowing” of the town bell would at any moment summon to the town cross five hundred men-at-arms, bound together by a sense of common interest in the defence of their property.

Their trade, which was principally in cloth, was strictly protected, the nobles being prohibited from taking part in it; whilst it was also illegal for the neighbouring countrymen to sell the produce of their fields or flocks to any but a burgess. The social status of the burgess was good, though it is true that he does not seem to have sat in the Assembly of the country before 1326, when the principle of representation accompanying taxation was recognised, perhaps for an isolated occasion, by his presence. Still his trade was looked up to, and he seems to have prided himself on becoming the benefactor of the local religious establishments. With the baronage he was on friendly terms, and his assimilation into their class was not unknown. Sometimes, also, a feudal lord, instead of the representative of a town, would become the farmer of its rents, as did Thomas of Charteris in the case of Roxburgh from 1329 to 1331, and also i that of Selkirk. In thinking of the burgesses of this time, however, it is necessary to remember that they were in most cases men of alien birth — the majority being probably Flemings, who had first brought their industry and trading habits to the English market, and afterwards, on the banishment of foreigners by Henry II., had betaken themselves northward.

Cosmo Innes has spoken in terms of enthusiastic praise of the part contributed by these townsmen in forming the national character and winning the free institutions of the country; and the same historian, though not usually much addicted to picturesqueness of detail, has left a landscape of a Scottish town of the thirteenth century which we may here do well to quote.

After speaking of the exports of wool, hides, and salmon, he tells us that “ our fancy burgh ” consists but of one straggling street. This conducts us to the ditch and drawbridge of a turreted castle, which the king has built for the protection of his burgesses, whom he greatly cherishes. “ The houses of the burghers are low, but built of stone, with tall gables to the street, thatched and warm. Half-way up the street, and with a little space around it, stands the small squat church which has been lately built, of stone, after the new fashion. Not far from the church is the town hall, where the burghers meet to take counsel; the cross, for royal and burghal solemnities ; the tron, or weigh - house; the tolbooth, where toll and custom dues are taken; the jail and stocks, for repressing the contumacious rather than for punishment, which was summary. Beside the river stand mills of more than one kind, some for corn, and others for dressing cloths and skins, driven by the stream by means of a simple machinery.” Upon this model we are at liberty to reconstruct for ourselves the Border burghs of the period.

Having now touched on a few points which may serve to illustrate life on the Borders during that most important period which is comprised by the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it remains to bring the narrative of events up to the end of that time; and that narrative, in so far as it concerns ourselves, is the history of the struggle for the northern counties of England.

At the date of David’s death the great northern fiefs which he claimed in right of his wife, Matilda, daughter of Earl Waltheof of Northumberland, had been, as it seemed, securely annexed to the private property of the Scottish crown. The sphere of David’s influence, if not of his actual dominion, had extended as far as Skipton in Yorkshire; and had the internal circumstances of the two kingdoms remained relatively what they were, there is little doubt that not the Tweed but the Tyne, or even the Tees, would have formed henceforth the southern boundary of Scotland. But with the accession to the English throne of a new and unscrupulous sovereign, having no ground to fear that his title would be disputed, came a demand for the restitution of the northern fiefs—a demand which, though made in defiance of old obligations, the young Scottish king, Malcolm IV., found himself not strong enough to resist. Thus the three northern counties, with the castles of Carlisle, Bamhorough, and Newcastle-on-Tyne, were given up to the English. Malcolm died at the age of four-and-twenty, but the recollection of the lost fiefs long continued to rankle in the minds of his successors, and when in 1173 William the Lion received overtures from the rebellious eldest son of Henry II., a bribe of Northumberland and Cumberland easily induced him to aid the revolt of that prince. He crossed the Border with a great army, and having successively and fruitlessly invested Wark and Carlisle, had extended his depredations into Yorkshire, when he found himself compelled to retreat before the forces of the elder Henry, under De Lucy and De Bohun, who proceeded to carry the war into Scotland. Their advance was in its turn checked by tidings of the landing on the English coast of an army of Flemings, commanded by the Earl of Leicester, a partisan of the younger Henry. A truce was obtained, which allowed the English army to withdraw to face the new danger, and this truce was afterwards extended, at a meeting held at Redden between the Scottish king and the Bishop of Durham, until Easter 1174, in consideration of which the Northumbrian barons paid William 300 marks.

