Peeblesshire Contents

Peeblesshire

The following lengthy account of the county was printed in the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson and published by A. Fullarton & Co. in 1868.


Peebles-shire, or Tweeddale, an inland county in the southern division of Scotland.  It is bounded on the north and north-east by Edinburgh-shire; on the east and south-east by Selkirkshire; on the south by Dunfries-shire; and on the south-west and west by Lanarkshire.  Its boundary line, on the north and north-east, is partly a water-shed, partly the water-course of streamlets, and partly altogether artificial; on the east is arbitrarily carried across the basin and current of the Tweed; on the south-east and south is chiefly a water-shed, and partly rills and St. Mary's-loch; and in the west is one-half a water-shed, and another half partly artificial but chiefly the course of the eastern Medwin, of Biggar-water, and of Spittal-burn.  The outline of the county is irregularly triangular; the sides fronting the north-east, the south-east, and the west; the north-east side having a symmetrical projection of 2 1/2 miles deep, and the south-east side, a slender indentation of 7; and all the three angles being slightly rounded.  In straight lines between the angles, or between the middles of the roundings which represent them, the north-east side measures 20 miles, the south-east side 27, and the west side 28 3/4.  The extreme length, from north to south, about 30 miles; the extreme breadth, from east to west, is about 22 miles; and the area, according to the Ordnance survey, is 356 square miles, or 227,869 statute acres,--of which 226,899 are land, and 970 are water.  Three previous admeasurements, which were much relied upon, made the area to be respectively 216,778, and 251,320 English acres.

The surface of Peebles-shire, regarded in the aggregate, is higher than that of any other county in the south of Scotland.  It is chiefly an assemblage of single hills, clusters of hills, and ranges of mountain, which direct their spurs and their terminations to every point of the compass.  The lowest ground is in the narrow vale of the Tweed, immediately within the boundary with Selkirkshire, and lies between 400 and 500 feet above sea-level.  The course of the river Tweed, in the segment of a circle, from the extreme south-west corner, round by the very centre, on the eastern angle of the county, over a distance along the channel of about 41 miles, forms a great artery into which, with the exception of a few rills on some parts of the boundaries, all the water-courses, like so many veins, pours their liquid accumulations.  But this long sweep of central basin is, over a great proportion of its length, a series of mere gorges, affording space for little more than waterway and public road; and nowhere does it expand into vales of more than about 3 miles broad, and seldom into haughs of more than a few furlongs; while its screens are oftener bold heights, or abrupt banks, than gentle declivities and hanging plains.  The county, in a general view, everywhere rises from this great line of grainage, in series of shelving but quite irregularly disposed ascents toward the boundaries; and is cloven down into a ramified or almost tesselated texture by rivulets and brooks, which rarely rival the Tweed in the breadth of their conquests from the hills, and are frequently confined in deep ravines and narrow glens.  On the south the surface is so densely mountainous as to forbid all interior traffic, and barely to allow one wild outlet to Dumfries-shire; on the east it permits communication with the exterior world only by passes near the Tweed; and on the north it is penetrable only through three gorges among the hills, and along an equal number of narrow glens of southward streams.

The mountain water-shed for 12 miles, partly along the western but chiefly along the south-eastern boundary adjacent to the southern angle, and also spurs and protrusions thence into the interior, are the summits of the Hartfell group, [see HARTFELL] the highest Scottish ground south of the Forth and the Clyde, and the nucleus of the great mountain-ranges which extend from sea to sea, and constitute the southern Highlands of Scotland.  Nearly all this district, as well as the inward continuation for a considerable way of its heights, has a bleak and dismal aspect, presenting little other evidence of the ken of man than the solitary cots of shepherds, occurring at long intervals, and relieved in their loneliness only by the sounds of the moorfowl and the browsing of the fleecy flock.  Along the south-east, or the boundary with Selkirkshire, a lofty but uncontinuous series of heights maintains north-eastward to the Tweed an elevation but slightly diminished from that of the more alpine district; and, among other summits, it sends up Blackhouse-hill to the altitude of 2,360 feet above sea-level, Scawed-law to the altitude of 2,120, and the wide-spreading obese mountain of Minchmoor to the altitude of 2,285.  Even along the north-east boundary, the rim of the complicated county basin is so high as to have the summits of Windlestraw and Dundroich respectively 2,295 and 2,100 feet above sea-level.  Along the north the surface subsides, for a considerable way, into little more than hilly swell, and nowhere possesses a loftier summit than Cairn-hill, whose altitude is 1,800 feet.  Along the west the highest ground, even where the  boundary is water-shed, lies somewhat in the interior, and, among other heights, has those of Pykestane, Broughton, and Cadon, with elevations above sea-level of respectively 2,100, 1,483, and 2,200 feet,--and in the valleys, or rather on the streams at the base of these heights, the surface has an elevation of at least 800 feet; but, for several miles at two points, both where Biggar-water enters the county, and where Medwin-water splits into two files, and sends off its forces divergently to the Tweed and the Clyde, the general level, though upland, is comparatively low, and hangs doubtfully on the common lip of the Tweeddale and the Clydesdale basins.  Excepting the highest grounds on the south, and a ridge west-south-westward from Minchmoor, which is black, craggy, and doleful with deep precipices and chasms, the heights of the county, whether hilly or mountainous, are, for the most part, finely curved in their form and beautifully verdant in their dress.  They are easy to ascent, abundant in herbage, and free from the hideous mosses and the horrid precipices which characterize so many of the Highland mountains.  Though wild, they can hardly be called romantic; and, though high and large and too great to comport with ordinary beauty, they want sufficient abruptness and majesty for the sublime; but, by being blended in the view with dale and glen, with glittering streams and hanging woods, they afford many and charming specimens of the softly and picturesquely grand.

