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History of West Calder
Chapter XXI. Barony of Marchbanks of that ilk. John Sturrock, Esq., Superior


In Calder’s ancient House, there stands
A mighty Charter Chest
Enclosed wi’ mony locks and bauds,
In ancient mouldings drest.

Could I but keek within that kist
And read its Charters over,
Then would I be as full o’ grist
As any hare ‘in clover’!—Antiquary.

“Jethert’s here!” “Where’s Calder? was the first exclamation that burst from my lips on reading the following contribution to the History of West Calder from the pen of Mr Sturrock, who is in possession of the deeds and documents from which most of the following facts are taken, while the originals are doubtless in the above Great Charter Chest of Calder, so zealously guarded by the lords of Torphichen.

“Notes as to the Barony of Marjoribanks,. in the parish of West Calder.—The lands comprehending this barony extend over a large area of the parish and were acquired in 1691 from Walter Lord Torphichen by Thomas Marjoribanks of Balbairdie. These lands were erected by the Crown into the barony of Marjoribanks in 1696, to be held blench of the kin-g for payment of a pair of gilt spurs or two silver shillings as the value thereof, yearly if asked only. The successive proprietors of the barony thereafter adopted the style of Marjoribanks of that Ilk with the motto, Et custoo et pugnax.

The lands consisted of :—1, Cleughhead, including Westfield and Southfield; 2, Easter Blackmyre and Killiendean; 3, Brotherston; 4, Gavieside and Muirhousehill; 5, Cloven-fordsyke and Mossend; 6, Tennants March and Burnbrae; 7, Burnhouse; 8, Breichmill and Hillhead; 9, Muirhall and Bridgend; 10, Wliitesyke; 11, Heughhead, Standalane and Broomhill; 12, Sclatehaugh and Dyke-foot; 13, Heughhead and Turniemoon; 14, Easter Torphin; 15, Wester Torphin and Kiprig; 16, North Cobinshaw and Kipsyke; 17, South Cobinshaw; 18, Crosswoodhill; 19, Blackhill; 20, the land upon which almost the whole of the present village of West Calder is situated: and 21, all other lands and houses in the parish of West Calder belonging in property to Lord Torphichen.

Lord Torphichen also conveyed to Mr Marjoribanks:—1, the patronage of the Parish Church of West Calder; and 2, the right to hold a weekly market and two annual fairs at West Calder and to levy customs thereat.

Cobinshaw Loch was formed by the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal Company as a reservoir to feed their canal out of parts of the lands of North and South Cobinshaw.

That part of the village on the south side of the Lanark road has been built upon part of the lands of Southfield of Cleughhead, and that part on the north side of the road upon lands called Westfield of Cleughhead. The remainder of Cleughhead (except Southfield) now forms part of the estate of Polbeth. The Southfield now forms part of the estate of Harwood.

The Marjoribanks family gradually feued out their lands. The lands of Breich Mill, upon which the mill of the barony was situated, were the last of the possessions held by them in property; and when these lands were feud out in 1801, the whole barony then became simply a superiority. The Marjoribanks family ceased their connection with the barony in 1828, when Dr Gilbert Ogilvie Gardner of the Bengal Civil Service became the purchaser, and was enrolled as a freeholder in virtue of his crown title. The title has, since 1864, stood in the person of Mr John Sturrock, Arthurville, Wardie, Edinburgh ; but the superiority is not now so extensive as it used to be.

Mr Alexander Marjoribanks sold the patronage of the Parish Church in 1785 to the Earl of Lauderdale.

There is a good deal of curious information to be obtained in connection with the barony of Marjoribanks regarding the history of West Calder, and we shall lay some of ^hat information before our readers.

The village of West Calder began to be feued out about 1660. In 1691, at the date of the purchase by Mr Marjoribanks, there were only seven feuers at the West Kirk of West Calder, viz :—John Flint, in Burn-grange; William Anderson, in Parkhead; William Douglas of Baads ; Mr Stevenson of Hermandshiells; John Purdie; Thomas Findlay’s heirs; and John Wallace. These feus were all clustered about the neighbourhood of the Church, and were all situated on the south side of the Lanark road. Those feus on the north side of that road were given off at later dates by the Marjoribank’s family, and these have now been sub-feud.

