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The Scottish Nation

HAIG, a surname, originally del Haga, possessed by an ancient family in the Merse, proprietors from an early period of the lands of Bemerside in Berwickshire, relative to whom Sir Thomas the Rhymer, whose estate of Ercildon adjoined theirs, has this prophecy:

                        “Tide whate’er betide,
                        There’s aye be Haigs of Bemerside.”

Some writers are of opinion that they are of Pictish or British extraction, (Nisbet’s Heraldry, vol. I. P. 134), but the name del Haga is evidently Norman. Petrus del Haga, proprietor of the lands and barony of Bemerside, lived in the reigns of King Malcolm the Fourth and William the Lion. In a donation of Richard de Morville, constable of Scotland from 1162 to 1188, of the chapel of St. Leonard’s in Lauderdale to the monastery of Dryburgh, Petrus del Haga de Bemerside is a witness. He also appears as witness to three other charters in the Chartulary of Kelso. Petrus del Haga is also witness in a charter of confirmation (No. 75 in Anderson’s Diplomata Scotiae) of the said Richard de Morville, of lands to Sir Henry Sinclair and others, before 1188. In the same era, according to a manuscript history of the family, was Henry del Haga, said to have been killed in the expedition of King William against Harold earl of Caithness in 1199. Petrus del Haga, the son of the first-mentioned Petrus, in various charters is designed dominus de Bemerside, an evidence that this family were considerable barons even in those early ties. This Petrus, with Sir Alexander Davenant, was appointed by Kig Alexander the Second to pursue and apprehend John de Bisset, for burning Patrick, earl of Athol, in his own house at Haddington in 1242. John, his son, third baron of Bemerside, was compelled, with many other Scots barons to swear fealty to Edward the First in 1296; but he took the first opportunity of joining Sir William Wallace in the struggle for independence, and was with him at the battle of Stirling in 1297. His son, Petrus, adhered to Bruce, and fought with him at the battle of Bannockburn, but was killed at Halidonhill in 1333. John, fifth baron of Bemerside, the son of Petrus, was slain at the battle of Otterburn, at an advanced age, five years after. Gilbert Haig, the eighth baron, was present with the earl of Ormond, commander of the Scots army, when he obtained a complete victory over an English force under the earl of Northumberland at Sark in 1449. He also assisted the earl of Angus in suppressing the power of James, earl of Douglas, in 1455. His son, James, ninth laird of Bemerside, was a warm adherent of James the Third, and after the murder of that unfortunate monarch in 1488, he was obliged to conceal himself till, through the interposition of friends, he had made his peace with the young king, James the Fourth. This, however, could only be effected on condition of resigning hs estate to his son William, which he did 13th February, 1489. This William Haig of Bemerside fell at Flodden. His son, Robert, who succeeded to the estate, had a command in the army, under the regent Arran, which engaged the English near Ancrum in 1544, and the laird of Bemerside, having taken prisoner Ralph, Lord Evers, one of the English leaders, he obtained a discharge of all the duties due by his family to the Crown. The great-grandson of this baron, James, fourteenth laird of Bemerside, married a daughter of William Macdougal of Stodrig, who had been nurse to Princess Elizabeth, queen of Bohemia, daughter of James VI., and had a pension settled on her. Of eight sons, the four eldest were killed in the service of the elector palatinate, king of Bohemia, in 1629 and 1630. David, the fifth son, (1638) carried on the line of the family. He was succeeded by his son Antony, an officer in the service of Sweden, who married Jean, daughter of Home of Bassenden, and had James Zerobabel, his heir, and two younger sons. James Zerobabel Haig of Bemersyde, married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Gordon, Esq., principal clerk of justiciary, (of the family of Aberdeen), and had issue, James Antony, who succeeded him, and eleven daughters, of whom the second, Mary, married in 1735 or 1736, Thomas Potts, Esq., sheriff-clerk of Roxburghshire, and had issue; 1st, James, sheriff-clerk of Roxburghshire, died S.P.; and 2d, Thomas. (The eldest daughter of James Zerobabel Haig married the Hon. James Home of Aytonhall, second son of Charles, 6th earl of Home, without issue.) The 2d son of Thomas Potts and Mary Haig, Thomas Potts, Esq., married in 1777, Jane, third daughter of Robert Robertson, Esq. of Prenderguest, Berwickshire, and had an only child, Thomas Potts, Esq., now of the Daison, Torquay, Devonshire, born 30th June, 1784, married 1st ( in 1813) Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Chatto, Esq. of Mainhouse, Roxburghshire, issue, William John Potts, Esq. barrister at law (of Lincoln’s Inn), born 23d July 1824, and Elizabeth, married 1st to the Rev. William Nicholson, rector of St Maurice, Winchester, and 2d (in 1852,) to Gerard Noel Bolton, Esq., major of the Waterford militia artillery. Mr. Potts of the Daison married 2d (1852), Elizabeth Dorothea, daughter of Foliot Scott Stokes, Esq. of London. After the three daughters (and their heirs) of James Zerobabel Haig of Bemersyde, Mr. Potts is heir of line and representative of the ancient family of De Haga, which has possessed the estate of Bemersyde for upwards of 700 years. James Antony Haig, the only son, married the eldest daughter of William Robertson, Esq. of Ladykirk, and left two sons, James Zerobabel, afterwards of Bemersyde, and Isaac, died s.p. The elder, James Zerobabel of Bemersyde, married Isabella, daughter of Samuel Watson, Esq., Edingurgh; issue, five sons, who died s.p., and three daughters, viz., Barbara, (Miss Haig of Bemersyde), Sophia, and Mary, 1860.)

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