When the time came for resuming hostilities, William again crossed the Border. But after capturing Appleby and Brough, and the castles of Liddel Moat, Warkworth, and Harbottle, and investing Prudhoe and Carlisle, he found it expedient to fall back before the Yorkshire barons. When drawing near the Border once more, he left the command of his army to lieutenants, and was on his way home with a small escort when he was surprised and taken prisoner by a party of the enemy, who had overtaken him by a forced march, and whose approach had been covered by a fog. At the time of the surprise he was engaging in a tilting-match with his friends, in a meadow near Alnwick Castle, and was therefore entirely unprepared; but the triumph of valdur over discretion in his impetuous nature drove him to charge the enemy —an act of rashness for which his kingdom and its Estates were required to pay the penalty of fifteen years’ servitude.

The capture of the king was the signal for the dispersal of the Scottish troops, and when his ransom came to be arranged, the cession of five castles, of which Roxburgh and Jedburgh were two, was demanded as a guarantee that its conditions would be observed. Of these, however, only the former seems actually to have changed hands—receiving an English garrison, but being maintained at the Scottish king’s expense. In 1188 William offered to pay 4000 silver marks for its restitution, together with that of the Castle of Berwick; but Henry, who at the time was raising funds for a crusade, demanded the tenths of the kingdom. William was prepared to comply with this demand, but his nobles and clergy, assembled at Birgham to meet Henry’s ambassadors, scouted the idea, and thus it was not until the independence of Scotland was restored by Coeur de Lion, in circumstances generally known, that the castles were given back.

The tenacity of purpose with which the Scottish king pursued the recovery of his lost patrimony, as represented by the northern counties, is shown by the fact that during the brief reign of Richard I. they were three times made the subject of international negotiation. On the second of these occasions,

Richard was willing to grant the earldoms though not the castles—to yield, that is, ‘‘the pecuniary hut not the political advantages” of the fief. But this proposal did not satisfy William. Then, on the death of the lion-hearted king, the disputed title of his successor afforded an opportunity of reviving old demands which the Scottish claimant eagerly embraced, threatening if necessary to enforce them with the sword. John met him, characteristically, with temporising measures, and circumstances combining in John’s favour, William’s opportunity was allowed to lapse. And though the matter was again brought forward at the State meeting of the two kings at Lincoln, its settlement was yet again, and so far as we know finally, postponed.

John’s attempt to build a castle at Tweedmouth has been mentioned already. More than once renewed, and as often frustrated, it came near to provoke a rupture between him and William, though for the time things went no further than an exchange of high words, which took place at a meeting at Norham in 1204. Five years later, when other causes had conspired with his dissatisfaction at the frustration of his castle scheme, John marched northward with an army, summoning William, who, in expectation of his advance, had taken up a strong position near Roxburgh, to meet him at Newcastle. The illness of the Scottish king prevented a settlement at that time of the matters in dispute, and when he was well again William sent a defiant message to his aggressor. Bad health and anxiety had, however, tamed his fiery spirit, so that when news of John’s advance reached him at Traquair, he had already yielded to second thoughts and was glad to make a treaty, among the con ditions of which he undertook to pay 15,000 marks for his fiefs and privileges, John on his part agreeing that the proposed castle at Tweedmouth should not be built. Then, in 12io, William’s son, Alexander, did homage at Alnwick for all the fiefs held by his father of the English Crown; and two years later, after the renewal of an insurrection in the northern part of his kingdom, William, again meeting John at Norham, was fain still further to depart from his original course of conduct by making yet closer alliance with him.

The object which had lain so near to William’s heart, and had cost him so much, was, however, not lost sight of by his son, so that in 1215, when the English barons levied war upon their king, a bribe of the northern counties induced Alexander to espouse their cause. He accordingly crossed the Border, and on the 19th October laid siege to Norham Castle. The siege lasted forty days, and notwithstanding that the entire force of the Scottish army was brought to bear on it, proved unsuccessful. Whilst it was in progress, the king received at Felton the homage of the Northumbrian barons, and by the presentation of a white wand at the hand of his brother-in-law, Eustace de Vesci, was formally put in possession of the three northern counties. In the beginning of the next year the approach of John with a formidable army drove the barons of Yorkshire to seek the aid of Alexander, to whom they did homage in the chapter - house of Melrose. Meantime the English king was sweeping onward, vowing vengeance for his outraged authority, so that in the six days between January 11 and January 16 he burnt the towns of Wark, Alnwick, Mitford, Morpeth, and Roxburgh, besides many villages. His army was reinforced by ruthless mercenary Riders from Flanders and Brabant, and he is even said to have brought professional torturers, of the Jewish race, in his train. Certainly he practised diabolical cruelties, hanging up men and women by the hands and feet, and putting them to other torments; whilst he showed his own personal malevolence by each morning firing with his own hand the house in which he had rested the night before. In this manner did he threaten to “ bolt the little red fox from his lair.”

