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Borthwick


BORTHWICK, Baron, a title, at present dormant, in the peerage of Scotland, formerly possessed by a family of that name in the county of Edinburgh. Douglas is of opinion that the surname is local, assumed “from lands of that name on Borthwick water, in the county of Selkirk.” The name of the water of Borthwick, like that of most streams in Scotland, is of immemorial antiquity, and like the similar one of Borthoe in Forfarshire, is also of British Celtic origin. It is said, but on no reliable authority, that the ancestor of the noble house of Borthwick was one Andreas, a son of the lord of Burtick in Livonia, who accompanied Edgar Atheling and his two sisters, Margaret, afterwards wife of Malcolm Canmore, and Christina, to Scotland in 1067, and obtaining possession of some lands in this country, settled here. His posterity, accordingly, with some small alteration in the spelling, re stated to have assumed the surname of Borthwick, from the birthplace of their progenitor. The territorial origin of the name is, however, by far the more probable one.

      In the reign of King David the Second, Thomas de Borthwick obtained, probably by excambion, or exchange with his patrimony of Borthwick, some lands near Lauder in Berwickshire, from Robert Lauder of Quarrelwood, and in that of King Robert the Second, Sir William Borthwick was possessor of the lands of Catkune in Edinburghshire, as appears by a charter dated in 1378. These lands he called Borthwick after his own name. On the estate of Harvieston in the parish of Borthwick are the ruins of a very ancient castle, known by the name of the old castle of Catkune, which are traditionally assigned as the seat of the family before it became possessed of the domain of Locherworth. Previous to their assumption of the title of Borthwick of that ilk, they were promiscuously designed as of Catkune, Legertwood, and Herriot-muir.

      During the fifteenth and following centuries, the lords of Borthwick had immense possessions and great influence in that portion of Edinburghshire which now forms the parish of Borthwick, a district famed for its romantic scenery.

      The first Lord Borthwick was Sir William Borthwick of Borthwick, in the reign of James the First; but previous to him there seems to have been two persons of the name of Sir William Borthwick, occupiers of the castle of Catkune. A Sir William de Borthwick is repeatedly mentioned by Rymer in his Foedera, vols. 8 and 9; and Douglas (Peerage, App. vol. ii. page 651.) Enumerates several grants of land, charters, and public appointments held by a personage of this name. About 1387 Sir William de Borthwick witnessed a charter of James, second earl of Douglas and Mar, of the barony of Drumlanrig. In the reign of King Robert the Third, William de Borthwick obtained, from Margaret, countess of Mar and Angus, a charter of the lands of Ludniche and Wester Drumcanachy in the barony of Kirriemuir, Forfarshire. In October and November 1398 Sir William of Borthwic was one of the commissioners on the part of the duke of Rothesay, to conclude a treaty for a truce and the liberation of prisoners, with commissioners on the part of John, duke of Lancaster, at Haudenstank and Clochmabanestane. William Berthewyk, chivaler, was a commissioner to treat with the English 21st December 1400, and had a letter of safe conduct as such into England, 26th April 1401. On 24th August 1404, William de Borthwick, miles, was a commissioner to treat with the English, and again 8th march and 27th August 1405. On the 21st of September the same year William de Borthwick, miles, was one of the hostages for the earl of Douglas, who had been taken prisoner at the battle of Homildon. On 27th April 1409, a safe conduct was granted to William de Borthwick de Lidgertwood, knight, as a commissioner from Scotland to England; and William de Borthwik, miles, was one of the commissioners to treat with the English, 21st April 1410. Robert, duke of Albany, granted a charter, dated 4th June of that year, ‘dilecto nostro Willielmo de Borthwick, militi,’ of the lands of Borthwic and Throftootys in Selkirkshire, on the resignation of Robert Scott, (probably a second excambion by which he resumed the ancient patrimony of the family). On 23d May and 24th September 1411, and 7th August 1413, Sir William de Borthwick was a Commissioner for treating with the English. William, dominus de Borthwick, in the year 1421, was one of the hostages for the return of James the First, when it was proposed that his Majesty should visit Scotland, 31st May of that year, on his parole. A safe conduct was granted to William de Borthwic de eodem, miles, to proceed to England as a commissioner to treat for the release of James the First, 12th May 1423, and to William de Borthwick, dominus de Heriot, to repair to that kingdom to meet his majesty, 13th February 1424. Willielmus Borthwick ejusdam, miles, was one of the jury on the trial of Murdoch, duke of Albany in May 1425.

