Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

A History of the Border Counties
Roxburgh, Selkirk, Peebles by Sir George Douglas Bart.


In composing a History of the Border Counties, a writer’s first inclination is to produce a book made up largely of legend and tradition, and freely interspersed with citations from the Border Ballads. But, fascinating as is the material thus presented, so long as Sir Walter Scott’s ‘ Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,’ with its rich equipment of notes and introduction, is within the reach of every one, a new book of the kind can scarcely be considered necessary; whilst those who seek for a critical study of the ballads will find it ready to their hand in the second volume of the ‘History and Poetry of the Scottish Border’ by the late Professor Veitch. The aim, then, of the following sketch is rather to bring the history of the Border counties into line with the results of recent historical and antiquarian research, presenting to the reader, so far as may be, only well authenticated fact, and thus not scrupling, when necessary, to explode even long-cherished error. In pursuit of this method, where no reliable information is available, a matter is occasionally left doubtful—though the ingenious surmises of competent students have of course been allowed their due weight.

In preparing his little monograph, the author has of course made free use of the existing histories of the district—namely, of the careful but somewhat ponderous work of Ridpath ; of Jeffrey’s ‘ Roxburghshire,’ which, much of its information has been superseded, still for Borderers contains much good reading; of the animated narrative and valuable documents of Mr Craig-Brown’s 'Selkirkshire’; of William Chambers’s pleasantly written ‘Peeblesshire’; and, finally, of Mr F. H. Groome’s useful ‘Short Border History.’

His researches have also been much aided by such standard works as—to name but one or two—Morton’s ‘Monastic Annals of Teviotdale,’and the valuable Introductions to the Cartularies of the Border abbeys, as well as by the many interesting books dealing with the Borders which in more recent years have poured from the press, among which it may suffice to specify the two volumes of ‘Calendars of Border Papers’ (1560-1603), the ‘History of Liddesdale’ by Mr R. B. Armstrong, the histories of the Douglas and Scott families, compiled from original sources by the late Sir William Fraser, the ‘Border Elliots’ of the Hon. George Elliot, and the Rev. J. Wood Brown’s ‘Life and Legend of Michael Scot.’

It now remains for the author gratefully to acknowledge the goodwill which he has met with generally in the course of his labours, and to record his special thanks to the gentlemen and lady hereafter named : to Dr David Christison and Dr Joseph Anderson, for notes lent and help by consultation; to Mr F. H. Groome and the Rev. George Gunn of Stichill for reading the proof-sheets of the book; to the gentleman last-named and to the Rev. J. A. Findlay of Sprouston for local information; and to Mrs M. M. Turnbull of Eastfield and others for information regarding Borderers in the Colonies. He also wishes to convey his thanks to Mr James Sinton for undertaking the compilation of the Bibliography appended to the volume, at the same time acknowledging the assistance Mr Sinton has received from Messrs D. Johnstone and Orr of Edinburgh and Messrs W. & J. Kennedy of Hawick.

