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A History of the Border Counties
Chapter XI


In the death of James it became the object of Henry VIII. to bring about the union of the two kingdoms by the marriage of the infant Queen of Scotland with his own son and heir, Edward, then aged about five years. At first he sought to gain this end by fair means, and for a time circumstances seemed to favour him. Arran, who as heir-presumptive to the crown had been appointed regent, was on his side, as was the banished Angus, who now returned to Scotland and was reinstated in his estates. The French and Catholic party, who of course opposed him, were represented by the queen-mother and Cardinal Beaton. The first Parliament of the new reign received his overtures favourably, and a treaty with England was concluded, Henry on his part undertaking, in the event of the marriage, to guarantee the independence of Scotland. But when he wished to go a step further and obtain possession of the person of the princess and the strongholds of the country, as securities for the carrying out of his proposal, he found the will of the nation strongly opposed to him; and at this juncture the fickle Arran veered round.

Henry now completely changed his tactics, and in a fit of fury determined to take by force what he had failed to win by persuasion. His intention, in fact, seems to have been deliberately to revert to that policy of “bullying,” or cowing into submission the weaker power by the stronger, which had been inaugurated by Dacre, and which is well expressed by the words of Hertford to the Provost of Edinburgh when that functionary sought to come to terms with him—that “whereas the Scottes had so many wayes falsed theyr faythes, and so manyfestely had broken theyr promysses, confyrmed by othes and seales, and certified by theyr hole Parliament, as is euydently knowen unto all ye worlde, he was sent thyther by the Kinges Hyghnes to take vengeaunce of their detestable falshed, to declare and shewe the force of his Hyghnes sworde to all sue he as sholde make any resistence unto his Graces power, sent thyther for that pourpose.”  It is to this attitude on the part of the English that must be attributed the terrible exasperation of the ensuing campaigns, where warfare is seen in its most barbarous and revolting forms., scarce redeemed by a single trait of chivalry. But what is even more deplorable at this time than any suffering inflicted upon Scotland is her own all but total paralysis. The fact was that she lacked a patriot; for this is one of those occasions in history when the time failed to breed the man. No one trusted Arran as a leader. Angus, who might have filled the role, had lost patriotism in exile, and it required a personal injury to sting him into resentment. Others of the more prominent men in the country, absorbed in considerations of self interest, were content to wait upon events.

In the person of his brother-in-law, the above-named Hertford, the king had an excellent instrument for the carrying out of his present purpose. The earl was therefore now made lieutenant-general of the North, and despatched with a fleet and army to Scotland. He landed in the Forth, and meeting with but slight resistance, sacked Leith and Edinburgh, and having sent his fleet home laden with plunder, himself returned by East Lothian and Berwickshire, devastating as he went. An attempt made by Buccleuch and Home to intercept him at the pass of Pease was easily frustrated. An account of this expedition, rendered to the Lord Privy Seal, Lord Russell, by a friend who was with the army, is notable for the utter callousness of tone with which it alludes to “ piles,” towns, villages, destroyed, and worse still—as at Dunbar—to men, women, and children burnt and suffocated in their sleep— speaking of these things with the complacent indifference of a workman satisfied with a piece of work well done. The amount of destruction accomplished was very great, but so far our counties were untouched, for the Broughton referred to as spoiled is probably the place of that name near Edinburgh.

Scotland, however, was allowed no respite. It was still early summer when Lord Eure, warden of the East Marches, with his son Sir Ralph, and other gentlemen of the English Border, made a forced march on Jedburgh and surprised the town. The provost, summoned to surrender, sought to gain time; but it being discovered that the townsmen had in the meantime “ bent seven or eight peices of ordinaunce in the market-stede,” Eure prepared forthwith to assault the city from three of its sides. To do this he had first to effect three breaches with his guns, and he had done no more when the townspeople, seized with panic, left the town in a body, to seek refuge in the adjoining woods. If the English account may be trusted, the very gunners deserted their pieces, leaving them undischarged. The English then burnt the abbey and many of the houses, and plundered the town. On their return journey they burnt the Tower of Crailing, Cessford Castle, Otterburn, Cowbog, and More-battle church; but on arriving at Kirk Yetholm they beheld flames rising from the distant villages of Tillmouth, Twizell, and Hetton, which led Sir Ralph Eure off at a gallop to encounter those Scots who had presumed to do as they were being done by. Within the next few days there were further raids on Sunlaws and Scraesburgh.2 But, in fact, raid now followed raid almost as quickly as might be. On July 19 Fernihirst was attacked; on the 24th Long Ednam was burnt, many prisoners being made and much booty carried off. On September 6 Sir Ralph Eure burnt the town and church of Eckford, and the barmkyn of Ormiston, and having captured Moss Tower, burnt it also, slaying thirty-four persons within it, and carrying off more than 500 nolt, 600 sheep, and 100 horse-loads of spoil. On November 5 the men of the Mid March burnt Lessudden, in which were sixteen strong bastel - houses, slew several of the owners, and burnt much of the newly - harvested corn. The chief “ heroes ” of these raids, and of others directed against other parts of the Scottish Border, were Sir Ralph Eure, Sir Brian Latoun or Latour, and Sir George Bowes.

