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Hawick

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2016.

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Hawick, a parliamentary and municipal burgh, and the largest seat of population in the eastern Border counties, 53 miles SSE of Edinburgh, 45 NNE of Carlisle, and 346 NNW of London. It is situated on both sides of the Teviot, which enters the town from the SW after passing through the haughs and woods of Branxholm and Wilton Lodge, an approach of great picturesqueness and beauty. The Teviot is joined in the centre of the town by the Slitrig, a mountainous stream, flowing through a district of romantic interest. The town is in a basin, the principal streets being built on the level land on both sides of the rivers, from which other streets ascend the slopes, and above these are the mansions and villas of the principal inhabitants overlooking the town, and commanding extensive views of the surrounding region. Several of these in size and architecture rival the older mansions of the neighbouring gentry. The district is rich in historic houses and in more modern seats. Branxholm, one of the original residences of the buccleuch family; Harden, of the ancient Scotts; Cavers, of the Douglasses of Liddesdale; Stobs Castle, of the Elliots; Teviot Lodge, of the Langlands; and Stirches, of the Chisholms, are in the vicinity. Sillerbithall, Heronhill, Thornwood, Bucklands, Brieryards, Teviotbank, Hassendeanburn, and Linden-park are all large and elegant mansions. Nearly all these seats are surrounded with extensive woods, abounding in trees of great size. The town is regular in form, and the streets are well built and spacious. A great part of the old town has been rebuilt during the last thirty years, and several streets have been added of late, the houses all of freestone, tasteful and commodious. Several bridges span the Slitrig and Teviot. Among the chief buildings are the Exchange Hall, the banks, and some of the churches. A large and handsome town-hall is to be built on the present site in the High Street, which, with corresponding offices and the free library, will contain a public hall capable of seating 1500 people, and will cost about £10,000. A building also is to be erected as a memorial to his Grace the Duke of Buccleuch, who has long been the munificent benefactor of the burgh. Few evidences in buildings remain of the antiquity of Hawick. The notable exception is the building which for a century has been known as the Tower Hotel. The older or western side is several hundred years old, and formed part of the castle of the Drumlanrig Douglasses, which escaped being burned in the devastating inroad of the Earl of Sussex in 1570. It was used as a residence a century afterwards by Anne Scott, who was married to the Duke of monmouth, and was made Duchess of Buccleuch. While this house is one evidence of the antiquity of the town, the Moat at a little distance bears witness to the far-off antiquity of the town and people. This is a circular earthen-mound, 30 feet high, 312 in circumference at the base, and at the top 117. When and by whom this was erected is unknown. It is purely artificial, and bears no trace of being a sepulchral mound. It is upon an eminence which commands a view of all the surrounding hills and valleys, a capital station for watchers of apprehended attacks, an excellent rendezvous for the defenders of their homes, and an elevated station whence chiefs and justices might dispense law. There can be no doubt that the erection of this was far off in the centuries of old, as also was that of the first parish church, which dates from an unknown antiquity. No doubt, here, as elsewhere, the Christian Church was the founder of the civilisation. The previous races were savages, until the Church reclaimed and elevated them. The foundation of the Church in Hawick is like the Moat-it goes back to an impenetrable distance. The first mention of it is in the Chronicle of Melrose, which states that the Church of St Mary was consecrated in 1214, but there is no doubt that generations before this, and from early Saxon times, Hawick was the seat of Christian worship.

The municipal history of Hawick speaks to its antiquity. In the Scottish Rolls, under date 1347, it is said to have been held from the Crown by Richard Lovel and his ancestors ' for time immemorial. ' Soon afterwards the lands passed into the family of Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig, to whom James I., while resident in England, gave a charter conveying to him the barony of Hawick and a territory embracing a large part of the sheriffdom of Roxburgh. Nearly a century afterwards, Sir James Douglas granted, in 1537, a charter to the inhabitants of Hawick, which was confirmed by the deed of Queen Mary of date 12 May 1545. At the -period of granting the charter, the town appears to have consisted of 110 houses, inclusive of the manor house, church, and mill. The municipal jurisdiction was entrusted to 2 bailies and 31 councillors. The territorial sovereignty passed from the Douglasses of Drumlanrig to the Scotts of Buccleuch. See Dalkeith and Drumlanrig.