Fear of famine, however, compelled him to withdraw without coming to a collision; whereupon Alexander retaliated by devastating Cumberland, subsequently capturing Carlisle town. Afterwards, in conjunction with the barons of the Charter, he marched through the length and breadth of England to Dover, to do homage to the French pnnce Louis, as suzerain of his English fiefs, with whom and the insurgent barons he allied himself closely, his title to the northern counties being recognised by them.5 On the way home he took the Castle of Carlisle, which had held out when the town was taken,6 and destroyed the castle at Tweedmouth, which seems to have been rebuilt by John on the occasion of his recent expedition into Scotland. In 1217, in pursuance of his engagements with Louis, he laid siege to Mitford Castle, but in the uncertain state of parties at the time did not prosecute the siege. A threat of retaliation by the wardens of the English marches, who had been in John’s interest, led him, however, again to raise an army for the defence of his southern frontier. But he had not advanced beyond Jedburgh when he heard of the peace between Louis and Henry III., a clause in which had been made to include himself, subject to his restoring his conquests made in the late war. Carlisle was accordingly given up, and peace was made, Alexander doing homage in the usual manner, and receiving investiture of his English fiefs.

By the terms of William’s treaty with John, made at Norham in 1212, it had been arranged that suitable husbands should be provided for the Scottish princesses — sisters of the present king—who had then been committed to English keeping; and as this had not yet been done, though the stipulated period of six years had expired, Alexander laid the case before the Pope. The result was a conference held at Norham between Alexander, Pandulf the papal legate, and a representative of the King of England, which ultimately led not only to the marriage of the princesses, but to that of Alexander himself with Henry’s sister Joanna. Among the lands settled by him on his queen on that occasion were those of Jed worth and Lessudden, with their dependencies.

The husband chosen for the Princess Margaret was Hubert de Burgh, Chief Justiciary of England, and as long as he remained all - powerful, relations between the two countries continued friendly. But when he had been dismissed from office, and his place taken by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, who had been John’s chief adviser, this state of matters underwent a change. The see of York had never ceased to hanker after supremacy over the Scottish Church, and in 1233 the archbishop of the time thought fit to revive the controversy on that subject by the advance of certain claims. Appeal to Rome produced a letter in which the Pope, with whom Henry was a favourite, pressed upon Alexander the English claims to superiority, political as well as ecclesiastical. The Scottish king had hitherto shown himself peacefully disposed towards England, having refrained from turning its internal dissensions to his own advantage. But in self-defence he now met the English demands by a revival of his old claims to the northern counties. It may be remembered that the present position of that disputed matter was as follows: In the time of John, William the Lion had been understood to waive his claims, on condition of the marriage of one of his daughters with the prince who was now Henry III. But this condition had not been carried out; and though during the civil war Alexander’s title had been recognised by Louis and the revolted barons, it had not been ratified by the present king. The time was now come when this vexed question, so long held in suspense and so frequently revived, was to be at last disposed of. After a conference at Newcastle in 1236, it was agreed at a council held at York in the following year that, in consideration of receiving a grant of lands,—afterwards specified as those of Penrith and Tynedale,—the King of Scotland should finally renounce his claims to the three counties. It was further provided that the lands in question should be held feudally, and not “in property”—the condition of tenure of the Penrith fiefs being the delivery of a falcon yearly, on the Feast of the Assumption, to the Constable of Carlisle Castle. Tynedale was held simply by homage, and carried with it rights of administering justice. From his acceptance of such terms it seems evident that Alexander was weary of the dispute, and had lost expectation of securing a better bargain. About two years later, being now a widower, he married at Roxburgh Mary de Couci, daughter of a French nobleman, who at the same place in 1241 gave birth to a son, afterwards Alexander III.

