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"seated high up among craggy, uncouth mountains," and
visited by him in his missionary journeys, are descriptive
only of villages such as Channelkirk was in bygone days, it
is reasonably certain that Bede had our district in his mind
when penning his narrative. No other locality in the neigh-
bourhood ;of Melrose Monastery will fit the description.

Having now, as we presume to think, established the
presence of Cuthbert in or near Channelkirk in the seventh
century, first as shepherd and then as preacher, we proceed
to other essentials which are called for in creating a place-
name, evoked, according to our as yet latent supposition, by
ecclesiastical circumstances, and possibly, by the presence
there of the saint himself One of these appears to be the
high renown which Cuthbert everywhere spread regarding
his holy life. His miracles, his virtuous acts, his episcopal
dignity, his apostolic example, his austerity, his eloquence as
a preacher, his diligence in doing good, his humility, his
devout prayers, his tears, and crucifixion of all pleasures,
roused an enthusiasm for him that none but the greatest
have called forth. All this rendered probable what we now
place with much diffidence before the reader.

The MS. noticed above, "taken and translated from the
Irish," *!* has the following passage : — Hoc primum miraculum
in terra ista de puero illo innotuit, quo Spiritus Sanctus
* Ecclesiastical History, c. 27. t Cap. 23.


ipsum sibi vas futurum gloriae praesignavit. Locus ipse
etiam adhuc incoHs notissimus habetur, in quo nunc ob
illius honorem ecclesia Domino consecratur ; quique a
puerorum coUudentium agmine, usque in hodiernum diem
Childeschirche vocatur praeagnomine, illi dans honoris aeterni
testimonium qui in aeternitate vivit in secula seculorum.

The passage refers to an incident in Cuthbert's boyhood.
After saying that he had been brought from Ireland by his
mother to his uncles, who were bishops in Lothian, and that
they had placed him under the care of a pious man there,
the Life relates a miracle which, unconsciously, the boy
Cuthbert performed among his playmates. Then follows the
above statement, which may be translated into these words :
" This became known in that district as the first miracle of
the remarkable boy, by which the Holy Spirit marked him
beforehand as about to be a vessel of glory to Himself. The
place itself is even still held by the inhabitants as of the
greatest note, in which a church to his honour is now conse-
crated to God ; and which even at this day, by bands of boys
at play, is by preference called by the name Childeschirche,
giving the testimony of eternal honour to him who lives in
eternity, for ever and ever."

An old chronicler of the fifteenth century, who ap-
parently rhymes on the lines of this narrative, says*: —

" This was the first meruayle ane,
Of him was knawen in louthiane
The whilk schewed takenying that he
Aftir haly man suld be.
That place is knawen in all scottland.
For nowe a kirk thar on stand,
Childe Kirk is called commonly,
Of men that er wonand thar by ;

* Surtees Society, No. 38, edited by Dr Jas. Raine. Also Surtees
Society, No. 87, 1889, p. 27 ; Canon Fowler.


Of cuthbert childe name it toke,
In goddis wirschip, thus saies the boke,
And in his name to rede and syng ;
To him be wirschip and louyng."

Dr James Raine has a note against the name " Childe
kirk," identifying it as the ancient Church of Channelkirk,
and the identity appears to be admitted by all competent
judges. The same authority says that the two anonymous
compilations just quoted are those " in which genuine history
and minute intimations of early customs and modes of living
are mixed with fabulous details." He tells us that the Irish
Life, however much it may be distrusted as reliable history,
yet " as a regular piece of biography, written in a good style,
and not deficient in incidental information upon subjects con-
nected with the period in which it was written," " it comes
within the plans of this Surtees Society," and these considera-
tions have led to its publication." He also shows " that the
monks of Durham had some belief in the Irish descent of
Cuthbert, and in other circumstances in his history detailed in
this piece of biography," and proves it by the account he
quotes of windows in the Durham Cathedral having been
glassed with scenes drawn from it, and which were destroyed
by Dean Horn in the reign of Edward VL, " for he could
never abide any ancient monuments that gave any light of
or to godly religion." Canon Fowler points out that "the
St Cuthbert window at York Minster still contains many
subjects from this Life."*

It is, of course, always made a matter of surprise that
Bede should never allude to Cuthbert's birth. We know
from himself that on submitting his manuscript to the
priests " who from having long dwelt with the man of God,
were thoroughly acquainted with his life," they corrected or
* Surtees Society, No. 87, pref. vi.