Springwood Park, Kelso,
March 1899

The Great Haggis Hunt 2017 Selkirk


Chapter I.
Roman invasion and occupation—Roman remains
Chapter II.
Withdrawal of the Romans—Prehistoric remains in the Border counties : caves, camps, prehistoric town on Eildon, broch at Torwoodlee, the Catrail, standing-stones, cup - markings, cists, miscellaneous finds—Legendary or semi-legendary characters: King Arthur, Merlin—Ida—The kingdom of Bernicia—The kingdom of Northumbria—Battle of Degsastane
Chapter III.
Conversion of Northumbria—Aidan—Old Melrose—Boisil—Cuthbert: he embraces the religious life ; his mission-work; miracles; called away from Melrose; subsequent life and death; character; local associations—Later history of the Northumbrian kingdom—The Danes—Battle of Brunanburh—Northumbria an earldom—Battle of Carham.
Chapter IV.
Disturbed condition of the Border continued — Amalgamation of nationalities—Influence of St Margaret—Growing importance of the Border—Early notices of Border localities—Foundation and rise of the Border abbeys—Kelso : early abbots, architecture, arts and industries, possessions and revenues, private benefactions, cultivation and tenancy of land—Melrose Abbey: Old Melrose, *Chronica de Mailros," architecture of abbey, John Morow—Jedburgh : early foundation, grants to the abbey, daily life there, architecture—Early Border churches—Influence of the monks—Dawn of thought and poetry in the Borders ; I)r it helm ; Michael Scot, arguments in support of a Border origin, early studies and subsequent career, true character, legends ; Thomas the Rhymer, localities associated with his name, prophecies attributed to him, their local allusions; Lord Soulis; Habby Ker.
Chapter V
Border land-names — Professor Veitch’s views — Surnames; early mention of some, and origins of Border families : Scott, Douglas, Ker, Armstrong, Elliot—By-names—Castles : the old and new type—Peels : their evolution—Burghs—Narrative of events on the Borders—Malcolm resigns northern counties to England— William the Lion : his capture ; endeavdurs to recover northern counties; relations with John—Alexander II.—Reopening and settlement of northern counties’ question—Commission to determine Border line—First Border laws—Alexander III.—A coup at Kelso—The contre-coup—Finding of an ancient cross and um at Peebles—The Royal Family on the Borders—The ghost that danced at Jethart.
Chapter VI
Change brought about on the Borders by the death of Alexander III., and events following—The convention of Birgham—Edward summoned to the Border—Subsequent events—Scottish incursions over the Border—Sack of Berwick—Edward’s itinerary in Roxburghshire—Local names in the Ragman Rolls—Lands restored in virtue of fealty sworn—Wallace in Ettrick—Forest archers at Falkirk—Wallace’s election as Guardian at St Mary of the Lowes —Lanercost chronicler’s account of military events on the Border —Tradition of Wallace’s descent from a Peeblesshire family—The “Wallace” tower and thorn—The Frasers of Oliver, father and son—The Borders under English rule—Adventure of Douglas on the water of Lyne—The “ Emerald ” Charter—Douglas captures Roxburgh Castle by stratagem—Succession of Scottish incursions after Bannockburn — Douglas routs the English at Lintalee — Progress of the war on the Borders—Froissart’s account of the Scottish soldiers and their habits—The incursion into Weardale —Treaty of Northampton—Bruce charges his successors with the care of Melrose Abbey—“The Good King Robert’s Testament ”— Death of Douglas—The Border hero of the War of Independence.
Chapter VII.
Claim of Thomas, Lora Wake, to the lands of Liddel — Edward Baliol at Roxburgh solemnly surrenders the liberties of Scotland —Roxburgh, Jedburgh, the Forest, and Peebles given up to the English—They are regained by the Scots—Murder of Dalhousle by the Knight of Liddesdale at Hermitage—Death of the Knight —Wark Castle defended by the Countess of Salisbury—Battle of Neville’s Cross, and recovery by Edward III. of the Border country—The black death transmitted to the Borders from England—Scots and French defeat the English at Nisbet--Baliol’s second surrender to Edward III. at Roxburgh—The “Burnt Candlemas”—Border country under English administration— Douglas claims the crown—The Earl of March’s squire slain by English in Roxburgh market-place—The “Bloody Fair’’and its sequels—Unrest on the Borders—John of Gaunt’s invasions— Douglas wins back the Scottish Border country—John of Vienne comes to the Borders—Caustic criticisms of his followers—Destruction of Melrose Abbey by Richard II.—Story of Divine retribution for the same—The battle of Utterbum—Its characteristics.
