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Sir Walter Scott
The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border
VII. Double of the Contract Betwixt the King and Several of his Subjects (A.D. 1612)


VII. Double of the Contract Betwixt the King and Several of his Subjects (A.D. 1612)

The original of this curious brief, by which the Borderers renounced their vocation of theft and robbery, is in the hands of the Editor, whose ancestor is one of the parties subscribing. Similar bonds were doubtless executed by the other clans; among whom copies would be distributed for their subscription. This appears to have referred chiefly to the clan of Scott.

We noblemen, barons, landit gentilmen, and uthers, under subseryveing deiply considering with ourselves the wrackfull and intolerable calamities soe long sustained be us, our friends, our servants, and inhabitants, upon proper lands and heretages, at the hands of thieves and murtherers, within the Highlands and Bordours; whereby our bloods have been cruelly shed, our goods be opin depredation violentlie reft and spulzied, and our most plentifull and profitable roumes, for fear of their incursions and oppressions, left desolat and desert, without tennent or inhabitant, to our inexcusable reproach and shameful wrack, if wee sall any longer neglect to use sic lawfull and allowable rememdies as God, our honor, and the memorable examples of our worthie predecessors, still extant in the records of ther days, craves at our hands, for the repressing of their insolence: And considering, therwithall, the royall and princelie dispostion of our most gracious soverane lord, utterit everie way for the suppressing of this infamous byke of lawless limmers, and quhat earnest and faithfull dutie our ranks and places craves of us, for the furtherance of his Majesties most honorable resolution at this tyme, for the extermination of sic a venime, whereby our oursights hithertill has bein na little hider to the good success of the great care and paynes tane alwayes be his highness and his secret counsel, to work the said effect: Thairfore, and for remeid of our bypast slouth that way, in the fear of God, and with his Majesties gracious approbation and allowance, we all and everie ane of us have solemnly avowit, sworne, and protestit, like as, be the tenor heirof we avow, swear, and protest, upon our consciences and honors, that, as we are in hearts trew and faithfull, and obedient subjects, to the King’s Majestie, our sovereign lord and his authoritie, and always answerable to his hienes laws; so, in our hearts, we abhorre, dampen, and detest all treason, murther, fire-syseing, reviseing of women, thift, resset of thift, fortifeieng or assisting with thieves, shedding of true mens blood, common and manifest oppression, resset of persons excommunicat, or at the horne, for criminall causes, with the authors and commiters therof whatsumever; in further taken whereof, we bind and obleis us, our aires and successors of our lands and heretages, to our soverane lord and his successors, that, within ten dayes after our subscription to the present, we sall discharge, and be oppin proclamation at the Mercat-croces of heid-burrowes within the shirfdomes, quherin the theives and limmers dwell, as also be particular intimation to themselves, give up all bands of friendship, kyndnes, oversight, maintenance, or assureance, if ony we have, with common theives and broken clans or branches, unanswereable to his hienes lawes; and sall, fra thenfurth, affauldlie, and truelie, joyne and concurre together als weill in action as in heart, to the pursute, with fire and sword, of all and whatsumever within the realm, of whatsumever clane, qualitie, or surname, who being charged, be opin proclamacione, to compeir to answer to complaints, and to relieve their masters at his majestie and true mens hands, are or sall for ther disobedience be denounced fugitives and outlawes, together with whatsoever ther partakers, suppliers, and recepters, and all sic other, as frae the tyme they be denounced fugitives, sall furnish to them, ther wyfes or families, meat, drink, herbore, or other confort qyhatsumever; As lykewayes we bind and obleis us, in manner foresaid, that if any persone dwelling within our houses, upon our lands, within our tackes, steadings, roumes, portiounes, baileries, or other office or jurisdiction quhatsumever, commits ony of the crymes before expreimit, or any uther punishable be lyfe or member, we, or any of us under qyhom the said persone dwells, being required, thereto be his majesties letters valyentnes, or charges, to be his highness consell or justice, sall neither directlie, nor indirectlie, give any warning or advertisement to him, quherby he may eschew his taking; but trewlie and effauldlie sall apprehend, bring and present him to underly his tryell of the cryme qyherof he is dilatit, upon fifteen dayes warneing, without shift or excuse quhatsumever, as we sall ansuer to his majestie upon our honours, and under the paynes contained in the generall bond and nets of Parliament quhatsumever; and sall be comptable to our soverane lord and his hienes thesaurer, for their escheats, in cace they be convict; and, in case the persone or persons so delatit, becomes fugitives, wharby we cannot apprehend them to be presentit, we sall expel, put and hold them furth of our bounds, heretages, tacks, and steidings, roumes, bailliaries, and jurisdictions quhatsumever, together with ther wyfes bairnes, and families, and sall take fra them their stocke and steiding, and put in uther persones to occupy the same: and if it sall happin the saids malefactors to resort or come again within our bounds, or be sufferit to remain