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Complaints of Losses from Reiver Raiders

Record of Theft, Damage, Injury and Cost of Raids by Reivers

These are some of the complaints made by victims of raids by Scottish and English Reivers at the end of the 16th century. The complaints were made to Justices of the Peace in Cumberland. The victims hoped that the Wardens of the Marches would be able to recover their goods and bring the Reivers to justice.  Please read the inventory lists and glossary elsewhere in these resources.

An example of a raid

The following exploit of his was told to the writer by a descendant of the same family.
One morning as Barty came forth from his Pele tower he discovered that his sheep were missing. Forthwith he went up to the neighbouring Pele of his friend, Corbit Jock, to inform him of the loss.
‘Ay,’ said Corbit Jock, ‘Scotland will ha’ them dootless.’
So without more words the two friends set off upon the ‘hot trod.’ They travelled on foot down the Blakehope burn into Redewater, and so over the Carter into Scotland.
Losing the track of the sheep they determined to right themselves by ‘lifting’ the best S cots wethers they knew of, which were those at Leatham Farm, near Souden. There they selected the finest of the flock, and set off homewards, driving their booty before them. Whereupon the Scotsmen, becoming aware of this unexpected raid, sent two of their best swordsmen in pursuit. At Chattlehope Spout, Barty and Jock were overtaken, and a parley ensued. Barty generously offered to give up half of his flock, but ‘toomhanded’ he would not return home. The Scotsmen, however, would not agree to this, and soon swords were swiftly flashing upon the moor.
‘Leave the better man to me,’ cried Barty, and two desperate duels were at once in full swing.
The Scots swordsman shortly ran Barty through the thigh, but the Englishman, with a sudden wrench of his body, succeeded in snapping the sword in two, when he was promptly attacked by the second Scot, who had already slain his friend Jock.
Then Barty with a mighty back-handed sweep of his sword caught the Scot in the neck, ‘garring his heid to spang alang the heather like an inion,’ and then chased his fresh assailant and cut him down instantly. He then collected the swords, shouldered his dead friend, and drove off all the wethers [sheep] in front of him, and stayed not till he had brought back Jock to his own door-cheek [door step] and the sheep to his fold.


The complaints include offences such as: 
Theft of cows, sheep, oxen, horse, clothes, cloth
house broken and goods taken  himself carried prisoner to Scotland;
prisoner, ransom set to £14
nothing left not as much as his clothes to put on him
himself hurt in danger of life
all of his household belongings
took 21 men and 2 boys prisoners into Scotland
barn full of burned corn
leather, wool, cloth” & clothes
The parson of Plumblan taken prisoner
ransom of 46 prisoners, some were killed, and many were hurt.

Reivers from Annandale, The Debateable Lands, Scottish Borders (Liddesdale Redesdale area) and local English Reivers have raided Cumberland.  You are the investigating officer and work for the Warden of the March.  Every few months the Wardens from England and Scotland meet on a day of truce.  They meet at special truce places.  There is a meeting in a few weeks time at Lochmabanstone (also called Clochmabanstane).

At the meeting your Warden will list the raids carried out and will claim compensation.  If you take the part of the English Warden then you need to show that the Scottish Reivers did  the raiding and then you can claim compensation from the Scottish.  If you take the part of the Scottish Warden then you need to point out that it could have been English Reivers who committed the raids and so you will not pay.

Both the Scottish and the English sides need to produce a map showing where the raids took place and show on the map how much was taken.  Once the map is made then you can try to persuade the other side that you are in the right.

The information comes from the Callendar of Border Papers. This is a series of books that summarise relevant information from the period. The original letters are held in places like the Public Records Office, The National Library of Scotland, The British Library and also held by local authority archive services.

HOLME COLTRAM (At Abbetytown between Silloth and Maryport)

Walter Caverley, gentle¬man, his house broken and goods taken worth £200. and himself carried prisoner to Scotland;
George Awsten, 9 oxen, £30.
William Saunderson, money and “householdstuff,” £8.;
Robert Barrois and others in following, 6 horses and “clothes,” worth £10.
Thomas Ollyver, prisoner, ransom set to £14,
Anthony Penryse, goods worth £40. his ransom £40, £80.
George Driden and Robert Wilkenson, 5 horses, £10, sheep from “various men,” £5.