The Tweed is so dominantly the river of the county as to have popularity imposed upon it, since at least the 12th century, the name of Tweeddale.  The only streams which do not pay their tributes to the Tweed, are the Clydesdale half of the Medwin on the west, and the head-waters of the North Esk and the South Esk on the north.  The other or interior streams, from their having at most only half the length of the county to traverse, are necessarily all of inconsiderable bulk; and are chiefly, on the right bank of the Tweed, Fruid-water, Talla-water, Glensax-burn, and Quair-water, and , on the left bank of the Tweed, Biggar, Lyne, Eddlestone, and Lethen waters, with Holms-water, a tributary of the Biggar, and West-water, and Tarth or East Medwin-water, tributaries of the Lyne.  Megget-water, on the south, finds it way to the Tweed, not in the indigenous manner of the other streams, but as a tributary of the Yarrow, and by it of the Ettrick, through Selkirkshire.  The only lakes of the county--additional to St. Mary's-Loch, which touches its south-eastern margin for about a mile, and conveys the Megget to the Yarrow--are Eddlestone-loch in Eddlestone, Gameshope-loch in an uninhabited glen in Tweedsmuir, and a small lake on the estate of Slipperfield in Linton.  The chief medicinal springs are those of Heaven-aqua well in Linton, and the celebrated spa of Innerleithen,--resembling respectively the medicinal wells of Tunbridge and of Harrowgate.

Tweeddale, like all hilly countries, is variable in its climate.  Owing to its midland situation, it is exposed to rain equally from both seas; it has less aggregate fall of moisture than the sea-board on either the east or the west; it has been known to have, at its centre or at Peebles, only 24.936 inches of rain, when the town of Dumfries had 36.9; and yet, owing to flying clouds and partial falls, it has fewer days free from rain or snow than even the west coast.  The higher the elevation of the surface, the greater is the degree of moisture.  The spring-months have often a prevalence of cold easterly winds; and the months of winter are rigorous.  Immediately after sunset, in the end of August and the early part of September, a low, creeping, frigid mist or hoar-frost, is frequently seen during a dead calm, particularly after a series of rainy days, to settle down on low lands lying by the sides of streams and morasses; and, if succeeded, on the following day, by bright sunshine, it puts and end to the vegetation of the year.  It does small damage to crops that are hard ripe; and as to oats and some other species, if it attack them while the juices in the ear are in a watery state, it does not prevent their maturation; but, if it attack them at any stage intermediate between the watery and the hard mature, it renders every species unfit for seed, and of very inferior value for food.  Classing the south with the west, and the north with the east, the winds blow oftener from the westerly points than from the easterly, in the proportion sometimes of 4 to 3, and at other times of 5 to 4.  The medium height of the barometer at Peebles is, in summer, 29.2, and in winter 29; and the range of the thermometer--though rarely approaching the extremes--is between 81 of Fahrenheit and 14 below zero.  Chronic rheumatism, locally called 'the pains,' is frequent, but decreasingly so, among old persons of the poorer classes; inflammatory fevers sometimes prevail in spring; yet few diseases are known which have their origin from damp or putrid exhalations.

