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Ferniehirst Castle
Chapter VII - Family Territories


"Clan Maps" and "Tartan Maps" of Scotland typically show surnames splashed across areas of varying extent, each with its own distinctive colour. This is a gross oversimplification so far as the South of Scotland is concerned, though it may have been valid for some parts of the Highlands until 1745.

In reality there would have been no area where everybody was called Kerr and owed allegiance to Ferniehirst; any more than there was an area where everybody was called Scott and owed allegiance to Buccleuch. Things were a lot more complex, and allegiance was not a straightforward matter of "one man, one Lord" certainly not in the period we are considering.

In the first place, Kerrs, Scotts, Elliots, Rutherfords, Turnbulls and others were inextricably mixed throughout the Central Borders, though in varying proportions from place to place. They were also inextricably intermarried, and with the considerable number of men killed in battle, in raids or on the scaffold at a fairly early age, it was not unlikely that their sons might be brought up by a maternal uncle with another surname and form strong links with his family.

Secondly, the same individual often held various bits and pieces of land from different "superiors", owing allegiance to each of them for the relevant property. (This gave rise to problems if they fought each other, as often happened.)

Thirdly two landowners, not necessarily "superior" and "vassal", but quite possibly equals who found it useful to co-operate, could be linked by a "bond of man-rent" and it was quite feasible for the same individual to have this type of relationship (basically a mutual protection agreement, as we have seen) with several others, who again might choose to fight each other.

"Kerr territory" was therefore the area where the Laird of Ferniehirst could call out more men than anyone else, rather than a vast tract of land which he actually owned. Many of them could also be called out by Scott of Buccleuch or Rutherford of That Ilk, for instance, and the reverse of course applied. Subject to this reservation, and with all the uncertainty this implied, it extended roughly from Lilliards Edge to Carter Bar and frog Crailing to Denholm, with outlying pockets further north and west. There were also Kerrs in Ayrshire and Stirlingshire (among other areas). but Ferniehirst could not usefully have called them out, as any giver emergency would have been long since past when they showed up "late but in earnest".

Map of Family Territories


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