Thus far we cannot but have been struck by the sheer demoralisation of the Scots, as shown at Edinburgh, the Pease, and Jedburgh. The barbarous treatment which the Borders were now undergoing served the purpose of stimulating them to at .least a temporary union. Even Angus detached himself from England, and, stung to indignation by the defacement of the tombs of his ancestors at Melrose, and by the allotment' of his possessions in Merse and Teviotdale to Latoun and Ralph Eure as a reward for their services, vowed to write the deed of sasine on their own skins for parchment, with a sharp pen and blood-red ink. This threat he amply fulfilled. Having united with Arran, he lay in wait for the English army, under Sir Ralph Eure and Sir Brian Latoun, as it retreated from Melrose towards Jedburgh. The English, hearing that his force was a small one, resolved to crush it; but Angus had recourse to the time-honoured tactics of the Scots, and allowed his adversaries to wear themselves out in searching for him. Meantime his own small body of men was recruited by the arrival of Scott of Buccleuch with a handful of retainers, and by that of Norman Leslie, Master of Rothes, with 300. The English army, which besides Englishmen was composed of foreign mercenaries and of Scottish Borderers — who in the confusion of the times had taken service with England — numbered 5000 or 6coo, and was by much the larger of the two.

At length Eure and Latoun drew up their forces on Ancrum Moor, whilst the Scots, acting by Buccleuch’s advice and still adhering to the traditional rules, dismounted and sent their horses to the rear. The English saw this movement imperfectly, and mistaking it for a retreat, rushed on—as they imagined—in pursuit. The mistake cost them the day. Advancing in disorder, they found themselves confronted by the dismounted Scots, who were compactly drawn up on an incline where they had been concealed from view, and who now charged down upon them. As the word to charge was given, a heron, disturbed from its haunt, rose from the neighbouring moss. Angus saw it, and in a spirit of heroic bravado cried, “O that I had my white goss-hawk here—we should all yoke at once! ” The rout of the English was immediate, and was materially assisted by the action of the Borderers serving in their ranks, who now tore off the red-cross badges which they wore upon their sleeves to distinguish them, and took the side of their own countrymen. So completely did the advantage lie with the Scots, that, whilst the English are said to have lost 200 slain and 1000 made prisoners, the Scottish loss is stated at two only. Among the slain were Eure and Latoun. It has been asserted that the slaughter of Eure and other Englishmen was wanton, and it seems quite probable that the exasperation natural after the usage they had recently sustained may have found vent among the Scots. Even the women of the neighbourhood are said to have joined in the rout; and local tradition tells that a beautiful m^iuen who had followed her lover from Maxton to the battle, and seen him fall, herself rushed into the fray, where she was slain after slaying several of the enemy. It is commonly said to be from this heroine that the ridge from which the battle was fought received its name of Lilliard’s Edge; but we have already seen that there is reason to suspect that the name is at least as old as the days of John of Gaunt. A stone, replacing one of older date, bears this inscription to her memory:—

“Fair Maid Lilliard lies under this stane,
Little was her stature, but muclde is her fame ;
Upon the English Iouns she laid mony thumps,
And when her legs were cuttit aff, she fought upon her stumps.”

The romance of the story suffers some abatement from the grotesque suggestions of the epitaph.

The news of Ancrum Moor, or Peniel Heugh—as it is sometimes called in contemporary documents—and of the death of his generals, threw Henry into a fit of ungovernable fury, in which he vowed to be avenged of Angus, to whom the Scots assigned the credit of the victory, but whom he accused of base ingratitude. Angus, however, laughed his threats to scorn, saying, “ Is our brother-in-law offended that I am a good Scotsman, because I have revenged the defacing of the tombs of my ancestors at Melrose upon Ralph Euer. They were better men than he, and I ought to have done no less. And will he take my life for that? Little knows King Henry the skirts of Cairntable ” (a lofty hill at the head of Douglasdale); “ I can keep myself there from all his English host! ”  With the assistance of a French force the Scots now made an attempt to follow up the advantage gained in the battle by an invasion of England ; but the disunion of the country rendered it unequal to the effort, which produced no substantial result.

There is some uncertainty as to the sequence of events at this time, but we may doubtless ascribe to a date shortly after this two letters of Hertford to the king, in which the general states that he has collected troops in the north to “ requite the malice ” of the Scots, and speaks of overrunning, wasting, and burning a great part of the country, as “the com is very forward, and if they can destroy it, the Scots will have to live in the more penury all the year.” This is in August 1545. A month later the project is an accomplished fact. The former expedition had been directed against the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, but the defection of the Borderers at Ancrum Moor, together with the failure of an attempt to win over Buccleuch to the English party,3 marked the Borders as the scene of the present one. Though it lasted but fifteen days, its ferocity was probably unparalleled, even in the annals of Border warfare.

