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Berwick upon Tweed
A History of the Town by John Scott (1888)


IN the volume now presented to my readers I have detailed the general history of the town from the earliest records to the present time; then the history of its Guild. I have sketched the history of its Streets, its Charters, its Churches, its Grammar School, its Bridges, its Fisheries, etc. In the Appendix will be found Lists of its Ancient Burgesses, its Members of Parliament, its Mayors and Town Clerks, as well as several documents—the most valuable of which are the Statutes of the Guild and the Orders of the Old and New Establishments.

A tale of two (Scottish Borders) Cities
Today the Scottish Borders is largely rural with a few large towns.
But in days gone by the Borders was home to 2 of the biggest most important CITIES in Scotland...if not the British Isles. What were these 2 cities and what happened to them?.

The books that have been consulted are too numerous to name. Access has been had to nearly all the Record Commission publications, to the calendars of the State Papers of the various reigns, to the general histories of England and Scotland, to the old chronicles, to the books of private clubs, as the Camden Society, etc. The most extensive collection of papers gathered by the late Robert Weddell, solicitor, and all the papers and books in manuscript in the Berwick Archives, have been carefully read.

Great assistance has been rendered throughout the work by Mr. James Hardy, Oldcambus, the secretary of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, not only in reading and revising the MS., but in transcribing and forwarding anything that he found in his wide researches that bore upon the history of Berwick.

Robert Douglas, Esq., Town Clerk, with the consent of the authorities of the town, most readily placed at my service the papers and books under his charge.

Mr. William Wilson, Berwick, has put me under great obligations in making extracts of many interesting passages concerning the town, and in lending many books bearing upon the subject. I have also to acknowledge the kind assistance of the following : Colonel David Milne Home, of Paxton House; Mr. Edward Willoby, solicitor, Berwick; and Mr. J. W. Barnes, Durham. My thanks are specially due to the above as well as to the many Berwick friends who have helped me in various ways in completing the work.

I can never state my full obligation to Mr. Robert Weddell, solicitor, the nephew of the gentleman who was so indefatigable in amassing information bearing upon the history of Berwick, for the readiness and courtesy with which he placed all his uncle's papers at my disposal. They have afforded me great help in writing the early ecclesiastical history of the town in which they have been almost my sole authority, while the history of the Grammar School has been compiled from a most elaborate paper upon the subject by the same laborious pen.

The mass of materials accumulated was enormous. The bringing of it into moderate compass was done not only with extreme difficulty, but with great regret; for very much that was interesting and valuable had to be laid aside, and only that which tended to the clear elucidation of the consecutive history of the old Border town inserted.

I had intended to treat of the different races that peopled this district, and of their struggles for empire one over another for several centuries after the Christian era; and to show how the early Celt of pre-Christian times was partially displaced by the Roman; how the Roman was displaced by the Saxon and the Dane; and how the different waves of population, that surged across the Bernician Kingdom, left here a mixed race, the basis of which was Celtic, but with a large infusion of Saxon and Danish blood. In following this out, I would have entered at some length into the history of the different governing powers that successively held sway, to show that the Roman had certainly crossed the district, but had never settled in it; that the Saxon Kingdom, founded by Ida, soon after the Roman power withdrew, ruled under successive kings for nearly 300 years over Bernicia, that stretched from Tyne to Forth; that, after this kingdom was shattered by the Danes, the district became the common battlefield of Pict, Dane, Saxon, and Scot, until a strong Northumbrian earldom was established on the south, and a powerful kingdom began to take root in the north, which at last fought a decisive battle, by which was determined the dividing-line between England and Scotland for all future time.

Such was my intention; but as the book began to develop, two reasons were found for the omission of this preliminary sketch: first, that Berwick itself is never once mentioned in these early times; second, that all the space at my disposal was required for what bore directly upon the main subject.

Some space might have been occupied with the introduction of Christianity into the district by the active missionaries of the Cross, who planted themselves in Lindisfarne so early as the seventh century; for, if Berwick existed then at all, we may be sure that Saint Cuthbert and his coadjutors would have visited the place and have proclaimed the Gospel of Good News to the people. This would have been, however, a mere matter of speculation, and so I have preferred to begin the history of the churches from the rise of the monasteries and the really historical churches, that were founded in Berwick in the eleventh or twelfth centuries.

Of Tweedmouth and Spital little has been said, as their general history is almost identical with that of Berwick. To have entered upon their special history would have lengthened the volume very considerably, and made it too bulky. I regret the omission, but my regret is lessened by the fact that Raine in his ' North Durham' has dealt with both places at considerable length.

Owing to indisposition, I have not been able to give such careful revision to the proof sheets as I should otherwise have deemed necessary. Some verbal mistakes have, in consequence, occurred: if any of a more serious nature are found, they may be apologized for, though not excused, by the fact that the whole work has been compiled in the odd moments of a very busy life.


30th, 1888.

History of Berwick


Chapter I. 833—1286
Chapter II. 1286—1307
Chapter III. 1307—1327
IV. 1327—1337
V. 1337—1377
Chapter VI. 1377—1521
Chapter VII. 1521—1547
Chapter VIII. 1547~1560
Chapter IX. 1560—1568
Chapter X. 1568—1603
Chapter XI. 1603—1685
Chapter XII, 1685—1887

The Guild History of Berwick & Appendices (pdf)

Government of the Town by the Guild
Proceedings of the Guild
Legislation of the Salmon Trade
Finances and Accounts of the Burgh
Meadows and Stints
Admission to the Freedom
Martin Garnet, Sketch of
Henry Brearley, Sketch of
Condition of the Streets
Granting of the Charter by James I.
Ecclesiastical History
Grammar School
Fisheries in the Tweed
Jubilee of 1887


I. List of Burgers and Community who took Oath of Fealty to Edward I in 1291
II. List of Burgers and Community who took Oath of Fealty to Edward III In 1333
III. Taxes granted for one year to repair the pavement of Berwick
IV. The Auntient Statutes of the Towne and Castle of Barwick
Survey of 1562
VI. New Establishment
VII. Statutae Gildae
VIII. Charter granted by Robert De Brus to Melrose Abbey
IX. Grant of Henry VIII
X. Members of Parliament for the Burgh
XI. List of Mayors of the Burgh
XII. List of Town Clerks of the Burgh

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