Peebles-shire is comparatively rich in minerals.  Coal abounds in its north-east extremity, forms the westerly termination of the coal-field which extends about 15 miles by a breadth of 7 or 8 on both sides of the North Esk to the sea at Musselburgh, and supplies with fuel the whole county, excepting parts which more conveniently obtain it from Lothian.  Carboniferous limestone exists plentifully in the coal-district, and is quarried and burnt for manure over the same extent of the county which is supplied from the same district with coal.  Substances effervescing with vinegar, and variously described now as shell-marl, and now as marly clay, sometimes occur in tough indurated strata of a dark-blue colour, lying above the limestone rock, and at other times are found in white calcareous masses, in the vicinity of springs issuing from limestone, and are occasionally covered with a stratum of moss; but they have not challenged attention for georgical uses, and apparently have escaped any very careful examination, on account of the ample supply and the suitableness of lime.  An endless variety of clays lies over a considerable part of the carboniferous formation, including a very thick bed of fire-clay, like that of Stourbridge, and a small seam of fullers' earth.  Alum-slate likewise abounds; and ochres, both red and yellow, with veins of manganese, occur.  White freestone, in the same region as all these minerals, is plentiful; and red freestone, of a firmer texture than the white, furnishing good blocks for building, and containing seams whence excellent pavement-flag is obtained, forms a hilly ridge, called Broomy-lees, bisecting the district lengthwise, forming the boundary between the two coal-field parishes of Newlands and Linton, and affording ample scope for working quarries.  Greywacke and greywacke slate are the prevailing rocks throughout the great body of the county.  The greywacke, though everywhere used for masonry, and though the building-stone of the towns of Peebles and Innerleithen, is often either so laminous in its contexture, or so intersected with cutters, as to fly in all directions under the hammer, and to be incapable of receiving a dressed and regular shape.  The blue clay-slate of Stobo, which occurs in two seams, and resembles that of Ballachulish in Argyllshire, has long been in esteem, and is extensively worked.  Some limestone, compact and fine enough to take the polish of white ornamental marble,--a bed of ironstone, and some iron-ore, neither of them rich enough to be remuneratingly worked,--a vein of native loadstone,--galena or lead-ore, which formerly was mined in several places for lead, and proved to be accompanied by some silver;--these, in addition to the minerals of the coal-measures and of the strata above them, occur in the small but opulent carboniferous district.  Galena is found in the glen of one of the tributaries of the Quair; and gold was formerly found in the parish of Megget.

The soil of by far the greater part of Peebles-shire never was, and probably never will be, turned up by the plough; and that of the arable grounds comprehends a very extensive variety.  Moss, from 4 or 5 to 10 or even 20 feet deep, is found in almost every hollow and patch of level, in the higher parts of the county.  At the bottom of the bed it is always of deep black colour, of homogeneous consistency, and convertible into the most solid and powerful peat; and nearer the surface it is of a tobacco-colour, has a more spongy contexture, and consists chiefly of the interlaced fibres of plants in various stages of decay.  Moss of another kind is extensively found on high grounds, lying generally upon a considerable declivity, and forming a soil of from 2 to 4 feet thick, upon a highly retentive or even impervious subsoil.  In its natural state it is always moist; but, operated upon by georgic and manurial processes, or mixed by the plough with the ingredients of the subsoil, it assumes a variously workable and fertile character.  A natural mixture of moss and sand, a variety of what is usually called moorish soil, is pretty common on the skirts of heath-clad hills, and on high dry-lying flats, especially in the parish of Linton.  A mixture of sand and clay in various proportions, with often the addition of freestone, limestone, ironstone, or greywacke gravel, very generally covers the skirts of most part of the hills, at the highest elevations to which cultivation is extended.  The same soil mixed with clay, and eventually predominated over by it, generally carpets the declivities in the upper ranges of their arable limits.  A mixture of clay and sand, generally deep and fertile, with often a great proportion of the gravelly and stony debris of the prevailing greywacke, generally covers the lower and gentle gradients of the declivities, immediately above the troughs or little plains of the stream.  A soil, prevailingly light and sandy, and increasingly so toward the margins of the streams, but sometimes having a clayey intermixture, and occasionally yielding to a strong clayey predominance, is spread out athwart the haughs.  Loams of the various classes of clayey, sandy, gravelly, and stony, occur only in the old croft lands, which have been blackened and mellowed by long and constant manuring and cultivation.

The forest of Leithen, the forest of Traquair, a wing of the  great Ettrick forest, and the vast extent of copses in the central district, and in the west and the north, adorned and sheltered nearly all Tweeddale, giving rise to pasturage, and tempering the bleak winds and the withering frosts.  So early as the reign of David I., this woodland territory was disposed in the parks of princes, the granges of monks, and the manors of barons, and was embellished with their mansions, their churches, their mills, their kilns, and their brewhouses; and whether from the resources of the chase and of pasturage, or from the proceeds of an early but forgotten cultivation, it maintained a population more efficient and not less numerous than belongs to it after six centuries of change, and amid the boasted refinements of modern economy.  In those days farming was blended with grazing, the labours of the plough with the cares of the shepherd; corn was raised in quantity to employ the mills of the manors; dairies were numerous; and orchards were cultivated with a passion which seems to have been inherited from the British Gadeni.  The wide seat of the Tweeddale woods, like that of the Ettrick forest, and by kindred processes of demolition [see ETTRICK FOREST] became stripped of its thick genial dress, and exposed to the erosion of the  hoar-frost and the blast of withering winds, til it was changed into little else than masses of brown hill, and expanses of dismal moor, mocked with the rude tufting of the pigmy heath and the stunted furze.  The prosperity of the district, from 1097 to 1297, was blasted by four following centuries of wretchedness.