expunged " what they judged advisable!' And the suggestions
constantly recurring from this class of circumstances inevi-
tably bias us towards the suspicion that the history of his
birth was not such as to recommend itself to those who knew
the illustrious facts of his maturer years. If Cuthbert was
illegitimate (as is asserted by Capgrave * and others, this Irish
Life being among them), this may account for much that has
been buried in silence by his religious contemporaries, and
may also explain why the driblets of information regarding
his young days and birthplace, have percolated down to us
through such dubious channels. The belief in the Old Testa-
ment flawlessness of God's priests was a power in those days,
and this may lie at the root of the historical shame and conceal-
ment which swept the pages, to all appearance, of the vener-
able Monk of Jarrow. " The truth may possibly be," says
Dr Skene, " that he was the son of an Irish Kinglet by an
Anglic mother ; and this would account for her coming to
Britain with the boy, and his being placed under a master in
the vale of the Leader."-|- Nothing is more astounding to us
than that Bede should know so much concerning Cuthbert as
that " from his VERY CHILDHOOD he had always been inflamed
with the desire of a religious life," \ and yet have nothing
more to say of that period of Cuthbert's existence, we may be
sure that every incident in Cuthbert's life had been probed and
discussed by the Monks of Bede's time. His childhood seems
to have been as well known to them as his manhood, and its
character as distinctly defined. Why do the coceviis monachus,
and Bede, then, hang a veil over that time, the latter not
even venturing upon one fact to sustain his statement ? The
reason seems patent, though it need not be restated. They

* Annals of the Four Masters, edited by Dr Jo. O'Donovan, 1856.

t Celtic Scotland, vol. ii., p. 206. % Ecclesiastical History, chap, xxvii.


loved and revered Cuthbert ; his dust was holy to them ; an
inviolable sanctity must not be dimmed or sullied by shadows
of the past. And thus the waves of oblivion were permitted
to lap within their bosom what the pen of the chronicler may
have written, but which the hand of the churchman had no
desire to rescue from forgetfulness. This accounts also, no
doubt, for the blurred and almost wholly obliterated record
which points to Cuthbert's connection with Channelkirk.

That the church at Channelkirk was originally founded in
honour of the child, or youth, who afterwards became the
Saint called Cuthbert, as asserted by the Irish Life and the
fifteenth century chronicler whose lines have been quoted,
receives certain indirect corroboration from other sources.
The supposed dedication to the " Holy Innocents " withers
before the testimony of the Dryburgh Charters which declare
Channelkirk Church to have been dedicated to St Cuthbert.
In Charter No. 185 (c. 1327) we have the following*: —

Universis Sancte Matris, etc. Thomas Clericus filius
Willelmi de Collielaw Salutem in Domino. Noverit univer-
sitas vestra me divine caritatis intuitu et pro salute anime
mee et pro salute animarum omnium antecessorum et suc-
cessorum mearum dedisse concessisse et hac mea carta con-
fir masse Deo et ecclesie Sancti Cuthberti de ChildenchircJi et
canonicis de Dryburgh octo acras terre. . .

By this instrument, Thomas, son of William of Collielaw,
in this parish, devotes, like a loyal son of Holy Mother
Church, eight acres of land to the Church of St Cuthbert at
Channelkirk, a bounty which necessarily was received by the
Dryburgh Canons, seeing that Channelkirk had been under
their Abbey since the days of Hugh de Morville, Lord of

*■ Liber de Dryburgh.


Charter No. 255, dated about 1161 A.D., contains likewise
a papal confirmation of the Church of St Cuthbert at Channel-
kirk (ecclesiam Sancti Cuthberti de Childinchirch) to the
Canons of Dryburgh Abbey.

It is interesting, too, though not perhaps evidentially, to
note that Bishop de Bernham of St Andrews,* when in 1 240-
1249 he consecrated so many churches in his large diocese,
comes straight from consecrating St Cuthbert's Church,
Edinburgh, to fulfil the same function at Channelkirk. St
Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, is consecrated on "XVII Kal. April
1 24 1 -2," and " Childenechirch " on " X Kal. April " of the same
year, or on the i6th and 23rd of March respectively. We
also observe that the day of consecration was as near St
Cuthbert's day, the 20th of March, as the nature of the
circumstances might reasonably be supposed to permit,
considering the season of the year, and the formid-
able nature of the journey. The editor of De Bernham's
Pontifical also points out as remarkable that not even one
of the churches was dedicated on the festival of the saint
whose name is commemorated in its title, and seventy of
the one hundred and forty churches which the bishop then
consecrated, have been identified.