Roger Bulman of Woodhead, 18 oxen and cows, 2 horses, household stuff, bedding and clothing. They left nothing for himself, wife and children that they could ??“drive or carry away,”?? value £70.
Robert Sampson, 7 head of cattle, 20 sheep, and all of his household belongings, value, £30.

Richard Myles, all his goods, which were, 20 head of cattle, value, £30.
Anthony Hodgeson, 6 oxen and cows, and a horse, £18.
Davye Barnefather a merchant, all his wears worth £100. The “person” of Denton all his goods, “nothing left not as much as his clothes to put on him,” value, £20.
John Davyson all his goods, which were, 6 head of cattle and 60 sheep, £25.
John Salkeld, 9 cattle and a horse, and himself hurt in danger of life, £24.
Ilenrie Salkeld in the daytime 6 head of cattle, £10. At Sandye sykes (Sandykes) in the day time, 15 head of cattle, £30.
Peter Wils wife, 12 oxen and cow and 3 good horses, £30.
At the Knelles, 3 cows, £6.
Bendall lost 6 or 7 head of cattle, £12.
Dikes Will, 11 horses and mares, £30.
Mylbourne, 10 oxen and cows and all of his household belongings, £30.
Roger Ednan’s wife, 24 head of cattle, a mare, household stuff and clothing, £60.


John Richeson, goods, chattels, tools and belongings from inside and outside his house, £35.
Richard Myles, the like, £12, 10s.
Symon Hetherington, the like, £11.
John Milbourne, the like, £40.
John Hender¬son, 4 head of cattle, £10.

BURGH BY SANDS (On Solway Firth)

300 Scottish border thieves that came to the town of Glasson, 100 of whom stayed at the water side, the rest assaulted the town “at light break” broke open the doors of 12 good border men, well furnished with horse and gear, took all their belongings and cattle, killed and carried off 24 horses and mares, took 21 men and 2 boys prisoners into Scotland—
” the like whereof hath not bene hard of that ever any children were taken until this present tyme”
besides wounding 3 of the “most stout inhabiters,, in peril of death, and many others sore hurt and maimed, value £200.

ORTON (West of Carlisle)

The mansion houses of Robert Twentyman of Orton, and John Twentyman of the same address, were feloniously broken by Scottish border thieves, 28 oxen and cows taken, value £76. 4 mares, £8., their weapons and riding gear, £3., belongings and clothing, £20. Also Robert Twentyman was taken prisoner to Scotland, “amonge the Arme¬stronges alias called

Kynmonthes,” and held to pay ransom in 20 days of £20.
Places near Carlisle.
Stephen Kyrkebride house broken into,11 cattle taken, £22l.
Randall Sewell, 27 “pigs £6.
Cuthbert Sewell, 7 ewes, 30s.
Peter Bowman, 4 cows, £6. and since, 2 horses, £10., one Stockdale, his house broken and 6 cattle, household stuff, & clothes. £20.
John Sowerby his barn full of burned corn, £30.
James Sowerby’s widow, 6 cows, £8.
Richard Tangett, 4 cattle, £8.
Robert Lowth, 24 ewes, £6.

ETTERBY (now a suburb of Carlisle)

The town of Etterby where buildings were raided and burned and belongings stolen.
William Stagg, 3 horses, £12.
Ingram Boyes, 4 cows, and household stuff, £10.
Clement James, the value of £10.
William Hodgeson of Pettrelwaye, 3 cattle, £5.
John Strange, 20 ewes, £5.
John Gramell, 20 sheep, £5.
Christopher Carliell, the value of, £5.
Robert Hodgeson, the value of, £5.
Another “poor man,” the value of, £5.
Cuthbert Sysson, 10 cattle, £20.
John Buttinge, 6 oxen, £12.


“A special outrage.” — One Sowerby near Caldbeck his house broken in by 6 thieves arid himself most cruelly abused. First.— “They set upon him and on his bare bottom they used a hot iron and they burned him and rubbed him with a hot poker about his belly and various other parts of his body”. They did this to make him give up his money, which they took, and which was less than £4.

