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Selkirk Protocols Attitude to Strangers

Defence By Attack – Selkirk 1530

Most border towns did not have walls and so people were wary and frightened of any strangers. They could be the outlaws and swordsmen checking the place before plundering it. This extract from the Selkirk Protocol Book of Sir Ninian Brydin describes an incident which shows that attack was a form of defence when strangers were seen.

One day in 1530, some men were travelling along a road. No doubt they were muddy, wet, unwashed and looked generally poor. Perhaps the travellers were frightened of being robbed on the track because there were Reivers about. Perhaps the travellers saw the Selkirk men and thought they were thieves and took up a defensive attitude which the Selkirk men thought was an attacking attitude.

The result was a fight. The Selkirk men got the upper hand and beat them and took their belongings. No doubt the travellers took fright and fled to the nearest town (Selkirk) to complain that they had been robbed. The Selkirk men went home to boast of robbing the Reivers. Imagine the uproar when both parties met in the town square!

The travellers were innocent men from Moffat going about their lawful business. Oops! The Selkirk men quickly realised that they were now robbers and thieves and were in big trouble. They thought that a quick way out was to go to a man of the law (Sir Ninian Brydin) and swear that this was an accident of mistaken identity. We presume that the travellers were given their belongings and we expect that they would be compensated with the hospitality of the over enthusiastic Selkirk men.

5 Aug 1530.
Mark Ker, Walter Scot in Hanyng, James Ker in Grenheid, Thomas Ker in Selkirk, Robert Ker, John Scot in Aikwod, Thomas Scot younger there, Roger Murray, William Lauder in the presence of notary and witnesses publicly declared in the vernacular that:

“We the efforsaid Mark Ker etc tuk horss, meill and men and uther diverss geiris fra travelouris quhilke var don us to understand that thai ar of Annandaill and supportit tratouris and theiffis rebaldis of the kingis graice and now by thairis greit aychtis and utheris fathful informa¬tiones, we understand that thai ar trew travelouris in Moffat toune, we haf geffin all thairis geiris that we intrometit unto thaim agane.

In vyt¬ness heirof be for our bailye Simon Fairle, Robert Trumbull, William Brydin, William Chepman, sir John Brydin and others”.

Extract from Selkirk Protocol Book Brydin 26-36 105

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