Dr. Pennecuick, who published his well-known Description of Tweeddale in 1715, saw the work of renovation commence; and he praised the young nobility and gentry for beginning to form plantations, which he foresaw would, in many ways, enrich just as surely as they tended directly to embellish.  The farmers, though beginning to acquire a character for industry and enterprise, were still somewhat wilful in prejudice, and tenacious of old customs; they would not suffer 'the wrack' to be taken off their lands, because they supposed it to keep the corn warm; nor sow their bear-seed till after 'Runchie-week,' 'the week of weeds,' or the first week of May, had with its imaginary malign influences, passed away; nor plant trees or hedges, lest they should wrong the undergrowth and shelter birds; nor ditch or drain a piece of boggy ground, because, by doing so, they would lose a few feet of grass; nor refrain from making their cattle lean, small, and low-priced, by overstocking their grounds, because they loved the notion of what they called 'full-plenishing.'  Pennecuick, by showing the farmers their prejudices, and teaching the gentry the properties of plants, is himself entitled to praise as one of the earliest improvers.  Sir Alexander Murray of Stanhope, about the years 1730-40, raised plantations, and inculcated on his neighbours the doctrines on improvement.  Even the Earl of Islay, the far-fames Duke of Argyle, made choice of a moss at the Whim in Newlands, as the scene of a grand georgic experiment, and showed to the country an inspiriting example of agricultural enterprise.  But James Macdougal, a small farmer of Linton, originally from the neighbourhood of Kelso, was the first person to introduce the rotation of cropping, the cultivation of turnips for the use of sheep, the growing of potatoes in the open fields, and some other practices of unostentatious but powerful utility.  The Duke of Queensberry having begun about the year 1788, to receive fines of his tenants, and give them compensatory leases of 55 years, the notion of  property of more than half-a-century's continuance speedily prompted the erection of commodious houses, the making of enclosures, and the conducting of variform enterprises of reclamation and improvement.  Yet, till within 10 years before the close of last century, the practical management of arable farms continued to be comparatively skilless.  Now, however, and increasingly, Peebles-shire, in proportion to its natural capabilities, rivals even Haddingtonshire itself--that model farming-ground of Scotland--in the methods and most beneficial practices of husbandry.  To detail what the methods are, what the rotation of crops, what the treatment of the various soils, and what the adaptations of produce to geognostic position and meteorological influence, would only be to mention those which, in the estimation of all scientific and skilful agriculturists, are the most approved.

According to the statistics of agriculture, obtained in 1855 for the Board of Trade, by the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, the number of occupiers of land paying a yearly rent of £10 and upwards, exclusive of tenants of woods, owners of villas, feuars, householders, and the like, was 314; and the aggregate number of imperial acres cultivated by then was 36,436 1/4.  The distribution of the lands, with reference to crops, was 104 3/4 under wheat, 2,027 under barley, 9,910 1/4 under oats, 1 under rye, 27 1/4 under bere, 19 1/4 under beans, 182 3/4 under pease, 227 under vetches, 5,265 3/4 under turnips, 956 under potatoes, 4 1/2 under mangel-wurzel, 1 1/2 under carrots, 1 under cabbage, 5 3/4 under turnip seed, 3 under other kinds of crops, 83 3/4 in bare fallow, and 17,615 3/4 in grass and hay in the course of the rotation of the farm.  The estimated gross produce of the chief crops was 2,822 bushels of wheat, 62,330 bushels of barley, 338,931 bushels of oats, 1,037 bushels of bere, 2,841 bushels of beans and pease, 70,956 tons of turnips, and 4,505 tons of potatoes.  The estimated average produce per imperial acre was 26 bushels and 3 3/4 pecks of wheat, 30 bushels and 3 pecks of barley, 34 bushels and 2 pecks of oats, 38 bushels and 1/4 of a peck of bere, 14 bushels and 1/4 of a peck of beans and pease, 13 tons and 9 1/2 cwt. of turnips, and 4 tons and 14 1/4 cwt. of potatoes.  The number of live stock comprised 975 farm horses above 3 years of age, 238 farm horses under 3 years of age, 199 other horses, 2,581 milch cows, 1,736 calves, 3,037 other bovine cattle, 89,708 sheep of all ages for feeding, 61,533 lambs, and 1,215 swine.  In the year 1854, the number of occupiers of land paying a yearly rent of less than £10 was 48; the aggregate number of imperial acres of arable land held by them was 83; and the aggregate of their live stock comprised 6 horses, 36 bovine cattle, and 28 swine.

Peebles-shire, as may be inferred from the preceding statistics, as well as from the nature of its surface, is essentially a pastoral district.  It is pastoral especially, with reference to sheep; and possibly may one day be as confessedly the model-ground for sheep-husbandry as East-Lothian is for tillage.  Nearly its whole annual or surplus produce in at once lambs, wedders, and cast ewes, is sent to the south of England.  Over nearly one-half of the county, constituting the south-east district, the Cheviot breed not only predominates, but constitutes almost the whole stock; and, over the rest of the area, it now yields to the predominance of the blackfaced breed, now shares about equal dominion with it, and now--though in a limited district--is crossed with the Leicester sheep.  A curious circumstance, the causes of which do not seem to have been yet ascertained, is that, while on both banks of the Tweed in the south-west division of the county, the sheep are in general healthy, no sooner does the river debouch eastward than all along its south bank, till it enters Selkirkshire, the sheep are tenfold more subject to the diseases called "sickness" and "louping-ill," than those on the left bank,--no discernible difference appearing to exist in their position, or in the influences which affect them, except that the walk of the one has in general a northern, while that of the other has in general a southern, exposure.  The Tees-water and the Ayrshire breeds of black cattle are distributed very nearly in the same way as the two breeds of sheep,--the Tees-water corresponding in territory with the Cheviot, and the Ayrshire with the blackfaced.  Much attention is given, in some districts, particularly in the north, to the dairy.  Horses, since about the beginning of the present century, have been advanced to the working-stations on farms which formerly were occupied by oxen.  Swine have been less raised than in the districts nearer the English border, partly in consequence of a local prejudice against their flesh, and partly in consequence of the want of facilities of transport to England.  Poultry, in general, are reared only in such numbers as can find food for themselves in the barn-yards and in the fields.  Rabbits are found wild on the sandhills of Linton.  Pigeons do not thrive, and are rarely seen.