Having assembled his army at the standing-stone on Crook-ham Moor, in Northumberland, Hertford proceeded to march on Kelso. The town was easily occupied; but the garrison of the abbey—numbering 100, of whom twelve were monks— having refused the summons of York Herald to surrender, succeeded in repulsing the Spanish mercenaries who were the first to attack it. The building was then bombarded, and the monastery captured; but the garrison still held out in the strong square tower of the church, whence some of them, though strictly watched, made their escape by means of ropes during the night. The next day the assault was resumed, the tower carried, and the defenders put to the sword.1 The buildings were then sacked and destroyed—the order being given to “ breik ” them, and “ thake of the leied, and outer myen the towres and strong places, and to owaier trowe all.” By the following Sunday this had been strictly carried out: the abbey was razed, and “ all put to royen, howsses, and towres, and stypeles.” The removal to Wark of the lead alone occupied the carts of the army for several days. A proposal to fortify Kelso and hold it for England was, however, rejected, chiefly on the ground that the town was commanded by the heights of Maxwellheugh, and that the nature of the soil was ill adapted for the throwing up of hasty defences. Hertford then rode on a visit of inspection to Roxburgh—“ as strong a place to be fourtefied,” says the contemporary recorder, “as any is in Scotland.” The earl was yet to return to it.

After this the abbeys of Melrose, Dry burgh, and Jedburgh participated in the fate of that of Kelso; but, unlike Kelso, they offered no resistance. Indeed, after leaving the place last named, Hertford seems to have carried all before him unpposed. His motley and formidable army—which, numbering above 4000, included Irish kernes, with French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Greek mercenaries—swept on upon its work of devastation and left a desert behind it. To ensure against any suspicion of exaggeration in our statement of these facts, let us simply quote from the business-like compte rendu presented at the end of the campaign by those who had been engaged in it. The list of “fortresses, abbeys, frere-houses, market townes, villages, towers, and places,” burnt, razed, and cast down between the 8th and the 23rd September, comprises the following names (omitting places in Berwickshire):—

On the River of Tiuede.

First the abbey of Kelso raced and cast down ; the town of Kelso brent; the abbey of Melrosse, Darnyck, Gawtenside, Danyelton, Overton, Eildon, Newton of Heildon, Maxton, Les-sudden, Rotherford, Stockstruther, Newtowne, Trowes, Makerston, the Manorhill, Charter-house, Lunton Law*, Stodrig tower razed ; Flowres, Gallow Law, Broxe Law, Broxe mylne, the water-mill of Kelso.

On the River of Tiviot.

The freers near Kelso, the Laird Hog’s house, the bams of Old Rockesborough town, the towre of Rockesborough raced, the towre of Ormeston raced, the town of Ormeston, Neyther Nesebett, Over Nesbet, Angeram, Spittell, Bune Jed worth, the two towres of Bune Jedworth raced, the Laird of Bune Jed worth’s dwelling-house, Over Angeram, Nether Angeram, East Bamehill, Mynto Crag, Mynto towne and place, West Mynto, the Cragge End, Whitrick, Hassendean, Bank-hessington, Over-hessington, Cotes, Eshebank, Cavers, Bryeryards, Denhome, Lanton, Rowcastle, Newtowne, Whitchester house, Tympendean. Sum 36.

On the Water of Rule.

Rowle Spittel, Bedrowle, Rowlewood. The Wolles, Crosse-bewghe, Donnerles, Fotton, Weast leas. Two Walke mylnes, Tronnyhill, Dupligis. Sum 12.

On the River of Jedde.

The abbey of Jedworthe, the Freers there; the towne of jed v. orthe, Hundylee, Bungate ; the Banke end, the Neyther mylnes, Houston, Over Craving, the Wells, Neyther Craling, Over Wodden, Nether Wodden. Sum 13.

On the Ryver of Kale in Easte Tividale.

Over Hownam, Neyther Hownam, Hownham Kyrke, New Gateshaughe ; the tower of Gateshaughe, Over Grobet, Neyther Grobet; Grobet mylne, Wyde-open, Crewkedshawes, Prymside, Mylne Rigge, Marbottell, Otterburne, Cessforthe, Over Whitton, Neyther Whitton, Hatherlands, Cesforth bume, Cesforth mains,’ Mowe-house; the Cowe bogge, Lynton, Caverton, Sharpefrige, Frogden, Pringle stede, Mayne-house, Eckforde, Mosse-house, Wester barnes, Grahamslaw, Sunlaws, Heiton on the Hill, Newe Hawe, Maisondieu, the Brig end, St Thomas Chapell, Maxwell-heugh, East-Woddon, West-Woddon, Howden. Sum 43.