Moreover, there is every indication that the church at
Channelkirk existed before the time that rises above the
horizon with historical writings. The year 1153 A.D. is, no
doubt, the earliest possible date of Dryburgh Charters, in the
first of which our church is specially dealt with. But it is
there seen to be at that time a settled church with its own
lands lying around it, and a regular priest, Godfrey, minister-
ing at its altar. Its situation, also, is matter of general sur-
prise, being perched 945 feet above sea level, in the remotest

* Pontificalc (supra).



corner of Lauderdale, on heights so steep and inaccessible
as to daunt the most zealous worshippers. Only some im-
portant event in by-past centuries could satisfy the interro-
gations which all these circumstances arouse, and, when it
was, moreover, " the mother and parish church of the whole
valley " * while a more wealthy and powerful church under the
De Morville family existed in 1 170 in the rich and populous
centre of the dale, we are not surprised that the vision of St
Cuthbert which led him to become a monk in Mailros should
be localised on the spot where the church now stands, or that
both tradition and chronicles should trace its existence and
name to the life of that seventh century apostle.

From a consideration of all these facts and circumstances
connected with it, we are disposed to believe that the Church
of Channelkirk derives its designation from the youth
Cuthbert, afterwards St Cuthbert, and probably came into
existence between the seventh and ninth centuries. Regard-
ing the investigation into the etymology of the name, ety-
mologists alone have a right to speak. We wholly disclaim
any ability in that sphere. We only venture to suggest in the
interests of a satisfactory and reasonable solution to this
inquiry that the form Childeschirche^ as our fifteenth century
rhyrher and the Irish Life assert, was the original one.
Through forms which are now lost to us, among which
Childer-chirche was probably to be reckoned, this became in
the charters of the monks Childenchirch. This form, with
variants of " i " and " e," " chirch " and " kirk," would persist
in writings so long as ecclesiastical documents afforded a
constant model to copy from. But as soon as Reformation
troubles compelled the monks to fly, these documentary
guides fled with them, and our Protestant friends were driven
* Liber de Dry burgh.


to adopt the phonetic spelling of the name which was con-
stantly on the lips of the people of Lauderdale. There would
be many local variants of it, as there are yet to this day.
Our present name seems to have come directly from the
change of Childen into Cheindil, which appears to have been
simply the result of metathesis or the common transposition
of consonants in articulation. But when Childench\rch. had
become by metathesis Cheindtlch.\rc\\, or Cheindilkirk, the
hatred of the tongue for the dental produced still further
changes. Cheindil became Cheinil, as handle becomes han'le,
candle, cawn'le, kindle^ kin'le, and so on ; after which Chinel
and Channel are easy transitions. A corroborative example
of the same process seems given us in the place-name Annels-
hope in Selkirkshire. In 1455 it is Aldanhop ; in 1644 it
becomes by transposition Andleshope. The obnoxious " d " is
then thrust out, and it is now Annelshope.

Before the year 1560, the year of the Reformation, such
forms of the name as " Chingilkirk," " Schingilkirk," " Gingle-
kirk," etc., etc., are never found, and are purely the spawn of
the provincial dialect.

C H A P 1^ E R I I


The first Charter in the Liber de Drybiirgh — The De Morville Family —
The Patron Saint of Channelkirk — Godfrey the Priest and Hugo de
Morville — Extent of De Morville's Estate in Lauderdale — Kirk Lands
near Pilmuir — Lauderdale in the Thirteenth Century — Its Devout
Men and their Gifts to Channelkirk Church — Gifts " In Perpetuam"
— An Era of Bequests to Holy Mother Church — Supposed Atonement
for National Sin — Thomas of Collielaw — Ancient Agricultural Life —
The Domus de Soltre and Channelkirk Church — Fulewithnes —
Glengelt Chapel — The Veteriponts — Carfrae Chapel — The Sinclairs —
Premonstratensian Order — Dedication of Channelkirk Church, A.D.
1241 — Then and Now.

