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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



HISTORY OF PEEBLESSHIRE.



H I STO RY



OF



PEEBL ESSH IRE



BY WILLIAM CHAMBERS

OF GLENORMISTON

F. G. S., F. R. S. E.



WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS

EDINBURGH AND LONDON

1864



Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh.



PREFACE.



IH A D long entertained a wish to write a history of
my native county, but the obligations of a busy life,
independently of other reasons, postponed the under-
taking until, after an absence of six -and -thirty years,
I returned to dwell amidst scenes, of which I had
treasured up some recollections and traditions.

I was not without an excuse for having formed this
desire. The only available book on the subject was the
Description of Tweeddale, by Dr Alexander Pennicuik
of Romanno, issued originally in 1715, and re-issued
with notes in 1815, by the late Mr Brown of Newhall.
Besides being out of date, Pennicuik's work, though in
many respects curious and valuable, is little else than
a topographic and botanical recital. After making a
survey of the county in 1775, Captain Armstrong issued
his Companion to the Map of Tweeddale, but this tract,
while embracing some useful facts, is also chiefly topo-
graphic, and has been long out of sight. The next
book concerning the shire, was a General View of the
Agriculture of tlie County of Peebles, by the Rev. Charles
Findlater, minister of Newlands, issued in 1802. Find-



VI PREFACE.

later, a man of enlarged views and genial temperament,
has presented an interesting account of rural progress
until his own day, but necessarily abstains from matters
of an historical character.

The attempt to compose a history, along with a
general description of the county, has not been unat-
tended with difficulties. Forming a secluded moun-
tainous territory, Peeblesshire, though not distant from
the centre of public affairs, is scarcely noticed in general
Scottish history. Materials for a narrative of events
require to be sought for almost entirely in original
sources. For several years, accordingly, I have enjoyed
the pleasant occupation of digging into old records, and
thence drawing to the light of day such facts as bore on
the raids, fightings, feuds, slaughters, and other lively
occurrences of the period, when lairds lived in castles and
cared very little for either law or government when
bailies and burgesses, emulating their betters, settled dis-
putes by an appeal to " Jeddart staffs" and " whingers"
and when, seemingly, the only local tribunal that inspired
terror, or secured prompt obedience, was the parish kirk-
session. The following are the Records which have
proved serviceable as concerns these and other illustra-
tions of a past condition of society : The Records of the
Privy or Secret Council of Scotland ; the Books of Ad-
journal (Records of Justiciary) ; the Records of the
Justices of Peace for the sheriffdom f Peebles ; the
Valuation Rolls of the same sheriffdom ; the Records of
the Convention of Royal Burghs ; the Records of the



PREFACE. VI 1

Royal Burgh of Peebles ; the Records of the Presbytery
of Peebles ; and the Records of the Kirk-Sessions of the
several parishes in Peeblesshire. As will be seen, I
have been particularly indebted to that invaluable and
too little explored repository of facts, the Records of the
Privy Council. What this august body had to do with
Peeblesshire, becomes only very obvious, when we call to
mind that it indulgently heard complaints from every-
body about everything, from a case of homicide to a
debt of a few merks from an act of rebellion to a
quarrel between husband and wife ; a comprehensiveness
of jurisdiction, during the old Scottish monarchy, of which
some notable examples have already been presented in
my brother's Domestic Annals.

Believing that few subjects are more distasteful to
general readers than topography, I have, while shunning
minute detail, resorted to the expedient of telling the story
of estates in connection with the families who have succes-
sively possessed them ; or, in other words, endeavoured
to describe the county through the palatable medium of
anecdotic family history. Should this be deemed a
scarcely satisfactory method of procedure, there is this
to be said in its favour, that it enables a writer to shew
how, through the expenditure of capital and exercise of
taste, the naturally bleak lands of Scotland have been
transformed during the last seventy or eighty years into
a condition of beauty, fertility, and high commercial
value. For facts in this department, I have, of course,
had to rely mainly on private papers ; and for the liberal



Vlll PREFACE.

manner in which my neighbours have opened their
charter-chests for an examination of these documents, I
now tender my best acknowledgments.