On the Ryver of Bowbent \Bowmont\ in East Tividale.

Mowe, Mowe Meusles, Clifton Cote, Coleroste, Elsheughe, Attonburne, Cowe, Woodside, Owsenopside, Feltershawes, Clifton, Haihope, Kirke Yettam, Town Yettam, Cherytrees, Barears ; the Bogge, Longhouse, Fowmerden.1 Sum 19.

Finally, the total destruction accomplished by the raid in the two counties is thus succinctly stated:—

In Monasteries and Frearhouses . . .7
In Castells, Towres and Piles . . .16
In Market Townes . . .. .5
In Villages ..... 243
In Mylnes . . . . . .13
In Spytells and Hospitalls .... 3

One knows not whether more to bewail the barbarity of the invader or the supineness of the invaded!

But the work of the destroyer was not yet complete. Henry VIII. died in January 1547. In the autumn of that year the tyrannical parvenu Hertford, now Duke of Somerset and Protector of the realm, for the third time set foot in Scotland—his object being to carry on the policy of the late king, both by force and by tampering with such discontented Scots as he found willing to listen to his overtures. Ere he had reached the Border, however, the Laird of Maogerton and “a forty Scottish gentlemen of the East [West?] Borders” had presented themselves at his lodging at Newcastle and tendered their submission. So much for the patriotism of Armstrongs! A full contemporary account of Somerset’s progress in Scotland has been preserved. It is well written, and its descriptions—as, for instance, those of the investment of Thornton and Innerwick—serve to set before the reader clear pictures of the warfare of the time. But, as county historians, we have to regret—as we again and again have to do in later years, and in the case of more pacific travellers —that Somerset travelled by the east coast route, so that for the present no mention of Teviotdale is made. At the Pease, the “ trimmer,” Sir George Douglas, made some attempt to obstruct the advance of the army to his castle of Dunglass, by cutting trenches in the steep paths of the ravine; whilst Dand Ker seems to have hovered on the skirts of the enemy, and had on one occasion a close chase for his life. But there was no united endeavour to meet the invader, and when at last the Scots did indeed make a stand, it was only to meet with crushing defeat in the disastrous battle of Pinkie.

From Pinkie the English army returned southward by Lauderdale. Reaching Roxburgh on September 23, they encamped in what is now called the Friars’ Haugh—described by the author of the narrative as a “ greate fallowe felde ” lying between Roxburgh and the pretty, but just then deserted, market-town of Kelso. The “great stone bridge with arches,” which had formerly united the two towns, had been broken by the Scots themselves as a measure of defence. Somerset now revisited the site of the castle, and reverting to his scheme of two years before, as he found the outer walls still standing, resolved to execute such extempore repairs as time and the season would allow. This being decided on, the work was pushed on with the utmost speed—the captains of the army sending up their men by relays to assist the regular pioneers; whilst the Protector set an example which was eagerly followed by his officers, in himself labouring with a spade for two hours a-day. The object of the works seems to have been to strengthen the central part of the ruin by means of trenches and walls, whilst the existing walls were also patched with turf and furnished with loopholes. Within five days the whole was in an advanced stage towards completion. Whilst it had been in progress, many of the leading gentlemen of the neighbourhood had come to Roxburgh and tendered their submission, of whom the following is a list: the Lairds of Cessford, Femihirst, Greenhead, Hunthill, Huntley, Markestone by Mersyae, Bonjedworth, Ormeston, Linton, Edgerston, Mertoun, Mowe, Riddel; George Trom-bull, John Hollyburton, Robert Ker, Robert Ker of Graden, Adam Kirton, Andrew Mather, Mark Ker of Littledene, George Ker of Faldonside, Alexander Macdowell, Charles Rutherford, Thomas Ker of the Yare, John Ker of Meyn-thorn, Walter Haliburton, Richard Hangansyde, Andrew Ker, James Douglas of Cavers, James Ker of Mersington, George Hoppringle, William Ormeston of Endmerden, John Grymslowe. The country people of the neighbourhood had also supplied the army with provisions, for which one is sorry to hear they were well paid. When the time for moving came, Sir Ralph Bulmer was appointed to the command of the restored castle, with a garrison of 300, hackbutters and others, and 200 pioneers to complete what still remained of the works. Then the army, having crossed the Tweed— which was swollen—not without considerable difficulty and some loss, departed on its journey homewards.

To the inexperienced eye the state of Scotland might now seem wellnigh desperate. Harried and defeated herself, her strongholds were for the most part in English hands, and the men to whom she naturally looked for guidance, if they had not already submitted to England, were at least involved in the meshes of a Machiavellian intrigue. Buccleuch, one of the stanchest of the time, though hardly qualified by status for a national leader, had failed to “ come in ” along with his neighbours at Roxburgh; but seeing his lands at the mercy of the English, he shortly afterwards offered to submit. It scarcely improves the case to know that he had authority from Arran for thus acting. Yet, in spite of all this, at bottom the national spirit of resistance to English oppression remained what it had always been; and thus the raids Of Somerset and the rout of Pinkie only left the country more obstinately opposed than ever to the English match. What might not now have been accomplished by a patriot having skill to rally the nation to himself! As it was, French influence became paramount. The regency was transferred to the queen-mother, and the young queen was embarked for France. The approval of Parliament to her marriage with the Dauphin had been greatly facilitated by Buccleuch, who, according to John Knox, swore “with many Goddis woundis ” that “ thei that wold nott consent should do war.”

This was in July 1548. The expeditions of Grey of Wilton and of Lennox, though they sufficed finally to prove to Somerset that he had nothing to hope from Angus or his brother George, do not directly affect our district. The French had now sent over 6000 mercenaries, under an experienced captain named De Desse, to assist in driving the English out of Scotland, and it is in following their doings that we are brought back to the Border counties. After gaining some advantages in the east country, De Desse, at the request of the queen-mother, turned his attention to Teviotdale, where his first enterprise was the recapture of Femihirst. The narrative of Jean de Beaugue, one of the Frenchmen who was with him, contains a spirited account of this affair. It seems that the castle had been held for some three or four months by from sixty to eighty Englishmen, under a commander of singularly cruel and lascivious character. As the French captains, with some 200 harquebusiers, advanced to the assault, they were met by about five-and-twenty of the garrison, who had taken up a strong position to defend the approach to the castle. These were, however, driven back, first into the wood and then into the base-court of the fortress, ten of them falling dead or badly wounded by the way, almost all of them from blows delivered at close quarters. The French were unprovided with ladders, but with the aid of poles they succeeded in surmounting the enclosure wall, driving the English to seek refuge in the keep, which was then surrounded, so that “none of those within durst show his nose.” Protecting themselves by means of “ tables ” from missiles thrown from above, the assailants then proceeded to undermine the tower. When they had effected an opening, the garrison began to think that it was time to treat. The captain accordingly emerged through the aperture, and proposed to surrender on condition that his own life and those of his men were spared. Being answered briefly that “slaves have no power to treat with their masters,” he returned within the tower. A company of Borderers now arrived upon the scene, and having dismounted and turned loose their horses, forced their way into the base-court. This served to increase the trepidation of the garrison, who knew that they had every reason to fear the Borderers’ vengeance, so that the captain, quickly reappearing at the breach, was now for yielding himself unconditionally to two of the French officers. But a Borderer who happened to be present, and who recognised in the Englishman the ravisher of his wife and daughters, with one sword-blow severed the villain’s neck, sending his head flying to a distance of four yards from the body. The act was greeted with acclamation by the Scots, who, after bathing their hands in the blood “ with as much joy as if they had carried the city of London by assault,” bore off the head and set it on a stone cross at the parting of three roads, that all who passed might look upon it. Such acts as these, and the finishing by the women of the wounded at Ancrum Moor, serve to illustrate the temper to which the Borderers had been goaded. De Beaugu^ adds some ghastly details of their treatment of prisoners— telling us that they would indulge in trials of skill in dismembering them, and when their own supply of captives was exhausted, would purchase those of the French expressly to torture them, parting even with their arms for this purpose. The author himself recalls giving a prisoner in exchange for a horse. The purchasers bound the hapless wretch hand and foot, and having dragged him to an open field, rode over him with lances at rest until he was dead, after which they cut up his body, and, distributing the pieces, bore them aloft in triumph on the points of their spears. Barbarous as this conduct was, De Beaugue maintains that the English had brought it upon themselves by their tyranny and cruelties. Ridpath, too, furnishes details regarding the gross relaxation of discipline in the English garrisons in Scotland.

But to return to our narrative. Having decided that Somerset’s restored fortress at Roxburgh was practically impregnable, De Desse lingered at Jedburgh, making inroads upon the English Border. But his troops suffered much from privation and sickness, and when an English force under the Earl of Rutland advanced against him, he had no choice but to evacuate his post. In April of the next year, 1550, the “ rough wooing ” of Mary Stuart by the English came at length to an end, a peace being proclaimed, by the terms of which Scotland was restored to her old boundaries. In 1558 the queen became the wife of the Dauphin of France.

We have already indicated that the Borders were to play no prominent part in the religious agitations which were now to convulse Scotland. In this particular, nothing is more striking than the contrast between past and present. Under David I. of happy memory—who even more than Cuthbert is entitled to rank as patron saint of the Borders —the Border counties had been the very centre of religion and enlightenment in the country. But three centuries of rapine and bloodshed had sufficed to wrest from them the last shreds of this distinction. The glory of their Golden Age had departed, and we yet await its return. Even their old weight and importance as an integral part of the kingdom were much reduced, having gravitated towards the midland or “lowland” counties. For weight and importance hang by wealth, which is incompatible with reiterated devastation, and the state of society therefrom resulting. Nor does such discipline produce the thinker or the enthusiast; nor, where body and estate are in continual jeopardy, are men likely to be very curious or solicitous in finer questions affecting the soul. We are at liberty, therefore, to pass over the religious disturbances of this period, with the war between the queen-regent and the Lords of the Congregation which grew out of them, merely premising that the Border abbeys to a great extent escaped the defacement now dealt out to other buildings of the class, for the sufficient reason that Hertford’s soldiers had already reduced them to ruin.

The Abbey of Jedburgh never recovered from the ill-usage it had undergone from the English in 1545. In 1559 the establishment was suppressed and its revenues annexed by the Crown, though Morton thinks it probable that a portion of them remained in the hands of Andrew, son of the fourth Earl of Home, who was abbot at the time, and was still alive in 1578. The office of bailie of the monastery, as well as that of bailie of Jed Forest, had long been held by Ker of Femihirst, and in 1588 the bailiary of the abbey was restored to Sir Andrew Ker by a grant of James VI.; whilst, according to Morton, in 1622 “the entire property of the lands and baronies which had belonged to the canons of Jedburgh was erected into a temporal lordship, and granted to him along with the title of Lord Jedburgh.” Watson, however, corrects the latter statement by saying that, after changing hands more than once, the lands were finally acquired by purchase by William, third Earl of Lothian, in 1637.

The lands of Melrose Abbey were seized by the lords of the reformed party in 1559. In 1542 there had been 100 monks in the monastery, and probably as many lay brethren; but the author of the ‘ Monastic Annals ’ supposes that these numbers may have been reduced some time before the Reformation, in order to increase the revenue payable to the late king’s natural son, James Stuart.3 In 1561, when the revenues of all the great benefices were valued, that of Melrose was stated as follows: “Scots money, ^1758; wheat, 14 chalders, 9 bolls; bear, 56 chalders, 5 bolls; meal, 78 chalders, 13 bolls, 1 firlot; oats, 44 chalders, 10 bolls; capons, 84; poultry, 620; butter, 105 stone; salt, 8 chalders (paid out of Prestonpans); peats, 340 loads; carriages, 500.” Out of this income, the author goes on to tell us, an allowance was granted to eleven monks and three portioners, of twenty marks a-year to each, with the addition of some payments in kind to the monks. According to Milne, the Dean of the Chapter, John Watson by name, “ comply’d with the Reformation.” What became of the rest of the monks is not known. The lands of the abbey, after being annexed by the Crown, were granted in 1566 by Mary to Bothwell, on whose forfeiture in the following year they reverted to the Crown. A life-interest in them, with the title of Commendator, was then granted to James Douglas, second son of Sir William Douglas of Lochleven. After this the main portion of the lands was granted to Sir John Ramsay, who was created Viscount Haddington, in consideration of his alleged services in rescuing James VI. from the attempt of the Earl of Gowrie at Perth. From Ramsay the lands passed, by the influence, as is said, of Ker, Earl of Somerset, the Court favourite, to his brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Hamilton, an official of James VI., who in 1619 was created Earl of Melrose. Having been already divided, they now suffered further dismemberment, and a portion of them having been acquired by Walter, Earl of Buccleuch, Milne, writing before 1743, speaks of the remainder as having been “ lately purchased by the Duchess of Buccleuch, whose predecessors were heritable bailies of this burgh of regality before the Reformation.”

The queen-regent, Mary of Lorraine, had granted the com-mendatorship of both Melrose and Kelso to her brother, Cardinal Guise, but the cardinal had reaped no benefit from the preferment when the Reformation deprived him of it. The main part of the estates was then held in commendam by Sir John Maitland, second son of Sir Richard Maitland, Keeper of the Privy Seal to Queen Mary, from whom it passed to Francis Stuart, Earl of Bothwell, son of John Stuart, a natural son of James V. After his attainder the lands went to Sir Robert Ker of Cessford, first Lord Roxburghe, who in 1602 obtained charters of the lands of Kelso and Holydene, with other estates of the monastery, which are still held by his representative, the Duke of Roxburghe.