Viewing history through the agency of Charters gives one an
impression similar to that experienced when contemplating
Nature as set forth in a picture gallery. Facts and forms,
truth and beauty, reveal themselves so far within the clear-
cut spaces given them ; but all around these margins are
wood and wall, darkness and silence, and we pass from space
to space with a weird sense of skimming over chasms, or
graves, across which we slip some tentative speculation or
guess, that seems to supply sufficiently the lack of actual
historical sequence of time and occurrence. Vision is con-
stantly under arrestment, and all the voices reach our ears
through legal telephones. Men and motions appear to exist
in an atmosphere of enamel, each attitude struck stiff and un-
changeable as if by enchantment, leaving us often perplexed


to know what motive, what principle or passion, had called it
into being. In the absence, however, of steady daylight and
open landscapes, these charter-flashes through the darkness
upon the facts and faces of the past are very acceptable, and
we are grateful to the good monks for sending them forth
over the dark centuries from their religious lighthouses.

The Register of Dryburgh Abbey, or Liber S. Marie de
DryburgJi, opens with a charter dealing with the church of
Channelkirk. Although marked " No. 6," it is the earliest one
extant, as the preceding five have not been found. The title
of the charter runs : " The Confirmation regarding the afore-
said donations of Hugo and Robert de Morville concerning
the churches of Childinchirch and Saltone." The writ itself
proceeds : —

" Malcolm, King of the Scots, to the bishops, abbots, earls,
barons, justiciaries, sheriffs, bailies, servants, and all true men
of all the land, whether cleric or laic, Franks or Angles, health.
Be it known to the present and future generations that I have
conceded, and by this, my charter, confirmed to God and the
Church of St Mary at Dryburgh, and the canons serving God
there, the bequests of Hugo de Morville and Robert de
Morville, which they, in free and perpetual charity, gave to the
same church, and confirmed by their charters, viz., the
Church of Childenchirch, with the land adjacent, and all that
justly pertains to it."

In this quotation, and in others to follow, we give only
those items in the documents which bear upon Channelkirk,
This one is from the hand of Malcolm IV., grandson to David
I., and consequently must have been granted between 1153-
1 165 A.D., the period of his reign.

Hugh de Morville was the friend and favourite of King
David I., and rose to the highest office in the State. Much is


dim and uncertain in his career, but he appears to have come
originally from the north of England. He received, besides
his possessions in England, extensive estates in Scotland.
He held all Lauderdale down to near Earlston, where the
Earl of Dunbar's land came between the northern portion
and his other lands in Dryburgh, Merton, Bemersyde, and
Newton. Between 1108-24,* he witnesses the gift of lands
to Roger, the Archdeacon, and his heir; in 11 16, the
Inquisition of David, and in 1 1 19-24, the charter of the
foundation of Selkirk Abbey. He is called in Chronica de
Mailros, the founder of the church of Dryburgh.-j* He was
Constable of Scotland before 1 140,+ and died, according to
the Chronica de Mailros, in 1162. If the latter statement is
correct, it must have been another Hugh de Morville§ who
was implicated in 11 70 in the murder of Thomas a Becket,
Archbishop of Canterbury, and was afterwards Justiciary of

In the Calendar of Documents we ascertain that he
accounts, in 1194-95, for ;^I00 of his fine, made with the
king for holding the forestry of Carlisle. Probably, the
"Hugh de Morville" found after 1162 was a younger man,
related to the Hugh of Lauderdale, and less pious, perhaps,
in his character.

The office of Constable of Scotland became hereditary
in the De Morville family,*; and after Hugo it was held
successively by his son, Richard ; William de Morville ;

*Vol. i. Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland.

t See also Liber de Dryburgh, No. 14. + Newbattle Charters.

§ Hoveden's Chronicle, vol. ii., p. 14.

II See Froude's Short Studies, vol. iv. ; also The Itinerary of Henry
II., by Rev. R. W. Eyton, who includes the years 1158-70 in Hugh de
Morville's life.

IT Caledonia, vol. i., p. 707.


Roland, Lord Galloway (d. 1200); Allan, his son (d. 1234);
Roger de Quinsi ; Alexander Cumyn, and John Cumyn, and

Before his death he gifted Channelkirk Church to Dry-
burgh Abbey, and himself donned the monk's habit at the
same time.*

The name " Robert " de Morville in the charter just
quoted, is, perhaps, intended for " Richard," who succeeded
his father Hugo. Richard was a man of more warlike
manner than his father, and was embroiled in many disputes
with the religious houses. He commanded part of the
Scottish army at the battle of Falaise in ii74,"h and was one
of the hostages given to the King of England. He was
excommunicated by John Scott, Bishop of St Andrews, as
a disturber of the peace between the king and him.self l He
died in 1189.