The accounts of local antiquities, including the nume-
rous and interesting British hill-forts in Peeblesshire, are
from personal inspection during the summer of 1863.
For communications on rural and general progress,
also on the geology and natural history of the county, I
have been indebted to individuals who have kindly taken
an interest in my undertaking.

I may confidently say that neither trouble nor expense
has been spared on the maps and wood engravings with
which the volume is illustrated, and I am hopeful that
these embellishments will help to brighten up a narrative
too apt to be dull. All the sketches have been taken by
artists specially for the work, and may be relied on for
their accuracy.

The abbreviations employed are, P. C. R., for Privy
Council Records; P. R., Presbytery Records; J. P. R.,
Justice of Peace Records; C. R., Convention of Royal
Burghs Records ; B. R., Burgh Records of Peebles ; and

K. S. R., Kirk-Session Records.

W. C.

GLENORMISTON, i6th May 1864.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



Subject Illustrated.

FIG. PAGE
MAP OF THE COUNTY, FROM ORDNANCE SURVEY,

with corrections ..... o

FANCY EMBLEMATIC AND HERALDIC HEADING . . . 9

VIGNETTE Sheep of Peeblesshire ... . . . 17

STONE HAMMER ...... i . 20

STONE AXE 2 . 20

QUERN 3. 21

STONE MORTAR ...... 4.22

BRACELET 5 . 22

STANDING STONES, SHERIFF-MUIR ... 6 . 23

ROMAN CAMP AT LYNE in its original form . . 7 . 25

ROMAN CAMP AT LYNE in its mutilated state . 8 . 26

MILKISTON RINGS, present state . . . 9 . 32

MILKISTON RINGS, original form . . . 10 . 33

SECTION OF HENDERLAND-HILL RINGS ... 1 1 . 34

CAERLEE-HILL FORT 12 . 36

KlTTLEGAIRY FORT, SOONHOPE . . . . 13 . 39

PURVIS-HILL TERRACES 14 . 40

ROMANNO TERRACES . . - * . . 15 . 42

VIGNETTE Seal of Archbishop of Glasgow . . . 45

VIGNETTE Figures of two Red Friars . . . . 54

VIGNETTE Old Armour . 61

CARDRONA TOWER, in ruins . . . . 16 71

DOOR OF A BASTEL-HOUSE, Peebles ... . 17 . 72



X LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

Subject Illustrated. FIG. PAGE

JAMES I. OF SCOTLAND . . . . . 18 . 74

MASON-MARKS ON TWEED BRIDGE . . . 19 . 80

TOWN-WALL OF PEEBLES 20 . 92

DRUMMELZIER CASTLE, in ruins . . . . 21 . 95

DROCHILL CASTLE, in ruins . . . . 22 . 107

OLD TOWER OF BARNS 23 .117

HORSBRUGH CASTLE, in ruins (1856). . . 24 . 128

VIGNETTE Border raid .144

NEIDPATH CASTLE, eastern aspect . . . 25 . 157

MAP OF THE COUNTY, as surveyed in 1608 . . . .181

TRAQUAIR HOUSE, front view . . . . 26 . 182

VIGNETTE Figure of Hon. General Douglas . . .206
TOWN-MANSION OF WILLIAMSON OF CARDRONA,

now an Inn . . . . . . 27 .219

VIGNETTE Duke of Queensberry's coach . . . .229

VIGNETTE View of Peebles . . . . . .256

BURGH SEAL 28 . 260

CROSS OF PEEBLES, 1699 29 . 261

JOHN JAMESON, a mendicant fiddler . . . 30 . 273

CHAMBERS INSTITUTION, front view . . . 31 .280
QUADRANGLE, CROSS, AND HALL, Chambers

Institution 32 . 282

LIBRARY AND READING ROOM, Chambers Institution 33 . 283

STONE TABLET IN HOUSE OF THE TURNBULLS . 34 .284

THE YETT, entrance to Cross Keys Inn . . 35 . 286

EMBLEMATIC FOURTH FIGURE . . . 36 .289

RUINS OF ST ANDREW'S CHURCH . . 37 .291

ST NICHOLAS WITH THE HOLY ROOD . . 38 . 294

Rums OF THE CROSS CHURCH . 39 295

VIGNETTE Doorway to the Green . . . . -315

CREST OF THE LORDS YESTER, Neidpath Castle . 40 . 318



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. xi



Subject Illustrated.