Once again during this reign relations between England and Scotland became strained, a rupture being barely avoided. Before this, however, Henry had fulfilled his part of the Treaty of York by handing over the lands bargained for, and had even shown his confidence in Alexander by intrusting the English marches to his care during his own absence on a military expedition against France. This looked fair enough; and the threatened outbreak of hostilities, in fact, owed its origin to a private feud, in which Walter Bisset, a powerful Scottish baron, had murdered, or caused to be murdered, Patrick of Galloway, Earl of Atholl. The reprisals which followed drove Bisset to the English Court, where, possessing himself of Henry’s ear, he artfully poisoned the king’s mind against Alexander. The ground of offence assigned by Fordun is the building of Hermitage Castle by the Scots, on the marches between England and Scotland; but this, as we know, was not the only one. The harbouring of fugitives from justice was also alleged, and Bisset further contrived to make Henry believe that in forfeiting a baron — to wit, himself—without consent of his feudal superior, Alexander had overstept his rights. The upshot was the concentration of the English forces upon Newcastle-on-Tyne, whilst on his part Alexander assembled his army on Caddon-lee, at the junction of Caddon and Tweed, in Selkirkshire. Matthew Paris describes the Scottish force as numbering 100,000 foot and iooo horse, well mounted upon native horses, the knights well protected by armour, and the whole animated by a spirit of patriotism and loyalty to their upright and pious king. With this army Alexander crossed the Border, and intrenched himself at Ponteland, within a short distance of the enemy. He had reason to expect the support of the barons of Northumberland, and all seemed ready for the fray, when, by the mediation of the Archbishop of York and of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, Henry’s brother, a contest was happily averted. By the ensuing Treaty of Newcastle, the two kings bound themselves never to wage war against each other except in self-defence. Five years after this, in 1249, Alexander, dying on the island of Kerrera, was laid to rest with regal honours in the Abbey of Melrose, which he had chosen as his burial-place.

Two transactions affecting the Borders remain to be noticed under this reign. These were, first, an attempt to fix the Border line, and, later, a conference having for its object to enunciate and enforce the Border laws. In 1222 there was appointed a joint commission, consisting of six representatives of either kingdom, whose business was to mark off the limits of the two countries, proceeding, as is noticeable, on the lines of ascertaining their ancient boundaries. The commissioners were on the English side certain knights of Northumberland, and on the Scots side the Justiciary of Lothian, the Earl of Dunbar, and others. Observing the due courtesies on meeting, and beginning at Carham, they were to proceed to Howdean, near Jedburgh; but, failing to agree, they were reappointed, and began their work again at Reddenburn, in the parish of Sprouston, practically the same place as before. Thence the English commissioners traced to White Law, lying to the south-east of Yetholm, but here the Scots again differed from them, and after a protest on the part of the English, the attempt to arrive at a decision was given up. From the existence after this of the tract of country known as the Debatable land, it would seem that the labours of the commission were not renewed. But in touching White Law, the Border line as at present marked in Ordnance Survey maps bears out the English commissioners of 1222.

The first code of Border laws—as drawn up by a committee composed of eleven Northumbrian and as many Scots knights, presided over by the sheriffs of Northumberland, Roxburgh, and Berwick, and assembled on the Borders some three months before the death of Alexander II.—may be studied in the *Leges Marchiarum’ of William Nicholson, Bishop of Carlisle, printed in 1705. The names of the English knights there given are Robert de Clifford, Robert son of Ralph, Robert Malesante, Robert de Ulfester, William de Burnvile, William de Scremeston, William de Herington, Robert de Glendale, Sampson de Coupland, William de Cookperte, and Henry son of Godfrey, also called Henry Jafreson, of Porse-week. Those of the Scottish are Adam de Earth, Ralph de Boukle, William de Northinton, Robert Bernham, the Mayor of Berwick, Adam de Norham, Henry son of Walden, Henry de Brade, Richard Holkerton, Robert de Durham, Aymer de Emsley, and Adam de Newbigginn. Their enactments, of which some are extremely curious, consist of thirteen articles, the subjects principally dealt with being judicial trials, the recovery of debts and stolen property, and the surrender of fugitive bondsmen.