Chapter VIII.
International conference at Hadden—Provision against Scots-Eng-lishmen and English-Scotsmen — Rupture between March and Douglas—Second battle of Nisbet Moor—“ Tineman,” Earl of Douglas—Rout of Homildon Hill—Wavering allegiance of the Percys — Siege of Coklaw — Hotspur’s rebellion and death at Shrewsbury—Tineman again an English prisoner—Formidable rising in the north checked by the Earl of Westmorland—First use of cannon in Border warfare—Renewed rebellion and death of Northumberland—Border pirates—Capture and demolition of Jedburgh Castle—The expenses how defrayed—Borderers keep in view the regaining of their old limits—The Percy honours and estates restored—The “Fool Raid-’ ar.d its sequel—Capture and recapture of Wark—Deaths of March and Tineman—Provisions affecting the Borders in truce with England by James I. on his return from captivity—The king’s speech as he crosses the Border —State of the Border at the time—Impressions de voyage of a future pope—The Borders peaceful under James I.—Battle of Piperden—Great siege of Roxburgh—The poems of “Peebles to the Play” and the “Three Tales of the Three Priests of Peebles”—Light thrown by them on social life of the Borders in the fifteenth century.
Chapter IX
New provisions in the truce of 1438—The Douglases: Archibald, fifth carl; his son, William, the sixth earl ; character and fate— “Gross James”—The power of the family reaches its height in Earl William ; his estates and influence on the Borders; his murder by James II. in Stirling Castle—Wars with the Black Douglases—Their downfall—The Scotts profit thereby—End of the last Earl of Douglas—Doings on the Borders—New regulations for the defence of the Middle Marches—Siege of Roxburgh Castle —Death of James II.—Capture and demolition of the castle— Modem depredators—Borderers in the Wars of the Roses— Border laws (third series)—Selfish character of Douglas’s ambition—The truce strained to breaking-point on the Borders— Character of James III.—Borderers under Angus and Home take part in the rebellion—Archibald, Earl of Angus, “Bell-the-Cat” —The Douglases lose Liddesdale and Hermitage—New treaty with England—Perkin Warbeck on the Borders—A royal marriage destined to affect the Borders—The rise of moss-trooping— Causes which led up to Flodden—Blood-feud of Ker of Fernihirst and the Herons of Ford—Battle of Flodden.
Chapter X.
The Borders after Flodden—Local traditions—The Dacre raids—The Homshole incident—Faction rife in the country—“Raid of Jed-wood Forest”—Outbreak of hostilities with England—Surrey’s Jedburgh despatch—Siege of Fernihirst and its sequel—George Buchanan’s account of Albany’s siege of Wark Castle—Battle of Melrose Bridge—Blood-feud of the Scotts and Kers, and murder of Buccleuch in the streets of Edinburgh—Fall of Angus—The king turns his attention to the Borders—Maitland’s “Complaint against the Thieves of Liddesdale”—Description of a Border raid— Demoralisation of the Borders—William Cokbum and Adam Scot made examples—The king’s expedition into Teviotdale—Execution of Johnie Armstrong of Gilnockie and his companions—Was it justified?—Ballads of freebooting life—Relations between the two countries—Affair of Hadden Rig—Preparations for invasion, and death of James V.—Depression of the Borders.
Chapter XI.
Matrimonial scheme of Henry VIII.—His anger at its defeat—First expedition of Hertford—Incursion by Lord Eure on Jedburgh— English raids on the Border—Angus threatens vengeance—Battle of Ancrum Moor—Maid Lilliard—Hertford’s second expedition —Defence of Kelso Abbey; its capture and destruction—Wholesale devastation of Teviotdale—Hertford’s third expedition—At Roxburgh alter battle of Pinkie—Repairs to the castle, and submission of Border gentlemen — Buccleuch submits; his part in the French alliance—De Beaujue’s narrative of the French assault on Fernihirst—Atrocities practised by Borderers on their English prisoners—Con'rast between the parts played by the Border counties in religious matters in the twelfth and sixteenth centuries; how accounted for—Dissolution of the Border monasteries, and appropriation of their lands—Proceedings of the Lord James against Border thieves at Hawick—Mary, Queen of Scots, in the Border counties—Her ride to Hermitage—Her illness at Jedburgh—Queen Mary’s house there.
Chapter XII.