In 1854, the landed property of Peebles-shire lay distributed among 88 proprietors; 24 of whom had a Scotch valuation not exceeding £50,--8 not exceeding £100,--9 not exceeding £200,--25 not exceeding £500,--8 not exceeding £1,000,--7 not exceeding £2,000,--6 not exceeding £5,000,--and 1 not exceeding £10,000.  The valued rental of the county, according to the old Scotch valuation in 1674, was £51,937.  The annual value of real property, as assessed in 1815, was £64,182; in 1849, £78,266.  The real rental in 1862, as ascertained under the new valuation act, was £83,663.  The smaller farms, chiefly arable, consist of from 40 to 100 acres, and in one or two instances rise to 200.  Few of the sheep-farms comprehend less than 600 or 700 acres, and most comprehend from 1,000 to 4,000; but though sometimes disposed nominally by admeasurement, they are in general let out according to their capacity, or are estimated by their known or appreciated power of supporting so many head of black cattle and scores of sheep.  About one-fifth of the county-territory lies under strict entail; and, in various features of both progress and management, is some degrees inferior to the rest of the area.  The farmers, as a body, are intelligent, sober, industrious, and successful; and rarely afford an instance of dottish and stubborn antiquatedness in practice, or of bankruptcy in their business.  The houses of those whose rent exceeds £50, are almost all substantial, neat, and comfortable residences.  Cottiers are a class nearly, or in a great measure, unknown, their place being supplied by day-labourers, who plod their long and weary way between the scenes of their toils and the lanes of Peebles or Linton.  The average of the fiar prices from 1848 to 1854, both inclusive, was, second wheat, 46s. 1 3/4d.; first barley, 28s. 2 1/4d.; second barley, 26s. 6d.; third barley, 24s. 9 1/2d.; first oats, 20s. 6 5/7d.; second oats, 18s. 11 2/3d.; third oats, 17s. 2 2/3d.; first oatmeal, 15s. 9 2/3d.; second oatmeal, 15s. 1 1/12d.; third oatmeal, 14s. 5 1/2d.; and second pease, 32s. 6 5/6d.

The sum of the manufacturers of Peebles-shire will be seen by a glance at our articles on Peebles, Innerleithen, Carlops, and Linton.  Viewed in connexion with the extent and resources of the county, with the purity and power of its waterfalls, and with the numerous advantageous sites for paper and spinning mills, for bleachfields, for woollen-works, and for general manufactories, the amount of existing machinery for factorial produce is surprisingly small.  Peebles-shire, except at Peebles and Innerleithen, ranks nearly as low in manufactures as some districts in the interior of the Highlands.  Yet why should not the coal-district in the north of it rival the busy paper-mill and carpet-work industry of Penicuick and Lasswade, or the majority of the vales in its interior, and on the south-east, rival the highly-prosperous woollen districts on the Gala and the Teviot,--districts quite as disadvantageously situated as they with respect both to coals and to facilities of communication?  Excepting the exportation of the surplus produce of the sheep, dairy, and the arable farms, the whole commerce consists in the importation and the retail of the small amount of goods required for local consumpt.

About one-fifth of the compact area of the county, lying on the right side of the Tweed, is so ill-provided with roads, having only footpaths or miserable were hoof-formed tracts, as to be quite impervious to a wheeled vehicle.  Other districts, considering that the country is so tumultuously hilly, are well-provided.  The road from Edinburgh to Dumfries, by way of Biggar, passes through the north-west wing.  The better road from Edinburgh to Dumfries by way of Moffat traverses the extreme length of the county, down the Dead-burn and the Lyne, and up the higher Tweed.  The road between Glasgow and Kelso traverses the extreme breadth of the county down the Tarth and the Lyne and the lower Tweed.  The road from Edinburgh respectively to Peebles and to Innerleithen passes along the dales of the Eddlestone and the Leithen.  The public conveyances on the roads, for passengers and for goods, are comparatively ample.  A railway goes from Peebles up the vale of the Eddlestone to communicate, through the North British line, with the railway stations at Edinburgh; and a line, by way of Broughton, into junction with the Caledonian, will be completed early in 1864.
 

