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Stories from House of Tartan
Merrilees Tartan


Meg Merrilees tartanThe Meg Merrilees tartan was first produced by William Wilson of Bannockburn in 1829 to celebrate the fictional gypsy character in Sir Walter Scott's novel "Guy Mannering" published in 1815. It was advertised by Inverness draper, D. MacDougall, in 1831 as 'Meg Merrilees Winter Shawls' and the Scottish Tartans Society records the tartan being sold by Forsyths in Glasgow in 1840. It continued to be produced until the 1920s and inevitably became associated with the Scottish surname of Merrilees. It is now recognised as an official tartan of the Merrilees Clan and the Merrilees Family Association periodically arranges special weavings for its worldwide membership through its website www.merrileesclan.org.nz.

Thanks to Gary Merrylees for providing information on the tartan.

From Byways of the Scottish Borders - Here in Kirk-Yetholm, sometime towards the end of the 17th century, was born Jean Gordon, wife of the Gypsy chief Patrick Faa, who survives for the reading world in the person of Meg Merrilees in Guy Mannering. Her fate and the fate of her family afford an example of the treatment too often suffered as well as deserved. For burning the house of Greenhead, her husband, Patrick Faa, was whipped through Jedburgh, stood for half-an-hour at the cross with his ear nailed to a post, had both ears cut off, and was finally transported to the American plantations. In 1714 her son, Alexander Faa, was murdered by another Gypsy. The murderer escaped from prison, but was dogged from Scotland to Holland, and from Holland to Ireland, by the murdered man’s mother; and finally, at her instance, was brought to justice on Jedburgh Gallowhill. Jean’s other sons, after many depredations, were hanged at Jedburgh all on one day—their fate, it is said, being decided by the casting vote of a juryman who had slept throughout the discussion of the case, but who suddenly waked up with the words, "Hang them a’!" Jean was present at the trial, and upon hearing the verdict is said to have exclaimed "The Lord help the innocent on a day like this!" She herself was finally ducked to death for her Jacobite leanings by the cowardly rabble of Carlisle, continuing so long as she could get her head above water to cry out "Charlie yet! Charlie yet."


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