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Pringle


PRINGLE, a surname prevalent in the south of Scotland, a corruption, as Sir George Mackenzie conjectures, of the word Pelerin or pilgrim. The account of the Pringles states that one Pererin, who had gone on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, having settled in Teviotdale, his descendants were called from him Hop Pringle. The prefix Hop being synonymous with the British Ap or Irish O, signifying a son or descendant, Hop Pringle is, therefore, supposed to have meant the son of the pilgrim. The pilgrim’s badge of a scallop shell forms a part of the armorial bearings of all the families of the name.

The Hop Pringles of that ilk, afterwards the Pringles of Torsonce, on Gala Water, were the head of one branch of the name settled in Mid Lothian, and the adjoining portions of East Lothian and Berwickshire. The principal families of this branch were the Pringles of Burnhouse, Hawtree, and Glengelt, and those of Rowchester and Lees in the Merse. Their male line failed on the death of John Pringle of Torsonce in 1738. His only daughter, Margaret, having married Gilbert Pringle, one of the Pringles of Stitchell, carried the estates into that family. She had no children. John Pringle of Lees then became heir male, but his family also in extinct. (Burke’s Landed Gentry, Supp. P. 262.)

Another branch of the Pringles were the descendants of the family of Whitsome, Berwickshire, afterwards designed of Smailholm and Galashiels. Robert Hop Pringle of Whitsome is mentioned in a donation to the monastery of Soltray, confirmed by King Alexander III. For their support of the Bruce family, in their competition for the crown, the Pringles of Whitsome were deprived of their lands by King John Baliol, who conferred them upon John de L’yle, confirmed by a charter from King Edward I. of England, 13th October 1295. After the battle of Bannockburn, the lands were restored to Reginald Hop Pringle of Whitsome, by charter from Robert Bruce in 1315. During the brief and shadowy sovereignty of Edward Baliol, after that monarch’s death, by a mandate from King Edward III. of England, they were ordered to be delivered up to “Walter de Insula,” son of John de L’yle. The were restored, in 1336, to Thomas Hop Pringle of Whitsome, who, in 1363, had a safeguard to go into England, with his son and twelve persons in their retinue.

The Pringles of Whitsome were adherents of the house of Douglas, and held the office of scutifer, or squire, to the earls of that name. Robert Hop Pringle of Whitsome was present, in that capacity, with James, second earl of Douglas, at the battle of Otterbourne in 1388, where the earl was slain. From Archibald, third earl of Douglas, lord of Galloway, styled the Grim, he got a charter of the lands of Smailholm, Roxburghshire, in 1408, as well as a grant of the lands of Pilmuir and Blackchester in Lauderdale, which remained for nearly three centuries in possession of the family. From the Douglases also, who were then lords of Ettrick forest, he got the forest steadings of Galashiels and Mosalee, which were held by the Pringles as kindly tenants till the forfeiture of the Douglases in 1455. They were subsequently held by them as kindly tenants of the crown till 1587, when they were feudalized by charter and sasine. It was this Robert Pringle who built the tower of Smailholm, a large square building, now entirely ruinous, and originally a border keep, situated among a cluster of rocks on an eminence in the farm of Sandy-knowe. The apartments rise above one another in separate floors or stories, and mutually communicate by a narrow stair. A wall surrounds the building, enclosing an outer court, and being defended on three sides by precipice and morass, the tower is accessible only by a steep and rocky path on the west. At the farm of Sandy-knowe, which was leased by his paternal grandfather, Sir Walter Scott spent some years of his boyhood. In a note prefixed to the ballad of ‘The Eve of St. John,’ he says that he wrote that ballad in celebration of Smailholm tower and its vicinity; and in the epistle preliminary to the third canto of Marmion, he notices the influence which the place had exerted on his tastes. In 1406, Robert Pringle of Smailholm, which became his designation after the erection of the tower, had a safe-conduct from Henry IV., to go to England, and in 1419 he had another, from Henry V., with John Wallace, to pay the ransom of James de Douglas, who succeeded his grand-nephew as seventh earl of Douglas, November 24, 1440, and was called James the Gross. The laird of Smailholm accompanied Archibald, fourth earl of Douglas, duke of Touraine, (the Douglas of Shakspere,) on his famous expedition to France, in 1423, and was slain, with him, at the battle of Verneuil, the following year.

His son and successor, Robert Pringle of Smailholm, is said to have been the person who erected a drawbridge of a very peculiar construction over the Tweed, a river long remarkable for the very few bridges it possessed, at a small hamlet about a mile and a half above Melrose, called from the circumstance, Bridge-end. It is thus described by Sir Walter Scott, in ‘The Monastery,’ from the account of it in Gordon’s Itinerarium Septentrianale: “Two strong abutments were built on either side of the river, at a part where the stream was peculiarly contracted. Upon a rock in the centre of the current was built a solid piece of masonry, constructed like the pier of a bridge, and presenting, like a pier, an angle to the current of the stream. The masonry continued solid until the pier rose to a level with the two abutments upon either side, and from thence the building rose in the form of a tower. The lower story of this tower consisted only of an archway or passage through the building, over either entrance to which hung a drawbridge with counterpoises, either of which, when dropped, connected the archway with the opposite abutment, where the farther end of the drawbridge rested. When both bridges were thus lowered, the passage over the river was complete.” Sir Walter Scott says in a note that the vestiges of this uncommon species of bridge still exist, and that he often saw the foundations of the columns when drifting down the Tweed at night, for the purpose of killing salmon by torchlight. A stone, taken from the river, bore this inscription:

“I, Robert Pringle of Pilmore stede,
Give an hundred nobles of gowd sae reid,
To help to bigg my brigg ower Tweed.”