      Sir William Borthwick, father of the first Lord Borthwick, besides his son, had two daughters; Janet, married, first, to James Douglas, Lord Dalkeith, and secondly to George Crichton, earl of Caithness. The second daughter became the wife of Sir John Oliphant.

      The son appears to have been created Lord Borthwick before 1430 – it is supposed in 1424 – for in October of the former year, at the baptism of the twin sons of James the First, several knights were created, and among the rest William, son and heir of Lord Borthwick. In the records there is no patent found constituting this peerage. The first Lord Borthwick was one of the substituted hostages for the ransom of King James the First. He was sent to England 16th July 1425, and remained there till 9th July 1427, when an order was issued for his liberation, he being then in the custody of the bishop of Durham. By a charter under the great seal, of date June 2, 1430, he obtained a license from James the First, to build a castle on the spot called the Mote of Lochwarret or Locherworth, which he had bought from Sir William Hay. In the description of Borthwick parish in the new Statistical Account of Scotland [vol. i. p. 162] it is stated that the family of Hay, afterwards of Yester, ancestor of the Marquises of Tweeddale, were at that time occupiers of the domain of Locherworth. The Borthwicks and the Hays appear to have thus been neighbours, and there is a tradition relating to the old castle of Catkune, that in consequence of the then possessor of it, of the Borthwick family, having married a lady of the family of Hay, the Hays consented to part with a portion of their property to the knight of Catkune. Another version of the tradition is, that the lady belonged to the house of Douglas. Lord Borthwick erected a stately castle on the spot indicated, and, under the name of borthwick castle, it became the chief residence of the family, giving its name to the parish in which it is situated. “Like many other baronial residences in Scotland, he built this magnificent pile upon the very verge of his own property. The usual reason for choosing such a situation was hinted by a northern baron, to whom a friend objected this circumstance as a defect, at least an inconvenience: ‘We’ll brizz yont’ (AnglicÚ, press forward,) was the baron’s answer; which expressed the policy of the powerful in settling their residence upon the extremity of their domains, as giving pretext and opportunity for making acquisitions at the expense of their neighbours. William de Hay, from whom Sir William Borthwick had acquired a part of Locherworth, is said to have looked with envy upon the splendid castle of his neighbour and to have vented his spleen by building a mill upon the lands of Little Locherworth, immediately beneath the knoll on which the fortress was situated, declaring that the lord of Borthwick, in all his pride, should never be out of the hearing of the clack of his neighbour’s mill. The mill, accordingly, still exists, as a property independent of the castle.” [Provincial Antiquities, p. 200.] The first Lord Borthwick died before 1458. He seems to have been cupbearer to William St. Clair, earl and prince of Orkney, founder of Roslin chapel, who maintained his court at Roslin castle with regal magnificence. In an aisle of the old church of Borthwick may still be seen two monumental statues, in a recumbent posture, of this lord Borthwick and his lady. His lordship is in full armour, while his lady, a beautiful female figure, with a gentle and handsome cast of features, appears dressed in the full robes of her time. He left two sons; William, his successor, and John de Borthwick, who acquired the lands of Crookston, in 1446.

      William, second Lord Borthwick, was, in 1425, in the lifetime of his father, and under the appellation of Williehmus de Borthwick, junior, ambassador, with the bishops of Aberdeen and Dunblane, and seven others, to the court of Rome. He had a safe conduct as a commissioner to treat with the English, 13th July 1459, and on 1st September that year he concluded a treaty with them at Newcastle. On 24th September 1461, he had a safe conduct as an ambassador to England, and on 5th December 1463, he had another. He seems to have died about 1464. He had a daughter, Margaret, married to Sir John Maxwell of Calderwood, and three sons, William, third Lord Borthwick; Sir Thomas Borthwick of Colylaw, and James Borthwick of Glengelt.

      His son, William, third Lord Borthwick, sat in parliament 9th October 1466, and 14th October 1467, and in several subsequent parliaments, down to 1505. He had a safe conduct as ambassador to England 7th August 1471, and again on 24th August 1473. Sir William of Borthwic, knight, his son, appears as defender in an action of debt, 4th July 1476, when judgment was given against him. Lord Borthwick was one of the lords of articles pro baronibus, in the parliament that sat down at Edinburgh 4th October 1479. William, Lord Borthwick, and Sir William of Borthwick, knight, his son and heir, had a judgment in their favour 16th October of that year, and of the same date Sir William of Borthwick, knight, is sole defender in a civil suit. On 20th September 1484, Lord Borthwick was one of the guarantees of a treaty with England, [Faeders xii. p. 241,] and on 30th September 1497, and 12th July 1499, he was one of the conservators of a treaty with the same power. The third Lord Borthwick was slain at the battle of Flodden, 9th September 1513. He married Maryota de Hope Pringle, or Hoppringill, as it was spelled in those days, and with several daughters, had two sons, William, his successor, and Alexander Borthwick of Nenthorn.

      William, fourth Lord Borthwick, immediately after the battle of Flodden, was appointed by the council of the kingdom to the command of the castle of Stirling, which was ordered to be well fortified, with the important charge of the infant monarch, James the Fifth. He set his seal to the treaty with England 7th October 1517. The fourth lord died in 1542. He had married in 1491, Margaret, eldest daughter of John, Lord Hay of Yester, by whom, besides two daughters, he had two sons, the master of Borthwick, who died in the lifetime of his father, and John, fifth lord.

      John, fifth Lord Borthwick, opposed the Reformation in 1560, saying that he would believe as his fathers had done before him. He assisted the queen regent against the Lords of the Congregation, and died in 1565. He married Lady Isabel Lindsay, eldest daughter of David, seventh earl of Crawford, by whom he had a son, William, sixth Lord Borthwick, and a daughter, Mariota, married to Andrew Hope Pringle of Galashiels. Notwithstanding his attachment to the ‘ancient religion,’ his servants, in 1547, were guilty of an insult to a church officer, which one would scarcely have expected would have been committed at Borthwick castle. The incident, whimsical enough in its way, is thus related by Sir Walter Scott, who has published his authority in an extract from the Consistory Register of St. Andrews: “In consequence of a process betwixt Master George Hay de Minzeans and the Lord Borthwick, letters of excommunication had passed against the latter, on account of the contumacy of certain witnesses. William Langlands, an apparitor or macer [bacularius] of the see of St. Andrews, presented these letters to the curate of the church of Borthwick, requiring him to publish the same at the service of high mass. It seems that the inhabitants of the castle were at this time engaged in the favourite sport of enacting the Abbot of Unreason, a species of high jinks, in which a mimie prelate was elected, who, like the lord of Misrule in England, turned all sort of lawful authority, and particularly the church ritual, into ridicule. This frolicsome person, with his retinue, notwithstanding of the apparitor’s character, entered the church, seized upon the primate’s officer without hesitation, and dragging him to the mill-dam, on the south side of the castle, compelled him to leap into the water. Not contented with this partial immersion, the Abbot of Unreason pronounced that Mr. William Langlands was not yet sufficiently bathed, and therefore caused his assistance to lay him on his back in the stream, and duck him in the most satisfactory and perfect manner. The unfortunate apparitor was then conducted back to the church, where, for his refreshment after his bath, the letters of excommunication were torn to pieces, and steeped in a bowl of wine; the mock abbot being probably of opinion that a tough parchment was but dry eating. Langlands was compelled to eat the letters, and swallow the wine, with the comfortable assurance, that if any more such letters should arrive during the continuance of his office, they should ‘a’ gang the same gait.’”

      William, sixth Lord Borthwick, was a steady friend of Queen Mary. That ill-fated princess occasionally visited the castle of Borthwick, and at last took refuge in it with Bothwell, when they were nearly surprised by the party of Murray and Morton. Bothwell escaped before their arrival, and Mary fled, two days afterwards, in men’s apparel.

      Lord Borthwick married Grizel, eldest daughter of Sir Walter Scott of Branxholm, ancestor of the duke of Buccleuch, by whom he had two sons, William, master of Borthwick, who died before his father, and James, seventh Lord Borthwick. On 15th January 1579-80, Lady Borthwick and her two sisters were made, at the same time, the subjects of legal prosecution by the dominant party, on account of alleged gross irregularity of life and manners. As none of these charges were established, notwithstanding the predominance and spite of the prosecuting party, it is possible they were intended merely to excite the popular odium against Lord Borthwick and the ladies of his family as supporters of the queen. But it is a sad picture of the state of Scotland at the time, whether we can suppose the accusations to be true or false. [See Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials, vol. i. part ii. pp. 84 and 84.]

      James, seventh Lord Borthwick, married Margaret Hay, eldest daughter of William, Lord Hay of Yester. December 23, 1595, he was charged, with sundry other persons, “under deidly feud” with the lairds of Craigmillar and Bass, to appear before the King and Council ‘at Haliruidhous;’ and ‘that they keip thair ludgeingis eftir thair cuming, quhill (till) thay be speciallie sent for,’ &c. At his apprehension for not obeying the order, there seems to have been a riot, for on 15th January following, John Halden, dagmaker, and others, were ordered to be denounced rebels, for not answering ‘tuiching the riot committit be thame laitlie, aganis the Provost and Bailleis of the Burgh of Edinburgh, in thair convoy and taking to warde of James, Lord Borthuik.’ July 30, 1603, Marion Wardlaw, spouse of John Kennedy, gauntlet-maker in Edinburgh, was dilated of ‘airt, pairt, red and counsall of the murder committit be Williame Boirthuik, tutor of Boirthuik, Johne Boirthuik his brother, and utheris, thair complices, in cuming to James Frammis’ dwelling-house in the Cannogait, under scylence of nycht, and strykeing of him nyne straikis in the body and heid, to the effusion of his body, and levand him for deid.”

      The seventh lord was succeeded by his son, John, eighth Lord Borthwick, who married Lady Lilias Kerr, fifth daughter of Mark, first earl of Lothian, by whom, besides a daughter, he had a son, John, ninth Lord Borthwick, born 9th February 1616. He adhered firmly to the royal cause during all the time of the civil war. After the battle of Dunbar borthwick castle held out against Cromwell until artillery were opened upon it; but seeing no appearance of relief, Lord Borthwick surrendered on honourable terms, namely, liberty to march out with his lady and family unmolested, and fifteen days allowed to remove his effects. He married, 23d August 1649, Lady Elizabeth Kerr, second daughter of William, third earl of Lothian, but died without issue in 1672.

      From that period till 1762, the title remained dormant. In 1727, Henry Borthwick, descendant and heir male of Alexander Borthwick of Nenthorn, second son of the third Lord Borthwick, was served heir male in general of William, the first lord Borthwick, and in 1794, he voted as Lord Borthwick at the election of a representative peer, and continued to do so at all the subsequent elections till 14th December 1761, when the House of Lords made an order on him and on several others who had assumed dormant peerages, not to take on them their titles until the same should be allowed in due course of law.

      The above-mentioned Henry Borthwick obtained the title in 1762, by decision of the House of Lords, and was the tenth Lord Borthwick. He married at Edinburgh 5th march 1770, Margaret, daughter of George Drummond of Broich, in Stirlingshire, but died, without issue, at Newcastle, on his way to London, 6th September 1772, when the title again became dormant, and so remains. At the time of his death his heir male, Archibald Borthwick, was in Norway. In 1807 his claim to the title, which was before the House of Lords, was opposed by John Borthwick, Esq., of Crookston, as descended through nine generations in a direct male line, from John de Borthwick of Crookston, second son of the first Lord Borthwick. Mr. Borthwick of Crookston acquired the property of Borthwick castle by purchase. He married, in 1787, Grizel, eldest daughter of George Adinston, Esq. of Carcant, and left, at his decease, a son and successor, John Borthwick, Esq. of Crookston and Borthwick castle. Various proceedings have taken place in the case before the House of Lords, but as yet there has been no decision.