In August 1561 Mary returned to Scotland and took possession of her kingdom. There she found plenty of troubles at once to occupy her attention, not the least of which was the condition of the Borders. Well had it been for her if the others could have been as readily dealt with. Since an example had been made of the Armstrongs, thirty years before, a new generation of Border raiders had grown up, who set the law openly at defiance. Robbery and murder were matters of common occurrence, and it became necessary once more to enforce the lesson. The instrument chosen by Mary for this task was her natural brother James, whom she raised successively to the earldoms of Mar and Moray. High expectations were entertained of Moray in the country, nor did he disappoint them. The centre of the lawless district was Hawick, and to such a head had matters come that it was thought necessary to summon the nobles, freeholders, and fighting - men of eleven counties, with provisions and ammunition for twenty days, to accompany Moray. Having made a sudden descent on the town, and surrounded it with soldiers, he issued a proclamation in the market-place forbidding any citizen on pain of death to give shelter to a thief in his house. Fifty-three of the worst offenders were then seized, of whom—“for lacke of trees and halters”— twenty-two were put to death by drowning, presumably in Teviot or Slitrig. Twenty were “quytte” by the assize, six hanged in Edinburgh, and the rest committed to the castle there. By this exploit Moray won not a little honour, whilst the mention of the assize shows that his proceedings were free from the objectionable feature which has brought discredit on those of his father. Some five years later, when the queen’s brief period of rule was already over, Moray, as regent, acting in company with the Earls of Morton and Home, repeated his expedition into the district, capturing on this occasion more than forty of the thieves of Liddesdale.

The stage of Scottish history becomes at this period crowded, and the interest of the action grows intense and personal. On the Borders the figure which detaches itself in highest relief is that of Bothwell, the queen’s lover. One scene of their brief but passionate love-drama was enacted there — a scene so full of romance as to have become a favourite subject of the poets. Mary visited the Borders more than once. On the 14th August 1566 she is, with Darnley and Moray, “ at the hunting in Megotland,” whence she proceeds on the '16th to Rodono and Cramalt, passing thence on the 19th to Traquair. The sport had not been good, and in hopes of improving it for future occasions, a proclamation was issued from Rodono ordaining that none should “talc upoun hand, in tyme cuming, to schute at deir with culveringis, half-haggis, or bowis.” On October 7 the queen, attended by her nobility, set out from Edinburgh to hold a justice-air at Jedburgh. Bothwell was at this time lieutenant-general of all the marches, and had been with the queen, perhaps under colour of official attendance, during her recent hunting expedition in Megget. In view of what follows, it may be well here to trace rapidly the history of their friendship.

In the preceding March, Mary’s secretary and favourite, David Rizzio, had been attacked in her presence, and murdered scarcely beyond it, with every circumstance of savage brutality. Her husband, Darnley, had not only instigated the murder, but had taken a leading part in it, and the cruelty of the outrage was increased by the fact that she was then within four months of becoming a mother. In the milk, Ker of Faldonsyde—one of several Borderers who were art and part in the conspiracy—had actually presented a pistol at his sovereign’s breast. These were injuries which no woman could soon forgive — still less a queen, and one of Mary Stuart’s proud and spirited temper. She spoke probably from the bottom of her heart when she avowed her intention henceforth to “study revenge.” The weakling Darnley soon asked her pardon, but from this time forward he grew more and more distasteful to her. Beneath the gallant shows of his exterior she had seen revealed the empty, spiteful, and cruel debauchee; and, even had he taken no part in the murder, it seems certain that her regard for him could not have lasted. In her distress she had the sympathy of Bothwell—whether genuine, or the mere assumption of one who had much knowledge of women, is scarcely to the purpose. Sympathy deepened into love, and to Mary Bothwell was a new type of lover. For one thing, her two husbands had been boys, whilst he was in middle life. Lord Hailes has devoted a chapter to showing that he was not so ill-favoured or ungainly as Brantome and Buchanan would have us believe; but that is probably a matter of small moment. It is enough that he was a man of masterful disposition, whose bold and reckless personality seems for a time to have imposed itself on all who came in contact with him. Six years before, Throckmorton had described him to Elizabeth as a “glorious, rash, and hazardous young man.” That he bore, not unearned, the reputation of a libertine, would probably do him no harm in Mary’s eyes. In a word, she became infatuated. Her nature was ardent and generous to a fault, and she had played at love before — more than once to the undoing of others. But it was probably not till now that she sounded the depths of her own capacity for passion.

On her way to Jedburgh, Mary had perhaps reached Borth-wick when she heard that, in doing his duty as lieutenant of the marches, the man with whose image her mind was now filled had met with a grievous misadventure. The facts were, that in pursuing thieves, in order to present them at the forthcoming court, he had chanced on a hand - to - hand encounter with a noted freebooter, one John Elliot of the Park, and that he now lay wounded at Hermitage. After receipt of this news, Mary proceeded on her journey, and spent the next five or six days at Jedburgh, apparently as if nothing had happened. Meantime no doubt she experienced to the full a woman’s reluctance to betray the state of her affections. But the tortures of anxiety were too much for her, and on the 16th October she yielded to impulse and determined to steal a day from her court life to proceed on horseback to Hermitage, and so satisfy herself once for all as to Bothwell’s condition. Of course the proceeding was informal; it was also indiscreet; but she had a queen-like disregard for the pettinesses of public opinion, and discretion was never her strong point.