The charter which next in chronological order makes
reference to Channelkirk is No, 255, and is entitled "Con-
cerning the Church of Childinchirch and the tenths of the
Mills of Lauder and Salton, and two bovates of land in
Smailholm," It is dated c. 1161, and is granted by Pope
Alexander HI., who occupied the papal chair, 1 159-81. It
bears that Roger, Abbot of Dryburgh, and his brethren, had
petitioned the Pope to confirm Hugh de Morville's gift of
Channelkirk Church to them, the consent of the ecclesiastical
king being as necessary as that of the King of Scotland.

" Alexander, Bishop, servant of the servants of God, to
his beloved sons Roger, the Abbot, and the Brethren of the
Church of St Mary at Dryburgh, health and Apostolic
benediction. It is right that we give a ready assent to the
just desires of your petitions, and your wishes, which are
* Lt'der de Dryburgh, No. 8. t Hoveden's Chronicle. % Ibid.


agreeable to right reason are to be complied with in the
following way. Wherefore, beloved sons in the Lord, com-
plying with your just demands by a cordial consent, wc
confirm the Church of St Cuthbert at Channelkirk, the tenth
of the mills of Lauder and Salton, and the two bovates of
land in Smailholm, from the gift of David Olifard, for your
devotion, and through you to your church by Apostolic

This charter and Charter No. 185 are valuable in that they
decide who was the patron saint of Channelkirk Church.
Hew Scott in his Fasti says that " it was dedicated to the
Holy Innocents." He gives no authority, and it may be
that the name " Childermas " seemed to him to be connected
with " Childinchirch," and so to have suggested the above.
The mistake would have been rectified long ago, doubtless,
if Professor Cosmo Innes's Origines Parochiales had embraced
the Lauderdale district in its scope, a hint of which is given
in his preface (p. xxiii), when he says, " Affectionate memorials
of St Cuthbert are still found at Melrose, Channelkirk, and

Malcolm the Maiden, died 1165, and was succeeded by
his brother William, the Lyon King, who was crowned at
Scone on Christmas eve of the same year. In such troublous
times, when kings and kingdoms were so often placed in
hazard, it seems to have been necessary, in order to preserve
the clear right of possession, that each succeeding king
should grant confirmation of Church bequests bestowed in
former reigns. We find, therefore, that Malcolm, William,
and Alexander, confirm in succession the church of Channel-
kirk to God and the Church of Saint Mary at Dryburgh.
About the year 1165, when he ascended the throne, William,
the Lyon gives a general confirmatory charter to Dryburgh


Abbey, and one item "from the gift of Hugo de Monnlle"
is the " Church of Childinchirch " (Xa 241).

Richard de Mor\-ille of Lauderdale, succeeding his
father Hugo in the office of Constable of Scotland in, it is
said, 1 165, and djnng in 11 89, gives, in some year bet^^-een
these dates, the following confirmator>' charter (No. 8) : —

" Richard de Morville, constable of the King of Scots,
to all his adherents and true men, wishes health. Be it
known to the present and future generations that I have
given and by this my charter confirmed to God and the
Church of the Blessed Mar}- at Drj-burgh, and to the Brethren
ser\ing God in that place, in perpetual charitj-, the Church
of Salton with full carucates of land, and all pertaining to
the same church after the decease of Robert the Cleric

" Besides, I concede, I confirm to the same church the
gifts of my father which with himself he gave to the same
Brethren, N-iz., the church of Childinchirch, with all pertaining
to it with which Godfrid the priest held it in the day in
which my father assumed the canonical dress."

This concession and confirmation contains interesting
items. I. The name of the priest who officiated in Channel-
kirk at the time Hugo de Morxille bequeathed the church
to DrA'burgh Abbey. 2. The earh- s)-stem of tenure on
which this Godfrid the priest held it " Each church* as it
was settled, was under the charge of its own priest or minister,
and he was amenable only to the lord on whose domain
he had been settled, and b\- whom, in most cases, he had been
endowed. 3, The fact of H. de Mor\'ille having submitted to
a monkish rule of life in Dr}burgh Abbey, a statement we
do not remember to have seen noticed in any work treating
of his history. The priest's name, Godfrew is .Anglic, and
* Ckyrck of Scoflatuty \xA. iv., p. 3.


points to his having come with the De Morvilles into
Lauderdale, though, of course, this is merely conjectural.

The church of Channelkirk, being under Dryburgh Abbey,
was thereby in the diocese of St Andrews. Malcolm II. in
1018 obtained a victory over Eadulf at the battle of Carham,
and the province of Lothian was ceded to him. This large

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