      James Borthwick of Stow, a cadet of the Crookston family, practised as a physician in Edinburgh, and deserves notice as having caused the disjunction of the corporation of surgeons from that of the barbers, which previously formed one corporation.

      A view of Borthwick castle is given in Grose’s Antiquities of Scotland, and in Billings’ Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities, vol. i. It consists principally of a vast square tower, with square and round bastions at equal distances from its base. The walls are thirteen feet thick near the bottom, and towards the top are gradually contracted to about six feet. Besides the sunk story, they are, from the adjacent area to the battlement, ninety feet high, and if the roof is included, the whole height will be about one hundred and ten feet. The great hall is forth feet long, and so high in the roof that, says Nisbet, “a man on horseback might turn a spear in it with all the ease imaginable.” The following is a woodcut of this once magnificent structure:

Borthwick Castle

      The master-gunner of James the Fourth was named Robert Borthwick, and seven great cannons, cast by him, called the seven sisters, were taken out of the castle of Edinburgh to the fatal field of Flodden. Of this person, Balfour, in his Annals, [vol. i. p. 232] under the year 1509, has the following notice: “This zeire, the king entertained one Robert Borthwick, quho foundit and caste maney pices of brasse ordinance of all sisses, in Edinburgh castle, all of them having thie inscriptione: ‘Machina sum Scoto Borthwick fabricata Roberto.’”

      Among those persecuted by Cardinal Bethune, on account of their adopting the principles of the Reformation, was Sir John Borthwick, who was cited before the ecclesiastical court at St. Andrews in 1540 for heresy. Thirteen charges were preferred against him, but in particular that he had dispersed heretical books. Sir John fled to England, and not appearing in court when called, the charges against him were held as confessed. He was condemned on the 28th May to be burnt as a heretic; his goods were confiscated, his effigy was burnt in the market-place of St. Andrews, and all men were inhibited from harbouring or protecting him. Sir John was graciously received by Henry the Eighth, and sent by him on a mission to the Protestant princes of Germany, to concert a confederacy between them, in defence of the reformed religion.

BORTHWICK, DAVID, of Lochhill, a learned lawyer and judge, was lord advocate of Scotland in the reign of James the Sixth, before which time he was usually designated “Mr. David Borthwick of Auldistone.” He was one of the nine advocates selected by the court of session, on the first March 1540, to plead “befoir thame in all actions and causes.” In 1552 he was made a member of the public commission appointed to treat with the English commissioners on border affairs. In the Burgh Records of Aberdeen we find the following entry under date 17th August, 1562; “The said day, the prowest, baillies, and counsell ordanis Patre Menzes, thesaurar, to sen Maister Dauid Borthuik, procuratour for the toun in the cause of varandiae mowit aganis thame be William Forbes, to defend the said mater, sax pound Scottis.” [Extracts from Burgh Records of Aberdeen, 1398-1570, printed for the Spalding Club, o 346.] In June 1564 he was counsel for the magistrates and town-council of Edinburgh in a prosecution against them, and in May 1567, as counsel for the earl of Bothwell, he took instruments of Queen Mary’s pardon and forgiveness of him and his accomplices for her abduction to Dunbar, which her majesty pronounced in court on the 12th of that month. In 1573, Borthwick became, with Crichton of Elliock, father of the admirable Crichton, joint king’s advocate, when, as was then customary, he took his seat as a lord of session. He appears to have been the first who bore the title of “Lord Advocate.” The salary of this functionary at that period was forth pounds Scots yearly, and that of a lord of session amounted to about the same sum, considered a good deal of money in those days. Borthwick died in January 1581. He had acquired estates in the counties of Berwick, Haddington, and Fife, in which, before his death, he had infeft his son James, whose extravagance and improvidence caused some of them to be sold even in his father’s lifetime. This circumstance induced the old gentleman, on his deathbed, to exclaim bitterly, “What shall I say? I give him to the devil that doth get a fool, and maketh not a fool of him,” a saying that became proverbial, as David Borthwick’s testament. – Haig and Brunton’s Senators of College of Justice.


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