The People of the Scottish Borders, 1650-1800


Author: Dobson, David
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: x 150 pp.
ISBN: 9780806355894


This book from Dr. David Dobson identifies persons who lived in the counties of Berwickshire, Peebles-shire, Roxburghshire, and Selkirkshire, the region known as the Scottish Borders. Located in southeastern Scotland, mainly along the border with England, the Scottish Borders region was associated from the Middle Ages through the early 17th century with near continuous conflict caused by invading armies and also by raiders who crossed the border to steal goods and rustle livestock. The latter were known as the reivers and were generally composed of members of the same extended family, often bearing the same distinctive surname. The royal union of Scotland and England in 1603 resulted in better law enforcement along the border, breaking the power and influence of the reiving families (e.g., Cranston, Gilchrist, Rutherford, Carruthers, Laidlaw, Moffat, Turner), some of whom either opted to fight in foreign wars or immigrate to Ireland. It was the Agricultural Revolution of the following century, however, that accelerated the out-migration from the Scottish Borders to either the industrial towns of the Scottish Lowlands, England, the Americas, or, later, to Australasia.

Drawing upon the resources of the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh, Dr. Dobson here identifies upwards of 3,000 inhabitants of the Scottish Borders who themselves, or whose descendants, took part in this exodus. His sources consist, in the main, of court records, registers of deeds or sasines, burgh records, family and estate papers, published monument inscription lists, and so forth. For each person identified (e.g., George Home who ends up in Nova Scotia in 1649), we are given a date, location, and the source. The majority of entries also provide at least one other piece of identifying information, such as occupation, the kind of document in which the name appears, or relationship to another person (husband, son, etc.). All in all, this is another fine piece of genealogical detective work from David Dobson.

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