FIG.


PAGE


NEIDPATH CASTLE, southern aspect .


41


32


OLD Q.


42


323


CHAPEL HILL


43


326


VENLAW HOUSE .....




1 20


KERFIELD HOUSE


45


o^y
-. 33i


ARMS OVER DOORWAY, Haystoun ,


46


335


KING'S MEADOWS


47


342


DARN HALL ......


48


3 e?


PORTMORE HOUSE


49


JJO

356


CRINGLETIE HOUSE ....


So


- 363


COWIE'S LINN . . .


Si


364


VIGNETTE Eddleston Water .


*


365


OLD BRIDGE, Innerleithen . . .


52


. 368


RUIN OF NETHER HORSBRUGH . . .


53


- 374


PIRN HOUSE


54


- 376


LODGE AND ENTRANCE, Glenormiston


55


379


GLENORMISTON HOUSE >


56


. 380


VIGNETTE St Mary's Cottage, Yarrow


.


. 381


BUSH ABOON TRAQUAIR ....


57


384


OLD GATEWAY, Traquair House


58


387


THE GLEN HOUSE . ...


59


39


KAILZIE HOUSE . ...


60


392


CARDRONA HOUSE . . . .


61


396


VIGNETTE Wading Tweed on Stilts .


. '


397




; 62


401


THE BLACK DWARF'S COTTAGE . . .


. 63


403


HALLYARDS HOUSE


64


407


LYNE CHURCH


65


411


TOMBSTONE, Piers Cockbum's Grave .


66


4i3


JUNCTION OF POWSAIL AND TWEED


67


4i5


DAWICK HOUSE %


68


420



Xll LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

Subject Illustrated. FIG. PAGE

RUINS OF TINNIES CASTLE ... . . 69 . 421

SITE OF LINCUMDODDIE 70 .425

POLMOOD IN RUINS . .- . . . 71 426

HUNTER OF POLMOOD 72 .427

STANDING-STONE, Tweedsmuir . . . . 73 .430

CHURCH OF STOBO 74 434

JOUGS, Doorway of Stobo Church . . . 75 .435

LORD CHIEF BARON MONTGOMERY . . . 76 - 437

STOBO CASTLE 77 439

RACHAN HOUSE 78 446

RUIN OF WRAE CASTLE 79 . 448

MOSSFENNAN HOUSE 80 . 450

CASTLE CRAIG 81 .452

NETHER URD 82 457

LADY GIFFORD'S WELL, Linton ... 83 . 460

MEDWYN HOUSE 84 . 467

GARVALD HOUSE . . . . . . 85 . 469

SPITALHAUGH HOUSE 86 .472

BORDLANDS HOUSE 87 .473

CALLANDS HOUSE . . . . . . 88 .474

SCOTSTON . . . . . . 89 . 476

ROMANNO HOUSE . . . . . . 90 .479

OLD CHURCH OF NEWLANDS, in ruins . . 91 .487

HALMYRE HOUSE .',.... 92 497

MACBIE HILL HOUSE 93 .502

MAUSOLEUM AT MACBIE HILL . . . . 94 .503

LA MANCHA HOUSE 95 .506

WHIM HOUSE 96 59

VIGNETTE Girl wading Eddleston Water . . . -513

GEOLOGICAL SECTION 97 .517

VIGNETTE Game, Peeblesshire . . . . . -53




HISTORY



OF



PEEBLESSHIRE.