On what terms were she and Bothwell at this time, is a question likely to occur to the reader; but it is one that cannot be answered with any certainty. If he choose to accept unreservedly the scandalous stories of their meetings in the Exchequer House at Edinburgh, or to believe in the authenticity of the “ Casket ” letters, he will regard their relations as already of the most intimate. But, on the other hand, it must be remembered that the atmosphere in which it was the queen’s misfortune to draw breath was foul with calumny, whilst there are obvious features even in the present incident which tend to discredit allegations against her honour. There was, for instance, no secret in her visit, which must also necessarily have been brief, whereas, had she already sacrificed appearances, she would unquestionably have protracted it. In any case, the enterprise was one not only of great hardship and fatigue, but, considering the extremely bad character of the country to be traversed, of no little danger as well. The queen was, however, prepared to face all this. Instead of proceeding by the Note o’ the Gate or by Wyndbruch, as would have been most direct, she chose a circuitous route, entering Liddesdale by Hawick, and thus accomplished, with the return journey, a day’s ride of more than sixty miles. The reason assigned for the detour is -that the one district had a less evil reputation than the other. Still the whole surrounding region was, and remains to the present day, wild, bare, and unfriendly in the extreme. As late as Sir Walter Scott’s day, a perilous morass, known as the Queen’s Mire, was still pointed out by tradition as the spot where the beautiful rider and her palfrey had been in danger of perishing. At that time the spot was still “a pass of danger,” exhibiting in many places the bones of horses which had been engulfed within it

On her return to Jedburgh, after her interview with her lover, the queen became alarmingly ill. Her illness is most plausibly ascribed to “ weariness of that suddayne and far travell, and gret distres of her mynd ”—the distress of mind arising, in all probability, from mingled anxiety about Bothwell and aversion to Darnley. From the recorded symptoms a distinguished physician infers that she suffered from hama-tamesis, or effusion of blood into the stomach, complicated possibly by a hysterical tendency — the whole induced by over-exertion and vexation. Maitland of Lethington, basing his opinion on Mary’s own declaration, believed that Darnley was the root of her trouble. “ Scho hes done him sa great honour without the advyse of her frends, and contrary to the advyse of her subjects, and he on the tother part hes recom-pensit her with sik ingratitude, and misusis himself sa far towards her, that it is ane heartbreak for her to think that he sould be hir husband, and how to be free of him scho sees na outgait” All this was true enough, and probably it was at least that part of the truth which the queen found easiest to avow.

Her illness developing dangerous symptoms, she desired that prayers should be offered for her in the churches of Jedburgh and the neighbourhood, and even gave directions for her burial. In Edinburgh, when the news arrived, the town bells were rung, and the churches remained open for public prayer. On the 25th of the month her life was despaired of. It is even said that she was thought by those about her to be dead, so that, in compliance with the fantastic old Scottish custom, the windows of her apartment were set open. Her brother, Moray, at the same time actually took possession of her articles of value. During this time Darnley was absent, hawking and hunting in the west of Scotland with his father. He arrived at Jedburgh on the 28th, but being dissatisfied with his reception, departed the next day. The queen was probably by this time out of danger, her illness having yielded to the treatment of a skilled French physician, so that by the 30th of the month she was equal to issuing “ peremptory orders ” for procuring “ silk, plaiding, taffeta, velvet, canvas, and thread ” from Edinburgh,6 doubtless with the view of whiling away the hours .of enforced confinement during convalescence. Meantime Bothwell had been brought in a litter to her house—doubtless, at least ostensibly, that he might be under better medical attendance than was available at Hermitage. About ten days later the queen was able to proceed to Kelso, and it was while there that she received the letters from Darnley which caused her to give utterance to those words—afterwards to be remembered against her— that “unless she was freed of "him in some way, she had no pleasure to live, and if she could find no other remedy, she would put hand into herself.”  It is said that amid the many and bitter troubles of her later life she would often express the wish that she had died at Jedburgh.

Such is the history of this episode in the lives of a warmhearted and noble-natured woman — one of whose personal fascination we can faintly judge by that which her very name continues to exercise to this day—and of a man whose consummate daring, by a succession of brilliant coups-de-main, l for a time carried all before it. The house associated by tradition with this interesting act in one of the world’s great dramas may still be seen in the Backgate of Jedburgh. Until recently, beyond inevitable repairs, it had probably undergone little or no alteration since Queen Mary’s day. At any rate its high thatched roof, the reserve of its grey facade pierced by small windows, and the venerable pear-trees of its green enclosure, were in perfect keeping with its history. This, unfortunately, is no longer the case. A room on the third floor, having a window looking into the garden, is pointed out as that in which the queen slept, whilst a quantity of old tapestry stored in the house is said to have covered the walls during the period of her residence.

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