Sir Walter Scott quotes the first line as

“I, Sir John Pringle of Palmer stede.”

It is certain that the bridge belonged to this family of the Pringles, and the money here mentioned may have been spent in repairing it, but the original builder of it, according to accounts likely to be more correct, was that “sore saint to the crown,” David I., to afford a passage to his abbey of Melrose, and to facilitate the journeys of the devout to the four great pilgrimages of Scotland, namely, Scone, Dundee, Paisley, and Melrose. By his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Dishington of Ardross, Fifeshire, Robert Pringle of Smailholm had four sons and three daughters. Over the doorway of the old house of Galashiels belonging to the family, the following inscription, under the date 1457, was cut, which is supposed to have reference to this lady:

“Elspeth Dishington builted me,
In syne lye not;
The thynge thou canst not gette
Desyre not.”

The eldest son, David Pringle of Smailholm, was, after the forfeiture of the Douglases, as we learn from the Exchequer Rolls of 1456, appointed cursor or ranger of the ward of Tweed, an office, held also by his son and grandson. In 1467 he was succeeded by his son, James, who appears to have been ranger from 1457 to 1495. Besides David his heir, he had a son, William, progenitor of the Pringles of Torwoodlee, and another, John, ancestor of the Pringles of Blyndlee.

David Pringle of Smailholm and Galashiels was ranger of the ward of Tweed for ten years. In 1505, Alexander, Lord Home, great-chamberlain of Scotland, became ranger or chamberlain of the whole of Ettrick Forest. In 1510 David Pringle obtained a charter of the lands of Redhead and Whytbank, which had been occupied by the ranger of the ward of Tweed pro officio cursoris, and these lands are still in possession of the family. He and his brother, William, are subscribing witnesses in the sasine of Margaret, queen of James IV., in her jointure lands of Ettrick Forest, 1st June 1505. He was twice married. By his first wife he had a son, David, younger of Galashiels and Smailholm, who, with four of his sons, was slain at Flodden, and a daughter, Isabella, wife of Sir David Home of Wedderburn, and mother of the seven spears of Wedderburn. By his second wife, Margaret, daughter of Thomas Lundie of Lundie, Fifeshire, he had, with two daughters, a son, James of Woodhouse and Whytbank, from whom the Whytbank family are descended, of whom afterwards.

John Pringle, youngest son of David, slain at Flodden, succeeded his grandfather on his death in 1535. This John Pringle of Smailholm and Galashiels fought at Pinkie in 1547, and afterwards, with George Pringle of Torwoodlee and William Pringle of Wolfhousebyre, was surety to the English for 100 gold nobles, the ransom of Hugh Rose of Kilravock, taken in that battle. He died about 1566. By his wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir James Gordon of Stitchell and Lochinvar, he had three sons and one daughter.
His eldest son, Andrew Pringle of Galashiels and Smailholm, made an entail of his estates in 1585, the year of his death. He had two sons, James his heir, and Robert of Howlatstown, on Gala Water, and a daughter, Isabella, married to George Pringle of Blyndlee.

The elder son, Sir James Pringle of Smailholm and Galashiels, was, in 1610, bailie of the regality of Stow, and, in 1622, he had a commission under the great seal as sheriff principal of Ettrick Forest. He was knighted by James VI., and being much about court, and living extravagantly, he was compelled to alienate a considerable portion of his estates. In 1623, he and George Pringle of Torwoodlee were commissioners to the Estates for the county of Selkirk. He died in 1635. He had four sons and as many daughters. Jean, his eldest daughter, married Hugh Scott of Deuchar, who got possession of the estate of Galashiels, having claims upon it. From him are descended the Scotts of Gala.

The two eldest sons having predeceased him, Sir James was succeeded by his third son, John, designed of Smailholm, but his inheritance was small, and even of that portion of the property which came to him, being encumbered with debt, he was ultimately deprived through legal diligence, by Sir Hugh Scott of Harden. John Pringle died in 1650, and his youngest brother, George, having predeceased him, Robert Pringle of Howlatstown, youngest son of Andrew Pringle of Smailholm and Galashiels, and brother of Sir James, became the male representative of the family. He died, without issue, in 1653, when the male representation devolved upon James Pringle of Whytbank, great-grandson of James Pringle of Woodhouse and Whytbank above mentioned.

In early life, James Pringle of Whytbank served for some years in France as an officer in the Scottish guards. He and James Murray of Philiphaugh represented the county of Selkirk in the Estates in 1633. For his adherence to the cause of King Charles I., he was heavily fined by the committee of Estates in 1646. He greatly improved his estate, and added several lands to it, both in Selkirkshire and Mid Lothian. He married in 1622, Sophia Schoner, a Danish lady, maid of honour to Anne of Denmark, queen of James VI., on which occasion, we are told, “her majesty presented her with her portrait, enameled on mother of pearl, and set with small rubies and emeralds, suspended by a massy gold chain, a relic still preserved by the family.” On his death in 1667, he was succeeded by his only son, Alexander Pringle of Whytbank, who, in 1652, was sheriff principal of Selkirkshire. Warmly attached to the Presbyterian form of church government, he was a frequent member of the ecclesiastical courts. He died in 1695, without issue, and was succeeded by John Pringle, grandson of his father’s next brother, George Pringle of Balmungo, Fifeshire, a major in the army of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, who, after serving, with considerable reputation, during the Thirty years’ war, returned home, having married one of the daughters of Sir Patrick Ruthven, a general in the same service, created by Charles I., earl of forth in Scotland, and Brentford in England. His only son, the Rev. John Pringle, minister of Fogo, described as an elegant scholar, was father of John Pringle of Whytbank, who succeeded his father’s cousin in 1695, and died of a fever in 1703, at the age of 25. He had a son, Alexander Pringle of Whytbank, who died in 1772, and was succeeded in his lands of Whytbank by his eldest son, Lieutenant John Pringle. The latter served on the staff of his relative, the Hon. General James Murray, commander of the British forces in Canada, after the death of General Wolfe. Lieutenant Pringle died in Canada in 1774, when his next brother, Alexander Pringle, then in the civil service of the East India Company on the Madras establishment, became proprietor of Whytbank. He returned to Scotland in 1783, and some years afterwards repurchased from the duke of Buccleuch the family estate and residence of Yair in Selkirkshire, which had been sold, with some other portions of his lands, by his father. At Yair he built a new mansion-house, and devoted a considerable part of his attention to the improvement of his estates. He commanded the Selkirkshire volunteers, until that corps was disbanded at the peace of Amiens, March 27, 1802. The same year he was appointed vice-lieutenant of Selkirkshire, on the establishment of that office by act of parliament. He was Sir Walter Scott’s neighbour at Ashestiel, when he went there to reside in 1804, and in the second Epistle of Marmion he is mentioned as

“The long descended lord of Yair.”

An extract of a letter from him to the author of Marmion, on the publication of that poem in 1807, is given in Lockhart’s Life of Scott (page 184, 8vo edition). In 1812, Mr. Pringle obtained the patent office of chamberlain of Ettrick Forest. He died in 1827. By his wife, Mary, daughter of Sir Alexander Dick of Prestonfield, he had, with six daughters, five sons, three of whom, namely, John Alexander Pringle of Castlelykes, the second son; William Alexander Pringle, the third; and David Pringle, the youngest, were in the Bengal civil service, and Robert Keith Pringle, the fourth son, was in the Bombay civil service, and afterwards became chief secretary to the government at that presidency.

The eldest son, Alexander Pringle of Whytbank, studied at Cambridge, and was admitted an advocate at the Scottish bar in 1814. In July of the following year, with Scott of Gala, he accompanied Sir Walter Scott to the field of Waterloo, and leaving him in Paris, he made a tour in Switzerland. He continued to practice as an advocate till 1830, when, at the general election which followed the death of George IV., he was elected M.P. for Selkirkshire. After the dissolution in 1831, he was re-elected. At the general election, after the passing of the Reform Act in 1833, he was defeated by Pringle of Clifton, by a majority of nine. Re-elected in 1835, by a large majority, he again sat for the county in 1837 and 1841. In the latter year he was appointed one of the lords of the Treasury, in the ministry of Sir Robert Peel, and also a commissioner of Revenue Inquiry. In July 1845 he resigned office, as he could not give his support to the ministerial measure for increasing the endowment of the Roman Catholic college of Maynooth. In January 1846, he was appointed principal keeper of the General Register of Sasines in Scotland, when he retired from parliament. In 1830 he had been appointed vice-lieutenant of the county of Selkirk. He died 2d September 1857. He married his cousin, Agnes Joanna, daughter of Sir William Dick of Prestonfield. His only son, Alexander Pringle, succeeded to Whytbank.

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The Pringles of Torwoodlee, Selkirkshire, are descended from William Pringle of Smailholm, who had a tack of the forest steid of Caddonlee in 1488, and one of Torwoodlee in 1509, to him and his son George. The same year he had a charter of one-fourth part of the barony of Cliftoun, Roxburghshire, which afterwards was sold to another branch of the Pringles. He was slain at the battle of Flodden in September 1513.

His son, George Pringle of Torwoodlee, was at the battle of Pinkie in 1547. In 1568 he was murdered in his own house by a party of Liddesdale reivers, to the number of 300, consisting of Elliots, Armstrongs, and other lawless clans from the west border, under John Elliot of Copshaw, who had attacked, plundered, and burnt the house of Torwoodlee. George’s son, William Pringle of Torwoodlee, was father of another George Pringle, who, in 1587, had a charter and sasine of Torwoodlee and others of his lands, previously held by him and his forefathers as kindly tenants and rentallers. From Pitcairn’s ‘Criminal Trials’ we learn that in 1607 he and his brothers, James and David, cited the surviving murderers of their grandfather to take their trial for the crime, when, not appearing, they were outlawed. In 1617 and 1621, George Pringle of Torwoodlee was one of the representatives in the Estates for the county of Selkirk. His grandson, also named George Pringle, an eminent patriot, and remarkable for his integrity and strength of character, succeeded to Torwoodlee, on the death of his father, James Pringle, about 1657. During the civil wars he took arms for the king, and was in most of the engagements in Scotland fought on his account, but after the Restoration, his attachment to the Presbyterian discipline and form of worship exposed him to much suffering, both in person and property, his house of Torwoodlee having frequently afforded an asylum to the persecuted Covenanters. When the earl of Argyle, after being sentenced to death, made his escape, on the night of the 20th December 1681, from Edinburgh castle, by the direction of Mr. John Scott, minister of Hawick, he rode straight to the house of Torwoodlee. Mr. Pringle gave him refuge, and sent his servant with him to the house of Mr. William Veitch, who conducted him in safety to England. On this becoming known to the government, Mr. Pringle was obliged to quit his own house, and for nearly two years to lurk in concealment. At length, in 1683, on a charge of being concerned in the Ryehouse plot, warrants were issued against him and others, and with much difficulty he and Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth made their escape to Holland. In the first parliament of King James VII., his estates were confiscated, and bestowed on General Drummond of Cromlix. At the Revolution he hastened back to Scotland, and was a member of the convention of Estates which conferred the crown on William and Mary. His attainder was removed and his estates restored by a special act of parliament. He died in 1689.

His only son, James Pringle of Torwoodlee, who succeeded him, was but sixteen years of age when his father escaped to Holland, and although he was from home, and had no part in any of the circumstances which led to his exile, he was apprehended and imprisoned in Edinburgh castle, and only released at the end of three months by finding bail to the amount of 5,000 sterling. In 1685, on the failure of the earl of Argyle’s expedition, he was again seized, and imprisoned in Blackness castle, where he suffered great hardship. After succeeding to the estate, he took an active part in public affairs, and held various offices of authority in his own district. His eldest son, George Pringle of Torwoodlee, advocate, died, unmarried, in 1780, and was succeeded by his nephew, James, son of his younger brother, James Pringle of Bowland, writer of the signet, and latterly one of the principal clerks of session. This gentleman purchased the lands of Bowland and Windydoors in 1722, and afterwards those of Catha. He died in 1778. His only son, James Pringle, sold Bowland, and acquired the lands of Buckholm and Williamlaw, Roxburghshire. He studied at Cambridge and Leyden, for the law, but on succeeding his uncle in Torwoodlee, he devoted himself entirely to the improvement of his property. He was a friend and neighbour of Sir Walter Scott, and Lockhart, in his Life of Scott, (p. 383, folio edition,) records a joyous evening spent in November 1818, at his beautiful seat, which, though mentioned in Scott’s poetry as “distant Torwoodlee,” is only about five miles from Abbotsford. Mr. Pringle was convener of the county of Selkirk, and commandant of the Selkirkshire troop of yeomanry cavalry from 1797, when it was raised, for about twelve years. From 1827 to 1830 he was vice-lieutenant of that county. He died in 1840, when his eldest son, Rear-admiral James Pringle, became tenth laird of Torwoodlee; married, with issue. The Admiral’s eldest son, James Thomas, Lieutenant, R.N., was born in 1832.

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The Pringles of Clifton were also an old family. In 1760, Robert Pringle of Clifton made an entail of his estates, and died, unmarried, in 1780. He was succeeded by his cousin, John Pringle of Haining, second son of his uncle, John Pringle, who was the second son of Andrew Pringle of Clifton (deceased in 1702) and his wife, Violet Rutherfurd, daughter of John Rutherfurd of Edgerstone. This John Pringle passed advocate 18th June 1698, and in 1702 purchased the estate of Haining, parish of Selkirk. On 1st July 1729, he was admitted a lord of session, when he took the title of Lord Haining. His lordship died 19th August 1754. With three daughters he had three sons, namely, 1. Andres, also a lord of session, under the title of Lord Alemoor; 2. John Pringle of Haining; and 3. Robert, a doctor of medicine.

The eldest son, Andrew, did not take up his father’s succession to Haining, as his affairs were embarrassed, and his next brother, John, who had made a handsome fortune as a merchant in Madeira, purchased it on his father’s death, and cleared off all the incumbrances upon it. Admitted an advocate in 1740, Andrew Pringle was very eminent at the bar, being greatly distinguished for his scholarship and eloquence. In 1750 he was appointed sheriff of Wigtonshire, and in the following year sheriff of Selkirkshire. In 1755 he was appointed solicitor-general for Scotland, and 14th June 1759 he was raised to the bench, as Lord Alemoor, from a property which he had acquired in Selkirkshire. At the same time he was appointed a lord of justiciary. He died at his villa of Hawkhill, near Edinburgh, 14th January 1776, unmarried, and was succeeded in all his property by his next brother, John Pringle of Haining. The latter for a long time represented Selkirkshire in parliament. On the death of his cousin, Robert Pringle of Clifton, in 1780, he was served heir of provision to him under his entail, and thereafter assumed the designation of Pringle of Clifton, with the arms of the elder branch, undifferenced. He died in 1792, unmarried, and was succeeded by his cousin and grand-nephew, Mark Pringle of Fairnalie, grandson of Mark Pringle of Crichton, third and youngest son of Andrew Pringle of Clifton, by Violet Rutherfurd of Edgerstone, above mentioned. On 2d October 1707, the day of the head court at Selkirk, Mark Pringle had an after-dinner quarrel with William Scott of Raeburn, then only about twenty-one years of age, the great-granduncle of Sir Walter Scott, and next morning they fought with swords, as was the fashion of the time, says the latter, in a field near Selkirk, when Raeburn was killed. The field “was called, from the catastrophe, the Raeburn Meadow spot. Pringle fled from Scotland to Spain, and was long a captive and slave in Barbary.” Having at length made a considerable fortune as a merchant, he returned to Scotland in 1738, and purchased the estate of Crichton in Mid Lothian. He died in 1751. His eldest son, John Pringle of Crichton, who had married Ann, eldest daughter of Robert Rutherfurd of Fairnalie, sister of Mrs. Cockburn, authoress of ‘The Flowers of the Forest,’ continued to be engaged extensively in commercial pursuits, till the house with which he was connected became bankrupt. He was then forced to part with his lands, and his father-in-law, Mr. Rutherfurd, being involved along with him, had to sell some of his estates. His son, Mark Pringle, advocate, first designed of Fairnalie, on the death of his granduncle, John Pringle, became possessed of the estates of Haining and Clifton, the former as heir of line, through his grandmother, Ann Pringle, the wife of Robert Rutherfurd of Fairnalie, and the latter as heir male, through the entail executed by Robert Pringle of Clifton was elected M.P. for Selkirkshire, and he sat for that county till the dissolution in 1802. He died in 1812. He had, with one daughter, two sons, John, and Robert, of Fairnalie.

The elder son, John Pringle of Clifton, was a minor on succeeding to the estates. He studied at Christchurch college, Oxford, and at the peace of 1815, entered the army as a cornet in the 7th hussars, and served in the army of occupation in France. In 1819, when the general reduction took place, he was obliged to go on half-pay. In 1820, he was elected M.P. for the Selkirk burghs, on the Whig interest. In 1831 he was killed by being thrown out of his open carriage near his own house of Haining. Dying unmarried, he was succeeded by his brother, Robert Pringle of Fairnalie, afterwards of Clifton, also an officer in the 7th hussars. In the first parliament after the passing of the Reform Bill he sat as member for Selkirkshire. He died at Haining in 1841, when the estate of Clifton passed, under the powers of the entail, to Robert Elliot of Harwood, whose father was the eldest son of the eldest sister of the entailer, Robert Pringle of Clifton, which made him heir of line of that family. Haining and the other estates of Robert Pringle descended to his only sister, Margaret Violet Pringle. This lady married Archibald Douglas, Esq. of Adderston, whose family are cadets of the house of Cavers; issue, one daughter. In compliance with her brother’s settlement, she and her husband assumed the name and designation of Pringle of Haining in addition to that of Douglas.

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The Pringles of Stitchell are sprung from the Hop Pringles of Craiglatch and Newhall, Selkirkshire, believed to have been very old cadets of the house of Smailholm. In the crown rentals of Ettrick Forest for 1485 and 1490, the lands of Craiglatch are mentioned as having been in the possession of William Hop Pringle and Alexander, his son. William Pringle of Craiglatch, also designed of Whittoun, Roxburghshire, had a charter of the lands of Hut, on the river Kale, in that county, in 1492, and crown tacks of Craiglatchin 1485 and 1490. His great-grandson, Alexander, was retoured in 1539. In 1587, Alexander’s son, George Pringle of Craiglatch, obtained a charter of his Ettrick Forest lands. For the crime of march-treason he and his eldest son, George, incurred the forfeiture of the lands of Craiglatch. March-treason included several species of offences peculiar to the border, such as holding communication with the English, and aiding them in their depredations on the Scottish side, as well as breaking border truce. The penalties for this crime were very severe. In ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrell,’ the herald of the English warden lords thus begins his address to the widowed lady of Buccleuch, on their appearance before the walls of Branksome Tower:

“It irks, high dame, my noble lords,
‘Gainst ladye fair to draw their swords;
But yet they may not tamely see,
Al through the western wardenry,
Your law-contemning kinsmen ride,
And burn and spoil the border side,
We claim from thee William of Deloraine
That he may suffer march-treason pain.”

Of the forfeited lands of Craiglatch, Sir James Pringle of Smailholm obtained a gift, and he restored them to the family in 1601, in the person of George Pringle of Newhall, elder son of George Pringle, the son, above mentioned. In consequence, however, of the burdens incurred in their misfortunes, one-half-called the Knows, was alienated in 1617 to James Pringle of Whytbank, and the other half, called Newhall, became, from that time, the family designation. The first George Pringle had, besides George, his heir, another son, Robert, ancestor of the Stitchell family.

This Robert Pringle, first designed of Bartingbush, writer to the signet, realized a large fortune in his profession, and, besides acquiring the lands of Templehall, Berwickshire, and various other properties, he purchased, in 1628, from Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, (first viscount of Kenmure,) the estate of Stitchell, Roxburghshire, and was subsequently designated of Stitchell. He died in 1649. His eldest son, John, predeceased him, leaving two sons, Robert, the first baronet of Stitchell, and Walter, of Graycrook, advocate, who is mentioned in Wodrow’s History as having ably pleaded for the Covenanters taken at Bothwell Bridge, when put upon their trial in 1679. His uncle, Walter Pringle of Greenknowe, a zealous Covenanter, suffered many hardships and persecutions. His Memoirs were published at Edinburgh in 1723, 8vo. He married Janet, second daughter of James Pringle of Torwoodlee. The ruins of Greenknowe tower, Berwickshire, his residence, are still remaining.

Sir Robert Pringle of Stitchell succeeded his grandfather in 1649, and in 1667, on the death of Robert Pringle of Newhall, he inherited the possessions of the elder branch of the family. He was created a baronet in 1683. By his wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Hope, a lord of session, with the title of Lord Craighall, he had, with other children, (19 in all,) 1. John, second baronet; 2. Sir Walter Pringle of Lochton, admitted advocate, 10th December 1687, constituted a lord of session, as Lord Newhall, 6th June 1718, at the same time appointed a lord of justiciary, and knighted. He died 14th December 1736, when his funeral was attended, as a mark of great respect, by the other judges, in their robes of office. The faculty of advocates also met on the occasion, when an elegant eulogium on his lordship’s character, written by Sir Robert Dundas of Arniston, then dean of faculty, was ordered to be engrossed in their minutes, expressive of the high esteem in which he had been held by that learned body. An epitaph on Lord Newhall by Hamilton of Bangour is printed in the works of that poet. 3. The Right Hon. Robert Pringle, a distinguished statesman, who, May 18, 1718, was appointed secretary at war, an office which he held till 24th December following. 4. Thomas Pringle, writer to the signet, from whom descended the Pringles of Edgefield and the Pringles of Weens. His son, Robert Pringle of Edgefield, passed advocate 4th July 1724, and in 1748 was appointed sheriff-depute of Banffshire. Admitted a lord of session, 20th November 1754, he took the title of Lord Edgefield; and died 8th April 1784.