Bishop Leslie on the manners of the Borderers —Their views of right and wrong—Blood-feuds; good faith their religion ; born horsemen ; knowledge of the country ; neglect of agriculture ; dwellings and style of living—Ridirg ballads: “The Fray of Suport;” “Jamie Telfer o’ the Fair DodlieaJ;” “Dick o’ the Cow;” “Jock o’ the Syde;” &c.—The rising in the north—Double betrayal of Northumberland—An English spy’s report of a conversation at Jedburgh—Expedition of Sussex and Hunsdon—Borderers in the raid of Stirling—Peculiar treatment of a herald in Jedburgh —Rebuilding of Branxholm—Method of procedure on a “day of truce”—The raid of the Reidswire—Regent Morton’s palace of Drochil—Rivalry between the families of Cessford and Femihirst —Progress of events on the Border—Proceedings of Francis Stuart, Earl of Bothwell—The ‘ Border Papers ’; by-names of Borderers—Old Wat of Harden and the “Flower of Yarrow”— Legend of “ Muckle-mouthed Meg"—Rescue of Kinmont Willie —Buccleuch and Elizabeth.
Chapter XIII.
The Union of the Crowns, its effect on the Borders—The final raids —Stringent measures resorted to for the pacification of the Borders—Deportation, disarming, dragooning, &c. — “Jethart justice ”—James’s chancellor reports progress—Bond of Borderers to repress robbery and bloodshed on the Borders—Borderers in the foreign wars—Buccleuch companies in Holland—Scott of Satchells —Slow progress of the Border counties—Their intellectual insignificance—Hobby Hall; Samuel Rutherford ; lingering lawlessness—Peebles races prohibited—Street scenes in Peebles—Instances from the Register of the Privy Council; hamesucken, &c.—Cattle-maiming—Exploits of Christie’s Will—The last of the moss-troopers—Willie of Westbumflat—Statutes regarding sale of cattle on the Borders—Anecdote from Carlyle’s 'Reminiscences’—Measures against hunting and timber-felling in the Cheviots— Borderers ennobled at the Union : Lord Scott of Buccleuch ; the Earl of Roxburghe; the Earls of Ancrum and Lothian; Carr, Earl of Somerset; the Earl of Melrose.
Chapter XIV.
Progress of the Borders retarded by the civil and religious wars— Summary of events in the country—An army under Leslie marches to the Border—Projected attack on Covenanters at Kelso—Their encampment on Duns Law — Principal Baillie’s description— Pacification of Berwick—The Covenanters pass the Tweed at Coldstream—Position of Montrose before Philiphaugh—Battle of Philiphaugh—Flight of Montrose—Traquair’s cynicism—Cruelty of the Covenanters—Traditions of the battlefield—Persecutions of Catholics; Lord Linton; the Marquis and Marchioness of Douglas—Severity of Church discipline—Character of the times— Sieges of Neidpath and Home by Cromwell—Marie, Countess of Buccleuch ; Anna, Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth—The Borders during the later persecutions—Death of Samuel Rutherford—Henry Hall of Haugh-head and his associates—Gateshaw Braes—Conventicle on Selkirk Common—The “ Harbour Craig ” in Tweeddale—Martyr’s grave in Tweedsmuir churchyard—Sack of Traquair House.
Chapter XV.
The era of peace—Incident at the town cross of Jedburgh—The rebels of the ’15 enter Kelso—Indifference of the inhabitants—Sermon by the Rev. Mr Patten in the Great Kirk—James VIII. proclaimed king—Differences of the Generals—March to Jedburgh— Mutiny of the Highlanders at Hawick—End of the campaign— Commission of Oyer and Terminer at Kelso—John Murray of Broughton — March of Charles Edward’s troops through the Border counties — Route of the western column—The Prince marches to Kelso—His reception there—Crosses the Border from Jedburgh—Local incidents of the ’45—Adventure of Miss Jean Elliot—Conduct of Murray of Broughton—Escape of a Jacobite prisoner at the Devil’s Beef-tub—The locked gates of Traquair.
Progress of the country—Witchcraft on the Borders—Sectarian intolerance : Quakers ; Catholic emancipation — Material improvements : Schemes of Sir Alexander Murray of Stanhope—Tobacco-culture in the Borders—Attention to agriculture by Border lairds —William Dawson of Frogden, the “Father of Scottish Agriculture ”—Opposition to improvement—Life of a Border laird of the eighteenth century—Embellishment of estates—Letter of Lord Ancram — Culture and distinction on the Borders during the eighteenth century—Development of Border woollen manufactories : Hawick; Galashiels—Changes in social life—The plague; fires ; duels—The Yetholm Gipsies—Border smugglers—Superstitions—Walter Scott, the Ettrick Shepherd, Leyden, other Border poets—The “False Alarm”—Character of the modem Borderer

List of Books relating to or published in the Border Counties.
List of Maps of Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles.

Return to our Online Books Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus