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Grahams Armstrongs Elliots Rampage In “Ill Week”

Grahams Armstrongs Elliots Rampage in “Ill Week”

Dumfries Commissioners For Pacification of Borders State The Situation 1605

The Dumfries Commissioners for the Pacification of the Borders state the circumstances in 1605 that they think will bring peace.

The Border Reivers had ignored the laws of Scotland and England and even ignored the Leges Marchiarum that were designed to suit their situation.  Skirmishes and thieving had made the borders a lawless place.  King James saw no need for a border, nor for the Wardens of the Marches so they were abolished.

In the period between the death of Elizabeth and the succession of James, the Grahams, Armstrongs, Elliots and others thought that no law prevailed so they went on a thieving rampage which became known as “Ill Week”.

The Grahams were singled out for special treatment as this transcript explains:

April 17, 1605. Dumfries.

The Commissioners to the Council. We met at Carlisle on the 6th inst., and summoned all the Grahams who were bound for themselves and their followers. Whereas two of every branch were bound, we have ordered that six of the principal of every branch shall be bound for themselves and their followers, and that each of these six shall find two sureties. We have made orders for the better government of the broken people of either country, subject to reform by the Council. We send a list of one hundred and fifty Grahams who have submitted themselves, and whom we think most fit to be sent away. Many of the said Grahams appear to be poor labourers and under tenants to the rest. Many complaints are made by English and Scots alike about offences made before the death of the late Queen.

Grahams offer to go the mouth of the canon, block or gibbet to show their loyalty to the king (and get a better deal)

Some Grahams thought that by volunteering for military service they may have better conditions for themselves and their families than if they were expelled without any rights, as this transcript explains:

f.20. June 30, 1605. Carlisle.

The fifty Grahams sent to Brill to the English Commissioners. Many of us who were true men confessed ourselves offenders. By reason of the Earl of Cumberland’s promise that provision should be made for our wives and children, nearly a thousand in number, as good as that which we had upon Esk. We therefore pray for the fulfilment of this promise. We could in a month raise three hundred able men to serve his Majesty under our own leaders. We are willing to go to the mouth of the cannon, to the block, or to the gibbet, to show our loyalty.

The Notorious Grahams are mentioned extensively at this page

The transcription was made by the Historical Manuscripts Commission and the copyright has been released into the public domain by instruction of the government.  The folios are in the Pennington Archive in the care of Whitehaven Records Office.

The page has not been fully transcribed so please download a larger copy, transcribe it and send your transcription via the comments section below.

April 17, 1605. Dumfries Folio 06a Select small file size or large size

June 30, 1605. Carlisle.  Folio 20 Select small file size or large size

Complaint that Scotland Hides Fugitives During Pacification Of The Borders

A complaint by English Commissioners that known troublemakers are openly living in Scotland against King James I wishes.

The Border Reivers had ignored the laws of Scotland and England and even ignored the Leges Marchiarum that were designed to suit their situation. Skirmishes and thieving had made the borders a lawless place. King James saw no need for a border, nor for the Wardens of the Marches so they were abolished.

The process of pacifying the borders was bound to raise suspicions and challenge established loyalties. The unification of the crowns was a change of culture and tradition that would have many difficulties. This is an example of one side harbouring fugitives from the other side.

f34b September 13, 1605. Carlisle.

The same to the Scottish Commissioners Common report says that the Armstrongs of Kinmouth, who were the principal prisoners who escaped from Carlisle Castle, remain quietly at their houses and that Hutchin Graham with his followers, who were the chief causers of the disobedience of the Grahams, go openly up and down in Scotland. This is a hindrance to the King’s service, and a pernicious example. Four of the Grahams who were sent to Flushing (whose names are given) have returned without licence and fled to Scotland. Pray give order that they may be apprehended.

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June 30, 1605. Carlisle.  Folio 20 Select small file size or large size

A Petition Against A Reiver

A complaint that a person was robbed by barbarous people in Gilsland and no punishment has been inflicted on the offenders.

The Border Reivers had ignored the laws of Scotland and England and even ignored the Leges Marchiarum that were designed to suit their situation. Skirmishes and thieving had made the borders a lawless place. King James saw no need for a border, nor for the Wardens of the Marches so they were abolished.

Reiving did not stop just because the border was abolished. A thieving way of life continued until punishment or expulsion rid the borders of offenders. This petition is interesting because one of the offenders remains near London. This raises some suspicion that this may not have been local Reivers at work.

July 19, 1905. Whitehall.

The Council to the Commissioners. Order enquiry into the petition of Mungo Ribton.

f. 36. ND. Mungo Ribton of Cockermouth to the King. As he was travelling in Gillesland, co. Cumberland, with William Wickliffe, esq., arid William Stockdale, upon the affairs of the Earl of Northumberland, they were beset by a company of barbarous people, who spoiled them of horses, money, and apparel, to the value of 200 pounds, and carried away Wickliffe and Ribton into Scotland as prisoners, and ransomed them, to the overthrow of their estates and families. They also spoiled Stockdale of all that he had, to the value of 100 marks. The petitioner prosecuted the matter at Carlisle, but no punishment has been inflicted upon the offenders, or recompense on him. He prays for the apprehension of the said offenders, and of one of the chief of them, Geoffrey Carleton, who remains near London.

The page has not been fully transcribed so please download a larger copy, transcribe it and send your transcription via the comments section below.

July 19, 1905. Whitehall.  Folio 36 Select small file size or large size

The Grahams Con Their Way Back To The Borders

A wonderful account of a group of Grahams managing to cheat and con their way back to Britain after expulsion from their lands.

The Grahams were a lawless reiving clan who ignored all conventions and loyalties except to each other. Their duplicity had made them enemies of the Scottish and English authorities and so during the Pacification of the Borders they were singled out for exile and their lands confiscated.

Exile meant that they should have been sent abroad to fight for the newly united crown of England and Scotland, and they should have remained abroad forever. However in a clever con they seem to have persuaded their foreign hosts that they were due leave and they forged a passport to make one of them seem to be an officer in charge of returning them to the borders on leave!

October 19, 1605. Whitehall.  The Council to the English Commissioners.

His Majesty has been acquainted with your care and diligence in sifting out the manner and means of the return of the Grahams from service in the Low Countries. His pleasure is that all who have come with a pass shall be sent back to Newcastle to be there embarked and returned to the captain under whom they served. We have written to the Mayor of Newcastle and to Viscount Lisle, Governor of Flushing.

It has been usual to grant leave of absence for two months to ordinary soldiers, and the Governor and his deputy did not know that the men sent over from your parts were destined to remain beyond the seas without returning. You are to proceed according to justice against those who have returned without hence concerning their former offences, and keep them in prison until his Majesty’s pleasure is known. The passports subscribed by the name of Philip Thormington are counterfeit, for he is not captain of any company in those parts. Sir H. Leigh has done acceptable service in procuring the submission of Hutchin Graham, who is to be detained in Carlisle Castle until further directions. When these orders have been obeyed, Sir W. Lawson is to repair to Parliament.

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October 19, 1605. Whitehall. Folio 40b Select small file size or large size

Grahams, as an Evil Colony, Seek to be Banished to Spend Days in Sorrow

An extraordinary plea from the Graham clan to be banished from the borders or a ploy to mitigate against a harsher penalty?

The Grahams were a lawless reiving clan who ignored all conventions and loyalties except to each other. Their duplicity had made them enemies of the Scottish and English authorities and so during the Pacification of the Borders they were singled out for exile and their lands confiscated.

This plea may have been a last attempt to offer loyalty to the new united crown of Scotland and England and thus hopefully deflect the more harsh penalty of being forced into permanent military service in Europe.

August 14, 1605

f. 60. Petition to the King from Walter Graham of Netherby, and seventy-eight others, for the most part bearing the name of Graham. We and others, after the death of the late Queen, disorderly and tumultuously assembled with all the warlike force and power that we could, and invaded the inland part of the eastern side of Cumberland, and spoiled many Englishmen, with fire, sword, robbery, and murder. Some among us of evil judgement had persuaded us that until your Majesty was a crowned King in England, the laws of the kingdom ceased and were of no force, and that all offences done in the meantime were not punishable.