Sir John Pringle of Stitchell, second baronet, married Magdalen, daughter of Sir William Gilbert Elliot of Stobbs, baronet, and had four sons and two daughters. The sons were, 1. Sir Robert, third baronet. 2. Gilbert, an officer of dragoons, who married Margaret, only daughter and heiress of John Pringle of Torsonce. 3. Walter, advocate and sheriff of Roxburghshire, who succeeded to Torsonce on his brother’s death, and died unmarried; and 4. Sir John Pringle, the celebrated physician, of whom a memoir follows below.

The eldest son, Sir Robert Pringle, third baronet of Stitchell, married Katherine, eldest daughter of James Pringle of Torwoodlee, and died at the age of 88. His son, Sir James, fourth baronet, served many years as an officer in the army, first in the fusiliers, and afterwards in the 59th regiment, which he commanded. Subsequently he was colonel of the Southern fencibles, and for a short time commanded the Roxburghshire yeomanry cavalry, after that corps was raised in 1797. He was master of works for Scotland, and represented Berwickshire in four parliaments. He died in 1809. By his wife, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Norman Macleod of Macleod, he had, with three daughters, three sons, namely, 1. Robert, younger of Stitchell, who predeceased his father. 2. John, fifth baronet. 3. Norman, major of the 21st North British fusiliers, and afterwards British consul at Stockholm. He had purchased Torsonce from his father, which he afterwards sold.

Sir John Pringle, fifth baronet of Stitchell and Newhall, born in 1784, served for ten years in the 12th light dragoons. He married, first, his cousin, Emilia Anne, 2d daughter of General Norman Macleod of Macleod, and had 3 sons and 5 daughters; and, 2dly, Lady Elizabeth Maitland Campbell, daughter of the 1st Marquis of Bredalbane, issue, 2 daughters, the elder of whom, Mary Gavin, married in 1861, Robert, 2d son of George, 10th earl of Haddington. Heir, James, his eldest son by the first marriage. His 2d son, Norman, a cadet in the royal engineers at Woolwich, was accidentally drowned in the Thames. Sir John is vice-lieutenant of Roxburghshire, and a deputy-lieutenant of Berwickshire.

PRINGLE, SIR JOHN, baronet, an eminent physician and natural philosopher, was the youngest son of Sir John Pringle, second baronet of Stitchell, and Magdalen, daughter of Sir William Gilbert Elliot of Stobbs, and was born at Stitchell House, Roxburghshire, April 10, 1707. He received his grammatical education at home under a private tutor, and afterwards entered the university of St. Andrews, where a relative of his father, Mr. Francis Pringle, was at that time professor of Greek. In October 1727 he removed to Edinburgh to study medicine, with the view of following the profession of a physician. In the following year he proceeded to Leyden, at that period the most celebrated medical school in Europe; and, July 20, 1730, took the degree of M.D. in the university there, where he was the pupil of the illustrious Boerhaave. He completed his medical studies at Paris, after which he settled as a physician at Edinburgh. In March 1734 he was appointed by the magistrates and town council assistant and successor to Mr. Scott, in the chair of moral philosophy in that university. In 1742 he was nominated physician to the earl of Stair, then commander-in-chief of the British army; and, through the interest of this nobleman, he was constituted, in August of the same year, physician to the military hospital in Flanders. During his absence from the university, Messrs. Muirhead and Cleghorn were appointed to teach the moral philosophy class in his stead. At the battle of Dettingen, fought June 26, 1743, Dr. Pringle was present in a coach with Lord Carteret, and at one period of the engagement was exposed to great danger. Through his exertions a convention was entered into, in the early part of the campaign of that year, between Lord Stair and Marshal Noailles, for the mutual protection of the hospitals of the contending armies, which was faithfully adhered to by both generals.

After the retirement of Lord Stair, Dr. Pringle attended the army in Flanders throughout the campaign of 1744. Having by his diligence and ability recommended himself to the duke of Cumberland, he was in the following spring appointed physician-general to his majesty’s forces in the Netherlands, and also physician to the royal hospitals there. He now resigned his professorship in the university of Edinburgh. IN the end of 1745 he was recalled from Flanders to attend the forces under the duke of Cumberland, ordered against the rebels in Scotland. At this time he was chosen a member of the Royal Society of London. He remained with the royal troops till after the battle of Culloden, April 16, 1746, and in the two succeeding years he again served with the army on the Continent. On peace being concluded by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, he embarked with the forces on his return to England. From this time he principally resided in London, and in 1749 was appointed physician in ordinary to the duke of Cumberland. IN 1750 he published ‘Observations on the Jail or Hospital Fever.’ The same year he communicated to the Royal Society his famous ‘Experiments upon Septic and Antiseptic Substances, with Remarks relating to their Use in the Theory of Medicine,’ which were comprehended in several papers, for which he received the Copley medal. Many of his papers after this period appear in the Philosophical Transactions; and, besides these communications, he wrote in the Edinburgh Medical Essays, volume fifth, ‘An Account of the Success of the Vitrum Ceratum Antimonii.’ In 1752 he published his celebrated work ‘On the Diseases of the Army,’ which passed through numerous editions, and was translated into the French, German, Italian, and other languages. In 1753 he was elected one of the council of the Royal Society. IN 1758, on relinquishing his appointment in the army, he was admitted a licentiate of the London college of physicians.