The only town in the county of Peebles; and the principal villages are Innerleithen, Linton, Carlops, Skirling, Broughton, Drummelzier, and Eddlestone.  The principal seats are Traquair-house, the Earl of Traquair; Darnhall, Lord Elibank; Kingsmeadows and Haystone, Sir Adam Hay, Bart.; Castle-craig, Sir Thomas G. Carmichael, Bart.; Dalwick, Sir John M. Nasmyth, Bart.; Stobo-castle and Whim, Sir G.G. Montgomery, Bart.; Glenormiston, William Chambers, Esq.; Holylee, James Ballantyne, Esq.; Kailzie, James Giles, Esq.; the Glen, Charles Tennant, Esq.; Drummelzier House, John White, Esq.; Polmood, Houston Mitchell, Esq.; Quarter, Thomas Tweedie, Esq.; Barns, William A. Forrester, Esq.; Cairnmuir, William Lawson, Esq.; Lamancha, James Mackintosh, Esq.; Magbiehill, George R. Beresford, Esq.; Romano, George Kennedy, Esq.; Portmore, William F. Mackenzie, Esq.; Pirn, Alexander Horsburgh, Esq.; Kilbucho, D. Dickson, Esq.; Badlieu, George G.H. Bell, Esq.; Leithenhopes, John Miller, Esq.; Logan, Colonel James Macdowal; Braxfield, Robert Macqueen, Esq.; Fingland, William Scott, Esq.; Cardrona, Alexander B. K. Williamson, Esq.; Venlaw, John Erskine, Esq.; Kerfield, Anthony Nichol, Esq.; Spitalhsugh, William Ferguson, Esq.; and Winkston, John A. Macgowan, Esq.

Peebles-shire sends one member to parliament.  Its constituency in 1855 was 455.  Its sheriff courts are held at Peebles.  The number of committals for crime, in a year, within the county, was 9 in the average of 1836-1840, 18 in the average of 1841-1845, 19 in the average of 1846-1850, and 18 in the average of 1851-1860.  The sums paid for expenses of criminal prosecutions in the years 1846-1852, ranged from £253 to £520.  The total numbers of persons confined in the jail at Peebles, within the year ending 30th June, 1854, was 60; the average duration of the confinement per head, after deducting earnings, was £20 12s. 5d.  Ten parishes are assessed, and four unassessed, for the poor.  The number of registered poor in the year 1852-3, was 283; in the year 1860-1, 284.  The number of casual poor in 1852-3, was 109; in 1860-1, 172.  The sum expended on the registered poor in 1852-3, was £1,939; in 1860-1, £2,001.  The sum expended on the casual poor in 1852-3, was £60; in 1860-1, £35.  The assessment for rogue-money is 18s., and for prisons, 7s. 6d. per £100 of Scotch valuation.  Population of the county in 1801, 8,735; in 1811, 9,935; in 1821, 10,046; in 1831, 10,578; in 1841, 10,499; in 1861, 11,408.  Males in 1861, 5,658; females, 5,750.  Inhabited houses in 1861, 1,982; uninhabited, 102; building, 23.

Tweeddale is conjoined with Lothian is giving name to the first synod on the General Assembly's list.  Its parochial charges, inclusive of small parts of two parishes in Selkirkshire, are 14 in number, 2 of which belong to the presbytery of Biggar, and attach it to the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, while the other 12 constitute the presbytery of Peebles.  One of the parochial charges comprehends three parishes, Broughton, Glenholm, and Kilbucho, and figures in the Census as one parish.  The two parishes which have small parts of their area within Selkirkshire are Peebles and Innerleithen.  In 1851, the number of places of worship reported by the Census within Peebles-shire was 31; of which 13 belonged to the Established church, 8 to the Free church, 5 to the United Presbyterian church, 2 to the Episcopalians, 1 to the Independents, and 2 to the Roman Catholics.  The number of sittings in 9 of the Established places of worship was 3,310; in 7 of the Free church places of worship, 2,032; in the 5 United Presbyterian meeting-houses, 1,894; in 1 of the Episcopalian chapels, 126; in the Independent chapel, 195; and in 1 of the Roman Catholic chapels, 100.  The maximum attendance on the Census Sabbath at 9 of the Established places of worship, was 1,134; at 6 of the Free church places of worship, 765; at 4 of the United Presbyterian meeting-houses, 869; at 1 of the Episcopalian chapels, 57; at the Independent chapel, 116; and at the 2 Roman Catholic chapels, 90.  There were, in 1851, in Peebles-shire 24 public day schools, attended by 813 males and 580 females,--4 private day schools, attended by 88 males and 45 females,--3 evening schools for adults, attended by 77 males and 21 females,--and 19 Sabbath schools, attended by 440 males and 439 females.