We have seen the original Feu Disposition granted in 1663 by Walter Lord Torphichen in favour of John Wallace in Cleughhead. It is in a good state of preservation, and the writing is unusually legible. The witnesses to his Lordship’s signature are :—James Sandilands of Mmrhousedykes, James Douglas of Baads, and Mr William Douglas.

Wr have also seen the original Feu Disposition to Thomas Finlay, who was the schoolmaster of West Calder. It is dated 17th June, 1659, and is extended in duplicate. The ground thereby feud adjoined the school-house. This Thomas Findlay was schoolmaster till his death about 1680. He was also a Notary Public as is shown by an instrument of sasine expede by him in 1663. Thomas Findlay was succeeded in the office of schoolmaster by Charles Ross, and Mr Patrick Flint is supposed to have been Mr Boss’ successor; at all events Mr Flint was schoolmaster in 1738.

In the inventory of writs of Brotherton, Powbeath, and others, there is noted a charter granted in 1473 by James Gifford of Posshill to John Kineaid, to be holden of Gavin Livingston, blench for payment of a white rose yearly. There is also a receipt of sasine dated in 1569 by John Sandilands of Calder, as coming in place of the said Gavin Livingston, for infefting James Kineaid of Carbousie as heir to his father in the lands of Powbeath.

From the inventory of writs of Gavieside, it appears that there were Letters of Inhibition issued in 1652 “by authority of the Keepers of the Liberty of England ” at the instance of Richard Wallace of Gavieside against James Kinloch of Alderstotm. And in 1657 there were Letters of Inhibition issued “under the Signet of Oliver Cromwell at Mr Wallace’s instance against Mr Kinloch. In 1665 the said Richard Wallace appears to have borrowed 2,000 merks from Janies Flint in Alderstoun, and he granted a heritable bond (which ae have seen) therefore over the lands of Gavieside, or Gaieside as it was then and still commonly called.

In 1685 Lord Sandilands of Torphichen obtained an Act of Parliament for holding three free fairs in the year, the first on the first Tuesday of March at Mid Calder, the second on the third Wednesday of July at West Calder, and the third on the last Tuesday of October also at West Calder. Each of these fairs was to continue three days ; and there was also power given to hold a weekly market on Tuesdays; power was also conferred upon his Lordship to levy tolls and customs at said fairs and markets, and to keep order thereat. The right to hold the two fairs and weekly market at West Calder was, as already stated, conveyed by Lord Torphiehen to Mr Marjoribanks. The markets were held on a market place or common, part of the lands of Cleughhead, adjoining and to the west of the old Antiburgher Chapel. Amongst the Marjoribanks papers there is a document dated 14th October 1774, and signed by George Anderson, John Fraser, John Wallace, David Edmiston, William Meikle, and James Go wans, certifying that they remember that the fair and public market of black cattle had been held upon the Cleughhead Croft for the space of forty years and upwards. There was also a building in that neighbourhood known as the Meal Mercat, erected in 1719, (the plan of which we have seen,) and which appears to have been used by the neighbouring farmers, who paid rent therefore to Mr Marjoribanks. In 1761 the Meal Market was feud out to James Scott, surgeon in West Calder.

Between 1690 and 1724 West Calder could boast of having a limb of the law to itself, in the person of Thomas Fleming, writer. He was also a tenant of the Marjoribanks family, and appears to have paid his rent partly by contra accounts for preparing tacks for the various tenants and doing other legal business. Fleming also prepared the Charters granted to the vassals.

In 1711 Andrew Marjoribanks, writer to the Signet succeeded his brother Thomas in the barony, and he appears to have been a very careful business man. The rental book of the barony is kept by himself in a very neat handwriting from 1711 to 1724, when Mr John Tennent of Handaxwood was appointed factor.

The rental for crop, 1711, may be here given as a specimen of the rents current at that period. The money is Scots money, and, as is well known, £1 Scots is equal to Is 8d Sterling. It is as follows:—1. Grizoll Solmond, (Mrs Flint,) for Breichmill, Hill-head, and Sykebrae, ,£133 6s 8d in money, 25 bolls meal, and 3 dozen hens. 2. John Findlay, for Clovenfordsyke, <£80 in money, 12 hens, and 6 carriages. 3. John Beugo, elder for Brotherton and Easter Blackmyre, £180 in money, 5 bolls bear, 15 bolls meal, 18 hens, and 12 carriages. 4. Thomas Fleming, for Cleughhead, £210 13s 4d in money, 12 hens, and 12 carriages. 5, James Wilson, for Killiendean, £20. 6.

William Beugo, for Gavieside, £133 6s 8d of money, 18 bolls meal, 4 bolls bear, 12 hens and carriages. 7. Andrew Steel, for Heughhead, £93 6s 8d in money, 6 hens, and 6 carriages. 8. John Beugo, younger, for Sclateheugh, £220 in money, 12 hens and 6 carriages. 9. John Jackson, for South Torphin, £300 in money, 2 hens, and a fat redder. 10. James Johnstone, for Norzh Torphin, £300 in money, 12 liens, and a fat wedder. 11. John Purdie, for Blackhill, £26 13s lid. 12. Thomas Henderson, for Kipsyke, £110, 13. William Flint of Polbeth and John Flint his brother, for North Cobinshaw, £140 in money, 6 bens, 6 carriages, and 40 sheep grassing summer and winter. 14. John Chambers, for South Cobinshaw, .£240 in money, 12 hens, 0 carriages, and grassing for 2 horses. 15. Adam Somervill, for Crosswoodhill, £2Si> 13s 4d.

The various payments to account made by each tenant are carefully noted. From these it appears that a body of dragoons under Captain Knox were quartered in the parish in 1713, as the tenants of Breichmill, South Cobinshaw, and Cleughhead, get credit from Marjoribanks for the values of certain hay, corn, and straw, furnished by them to the dragoons. It also appears that in 1713 George Ricchie paid a rent of £24 Scots for the Gavieside dove-cot, Mr Marjoribanks stipulating in'addition that he was to get all the clung to himself. The tenant of Killien-dean in 1715 and subsequent years appears to have been a shoemaker as he gets credit for supplying a pair of shoes yearly to one of Marjoribanks’ servants at the price of £1 16s Scots or 3s Sterling. In 1717 the tenant, of Wester Torphin gets credit for £66 13s 4cl Scots or £h 1 Is Icl Sterling for a brown mare furnished to the landlord In 1718 the tenant of Crosswoodhill is allowed £1 8s Scots for a tree 4 for a roof to the Mansion House and £ 1 16s for ‘3 dails to help the door.' In 1720, John Smith gets credit for 4s 15 ‘for mounting the lofts in West Calder Church. whatever that may mean. Butter appears to have been cheap in 1722, the price being stated at 4d Sterling per pound.

Coal working in the barony.—In 1704, Mr Marjoribanks let to William Whyte, coal-worker, Blackburn, on an eighteen years* lease, the coal in Breichmill, Burnhouse, and Whytesyke at a rent of 300 merks Scots. The tenant was taken bound to keep only three coalwrekers, including himself, with such oncost men and bearers as should be sufficient. In 1718 Mr Marjoribanks took the working of the coal in Breichmill into his own hands, and employed five or six men. The principal worker or grieve was paid at the rate of 5s Sterling per week, while the others got 3s 4d each per week. The great or large coal appears to have realized 3|d Sterling per load, and the small coal 2d per load. Women appear to have been employed as bearers or carriers of the coal Water appears to have been scarce and had all to be carried. Payments to the water carrier are entered weekly. The coal seems to have been wrought more or less by the Marjori-banks family till 1751 when it was let on a twelve years lease to Adam Primrose.

Before the passing of the Heritable Jurisdictions Act in 1748 the barons of the baronies had very extensive powers, including those of pit and gallows. By that Act, however, the power to inflict capital punishment was taken from them, and their rights in criminal cases were restricted to assaults, batteries, and similar crimes, for which the punishment inflicted should only be by fine not exceeding 20s Sterling, or by setting the delinquent in the stocks not longer than three hours in the day time, In civil cases the power of the barons was restricted to cases where the debt or damage should not exceed 40s Sterling. The exercise of these powers is still permissible in the case of a barony erected before the passing of the Act of 1748, and the baron may appoint a baron-bailie to preside in his courts as is done at the present day in various towns in Scotland. The last baron-bailie for the barony of Marjoribanks appears to have been Mr Wilson of Cleughhead, who was appointed in 1773.


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