Soon after the accession of George III. he was, in 1761, appointed physician to the queen’s household, and in 1763 physician extraordinary to her majesty. The same year he was chosen a member of the academy of sciences at Haarlem, and fellow of the college of physicians, London; and in 1764 he succeeded Dr. Wollaston as physician in ordinary to the queen. In 1766 the king was pleased to testify his sense of his long services, as well as of his abilities and merit, by raising him to the dignity of a baronet of Great Britain. In 1772 he was elected president of the Royal Society, and in 1774 was appointed physician extraordinary to his majesty. In 1776 he became a member of the academy of sciences at Madrid, and most of the other learned bodies of Europe at different periods enrolled his name in the list of their members. In 1778 he succeeded Linnaeus as one of the eight foreign members of the academy of Sciences at Paris; and in 1781 he became a fellow of the then recently instituted society of antiquaries at Edinburgh.

His declining health induced him, at the close of 1778, to resign the presidency of the Royal Society. The discourses which he delivered as president, six in number, were published the year after his death, by his friend Dr. Kippis, in one volume 8vo. Hoping to derive benefit from the air of his native country, he spent the summer of 1780 in Scotland, residing chiefly in Edinburgh, and formed the design of fixing his residence altogether in that city. With this view, in 1781, he disposed of his house in Pall Mall, with the greater part of his library, and removed to Edinburgh; but the keenness of the climate induced him to return to London in the beginning of the following September. On quitting the capital of the north, he presented the Edinburgh college with ten manuscript folio volumes of medical and physical observations, on the singular condition that they should never be printed, nor lent out of the library of the college. He died January 18, 1782, in the 75th year of his age, and, on February 7, his body was deposited in a vault in St. James’ church. His portrait is subjoined:


[portrait of Sir John Pringle]

A monument to his memory, by Nollekins, was afterwards erected in Westminster Abbey, at the expense of his nephew. He had married in 1752 the second daughter of Dr. Oliver of Bath, but his wife died, without children, in less than three years; and the baronetcy conferred on him became extinct at his death. – His works are:

Disputatio de Marcore Senili. Leyd. 1730, 4to. The same. Lond. 1765, 8vo.
Observations on the Nature and Cure of Hospital and Jail Fevers, in a Letter to Dr. Mead. Lond. 1750, 8vo.
Observations on the Diseases of the Army, in Camp and in Garrison. Lond. 1752, 1753, 1761. 4th edition, 1765, 4to. 5th edition, 1775, 8vo. This last is somewhat fuller than the others. A new edition, 1810, 8vo.
Discourse on the different kinds of Air, delivered at the Anniversary Meeting of the Royal Society, 1773. Lond. 1774, 4to.
A Discourse on the Torpedo, delivered at the Anniversary Meeting of the Royal Society. Lond. 1775, 4to.
Discourse on the Attraction of Mountains. Lond. 1775, 4to.
Discourse upon some late Improvements of the Means for preserving the Health of Mariners. Lond. 1776, 4to.
A Discourse on the Invention and Improvements of the Reflecting Telescope. Lond. 1778, 4to.
Discourse on the Theory of gunnery. Lond. 1778, 4to.
Six Discourses, delivered by Sir John Pringle, Bart. when President of the Royal Society, on occasion of six annual assignments of Sir Godfrey Copley’s Medal; to which is prefixed, the Life of the Author, by A. Kippis, D.D. Lond. 1783, 8vo.
An Account of the Success of the Vitrum Ceratum Antimonii. Edin. Med. Ess. Vol. v. p. 194, 1736.
Experiments on Substances resisting Putrefaction. Phil. Trans. 1750, Abr. X. p. 57. On the same. Ib. p. 73. Continued, p. 84.
Several Persons seized with the Jail Fever working at Newgate. Ib. p. 318.
Remarkable Case of Fragility, Flexibility, and Dissolution of the Bones. Ib. p. 406.
Of the Earthquakes felt at Brussels. Ib. p. 696, 1755.
On the Agitation of the Waters, Nov. 1, 1755, in Scotland and at Hamburgh. Ib. p. 697.
Accounts of the Fiery Meteor which appeared on Nov. 26, 1768, between 8 and 9 at night. Ib. p. 377, 1759. Remarks on the same. Ib. p. 388.
Account of the Influenza as it appeared in 1775. Med. Obs. And Inq. Vi. P. 348.

PRINGLE, THOMAS, a highly esteemed poet and miscellaneous writer, the son of a farmer, was born on the farm of Blaiklaw, in Teviotdale, January 5, 1789. Owing to an accident which he met with in the nurse’s arms, when only a few months old, by which his right limb was dislocated at the hip-joint, he was unfortunately rendered lame for life. He learnt the rudiments of Latin at the grammar school of Kelso, and completed his studies at the university of Edinburgh. He afterwards became a clerk in the Register Office, Edinburgh, in the service of his majesty’s commissioners on the public records of Scotland. IN 1811, in conjunction with a friend, he published a satirical poem, called the ‘Institute,’ which did not sell, and is now forgotten. IN 1816 he contributed a descriptive poem to the ‘Poetic Mirror,’ which was the means of introducing him to Sir Walter Scott. Soon after he projected the ‘Edinburgh Monthly Magazine,’ the first number of which appeared in April 1817. It contained an article by Pringle on Scottish Gipsies, the materials for which were dictated to him by Scott, and have been inserted in the Introduction to Guy Mannering. To enable him to devote his undivided attention to this periodical, which, soon falling into the hands of new proprietors, became ‘Blackwood’s Magazine,’ he had relinquished his situation in the Register Office; and about the same time he undertook the editorship of the ‘Edinburgh Star’ newspaper. He also became joint-editor of Constable’s ‘Scots Magazine.’