PEEBLESSHIRE, one of the smaller counties of Scotland,
lying near the Border, so called from its royal burgh, is
bounded by Dumfries and Selkirk shires on the south,
Lanarkshire or Clydesdale on the west, Mid-Lothian or Edin-
burghshire on the north, and Selkirkshire on the east. Irregular
in outline, particularly in the east, the shire extends from north
to south twenty-nine miles ; its greatest breadth is twenty-one
miles, and its least breadth nine and a half miles. The county
contains 226,899.206 acres of land, and 969.633 acres of water
total, 227,868.839 acres, or 356 square miles. Its lowest point
above the mean level of the sea is about 450 feet, from which to
about 1 200 feet is the region of cultivation. The hills generally
rise to a height of from goo to 1500 feet. According to the
Ordnance Survey, the greatest altitude attained within the
county is 2754 feet, which is the height of Broad Law, in the
district of Megget. Peebles, occupying an alluvial plateau at
the height of 550 feet above the sea, is situated in 55 39' 5"
north latitude, and 3 n' 15" longitude west of Greenwich.



IO HISTORY OF PEEBLESSHIRE.

Consisting mainly of the upper part of the valley of the
Tweed, the county is variously and more familiarly known as
TWEEDDALE, a designation which, in its old form of Tuedal, is
sometimes assigned to it in state documents and historical writings
in past times. Environed by mountain-ranges, and anciently
bounded on its eastern frontier by the thickets of Ettrick Forest,
Tweeddale long possessed a character of seclusion not to be
expected from its near neighbourhood to the busy scenes of Mid-
Lothian. Although neither very lofty nor striking in outline, the
hills of Peeblesshire constitute a wild and pleasing pastoral region,
intersected with alluvial vales, each watered by its tributary
streamlet, gathered from innumerable rills which gurgle in sweet
solitude down the recesses of the mountain-slopes. Excepting
the Medwin Water, in the north-west, which runs towards the
Clyde, and the North Esk, which, rising in the north-east, flows
towards the Forth, also some lesser rivulets, all the streams of
Peeblesshire are tributary to the Tweed, although one of them,
the Megget, makes a circuit by its influx into St Mary's Loch,
the parent of the Yarrow.

Moderate in volume seldom more than from two to four feet
deep, or beyond sixty to eighty feet in breadth and abounding
in rapids, Tweed is unsusceptible of navigation, and sinks in
importance in comparison with the Tay and some other rivers
in the north ; but, independently of the celebrity gained by
its natural qualities, it has acquired distinction by forming the
line of boundary between England and Scotland in the lower
part of its course.

The source of the Tweed is found in the parish of Tweeds-
muir, in the western part of the county, about 1300 feet above
the level of the sea, where it rises at the base of a hilly range,
from the further sides of which spring the rivers Annan and
Clyde. Hence, the popular, though not quite correct rhyme :

' Annan, Tweed, and Clyde
Rise a' out o' ae hill-side. '

A small fountain, usually considered to be ' the head of



INTRODUCTION. 1 1

Tweed/ at the base of a hill called Tweed's Cross, and named
Tweed's Well, gives forth a small rivulet, which flows in a north-
easterly direction, through the parish of Tweedsmuir, receiving
on each side various tributary streams, including the Fruid and
the Talla. From Tweedsmuir, the Tweed takes a northern
course to Drummelzier, where it receives the Powsail and the
united streams of Holms, Kilbucho, and Biggar, and forms the
boundary of the parish of Glenholm. It next intersects Stobo
parish, and then receives the Lyne, a stream augmented by the
Tarth and some rivulets in the north-western part of the county.
United with the Lyne, the Tweed pursues its way in an easterly
direction, which, with few exceptions, it ever afterwards main-
tains. About a mile and a half below its junction with the
Lyne, Manor Water joins it on the right, and proceeding through
a gorge at Neidpath, arrives at Peebles, twenty-five miles from
its source. At Peebles, the Tweed receives Eddleston Water on
the left ; after which, proceeding through the parish of Peebles,
Soonhope Burn falls into it on the left, and Haystoun Burn on
the right ; it next separates the parishes of Innerleithen and
Traquair, receiving several dashing small burns in its course.
Near Innerleithen, it is augmented by the Quair on the right,
and the Leithen on the left Below Innerleithen, it receives the
Walker Burn on the left ; two miles further down, it is joined on
the left by Gatehope Burn, which here forms the boundary of
the county ; after which it holds on its course amidst the hills of
Selkirkshire, emerging a short way below the Yair, on the more
open and rich valley adorned by Abbotsford, Melrose, and
Dryburgh.

At this point, the Tweed receives, first, the Ettrick, which has
been previously augmented by the Yarrow, and then the Gala,
where it enters Roxburghshire, becoming now a river of more
imposing dimensions, with banks more level than in the upper
part of its course. Before leaving the rich vale of Melrose, the
Tweed is joined by the Leader on its left bank, which is the only
tributary of any note till it is increased by the Teviot on the
right, near Kelso. The Teviot is the largest tributary of the



12 HISTORY OF PEEBLESSHIRE.

Tweed in its whole course, and almost doubles it in size. Passing
Kelso on the left, and flowing majestically onward, it receives
the Eden Water, and soon after enters the level district of the
Merse, which it separates from Northumberland on the south.
At Coldstream, the Leet falls into it on the Scottish side ; and
from two to three miles further down, on the English side, it
is increased by the sluggish waters of the Till. Some miles
further on, it receives the Scottish river Whitadder, a large
stream previously augmented by the Blackadder ; and shortly
afterwards, passing the ancient town of Berwick-on-Tweed on its
left, its waters are poured into the German Ocean.

From head to foot, the Tweed is computed to drain 1870
square miles. Through Peeblesshire, it has a course of forty-one
miles ; Selkirkshire, nine miles ; Roxburghshire, nearly thirty
miles ; and along Berwickshire, somewhat more than twenty-two
miles ; making a total of 102 to 103 miles in length. Its fall
from its source to Peebles is about 800 feet ; and from Peebles to
Berwick, 500 feet ; or, reckoning its entire course, it has an
average fall of thirteen feet per mile. Being undisturbed
by traffic on its surface, and but slightly adulterated by liquid
refuse from towns and manufactories, as well as possessing, in
general, a pure gravelly bottom, its waters, except during
floods, are remarkably clear and sparkling. Until compar-
atively recent times, occasional heavy falls of rain kept the
river flooded for days, when it formed a broad sheet of turbid
water, often destructive to the crops on its more level banks ;
but now, from the general practice of draining, falls of rain
are carried rapidly off, and if the river suddenly rises, it as
suddenly subsides, rarely causing any serious injury during these
paroxysms. For a long time, the Tweed was crossed by only
two bridges one at Peebles, and the other at Berwick ; but now
it has several stone and other bridges, besides railway viaducts.
Within Peeblesshire, it has some convenient fords, passable in
ordinary states of the river.

The Vale of Tweed is generally of a pleasing sylvan character,
the hills being never far from the banks of the river, while the



INTRODUCTION. 13

eminences and lower lands are frequently clothed by woods and
plantations. As the ground recedes from the stream, except in
the lower part of its course, the country becomes wild and
pastoral, and rises into such elevations as equally to shut out
Lothian on the north, and Dumfriesshire on the south. Though
constituting part of what are sometimes called the Southern
Highlands, Peeblesshire is not rugged, or, strictly speaking,
picturesque. Its hills are, with few exceptions, rounded and
soft in outline ; nor does its geological formation admit of
many shelving precipices or deep dells ; yet the descents are in
some places abrupt, and clothed in natural shrubbery.

With its rounded grassy hills, offering the finest sheep-pasture,
its alluvial vales, and clear streams, the county is free of any
properties detrimental to general salubrity. With the absence
of stagnant pools or unwholesome marshes is now to be remarked
a high degree of improvement by the reclamation of waste lands
and subsoil drainage, resulting in a singular lightness and dryness
of atmosphere. Pennicuik refers to the want of timber, and the
little planting to be seen in Tweeddale, but even at the time he
wrote, planting had begun, and it was carried on to such an
extent in the early part of the present century as may now be
considered excessive, though in all cases adding to the beauty
of the landscape.