NEWBY (Newby Bridge East of Carlisle)

The town of Newby near Carlisle entered by 80 Scottish and English thieves, 100 cattle taken and their belongings; 16 of the men of the town coming to the fray, taken prisoners to Scotland, held to ransom, and one of them found dead from his wounds, value of £300

From various places in one night 7 horses, £14.
Thomas Barne, 1 ox, and 2 young animals, £5.
Thomas Typhin’s house, belongings taken by 16 Scots, of goods and cattle, himself taken prisoner to Scotland, £20.
Barges in Waverton, 3 houses broken up by 16 Scots, after taking belongings in Ireby, goods taken, £30.
Thomas Richardson, belongings taken by 12 Scots of 8 animals, £16.
John Barne of Wigdon robbed by 20 Scots of money, 2 horses, & clothes. £10.
Thomas Jakes of 40 sheep, £10.
Robert Plaskettes, 30 sheep, £8.
William Atkinson, 2 nags, Si.? ; various others there £40.

BROMFIELD (near Wigton)

Robert Plaskett, 15 sheep since Michaelmas, £8.
Thomas Wiggen, 2 bullocks, 33s. 4d.
Thomas Taillour “a weaver, certain linen cloth and yarne,” £5.

IREBY (East of Wigton)

James Skackes wife, 2 horses and belongings, £10.
William Cape, 1 ox, 40s.
John Syde “leather, wool, cloth” & clothes. 40s.

BOLTON (Bolton Low Houses near Wigton)

Thomas Bell, blacksmith, a grey mare and “fole,” 43s. 8d.
Robert Porter, 40 sheep last Michelmas eve, £10.
Edward Grene¬howe before Christmas last, 4 sheep, 34s.


The parson of Plumbland, 2 horses and 2 men taken prisoners, £6.

ULDALE. Caldbeck

Leonerd Beck, 41 sheep, £10.
John Beck, Leonerd Harry¬man and others, 31 sheep, £18.
John Fell, 2 oxen and a bullock, £4.


John Thompson, 1 mare, 30s.
Robert Arden, the value of, 30s.


Richard Fisher, a horse, 40s.


Robert Dodson, 3 oxen, £7.
Jannett Pearson, the value of, £6.


John Gibson, a mare, 40s.
Henry Younghusband, a mare and foal, 308.
John Younghusband, a mare, 30s.


John Lowdyan, 5 cattle, £10.
George Ritson, 2 oxen, 1 cow, £7.
Gregory Whitelock, 1 horse, £8.
Robert Simpson, 4 cattle, £8.
William Barker, 1 horse, £6. 13s. 4d.
William Brid, a cow, 33s. 6d.
Robert Mounkhouse, 2 oxen, £5.
Christofer Clarke, 4 cows, £8.
Richard Heede, 2 oxen and a cow, £7.
Gregory Whitelocke, 2 oxen and 2 cows, £10.

John Mounkhonse, 4 head of young cattle, £6.
Richard Simpson, a cow, 40s. at Rawghtonhead, from various people, 60 sheep, £20.


John Dolston, 13 head of cattle and horses, £30.
Michael Nicholson, 1 mare, 40s.
John Mey, 1 cow, 46s.
Edward Etherington, 1 “heffer,” 30s.
Rowland Shelton, 4 oxen, a horse, and 26 ewes, £24.
Henry Salkeld, 8 head of cattle, £16.
Rowland Salkeld the value of, £16.
John Eiwoodes wife, 20 “weather sheep,” £5.
Rowland Browne, 14 sheep, £3.
Thomas Harryson, 10 sheep, 50s.
Michael Nicholson the value of, 50s.
Robert Wilson, “woollen” cloth, £3.
Mathew Steele, 12 goats, £3.


Richard Doughties wife, 6 sheep, 40s.


Thomas Bowche and others, cattle worth £11. Total amount £2405. 7s. 8d. Besides the ransom of 46 prisoners, some were killed, and many were hurt.

6.5 pp. Indorsed by Burghley “21 Febr. 1592—Abstract of the spoyles made on the West Borders.” On last page, some notes by Burqhley as to officers on the West Marches, the Graemes demanded for Falkland, &c.

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