Owing to some dispute with Mr. Blackwood, he soon retired from all connection with his Magazine, a circumstance which drew down upon him the abuse of some of his former coadjutors. Previous to this separation he had married Margaret, daughter of Mr. William Brown, an East Lothian farmer of great respectability. IN January 1819, having relinquished the editorship of the ‘Star,’ he resumed his former occupation of copying old records in the Register Office; and in the same year he published the ‘Autumnal Excursion, or Sketches in Teviotdale, with other Poems.’ His earnings being totally inadequate to the support of his family, and circumstances compelling the other members of his father’s house to have recourse to emigration, he applied, through his friend Scott, to Lord Melville, for an allotment of land in Southern Africa for his father and brother, and readily obtained a grant of eleven hundred acres of the unoccupied territory at the Cape. The little band of emigrants, consisting of twelve men, including three farm servants, six women, and six children, his wife, her sister, and himself, being of the number, sailed from London in February 1820, and arrived at Algoa Bay on the 15th May, where they disembarked. On reaching their place of settlement, they called it Glen-Lynden, which is now the official name of the river, and the whole of the valley, conferred in compliment to Pringle by General Bourke, when lieutenant-governor. In this remote location Pringle acted as the physician and surgeon of the party, there being no other within a hundred miles; and was at the same time the civil and military chief of the settlement, and the religious instructor and officiating minister. In June 1821 he obtained from Sir Rufane Donkin, the acting governor, an extension of the location, which put his party in possession of twenty thousand acres of land.

Through the interest of Sir Walter Scott, and others of his friends at the colonial department, he was appointed librarian of the government library at Capt Town; and in September 1822, with his wife and her sister, he commenced a residence there of nearly three years. His salary being only 75 a-year, he at first received pupils for private instruction, and then, in conjunction with a Dutch clergyman of the town, made arrangements for publishing a periodical in both the English and Dutch languages. The governor, however, Lord Charles Somerset, withheld his sanction from the latter project, and it did not make its appearance till some time afterwards, when, having obtained the approval of the government at home, it was at last published, under the name of the ‘South African Journal.’ Previous to this he had been joined by Mr. John Fairbairn from Edinburgh, with whom he organized a private academy on an extensive scale, which succeeded to his utmost wishes; and soon after the appearance of his ‘Journal,’ he was appointed joint-editor of the ‘South African Commercial Advertiser,’ a paper recently started by Mr. Greig, a printer. A dispute with the governor, however, arising from an attempted censorship of the press, to which Pringle would not submit, soon led to the discontinuance of both publications, the ruin of his academy, and the resignation of his office of government librarian. From October 1824 to April 1826 he was diligently employed in making himself acquainted with the true condition of the colony, and more especially of the frontier where his own relatives were located. During the greater part of 1825 he was in correspondence with the commissioners of inquiry, not only respecting his own case, but on the subject of various abuses in the local administration, the treatment of the colored race, and the defence of the frontier. He was one of the originators of the second great measure next to the political emancipation of the Hottentots, namely, their establishment as independent occupiers of land. A paper, given in by him to the commissioners in 1823, was entitled ‘Hints of a Plan for defending the Eastern Frontier of the Colony by a Settlement of Hottentots.’ He also acted as secretary to the Society for the relief of the distressed Settlers in Albany, in which capacity he sent a pamphlet for publication to London, entitled ‘Some Account of the Present State of the English Settlers in Albany, South Africa,’ which had the effect of procuring contributions to the relief fund, of 7,000 from England and India, besides 3,000 raised in the colony.

After visiting his relatives at Glen-Lynden, he returned to London in July 1826, and immediately applied to the Colonial Government for compensation for his losses at the Cape, but his claims were disallowed. An article, however, in the New Monthly Magazine, on the State of Slavery in the Colony, which he had transmitted to England previous to his departure from Cape Town, led to his acquaintance with Mr., afterwards Sir Fowell Buxton and Mr. Zachary Macaulay, and eventually to his being engaged, in 1827, as secretary to the Anti-Slavery Society, a situation which he held until the object of that body was accomplished. To the cause of abolition he devoted the energies of his body and mind, discharging the duties of his office in a way that showed his whole heart to be in the cause of justice and humanity. He soon after became editor of ‘Friendship’s Offering,’ a well-known annual in its day, which he conducted for seven or eight years with sound judgment and correct taste. In 1828 he published his ‘Ephemerides,’ being a collection of his juvenile poems, songs, and sonnets, and miscellaneous pieces, most of which are distinguished by their elegance and beauty, and all being rich in evidences of the truly benevolent and Christian spirit that actuated the author throughout his life. In 1834 those of his poems which relate to South Africa were reprinted in a volume, entitled ‘African Sketches,’ in which his interesting prose ‘Narrative of a Residence in South Africa’ appeared for the first time. After the author’s death, it was republished in a separate form, with a Memoir prefixed, from the pen of Mr. Josiah Conder.

On the 28th June 1834, the day after his official announcement to the public of the abolition of slavery, he was seized with his last illness. Symptoms of consumption having soon become distinctly apparent, he was advised by his physician to remove to a warmer climate before the approach of winter. He, therefore, turned his thoughts towards Southern Africa; and after a fruitless application to Government for an appointment at the Cape, or for an advance of money to assist him on his return, the necessary preparations were hastily completed, and the passage for himself, his wife, and her sister, actually engaged. Three days, however, before the time appointed for sailing, he was attacked with a diarrhea, which his already enfeebled constitution could not resist, and he died December 5, 1834. His remains were interred in Bunhill Fields burying-ground, where a simple stone bears an elegant tribute to his memory, composed by William Kennedy. In 1839 a collection of his poetical works, with a sketch of his life by Leitch Ritchie, which has furnished the materials of this notice, was published by Moxon of London, for the benefit of his widow.


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