The portion of the ancient British Gadeni, who inhabited the districts on the upper Tweed, are believed to have intermixed less with foreign races, and to have sent down their British blood to their modern successors on the soil in a stream of greater homogeneousness, than their brethren either of their own tribe, or of any of the tribes south or east of the Grampians.  The natural mountain-barriers around their territory, the impervious forests which hemmed them in on the side of Ettrick, and the strong artificial bulwark of the Catrail flung across the inlets to their fastnesses, all served both to repel foreigners approaching from without, and to shut up in an exclusive fellowship the occupying community within.  The county, accordingly, abounds with the monuments of the Britons.  Its topographical nomenclature is replete with denominations from their significant language.  The existing names of nearly all the waters, of eight of the parishes, and of a vast number of the mountains, hills, and knolly swells, are British.  Remains of Druidical oratories or circles exist at Sheriffmuir in Stobo, at a place in Tweedsmuir near the church, and at Gatehope in Innerleithen, and are said by tradition to have existed also at Hairstanes in Kirkurd, and Quarter Knowe in Tweedsmuir.  Sepulchral tumuli occur, or stone-coffins with human remains have been found, at Mundick-hill, at Chapel-hill, above Spital-haugh, and in the neighbourhood of King-seat, in Linton,--in the parks of Kirkurd, and at Mount-hill, in Kirkurd,--by the side of the Tweed, in Glenholm,--on Kingsmuir, in Peebles,--near Shiplaw, in Eddlestone,--near Easter Hartree, in Kilbucho,--on Sheriffmuir, in Stobo,--and in the vale of the Tweed between Tweedhope-braefoot and Bield.  But by far the most illustrious of the British sepulchral monuments, and one which occasions those of their warriors to be almost utterly forgotten, is the reputed grave of  their poet Merlin or Myrrdin.  See DRUMMELZIER.  Memorial stones, commemorative of events in the history of the Gadeni, yet possibly in some instances the 'grandes lapides' which were set up by kings to ascertain the true limits of disputed boundaries, occur on the Tweed, in Traquair and in Innerleithen,--on Bellanrig, in Manor,--on Sheriffmuir, in Stobo,--and on Cademuir, in Peebles.  Four strengths or hill-forts are traceable on Cademuir, two on Janet's brae, one on Meldun-hill, one on the hill above Hutchinfield, one near Hayston-Craig, one on the hill above Whim, and one on Ewe-hill-craig, all in Peebles; remains of several occur in Manor, particularly of five, two of which are on one hill; and traces, more or less distinct, exist of several called 'Chesters,' in Innerleithen, of three in Eddlestone, of six in Newlands, of two in Linton, of three in Kirkurd, and of two in Skirling.  "Armstrong the surveyor,' says Chalmers, "was induced by his folly to laugh at the country people, who believe those British hill-forts to be Roman, because most of them are called 'Chesters;' and he prompted by his ignorance to talk confidently of those hill-forts being constructed 'not only to secure cattle,' but as exploratory camps to 'the lower forts.'  By 'the lower forts,' he absurdly alludes to the old towers of recent times, which were built during the anarchy which succeeded the sad demise of Robert Bruce.  The map-maker thus confounds the open hill-forts of the earliest people, with the close fortlets of the latest proprietors.  With the same absurdity, he talks of the Druid temples being constructed for the worship of Woden; and with an extraordinary stretch of stupidity, he supposes some of the sepulchral tumuli of the ancient Britons to have been erected to direct travellers from one place to another.  The popular tradition of the country, however, assigns these hill-forts, as well as all the British works, to the Picts, who were ancient Britons.  Some of the less intelligent of the local antiquaries ascribe those very primitive works to the Roman legionaries."

Though the Romans conquered Tweeddale and kept it in military possession, they seemed to have had power over it chiefly in consequence of its being isolated among districts which they completely commanded, and do not appear to have held it under any severe restraints, or by means of much fortified position within its own limits.  They carried through it neither of the great roads which they constructed northward on the lines of their Caledonian conquests; nor did they lead into it from either of them a communicating branch.  The Watling-street, which courses from Cumberland into Clydesdale, approaches, indeed, within half-a-mile of the western extremity of Tweeddale, at a point where there is a natural passage from the Clyde to the Tweed; and they probably made this opening, with the connection to which it led by Watling-street with their strong posts in Clydesdale, a succedaneum for all artificial means of access to overawe the district.  Vestiges of only three Roman camps exist; one on the east bank of the Lyne, near Lyne-church, one at Upper-Whitefield in Linton, and one, though of doubtful character, in Manor.