In the first place, it is provided that no Scottish subject, charged with homicide or any other crime committed in England, shall be summoned to answer for it anywhere but on the marches between the two kingdoms. If the accused dwelt above the river Rede, he was to appear at Ridingburn; if in Redesdale or Coquetdale, at Campaspeth, the precise locality of which cannot, I believe, now be determined. Excepting the kings of the two countries and the bishops of St Andrews and Dunkeld, all men dwelling “between Totnes and Caithness” were liable to be called to the marches to decide their differences by combat or trial. With the same exceptions, to which are added the king’s heirs, all claimants in international claims are bound to give their oaths in person. In the case of claims against the sovereigns, the King of England might be represented by his standard-bearer or the Constable of his army, the King of Scotland by the prior of the sanctuary of Wedale. In a quarrel touching life or limb, a deputy might be sent, but only with the consent of the opposite party; and failing this consent, if the principal did not appear in person to give his oath, his cause was lost for ever. The Seventh Clause is a curious one. It provides that in case the defendant in a plea affecting life or limb should die whilst awaiting trial, his body is to be carried to the marches at the time appointed for the trial, because no man can be essoigned, or excused for non-appearance, by death.

One whose property had been stolen and carried over the Border might recover it by oath, of himself and six others, made in the court of the lord on whose ground the stolen article was found. But in the event of the person in whose possession it was found claiming it as his own, the case was to be determined on the marches. The Eleventh Clause is extremely puzzling. It seems to provide that in a case of alleged theft of an animal, there was a desire to avoid a trial, the accused might bring the horse, or pig, or cow to the Tweed or Esk, where either formed the boundary of the kingdoms, and drive it into the water. Then, if it sank before reaching mid-stream, the accused paid forfeit; whilst the inference of one writer is that if it swam across it went to the claimant, but if it returned it remained with the possessor.

A bondsman fleeing from one country to the other might be recaptured and brought back, on the oath of the pursuer, if pursued within forty days of the time of his crossing the marches. But if not pursued within that time, he could not be recovered without a warrant from the king to whose kingdom he had fled. A malefactor who had crossed the Border, passing from one district to another and desiring protection, might obtain it from the sheriff of the locality, and, failing him, by ringing the bells of the first church he came to, he might remain at peace there until the protection of the sheriff could be obtained. Finally, the magistrates of both kingdoms, within and without burghs, had power to distrain in order to enforce observation of these enactments. The Code was repeatedly revised — as in 1449, untiI the Union of the Crowns, it ceased to be required.

It will be remembered that the opening years of Alexander III.’s reign were spent in one of those contests for power, as represented by the custody of a child-king, which were destined to be repeated in Scottish history — a contest which in this case was brought to a climax by a bloodless revolution, or coup-d'etat, enacted at Kelso on the Feast of the Assumption, 1255. We may remind the reader that the chiefs of that party in the State which was favourable to the English influence — a party mainly recruited in the southern districts — were Alan the Durward and the Earl of Dunbar, of whom the former, during a period of disgrace spent in England, had gained considerable ascendancy over King Henry. Thus when, on his return to Scotland, Durward had by ruse obtained possession of his sovereign’s person, his first step was to summon the English king to the Borders. Henry and his queen came to Wark, where the Scottish king and queen, their young daughter and son-in-law, visited them from Roxburgh—whither for greater safety Durward had conveyed them—the little queen, who had not been very happy since her marriage, remaining with her mother, who was unwell. After this Henry crossed the Border, was received with joy by Alexander, and escorted by a great procession to Kelso, where he was entertained to a royal banquet. A conference was held in Kelso Abbey, which resulted in a sweeping change in the regency of the country, the party of Men-teith, which was in power, being to a man set aside, and that of Durward put in its place. The deed embodying this change was signed by Henry at Sprouston, and by Alexander at Roxburgh. This revolution, tending, as of course it did, greatly to strengthen the English influence in the State, was brought about in direct opposition to the will of the country. Wyntoun says of it that—

“Thare wes made swylk ordynans That wes gret grefe and displesans Till off Scotland the three Statis, Burges, barownys, and prelatys.”

And in thus playing into the hands of so shifty a monarch as Henry III., and one who had recently betrayed a hereditary jealousy of Scottish freedom, Durward and his party had, from motives which were largely selfish, exposed their country to a great peril. Their conduct is but partially palliated by the fact that, both at Kelso and again a fortnight later, when the country had had time to become alarmed, and when Henry had reached Newcastle on his return journey, they obtained from him written promises that their king’s independence should be respected.