thereine, with our witting, tweifl hours together, or to repair with our knowledge to oppin mercat unapprehendit, in that cace we grant and confes us to be culpable of quhatsumever crymes or skaithes committit be them at any time before or thereafter: And if it shall happen at any tyme herefter, ony creatures, rebels to our soverane lords authoritie, for criminall causes to repair within our bounds, or any pairt of the shirrifdome quharein we dwell; we awoll we sall be readie to ryse and concurre, with our friends and forces, to ther pursute, till they be either apprehendit and presented to justice or put out of the sherriffdome quharein we dwell; moreover none of us herefter sall tryst or assure with any declared theeves or fugitives, but quhensoever any affray of theeves or reivers happens within our bounds or jurisdictions forsaids, we shall at the affray or foray, be ourselves, our servants, kin, freinds, and sae many partakers as we may get, ryse, follow, and pursue, the saids theeves and reviers, at the outmost of our power, as we wold doe to the rescue of our owne proper goods in cace they were in the lyke danger, being always warned thereto be the scout-baillie in the countrie requisitione of partie, or other wayes quhatsumever: And if it be found, that we ly still at siclike effrayes, and suffers the saids theeves and rubbers to pass threw our bounds, without purseuing them and making uther thorture or impediment we may, in that cace we accept on us the guiltiness of quhatsumever theft or uther cryme that they commit, as perters with them therin and punisheable therefore, conforme to the act of Parliament: And if it shall happin any stowth-reiff or oppression to be committed at any tyme heirafter, upon any his hienes subjects, be any inhabitants within our bounds and jurisdictionis forsaids, the same being notified to us be the owners of the goods, or any uther follower thereof if the gudes are stolen and quhar they are reset within our bounds, we sall, immedialie thereafter, be ourselves, or be some special friend or servant, ayde and addresse us to the said place, and finding the goods ther, shall see them rendered to the followers, without graditude or good deid, and therwith sall apprehend the thief, if he be present on the ground, or can be found within our bounds, then, or at any tyme therefter , and present him to his majestie, or to his justice, to be punished according to his merit: or, if we cannot find him, we shall intimate his name to the sheriff, stewart, or wardene, to be denounced fugitives be them at the Mercat-croce of the next heidburgh, that he, his wyfe, and familie, may therefter be used in manner foresaid: Likewayes, that nane of us heirefter sall aither opinlie or privatlie, for any theif-hider, entertainer, or reseffer of theft or theftous goods, assist nor defend them directlie nor indirectlie,solisit for their impunitlie, or bear grudge, rancoure, or quarrel againes any man for their dilatione, apprehension, or pursute in any sort, under the paine of infame and acceptance upon us of the guiltiness of the said cryme, in cace they be convict; And if it sall happen us, or any of us, at ony tyme heirefter, to meit with any notorious theif or lymmer, whom we may tak, we sall not faillie to apprehend, keip, and detaine him, in sure capptivitie and firmance, unfred, or set to libertye upon quhatsomever band, promise, restitutione, or assurance he can give us; but sall present him to his majestie, his counsel, or justice, to be punished for his offence, under the payne, likewayes to be repute culpable of his theftuous deids, and punishable accordinlie; and finallie, that we ourselves and all sic persons quhatsumever, as dwells upon our lands and uthers forsaids, sall always be answerable to our soverane lord and his authoritie, and sall compeir before his hienes and his counsel, quhenever we shall happin to be charged for that effect, under the paines contained in the acts of cautin found for observation of the generail bands; And gif for execution of any of the premises, we, or any of us, be quarreled be ony clan brensche, or surname, to whom the theeves pertaines, we bind and obleis us and our foresaids, affauldlie and truelie, to concurre and assist with others agains the brensch, surname, or clan, that quarrels, as if it were our proper cause; and sall esteem the feid if any follow, equall to us all. In witnes quhareof, our soverane lord, in taken of his said approbation, and allowance of the premises, and evere ane of us, for us and our forsaids, have subscryvit this present, to be insert and registrat in the books of the secret counsell, and to have the strength of ane decreit thereof against the contraveiners. Whereunto our subscriptions sall serve for ane sufficient warrant for everie ane of us.

This band, written by William Wyllie, clerk, Sic subscribitur. James R. – Lenox – Huntlie – Montross. Cancellarius – Angus – Herys – Caithness – Traquair Lochinvar – Johnstoun – Drumlangric – David Scot of Stobneill Apud Jedburgh, 29th March, 1612. Walter Scot of Goldielands, Walter Scot of Tishelaw, Robert Scot, his sone, James Gledstanes of Cocklaw, William Elliot of Falneish, Robert Scot of Satsheills, Walter Scot of Harden, Sym Scot of Bonniton, and William Scot in Burnfute in the Water of Aill, with our hands at the pen, led be James Primerose, clerk of counsel, at our command. J. Primerose. James Robert Scott in Stirkfield, with hand at the pen, led be William Wyly, wryter of this band. William Scot of Hartwoodmyres, Philip Scot of Dryhope, Robert Scot of Aikwood, William Scot of Whythaught, James Scot of Gilmerscleugh, and William Wylie, clerk. W. Wyllie.


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