Hawick is abundantly supplied with pure water. The former supply being inadequate, in 1866 a reservoir was made on the Allan, 5 miles SW of Hawick, and an amount of 400,000 gallons per day was brought in, at a cost of £8000. As the town extended along the slopes, it was found necessary to introduce a new supply drawn from a much greater height, from the Dodburn, and by these combined means 1,000,000 gallons are delivered in the town daily. The various works, with the reservoir, a fine sheet of water of 20 acres-a hollow among. the hills-was constructed at a cost of £15,000. The reservoir contains about 54,000,000 gallons. The Allan and Dodburn being on the property of the Duke of Buccleuch, and the surface for the most part through which the pipes are carried, the Duke with his usual generosity granted the free right of usage to the town. These works were opened by his Grace on 1 Sept. 1882, a memorable holiday in the town's annals, the principal streets being ablaze with innumerable decorations, and all classes vying with each other to do him homage. An immense procession, with a great range of carriages, accompanied his Grace to the reservoir, where he was presented with an address from the Town Council descriptive of the connection between the town and the ducal house, and the numerous acts of benevolence which had endeared him to the people. The proceedings were followed by a splendid banquet given in his honour, and attended by several hundreds, along with noblemen and gentlemen from the surrounding district. The town also is thoroughly drained on the most approved system, massive pipes having been laid in all the streets and in connection with all the public works, by which several hundred thousand gallons of sewage and polluted water from the mills are conveyed to a haughty on the W bank of the Teviot, 1 mile distant, where the water, after being purified by lime, is collected in tanks, and, separated from the solid matter, is discharged over ærated beds into the river. These extensive works were completed at a cost of £27,000. Hawick has also an abundant supply of gas. The old works being insufficient, new works were erected in 1882 near the sewerage works at a cost of £10,000.

The first bank established in the town was a branch of the British Linen Co. in 1797. The business previously was mainly carried on by a private banker, Mr Turnbull, a very shrewd, able, and upright man, who bought the estate of Fenwick, etc., and built the mansion of Brieryards. The other branch banks are the Commercial Bank (1820), the National Bank (1852), the Royal Bank (1856), and the National Security Savings' Bank (1815). Among the public buildings are the Town Hall, the Exchange, the Temperance Hall, several hotels, and the museum. There is also a large Combination Poorhouse. Hawick enjoys the benefit of a Free Library. There are four weekly newspapers-the Hawick A advertiser, Express, News, and Telegraph. Among its numerous associations there are the Teviotdale Farmers' Club, the West Teviotdale Agricultural Society, the Working Men's Building Society, and several political and educational associations. Hawick bears an important part in the South of Scotland Chamber of Commerce, and has a flourishing Archæological Society, by which much learning and research have been brought to bear on a great variety of interesting subjects, and especially on the history and antiquities of the Borders. There are several clubs for recreation and amusement. The cricket club has a spacious and beautiful park near the town, and the bowling clubs have two attractive greens, finely kept and ornamented, all given by the Duke of Buccleuch at a nominal rent. Hawick has long maintained a corps of volunteers, which, in physique, bearing, discipline, and general efficiency, ranks among the foremost.

