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contrary of this is the case. Its name is puzzling, and it
has not been possible for us to get light upon its early
days further than the beginning of the fourteenth century.

The name " Airhouse " is a grandiosity of modern times,
and is a vulgar expansion of an ancient appellation which
is both more eye-sweet and etymologically interesting. It
seems to have come into general use about the beginning
of the seventeenth century.

In 1328 it comes under our notice first as "Airwis"
and " Aroves " ; in 1329, as " Arowes " ; in 1330 as " Arwys "


and "Arovves"; in 1331 and 1332-3 it is " Arus." In 15 10
we have "Arous;" in 1627 it is first styled " Airhouse."
On Font's map, 1608, it is called " Arrowes," and on Moll's
map of 1725, it is still spelt in the same way.

From the contiguity of the three places, Airhouse,
Collielaw, and Bowerhouse, and the fact that they all lie
on the west side of the Leader, and might in very ancient
times have been possessed by one tribe, we were tempted
to seek a solution of the name in suggestions evoked by
reading Dr Skene's description of the Irish Tuath* or
tribe, where " Aire tuise " is a grade of rank in the tribe ;
" Boaire " being another, and " Ceile " another. It does
not appear, however, that the Irish ever settled in
Berwickshire to an extent such as might justify us in
seeking for an explanation along that path. There are
several suggestions, indeed, of an Irish connection with
Lauderdale in early times. Lauder system of agriculture,
for example, known as "co-aration of the waste," was the
same as that in existence at Kells,-f- where St Cuthbert
is said to have been born. The Irish story of St Cuthbert
brings him to the Lothians to his kinsfolk. In the days
of King Oswald, ruler of Northumbria, of which Lauder-
dale was a district, Bede tells us " From that time (635 A.D.)
many of the Scots (Irish) came daily into Britain, and,
with great devotion, preached the word to those provinces
of the English over which King Oswald reigned. J The
Irish chiefs, and Irish led by Norsemen, repeatedly raided
Berwickshire. Aed, son of Neil, King of Ireland, about
879 A.D., brought the whole of Bernicia (and therefore

* Celtic Scotland, vol. iii., pp. 142-148.
+ Gomme's Village Coinniunity, p. 153.
+ Ecclesiastical History, vol. iii., p. 3.


Berwickshire) under subjection to himself. * Notwith-
standing these historical facts, it is just possible that the
name of Airhouse may possess an etymological lineage
not dissimilar to the derivation of the name of Lauder-
dale. As a name, Lauderdale is admittedly derived from
the Water of Leader, and so also may Airhouse be de-
rived from Arras Water. This water is now called Mount-
mill Burn, but originally, and down to 1762 at least,
it was named " Arras Water." In its course it encircles
Airhouse braes and woods in the form of a reaper's hook,
if we take the point to lie at Threeburnford, and the
handle to extend from the bridge at old Peasmountford
down to Nether Howden. Yet it seems quite possible
also that instead of the water giving its name to the
house, the house may have given its name to the water.
The two views seem to be supported by the following
authorities : —

"The widely diffused root Ar causes much perplexity.
The Avar, as Caesar says, flows incredibili lenitate, while, as
Coleridge tells us, 'the Arve and Arveiron rave cease-
lessly.' We find, however, on the one hand a Welsh
word Araf, gentle, and an obsolete Gaelic ward Ar, slow,
and on the other we have a Celtic word, Arw, violent, and
a Sanskrit root Arb, to ravage, or destroy.

" From one or other of these roots, according to the
character of the river, we may derive the names of Arw
in Monmouth, the Are and Aire in Yorkshire, the Ayr
in Cardigan and Ayrshire, the Arre in Cornwall, the Arro
in Warwick, the Arrow in Hereford and Sligo, the Aray,
in Argyll, the Ara-glin and the Aragadeen in Cork, etc." f

* Celtic Scotland, vol. i., p. 331.

t Rev. Isaac Taylor's Words and Places.


Both significations of gentle and violent can be applied
to " Arras " Water, according to the season of the year ;
and in ancient days, when it first received its name, its
character of violence, from the present-day evidence of
its inroads on the hillsides, must have been amply

The other choice we have is from Macbain's Gaelic
Dictionary — " Welsh spelling of Aros is Arazus, connect-
ing it with rest." There is an Aros in Mull, and we are
informed by Gaelic-speaking scholars that Aruys, which
Airhouse is sometimes called, is a very likely spelling for
Aros, which means a dwelling, a mansion. Arisaig, for
example, may mean Aros-eig, the house, or port, of Eig.

That it may be either Welsh or Gaelic in spelling,
either Araws or Aros, is quite possible from the close
connection which Lauderdale maintained for generations
with Galloway, a Welsh-speaking district. Also, as the
Irish or Scots frequently invaded the south of Scotland
by way of Galloway, there were many opportunities for
Gaelic names to find a home in Lauderdale. Gille/alyn,
for example, is an inhabitant of Oxton in the I2th century,
and his name is Gaelic ; KelpJiope is from the Gaelic
Cailpeach ; Carfrae may be either Welsh or Gaelic ; and
Glengelt may not possibly be wholly Gaelic, although the
Glen in it seems correctly denominated so. But as the
Ottadini, the oldest historical inhabitants of Berwick-
shire, were claimed as Brythons, or kinsmen of the Welsh,
the name of Airhouse in its Welsh spelling may easily
find a home in that language, and, at least, date as far
back as the second century.

It is in 1328 A.D. that we stumble on the first reference
to Airhouse. Great changes had been effected, not only in


the country in general, but in Lauderdale in particular.
The De Morvilles had passed away, the Earls of Galloway
had lost their hold on the dale through John de Balliol,
whose high royal hopes had been dashed before the all-
conquering arm of Robert the Bruce. About the time
when the mists lift from Airhouse, Bruce was bestowing
upon his faithful followers all the lands and emoluments
which had fallen to him as King of Scotland. The
Douglases received Lauderdale, and long were Lords of
that Regality. It will be observed that " Adam of Airwis,"
in the following, is in receipt of an annual ten pound grant
from the King, no doubt for noble service, and draws it
direct from the customs of Berwick. He is also mentioned
in the high company of " Robert of Lauderdale, Guardian
of the Merse and the Camp of Berwick, and Sheriff of
the same," and we are warranted in supposing that he was
a man of considerable name and influence, and that the
King had honoured and rewarded him in this way.

The following are the several references*: — "1328 A.D.,
and to Adam of Airwis, for his fee, at the said term
(Pentecost), 100 shillings."

" And to Adam of Aroves, at the term of Martinmas,
after the time of the account, 100 shillings; and to the
same in supplement of the payment made to him at the
term of Pentecost of this account, xx shillings."

"A.D. 1329. — The accounts of the bailiffs and tax col-
lectors of Berwick . . . and from the Chamberlain by receipt
from Adam of Arowes, at his order, 20 shillings, for which
the Chamberlain will answer."

" And to Adam of Arowes, receiving annually ten pounds
{decern libras) from the grant of the King, by charter out

* Exchequer Rolls.


of the forementioned custom, and as far as shall have
been provided for him from another source at the last
term of this account, and not more than this at the said
term, because twenty shillings {viginti solidi) of a re-
mainder will be divided in the account of the Lord
Chamberlain. The sum of this expense is viii'^ xlij li. iij s.
iij d. q. (;^842, 3s. 3id.)."

" And to Adam of Arwys, receiving annually ten pounds,
according to the grant of the King, by charter, at the
first term of this account, lOO shillings ; and to Dominus
Robert of Lauderdale, as part of his fee, one hundred merks
for his guardianship of the Merse, and of the Castle of
Berwick, and of the Sheriffdom of the same at the first
term of this account."

"A.D. 1331. — And to Adam of Arus, for his fee, at the
two terms of this account, ten pounds ; and to the Chamber-
lain acknowledging receipt, an account besides of xiiij li.
xixs. ixd. q. (;£"i4, 19s. 9id.)."

" I Feb. 1334. — Robert de la Tang acknowledges having
received by the hands of the Abbot and Convent of Scone,
;^20 sterling, in which they were indebted to Adam de la
Arus by a certain obligation, of which ;^20, as attorney of
the said Adam and his spouse, he holds himself well satis-
fied, and discharges the said Abbot and Convent. Attested
by the seals of John Gye, burgess of Perth, and of the
granter [both wanting], given at Perth on Monday next
preceding the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin
Mary [Feb. i]. In the year of grace 1333 [34]."*

This last charter sustains the view that the proprietor
of Airhouse was a person of some dignity and importance.

♦ Original Charters, Register House, Edinburgh ; also, Liber de Scona,
No. 164.


We are not to be surprised that we find him connected
with people so far removed from Lauderdale as Scone.
There is just the bare possibility that the " Arus " here might
be the " Aros " of Mull. But it is highly improbable. More-
over, so far as communication is concerned, when we con-
sider the wealth and Court influence of the man, his favour
with King Robert, and the metropolitan and court status
of Perth during that period, it will be conceded that for
Adam of Airhouse to have made his services obligatory
to the Abbot of Scone by a loan of money or otherwise, is
not a very remote contingency, considering the unsettled
nature of the times. We learn here that Adam was
married. In the Exchequer Rolls there is a notice which
seems to confirm this : " A.D. 1332. — Et gardropario, Katerine
del Fawsid et Alicie del Aruys, pro feodo suo, de mandato
custodis, per literam, xxx s," — " And to the keeper of the
wardrobe, Katherine of Fawsid, and to Alice of Aruys, for
fee, by order of the Warden, by letter, 30s."

Alice may have been his wife or daughter. There is no
doubt that she must have been officially engaged in honour-
able service at Court. A curious thing is observable in the
language of these last two notices. The French turn is quite
apparent, " Adam de la Arus," " Alicie del Aruys." The
French influence at this time was prevalent in Scotland.
For just a few years before the above date, the Scotch and
French had concluded a treaty in which one of the clauses
made good that, " Any peace between France and England
ceases if there is war between England and Scotland, and so
of any peace between England and Scotland should there be
war between France and England."* England was the
common enemy to the French and the Scotch, and before
* History of Scotland^ J. H. Burton, vol ii., p. 297.


Bruce's time of royal successes, Wallace is reputed to have
gone to France to seek help from that quarter after the
disaster of Falkirk. The French de la Arus also clears up
another point with regard to the meaning of " Airhouse,"
which the Latin, with its lack of the article, fails to do. The
proprietor is "Adam of The Arus" a phrase which in the
popular speech of the district one sometimes hears to-day.
This would point to the meaning given in the Gaelic " Aros,"
" The House " as the original one.

With reference to " Katerine of Fawsid " being associated
with " Alice of Aruys " in the King's service, we take this
to confirm the evident identity of our Airhouse with the
" Arus " of the Exchequer Rolls, for " Fawside," as we surmise,
is the " Fallside " of the parish of Tranent. Moreover, that
they were both paid out of the customs of Berwick seems to
prove that the place was in Berwickshire ; moreover, " Robert
de Fausid " is a witness in a charter given by Allan of Hart-'
side to Sir Alexander de Seton of land in Oxton territory in
1327, exactly about the same time as these references ; show-
ing that the landed proprietors of " Fausid," " Arus," and
" Hertesheued " were in the habit of companying with each
other, and aiding each other in their business affairs.*

Perhaps " Ade de la Arus " was of French extraction
himself. The name "Ade" does not help us, however, as
it appears to be merely the diminutive of Adam, and the
French expressions in the charters may have resulted from
some French monk's method of writing them.

We have been unable to find any trace of Airhouse in
the charters of the religious houses ; that is, of Dryburgh,
Melrose, Kelso, St Andrews, Dunfermline, Holyrood, etc.,
with the exception of the above reference in the Book of
Scone. All remains, therefore, in profound darkness, re-
* Original Charters.


said to be bounded on the south by Wgstoun, and on the
west by " lie Arrous." * Here once more we meet with the
French form (Scotticised) of " TJie Arrous," " the House."
" Joneta Heriot of Aras " is heir of Thomas Heriot of Aras,
her grandfather, in 1610. -f- Jonet or Janet Hereot was
daughter to "the late James Hereot of Trabroun," as we
learn from a sasine of date nth July 1583, and was married
to John Borthwick, eldest son of Francis Borthwick and
Margaret Congleton of Ballincrief :|: In 1627 we have the
first mention of the form " Airhouse " from the Rev. Henry
Cockburn, minister at Channelkirk. In his report of his
church he says : — " Airhouse is in stok eight scoir merkis ;
personage, 20 lib. ; viccarage, 20 lib." Perhaps he was the
inventor of the expanded form of the name. Hillhouse and
Bourhouse in the parish might suggest " Airhouse " as the
correct spelling — these names being always pronounced
"Hillus" " Boorus," in a manner similar to "Arus, In
1631-32 we find this note in the Decreet of Locality: "The
Lord Humbie — his lands of Airhouse possessed by the Lady
(Trabroun)." She is said to " possess " the lands of Over
Howden in winter, although Lord Humbie owns them. In
1676, "Andreas Ker de Moriestoune," heir of Mark Ker, his
father, draws half the teinds of " Aruts" in this parish.§ As
if to make sure of the place, it is twice mentioned, first as
" Aruts," then as " Arids." Of course this right of teinds
descended from Lord Cardross, though in 1692 we find that
it had passed out of the Kers' hands. It was then in pos-
session of James Nicolson of Trabroun, who in 1693 "bound
and obliged himself, his heirs and successors, to warrant,
free, relieve, and skaithless keep the said George Somerville

* Great Seal. t Retours.

:|: Calendar of Laing Charters. § Retours.


(of Airhouse) and Marion Wadderston his spouse, and their
foresaids, from all payment of any teinds payable out of the
said lands" of Airhouse.*

This reference to the " Somervilles of Airhouse," the
designation by which they are always quoted in the parish
to this day, leads to a brief account of that family in
this place. In 1490 we find John Somerville, Gilbert Somer-
ville, and Thomas Somerville, " tenants " in Glengelt.i* These
probably were the ancestors of the Somervilles, who, in
later times, were tenants in, or proprietors of, so many
farms in Upper Lauderdale.

The first historical notice which we find of the modern
Somervilles is of George Somerville, tenant in Carfrae,
who, together with his wife M. (or B.) Watterstone, received
from James Nicolson, of Trabroun, certain rights to Wideopen
Common on 19th May 1629. Nothing more appears to be
known of George except that he died in 1642, still tenant
in Carfrae, and was buried in Channelkirk churchyard.

There is mention of Adam Somerville in the Kirk
Records as " deacon " in Channelkirk Church. He keeps
the poor's money in 1650, he is called an elder in 1656,
and on November 25, 1661, he "desired the Session
might choose another deacon to keep the box. The Session
made choice for a year of James Somerville in Hetcha
(Headshaw) to keep the box." This arrangement seems
to derive from the following council — " The electioun of
Elderis and Deaconis aught to be used everie yeare once,
least that by long continuance of suche officiaris, men
presume upoun the libertie of the Churche."^ This is
the earliest direct evidence of that respect and trust which

* Decreet of Locality, p. 186. t Acta Doininorum Concilii.

X The Biike of Discipline (Knox's Works\ vol. ii.


the people in the parish have accorded unstintedly to the
Somerville name for three hundred years. At this early
time George Somerville is in Carfrae, James Somerville in
Headshaw, and " William Somerville in Glengelt." * When
Airhouse comes into their hands about 1693, they completely
hold the most northern district of the whole valley of
the Leader. A family fit to " possess the land " evidently,
and loyally accepting all the burdens and responsibilities of
their position, both in church and farm. Would that their
honourable example had been more generally followed !

James Somerville, son of the above George, became
tenant in Carfrae after his father's death. He was born
in 161 1, and died in 1698, aged 87 years. About 1693,
successful negotiations regarding the purchasing of Airhouse
were effected between the Somervilles and James Nicolson
of Trabroun, and we find James's son, George Somerville,
installed then as resident proprietor there. Airhouse was
at that time part of the Barony of Trabroun.

This George Somerville, apparently the first " Somerville
of Airhouse," was born 1654, and died 1741, on the 3rd
of April, aged 87. His wife, Marion Watterstone, pre-
deceased him on November 1737, aged 6^. It was during
his time that the five years' dispute took place regarding
the election of a minister to the parish church, and he
seems to have taken a keen interest in the matter. He
was an elder, and appeared at Earlston Presbytery on
July 15, 1697, along with another, "desiring a hearing of
some young men in order to a call."-f- On 22nd August,
1700, three years later, we find him petitioning the Presbytery
for more elders to Channelkirk. He is again at Presbytery
" reporting " on 26th December 1700, and on September
* Kirk Records. f Presbytery Records.


25, 1 70 1, he is mentioned along with "Alex. Somerville "
as a heritor entitled to vote for a minister, the elections
then being limited to heritors and elders. He is evidently
disagreeably shocked at not having "carried his man," for
on September 3, 1702, he appears with many others
to offer objections to the minister's appointment, and
solemnly tables a paper " intituled The Reasons of a
Protestation against the ordaining of Mr Henry Home
Minister at Channelkirk ; " which, as usual, the Presbytery
considered as containing " nothing of moment," and pro-
ceeded to ordain.

There appears to have been another George Somerville
at this time in Heriotshall, for John Murray, Ouplaw
(Wooplaw), gets Heriotshall, 2nd September 1727, from
Alexander Somerville, mariner in Chatham, son of Alexander
Somerville, writer in Edinburgh, deceased, who was eldest
son of the deceased George Somerville of Heriotshall, and
Alison Bathgate.*

On 30th October 17 14 the George Somerville mentioned
above as elder and " protester " " grants disposition of the
said lands of Airhouse and Commonty Rights to James
Somerville, then eldest son,"t and the said James is found
also in 1739 to have purchased "those parts of Ugston
Lands on the west side of the highway from Peasemountford
to Lauder Burgh, formerly sold by Thomas Mathie to
James Somerville, younger of Airhouse, with part of
Glengelt Moss belonging to Ugston, and divided between
Thomas Mathie and James Somerville." At the date 17 14,
when he receives Airhouse, he is said to be "tenant in
Carthrae." :|: He was bereaved of his wife, Margaret

* Ac/s and Decreets, vol. 597. Mack. f Ibid.

X Sasines.

2 K



Adinstone, in the spring of 1738, and his young son George
in the spring of 1741, aged 22. He himself survived till
1 6th May 1758, when his bones were also laid in Channelkirk
graveyard, at the age of 72. His daughter Agnes followed
him in 1761, aged 45, after having afflicted his heart
and family honour by standing twice on the repentant
stool for a woman's weakness* The " rebukes " which
she received must have been cruel to her nearest relatives,
who were in authority, for " the minister ordered the officer
to call James and George Somervail, elders, to meet at
the manse upon the 4th instant." They had been staying
away, doubtless, out of shame, poor men. The best loved
child often deals the keenest blows to a parent's heart. The
family tombstone says she died November 26, 1761, but
the notice of her burial is given in the Kirk Records under
31st January 1762.

It was in 1733 that this James Somerville bought from the
Thomas Mathie mentioned above, and who was a " merchant
in Cockenzie," " those parts and portions of the lands of
Ugston called Pickleraw, the Forty-shilling Lands, and
Temple Lands with commonty rights, which seem to have
been sold again to Mr Justice of Justicehall in i739.t In
1742 we find "James Somervail of Airhouse and Oxton
Mains " attending a heritors' meeting to assist in appor-
tioning among themselves the burden of the schoolmaster's
salary.j He took a warm interest in all that concerned
the well-being of the parish, and was always at his post
whether in kirk or market. He is regular at all the Kirk-
Session meetings till the time of his death, old man
though he was, and had the most trying road in the

* Kirk Records. f Acts and Decreets, vol. 597.

t Kirk Records.


parish, perhaps, to be encountered every time he attended.
He is sent to represent the church at the Synod of Dunse,
April 1753, and seems to have been competent for all his
duties up till a very short time before his death. Just
before the entry under 4th June 1758, there is the
customary notice in such cases, " Mortcloth money for
James Somervail of Airhouse, £^, 12s," He was sur-
vived by his second wife, Elizabeth Allan, forty-three
years, she having lived till 19th July 1801, dying at the
age of eighty.

The Somervilles in evidence after this date are " George
Somerville in Carfrae," elder and treasurer in the church ;
George Somerville, tenant in Hartsyde^ who in 1754 is
painfully prominent in the Records as having been re-
buked from his seat, and " paying his penalty " for the
well-known sin ; and James Somerville of Headshaw.

James Somerville's son, George, was in his ninth year
when his father died, he having first seen the world in
1749, and by-and-by, about 1764, when he is a stripling
of fifteen, we find him designated " George Somerville of
Airhouse." He appears to have married in September
1773. It is on 27th September of 1773 that sasine was
granted to John Pringle of Haining in liferent, and
Robert Scott of Trabroun in fee, " of All and Haill the lands
of Arras, now called Airhouse," etc. This does not imply,
of course, that the Somervilles were out of Airhouse.
The same estate may be the subject of separate fees ;
the property or dominium utile being vested in one person,
and the superiority or dominimn directum in another.
These may also pass from one person to another as
separate estates. Scott held in fee simple, and was
Superior ; Pringle had a lifetime interest, and Somerville


was, it seems, in the place of vassal in Airhouse,* The
steady support which was given to the church by his
forbears does not stand out so clearly in his character.
We surmise that he had been a staunch churchman till
a new minister came into the parish, and the reverend
gentleman not being his choice, his love for the kirk had
cooled and even hardened into something like freezing
contempt. The system of electing a minister in Presby-
terian churches is admirably fitted to create such icy
temperatures in a parish, and there are few parishes in
Scotland at present but are either undergoing, or not long
past, or just about to enter their Glacial Period on this
account. The facts of Somerville's experience are as
follows: — The Rev. David Scott died i6th April 1792.
" There was neither minister nor elder in the parish," and
the heritors met to dispense the poor's money and clear
up the Kirk-Session accounts. George Somerville of Air-

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