We have deserved death and the confiscation of our lands and goods. Many of us have wives and children who may be able, with better education, to do good service to your Majesty in some other parts of your dominions. We therefore pray that we may be relegated and banished, as an evil colony, to some other parts of your kingdom, there to spend the residue of our days in sorrowing for our offences. We bind ourselves and our posterity to be of good behaviour towards all your subjects.

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August 14, 1605. Folio 40b Select small file size or large size

Black Mail Recorded by the Reiver Hutchin Graham

Possibly the first account of the use of the word black mail. The Reiver Hutchin Graham extorts goods for his “protection”

This is possibly the first account of the use of the word black mail. The Reiver Hutchin Graham extorts goods for his “protection” from the town of Cargo.

The Reivers introduced the word “be reived” (bereaved) into the language and this record shows how blackmail was a common way of life in the troubled borders.

June 24, 1606

f. 125. Note of the particular misdemeanours of Hutchin Graham.

1. On Monday after the death of the late Queen, he neglected to stay his friends from their invasion, although admonished to do so by the Bishop of Carlisle, who saw them from the ramparts of the castle.

2. On Tuesday following he brought one hundred and forty of his kinsmen and friends, English and Scottish, to the town of Cargo, near Carlisle, and provided them with victuals for themselves and their horses, free of cost, at the charge of the town. He had for many years taken this town into his protection, receiving from each husbandman four pecks of malt yearly for black mail, these pecks being of Carlisle measure, 20 gallons to the bushel.

3. On the Wednesday following, he crossed the Eden into Grinsdale, where he and his company as men of war erected two pensills of linen cloth on the tops of lances.

4. On that day he and his company, armed with jacks, spears, pistols, and steel caps, assaulted Capt. Bowyer, or his lieutenant, and his soldiers.

5. Seeing a company of the townsmen of Carlisle coming to the rescue of his Majesty’s soldiers, he and his company went westward. They spoiled a place called Bow, robbing men in the way, and afterwards spoiled the town of Orton, where they burned the house of Johnston and took prisoners.

6. He went back to Cargo, and there divided such spoil as was brought in by his company, he and young [Graham of] Netherby as captains taking an eighth of the whole spoil.

7. Having obtained from the King a promise of remission, he has not made restitution to the parties grieved. He refused to go to the Low Countries, and became a ringleader of nineteen others of his name, who fled into Scotland. Subscribed by the English Commissioners.

The page has not been fully transcribed so please download a larger copy, transcribe it and send your transcription via the comments section below.

June 24, 1606. Folio 125 Select small file size or large size

Reivers Gone but Reiving Continues

This record challenges who, or what phenomenon were the Reivers. The border was pacified but a reiving type of activity still occurred.

This record seeks to challenge the way we seek to categorise events and people. When we ask “who were the Reivers” we can be side-tracked into English – Scottish conflicts but people who “reived” were thieves first and their first allegiance and perhaps their only loyalty was to their family clan which sought to protect and sought to avenge.

In 1637 we expect the unification and pacification of the border to be established but this report shows that thieving was still a way of life yet we do not seek to give it a name. There were still conflicts between factions on both sides of the border and Hexham suffered until later in the 17th century. History has no clear dividing lines and the attitudes of the Reivers are difficult to extinguish.

January 8, 1637, Muncaster William Pennington to Lord William Howard.

There has been of late much stealth of sheep in these park, so that many have lost a fourth part of their flocks, others a third, and some one half. If some speedy course be not taken, we shall he in a worse case than the borders. The thieves seldom take above one or two sheep at a time. It is thought that they bestow the flesh underground or in some other secret place. The pelts, after pulling them, they throw away, and the bones they burn. If they chance to be taken, there is nothing to be found with them but suet, or wool. Though they have no sheep or goods of their own, they fare as well on this trade as those who have good farms. This country stands altogether upon the flocks of sheep. Abraham Singleton, a notorious thief, is now in prison.

The page has not been fully transcribed so please download a larger copy, transcribe it and send your transcription via the comments section below.

January 8, 1637, Muncaster Folio Howard 1637 Select small file size or large size

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