skip to Main Content

Reiver Names

WERE YOU A REIVER?  Border Reiver Names

Note that other names may be associated with Reivers

For almost 400 years, from the early 14th century, the English and Scottish families fought a seemingly endless series of raids and reprisals.  Cattle stealing and burning each others homes became part of everyday life.  They were rugged, tough people who lived by their own laws and became known as the Border Reivers.  Today their descendants can be found all over the World.  If you have one of the names listed below or have ever suspected that your relatives were the villainous type you can probably now have your worst fears confirmed.

Archbold Dacre Irvine Radcliffe
Armstrong Davison Irving Reade
Beattie Dixon Johnstone Ridley
Bell Dodd Kerr Robson
Burns Douglas Laidlaw Routledge
Carleton Dunne Little Rutherford
Carlisle Elliot Lowther Salkeld
Carnaby Fenwick Maxwell Scott
Carrs Forster Milburn Selby
Carruthers Graham Musgrove Shaftoe
Chamberlain Gray Nixon Storey
Charlton Hall Noble Simpson
Collingwood Hedley Ogle Tait
Crisp Henderson Oliver Taylor
Crozier Heron Potts Trotter
Cuthbert Hetherington Pringle Turnbull
Hume Wake

Notable characters whose names instilled fear, loyalty and folklore were:

Armstrong  Johnnie Armstrong Johnstone James Johnstone
Kinmont Willie Armstrong Kerr Robert of Cessford
Burn Geordie Burn Thomas of Ferniehurst
Croser Nebless Clemmie Maxwell Johnny Maxwell (4th Lord Herries)
Elliot Little Jock of the Park Robert Maxwell (5th Lord Herries)
Archie Fire the Braes Musgrave Thomas Musgrave, Captain of Bewcastle
Forster Sir John Forster Nixon Fingerless Will Nixon
Graham Richie of Brackenhill Scott Walter Scott, the Bold Buccleuch
Young Hutcheon Walter Scott, Auld Wat of Harden
Many, many others! Walter Scott of Buccleuch
Hetherington Thomas the Merchant
Hume Alexander, 3rd Lord Hume


Most Borderers had an alias or second name distinct from their own surname.  In communities of Routledges, Nixons and Nobles it was very necessary to distinguish between men bearing the same surname and having the same christian name.  The difficulty was overcome by coupling with the man’s christian name some indication of his descent, or his place of residence, or some peculiarity in his appearance or personality.  Many such names occur in these wills.  The following are typical:

cuddie’s John, [cuddie = cow] Ramish John’s Whinton.
Eckies edmount, Nebless Clem [neb = nose]
Thomas of the Eakeshawe, Lang Sandie
geordy of the butter hill, Jock o the side
Andrewe rowtlidge alias blackstaffe Muckle mouthed Meg (a woman!) [= twisted mouth]



A will made in the 16th century which shows some local names in Bewcastle.

Read the following phonetically, as it is written, they spell it the way it sounds.

Adam Storie £1 6s. 8d.
Ecke noble £1 7s.
geordy pruddom 15s.
rychie Sowerby £1 6s.
Johns willy £1
Cuddies John of the trough 15s.
Joh. Murresse of heskatt £1 6s. 8d.
Will Sanderson £2. 6s. 8d.
Christopher Sanderson
geordy of the butter hill 12s. 4d.
Jamy of the nuke 13s.
mathewe of the parke 3s. 4d.
peter Lambart 9s.
mathew kirsop £1
Jenkin Armestronge 6s.
John of the kill 6s. 6d.
Josye bell 6s.
Eckies edmount 17s.
Duke Stavely £16. 13s. 4d.
gawin of the moore 8s.

A note of his cattle in other mens hands and att his owne howse.

Eckies edmount one ox & viii other nowlt
Will Taler of the herper hill one kow & one whye
Ecke noble one blacke ox
Geordy of the hare hill one stott
Jefiray robson of Kinge(water) iii nowlt
John robson of the Saime iii nowlt whereof one is a choise kowe
Tome Steavenson ii nowlt
Jenkin Armestronge ii kine & one whit whie
Clemetts Adam ii kine
Antony of the pickes ii stots & one whye
cuddies John of the trough ii younge oxen
Ramish Johns Whinton one kow & one whye
geordy pruddom iii younge kine
Jamy of the nuke iii whies
Rowye elliot one kow & one ox
John of the kill one kow & one ox
Thomas of the eakeshawe one ox
Back To Top