But the triumph of the successful party was not for long. Their ascendancy did not pass unchallenged; discussions ensued; and when Alexander returned, shortly afterwards, from a visit to his father-in-law, Henry judged it expedient to send with him an emissary having powers to raise the North of England for the restoration of order. Disorder, nevertheless, continued, till at length the dominant party having incurred the censure of the Pope, Menteith, profiting by the circumstance, contrived in his turn to seize the king and carry him to Roxburgh. The outwitted regents now had recourse to Henry, who in response to their entreaty sent envoys to Scotland. They were received at Melrose, and cited to a meeting at Jedburgh next day. But Menteith had every reason to suspect that the real object of the mission was the recapture of the king and his deportation to England, a suspicion which w-as not allayed by tidings of the arrival of Durward’s party with a considerable force at Norham. It was in view of these facts that Jedburgh had been fixed as the meeting-place, for a large part of the Scottish army was already mustered in the neighbouring forest, where it could be reinforced rapidly, and without observation. In order to give time for this, the conference was made to last three w’eeks, at the end of which the envoys could see for themselves that their stratagem must prove abortive. An amicable arrangement was therefore consented to, by the terms of which four of the leaders of either party were appointed, together with the queen - mother and her husband, to assist Alexander in ruling his kingdom. Thus ended a dramatic Border episode, in which two ambitious factions had alternately turned the tables on each other.

After this the scene of events shifts from the Borders. Fordun, indeed, turns aside from the main current of history to chronicle the finding at Peebles, in May 1261, of an ancient cross, of origin unknown, but believed to be connected with the Roman persecution of Christians in Britain. Hard by there was also discovered a stone urn, containing remains of a dismembered human body, and inscribed as the tomb of the Bishop St Nicholas. Miracles came to be performed upon the spot, out of respect for which the king, by advice of the Bishop of Glasgow, had a church erected there. Meantime domestic occurrences—such as the birth of Alexander’s first-born son at Jedburgh, the marriage of that short-lived prince, the drawing up of his sister Margaret's marriage-contract at Roxburgh, and the visit of Prince Edward of England, the future “Hammer of the Scots,” to the same place — show the continued preference of the royal family for the Border district; and it is with such an occurrence that we may now bring this reign and chapter to a close.

In 1285 the desire of an heir induced Alexander, who had now been ten years a widower and had survived his children, to contract a second marriage. The bride was the beautiful Joleta, called also Yolande, a daughter of Count de Dreux, the head of a princely house descended from the kings of France. The ceremony took place on All Saints’ Day at Jedburgh, where a countless throng, including great numbers of Scottish and French nobles, had assembled to witness it. Contemporary chronicles supply abundant evidence that the age was much addicted to pageant and display, and no doubt in this respect the occasion received full justice. Yet there is a suggestion that from the fact of the lady having been previously destined for a cloister the wedding was not looked on as altogether auspicious, and an incident said to have occurred in the midst of the spectacle and rejoicing was certainly not a little disconcerting. At the conclusion of the banquet, and ere the guests had risen from table, musicians ushered a masque into the hall. It consisted of a sort of Pyrrhic dance of armed men. But in the wake of the dancers, gliding and mingling with their motions, came a grisly figure not included in the programme—to wit, a skeleton, representing Death. The gay audience gazed on it in consternation and horror ere it vanished, and the impression left by the sight upon their minds was one of deep dejection and ill omen. Their presentiments were amply fulfilled. On the 19th day of the March following, the wily Rhymer, being then at Dunbar, and having probability not altogether against him, ventured to emit a prophecy that on the morrow, before the twelfth hour, there should be heard “ a blast so vehement that it shall exceed all those that have yet been heard in Scotland.” The Lanercost chronicler says that the 19th had been a singularly tempestuous day. But the 20th was lown ; so the Rhymer’s companions took occasion to twit him with the failure of his prediction. But even as they did so, a messenger arrived to announce the tragic death of the “King of Peace,” as Alexander was fondly nicknamed by his subjects. And, truly, if the event might be measured by the national misfortunes which followed it, the Rhymer’s figurative speech had been in nowise exaggerated.


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