During the 9th century, the Britons of Tweeddale, in common with those of Strathclyde, felt severe pressures from the Scoto-Irish on the west, and the Saxons on the east, and the numerously emigrated to Wales.  After the kingdom of Cambria, with which the remainder were incorporated, was overthrown by the Scottish king in 974, a portion of the Scoto-Irish came in, not as hostile intruders, but as fellow-subjects of a congenerous people, and soon began to give a complexion to the language and the institutions of the community.  Aware of the significance of British names, and seeing the fitness of their application to the several objects, they seem to have extensively adopted the pre-existing terms of the topographical nomenclature, or to have new-modelled them to suit the variations of their own language.  The British glyn and cnwc, for example, which respectively means 'a deep narrow vale,' and 'a knob,' or metaphorically 'a hill,' were retained in the Irish or Celtic glen and cnoc of the same signification.  Yet a very long list of purely Celtic names of places in Peebles-shire might be given, and would afford distinct evidence of how far the Scoto-Irish people spread over the district, and how long they exerted an influence on its speech.  The Scoto-Saxons, who were the last race to multiply the blood, and to assume the mastery of Tweeddale, have a considerably less proportion of monuments in its nomenclature than what belongs to them in even the districts immediately adjacent; and , from the fact that such names as they imposed are strictly the same as to dialect with those of Selkirk and Roxburgh, but somewhat different from those of Dumfries-shire, they appear to have immigrated from not the west, but the east side of England.  How they entered, whether as incursionists in the days of the Northumbrian monarchy, or as peaceful subjects after the commencement of the Scoto-Saxon period, is not known; but, by whatever title, or at whatever period, they came in, they eventually prevailed in the district, and established feudal settlements among the Scoto-Irish, and the descendants of the original Britons.

Two great classes of antiquities belong to one or other of the races who had possession after the Roman abdication,--terraces and castles.  The terraces are noticed in the Introduction to our work; and, though they have counterparts in some other districts of Scotland, they are singularly prominent in Tweeddale.  The largest, called Terrace-hill, is near Newlands; another, called Moot-hill, occurs a mile to the north; appearances of two others exist at Kirkurd and Skirling; and several are traceable in the vicinity of Peebles.  They were constructed probably by the Romanized Britons, who abundantly evinced their capacity for such works by constructing the Catrail; and though afterwards appropriated, in some instances, as seats of feudal justice, they seem evidently to have been intended to accommodate spectators in viewing some description of public sports.  Castles or peel-houses, almost all very closely of the simple and model kind described in our Introduction, formed a thick dotting over Tweeddale; they belonged, as a specific and characteristic class of buildings, to the wild feudal barons of the age succeeding the Saxon ascendancy; and, by both their numerousness and their relative position, they are a striking evidence of how rude and marauding were the  manners of the period.  They were, by mutual arrangement of their proprietors, built within view of one another, as a sort of cordon of fortalices; on bartizans which surmounted them, beacon-fires were kindled at a moment of invasion, to announce to the district that a foe was approaching; the smoke gave the signal by day, and the flames by night; and over a tract of country 50 miles broad, along the banks of the Tweed, and 70 miles long, from Berwick to the Bield, intelligence was, in a very few hours, conveyed.  "As these are not only antiquities, but evidences of the ancient situation of the country, and are now most of them in ruins, it will not be improper to mention those along the Tweed for 10 miles below Peebles, and as many above it.  Thus Elibank tower looks to one at Holylee, this is one at Scrogbank, this is one at Caberston, this in one at Bold, this is one at Purvishill, this is those at Innerleithen, Traquair, and Grieston, this last to one at Ormiston, this to one at Cardrona, this is one at Nether Horsburgh, this to Horsburgh-castle, this to those at Hayston, Castlehill of Peebles, and Neidpath, this last to one at Caverhill, this to one at Barns, and to another at Lyne, this to those at Easter Happrew, Easter Dawick, Hillhouse, and Wester Dawick, now New Posse, this last to one at Dreva, and this to one at Tinnis or Thanes-castle, near Drummelzier."

The districts on the upper Tweed were not formed into a shire or sheriffdom till near the close of the 13th century.  David I. and Malcolm IV. respectively call the county Tueddal and Tuededale, and seem to have had no notion of designating it 'a shire.'  But owing to the existence of two royal castles, the one at Peebles, and the other at Traquair, there were in the reigns immediately succeeding Malcolm IV., two sheriffdoms, named, not from Tweeddale, but from the seats of the royal castles.  A curious precept of Alexander II. to his sheriff and bailies of Traquair, commands them to imprison all excommunicated persons within their jurisdiction.  The two sheriffdoms probably continued throughout the disastrous times which succeeded the demise of Alexander III.  Yet before the epoch of Edward I.'s ordonance settling the government of Scotland, in 1305, the sheriffdom of Peebles had ingulfed that of Traquair, and extended over all Tweeddale; and, from about the time of the accession of James I., it became hereditary in the Hays of Locherworth.  In 1686, John, the second Earl of Tweeddale, and the lineal descendant of the Hays, sold it, with his whole estates in the county, to William, Duke of Queensberry; and, in 1747, the Earl of March, the Duke's second son, who had received it from his father, received in compensation for it, and for the subordinate regality of Newlands, the sum of  £3,418 4s. 5d.  The first sheriff on the new regimen was James Montgomery of Magbiehall.--Tweeddale gives the title of Marquis to the noble family of Hay, created Baron Hay of Yester in 1488, Earl of Tweeddale in 1646, and Marquis of Tweeddale, Earl of Gifford, and Viscount of Walden, in 1694.  The family-seat is Yester-house, in Haddingtonshire.


Annette Peebles
Last updated- Monday, 17-Jul-2000 22:19:42 MDT