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Peebles and Selkirk
Administration and Divisions


Scotland in the twelfth century was divided into twenty-three sheriffdoms, of which Peebles and Selkirk were two. The sheriff; who was generally some high nobleman, was responsible to the King for law and order in his district. The sheriff frequently delegated the active part of his duties to a deputy, and the honorary office as a rule became hereditary. For many years the Murrays of Philiphaugh were hereditary sheriffs of Selkirkshire. When, therefore, in 1747 hereditary jurisdictions were abolished, compensation was paid to the persons holding these rights. Murray of Philiphaugh received £4000; and Lord William, Earl of March, as hereditary sheriff of Tweeddale, £3418 4s. 5d. At the same time the office of sheriff was vested in the Crown, which was empowered to appoint a sheriff-depute (the sheriff principal), who in turn appointed a sheriff—substitute (the resident county magistrate). The appointment of sheriff-substitute has since been entrusted to the Crown. The depute for Peebleshire is also sheriff of the Lothians; and the depute for Selkirkshire combines in his sheriffdom the neighbouring counties of Roxburgh and Berwick.

Previous to 1889 county affairs were managed by the Commissioners of Supply, the Road Trustees, the Local Authority, the Justices of the Peace, the Police Committee. The Local Government Act of that year transferred the powers and duties of these authorities in whole or part to the County Councils. The Commissioners of Supply, appointed originally in 1667, received their name from the fact that they levied and collected the "cess" or land tax as supply to the Sovereign. Prior to 1889 they had also to appoint the county officials and to maintain a force of police. The Commissioners, who generally speaking comprised the landowners of the district, still meet once a year; but all the business they transact is to elect a convener, and to concur with the County Council in appointing the Standing Joint Committee for Police.

The Lord-Lieutenant is the military representative of the Crown, and it is his duty to select persons for the Commission of the Peace. In this latter duty he is now assisted by a Local Committee.

Peeblesshire contains the following parishes: Broughton, Glenholm and Kilbucho, Innerleithen, Drummelzier, Eddleston, Kirkurd, Lyne, Manor, Newlands, Peebles, Skirling, Stobo, Traquair, Tweedsmuir, West Linton. The Selkirkshire parishes are: Ashkirk, Caddonfoot, Ettrick, Galashiels, Selkirk, Kirkhope, Yarrow and part of Melrose.

Since 1894 Parish Councils have existed for various local purposes. They administer the poor law, levy poor and school rates, take charge of the registration of births, marriages and deaths, and so on. Primary education is managed by School Boards. With the extension of secondary education it was found that the burgh of the Parish was too restricted an area for its administration. County Committees, otherwise known as Secondary Education Committees, were therefore instituted, to co-operate with School Boards in the matter of secondary education; and they also share the management of the training of teachers.

Peebles and Selkirk are ancient royal burghs, managing their own affairs, under royal charter, by provost, bailies and councillors. Galashiels was erected a burgh of barony in 1599, and became a parliamentary burgh in 1868. In 1869 Innerleithen was made a police burgh. The burgh of Peebles was represented in the Scottish Parliament as early as the reign of David II; the burgh of Selkirk was first represented in 1469. Neither county seems to have had a member till the seventeenth century. Various fluctuations, both in burgh and in county representation, took place in the seventeenth century and the eighteenth. In 1831 the proposal to unite the counties of Peebles and Selkirk as one constituency was so strenuously resisted by the Selkirkshire Commissioners of Supply that the proposal was dropped. By the Reform Act of 1832 Peebles and Selkirk were merged with their respective counties. In 1868, however, Selkirk, Hawick and Galashiels were formed into the Hawick Burghs, and known as the "Border Burghs," have since then returned one member, while the counties of Peebles and Selkirk were united in one constituency, returning one member.


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