Peeblesshire has gone through the several well-known social
phases common to the south of Scotland gradually shaken off
its primitive Celtic character, been Anglicised by processes after-
wards to be described, and passing through the broils of an
unsettled age, has by a series of developments attained to a
condition no way differing from that of the more advanced parts
of the Lothians. Its people are essentially of the Scottish Low-
land type, with the character and dialect appropriate to a variety
of the Anglo-Saxon race. The intonation of their speech,
however, is peculiar. It is less soft and flexible than the
speech of Selkirk or Roxburgh shires, and is marked by a strange
aspirate or elevation of voice at the end of the sentences. It
may also be remarked that, in Peeblesshire, it is not common, as



14 HISTORY OF PEEBLESSHIRE.

in other parts of Lowland Scotland, to convert terminations of
ay into a , as awa' for away; and two is here pronounced, not
twa but tway, recalling the German zwey. For a, in some words,
e is substituted ; dark and park, for example, being pronounced
derk and perk.

Pennicuik remarks that, from the purity of the air of
Tweeddale, the inhabitants are lively, and reach to a greater
age than elsewhere. He says : ' Few cripples or crook-backs
are seen in the country ; but the inhabitants for the most
part are strong, nimble, and well proportioned ; both sexes
promiscuously being conspicuous for as comely features as
any other country in the kingdom, would but the meaner
sort take a little more pains to keep their bodies and dwel-
lings neat and clean, which is too much neglected amongst
them ; and pity it is to see a clear complexion and lovely coun-
tenance appear with so much disadvantage through the foul
disguise of smoke and dirt.' It is scarcely necessary to remark
that, since the days of Pennicuik, a great improvement has taken
place in point of personal and domestic cleanliness. The same
author alleges that the people of Tweeddale have poor musical
aptitudes. ' Musick, 1 he says, ' is so great a stranger to their
temper, that you will hardly light upon one amongst six, that
can distinguish one tune from another ; yet those of them that
hit upon the vein, may match with the skilfullest.' As some
relief to this assertion, we are told the people ' are more sober in
their diet and drinking than many of the neighbouring shires,
and when they fall into the fit of good-fellowship, they use
it as a cement and bond of society, and not to foment or
revenge quarrels and murders, which is too ordinary in other
places.'

What changes Peeblesshire has in late years undergone,
socially and physically, will afterwards appear. Provided with
good roads throughout, the county has latterly been penetrated
by railways in different directions; and accordingly from once
having been one of the most isolated districts in the kingdom, it
is now among the most accessible. Independently of its natural



INTRODUCTION. 15

attractions, of which its angling streams are not the least prized,
the county abounds in memorials of the past more particularly
the hill-forts of an early British people, and those ruined feudal
strengths of a subsequent era, which are so strikingly in contrast
with the tasteful modern residences now spread throughout the
county. An allusion to the gray and forlorn ruins which are
seen on the Tweed the species of ruins signalised in the graphic
lines of Moir :

' Through Halls where lords and ladies swept,
Now sweep the wind and rain '

reminds us that there is a charm associated with the Tweed,
apart from any topographic peculiarity the charm of historical
and poetical association. As the frontier of what were for ages
two hostile kingdoms, the whole valley whence the river gathers
its waters is the prolific scene of story and ballad literature ; and
for the full enjoyment of the scenery, we must allow the imagin-
ation to wander back for centuries, and be fascinated by the
tender and chivalrous minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. Along
with several of the lesser streams and we may name the Quair,
Gala, Ettrick, Yarrow, Leader, and Teviot the Tweed has been
the theme of many popular lyrics of old and modern date ; its
simple natural beauties ever serving as the subject of poetic

imagery.

' I 've seen the morning
With gold the hills adorning,

And the loud tempest storming before the mid-day ;
I 've seen Tweed's silver streams
Glitt'ring in the sunny beams,
Grow drumly and dark as he roll'd on his way. '

So sings Mrs Cockburn, 1 in her elegant modernised version of
the Flowers of the Forest; but long previously the river had been
the subject of the well-known canzonet, Tweedside, written, as is
believed, by John Lord Yester, eventually second Marquis of
Tweeddale :

' I whistled, I piped, and I sang ;

I wooed, but I cam nae great speed,
Therefore I maun wander abroad,

And lay my banes far frae the Tweed. '

1 This lady was a daughter of Mr Rutherford of Fernilee, Selkirkshire.



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