WERE YOU A REIVER? Border Reiver Names Note that other names may be associated with…
On the Scottish Border the clan system was stronger than on the English side. Blood relationship in Scotland meant that loyalty was shown to the head of the family. This may have been because of the frequency of fighting – not only against the ‘auld enemy’ of England but amongst other Scottish families. Occasionally the regular fighting between ancient rival clans became ‘deadly feud’.
The Scottish Lord of Douglas is said usually to have ridden with 1000 horsemen. The Scot family could bring 500 men to the field and the Ker family as many as 3000.
In the Raid of the Reidswire, it is true, we read of ‘500 Fenwicks in a flock’, but as a general rule the families or clans in England were neither so numerous, nor so powerful, nor so loyal to the clan as the clans in Scotland. This may be because the English king or queen was the firmly in charge and if a clan chief seemed too powerful then the king could send his forces to tame any rebellious actions without difficulty. Thus in England people felt loyalty to their king or queen.
The following records help us to identify the names of families in the region. The names have a variety of spellings and should be read phonetically. When you read Scottish medieval dialect aloud you may repeat an accent as it was spoken four hundred years ago. The maps help you realise the spread of border clans in the 16th century.
Edward Aglionby writes to Burghley in 1592 (Calender of Border Papers) as follows:
‘The countrie of Annendale [Annandale] is stronge by theire great and many surnames, as Maxwelles, Johnstons, Armestronges, Irwaines, Bells, and Carlelles (Carlyles, Carlyle).’
As for Liddesdale, ‘it is the most offensive countrie against both the West and Middle Marches. The strength of this countrie consisteth in two surnames of Armestranges and Elwoodes [Elliots].
‘Betwizt Eske and Sark dwelleth the surname of Johnsons, called the Johnsons of Greatney.
‘Above them dwelleth Kinmont and Armestronge, and about him dwelleth an hundred able men all Armestronges. About Kirtle is a surname of Irwyns, a surname of proper men.
‘Above them is a great surname of Belles and Carlilles, who hath bene longe in fede with the Irwins.’
In the north of Annandale dwell the Johnstones. Towardes the meetinge of Annan and the water of Milk, and of both sides thereof all Loughwood, dwelleth the Lard Johnson and c c c sufficient men of his name.
‘Towardes and above Dumfrize is the Lord Maxwell and Lord Harrys [Heries], and a 1000 Mauxwelles under them. They have bene in fede with the Johnsons theis many years, which is a weakeninge of Scotland and a strength to England.’
Mentioned elsewhere are the Maxwells, Johnsons, Urwins, Grames, Bells, Carlills, Battison, Litles, Carrudders.
The phonetic spelling is taken from letters written in 1560 – 1598
On both sides of the river Esk dwell the Grames
River Leven: Grahams and Storyes
Above Kirklinton dwelleth a great surname of Fosters.
Hethersgill is a surname of Hetheringtons.
In Bewcastle, their dwelleth Fosters, Crosers, and Nixons.
In Gilsland the Belles. Milbournes and Hardens.
At Brough are the Liddalles, Glasters, Huntingdons, and Hodgesons,
Near Penrith are Musgraves and Salkelds.
Ewsdale: Gingles (?)
Teviotdale, Trombles, Ollyveres, Synsleves, Robsons, Davesons, Yonges, Burnes, Pringles.
Carey, in writing to Burghlley in 1598 concerning the Middle March, says, ‘Those of Tyvidale are all great riders (reivers) and the worst men in the countrye.’
Also mentioned are:
Gentlemen—Mus¬graves, Loders, Curwenes, Sawfelde.
Surnames— Greames, Rutliches, Armestrongs, Fosters, Nixons, Tailors, Stories
You will find in North Tynedale the well-known ‘4 graynes’ of Charlton, Robson, Dodd and Milburn;
in Redesdale there were Reeds and Halls (between whom there was an ancient feud, see the ‘Ballad of Parcy Reed). Also in Redesdale are Andersons, Hedleys and Potts;
In Coquetdale are the Selbies, Clennells, Wilkinsons.
Tindale—Charletons, Dodds, Milbornes, Robsons, Yaroes, Stapletons.
Rededsdale. Halls, Hedleys, Andersons, Potts, Reades, Dunnes, Mil¬burnes.
Gentlemen—Forsters, Selbies, Graies, Strouders, Swiners, Mustians. Ogeles, Fenikes, Hernes, Withringtons, Medfords, Shafters, Ridleis, Carnabies.
Sur¬names—Johnsons, Vardes, Ourdes, Wallisses, Stories, Armestronges, Dunnes, Flukes.
East Teviotdale. Carrs, Yongs, Pringles, Burnes, Davisons, Gilleries, Tattes.
‘Liddesdale — Rudderfords, Carrs, Dowglasses, Trombles, Scottes, Piles, Robsons, Halls, Olivers, Ludlers, Armestrongs, Elwoods, Nixons, Crosiers, Turners, Fosters.’