The original church is St Mary's, which dates from 1214, was rebuilt in 1763, and having been much damaged by fire in 1880, was restored at a cost of £2000, the Duke of Buccleuch contributing above £1000 for the purpose. It was from St Mary's that Sir Alex. Ramsay of Dalhousie, a noble and patriotic knight, while holding a court of justice, was dragged by Douglas to Hermitage Castle, and in the dungeon there was starved to death. Here also was interred the body of Walter, first Earl of Buccleuch, which was brought by ship from London to Leith, and after many delays was conveyed to Branxholm, and, carried thence attended by a great body of retainers, was with much heraldic pomp interred among his ancestors. St Mary's was the parish church till 1844, when the large and handsome edifice in the Norman style of architecture, seated for 1300, built at the W of the town at the expense of the Duke of Buccleuch, was generously given by his Grace to the parish church congregation, and became the parish church. St Mary's became the property of the Duke, and was made a quoad sacra church in 1860, the Duke furnishing the greater part of the endowment. St John's church, built in 1879-80 by subscription at a cost of £6000, is a fine Early English structure with 800 sittings. St John's is a quoad sacra parish. Wilton parish church, built in 1860, is a beautiful edifice, and contains 950 sittings. St Cuthbert's Episcopal church, a fine building in the Early Decorated style, was erected and endowed by the Duke of Buccleuch. There are also three Free churches, three U.P. churches, and a Congregational, Baptist, and Roman Catholic church. In connection with the parishes of Hawick and Wilton there are two public cemeteries of large extent, finely situated and ornamented and kept in beautiful order.

Consequent on the passing of the Education Act in 1872, there was a great increase in the number of the scholars. The town previously was well supplied with school accommodation. The parish school buildings and teacher's residence, built at the expense of the Duke of Buccleuch, were freely transferred to the school board, as were the Industrial school (afterwards called Drumlanrig school) and St Mary's school. The parish school of Wilton was also transferred to the board. With the compulsory clause and the rapid advance of population, additions were needed and have been carried out on a large scale in all the older schools. A new school, a large and elegant building with teacher's residence, was erected on the Jedburgh road for the accommodation of children in the NE end of the town. The following are the statistics of school accommodation, average attendance, and government grants earned for the school year ending 31 Oct. 1882:-Buccleuch school Senior and Infant 642, 678, £541, 4s.; Trinity Senior and Infant 424, 36 4, £318, 10s.; Drumlanrig 508, 387, £312, 17s. 6d.; Wilton 510, 406, £368, 2s. 3d.; St Mary's Infant 232, 146, £112, 11s. The total accommodation is 2316, attendance 1981, grant £1653, 4s. 9d. Besides the board schools there are academies and private schools, and schools receiving government grants in connection with the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches. There are also Art and Scientific classes.

It is interesting to trace the progress of the town in manufactures to the rank which it now holds as the first manufacturing town in the South of Scotland. Previous to the erection of any of the factories, and 150 years ago, the first and largest nursery and seed business perhaps in the kingdom was established by Mr Dickson, and carried on by his successors, the Messrs Dickson and Messrs Turnbull, till of late years. From these nurseries there sprang the first nurseries in Edinburgh and Perth, and numbers of trained gardeners were from time to time sent forth to take charge at the seats of noblemen and gentlemen of all the departments of gardening.

Hawick, being the centre of a great pastoral region, and having a number of waterfalls on the Teviot and Slitrig, and a people characterised by much intelligence and enterprise, soon entered on the manufacturing career which has since made it famous. A century ago lands, with the water all on the NW side of Teviot, were acquired from the estate of Langlands for factory purposes, and some time afterwards the Duke of Buccleuch gave 99 years' leases of the lands on the E of the Slitrig at a nominal rent. Before that time a company instituted the manufacture of carpets, table-covers, and rugs. This trade continued till 1806, when it was given up. The manufacture of broad linen tapes was commenced in 1783 and carried on to 1800. The year 1771 is memorable in the annals of Hawick for the commencement of the stocking manufacture and the introduction of the stocking frame, an industry which rapidly flourished, and is now carried on to such an extent as places Hawick without a rival in Scotland for the making of all kinds of hosiery. The honour of founding this trade is due to Mr John Hardie, merchant, a bailie of the town, a man of notable vigour and of great humour. The yarn was carded in the town, and was spun by the wives and daughters of farmers in the surrounding country. The supply of yarn from the country being inadequate for the demand, the manufacturers soon afterwards introduced the new spinning machinery. The first to bring it in were the Messrs Nixons and Wilsons. Mr Hardie's enterprise was followed and extended by many of the predecessors of the firms of the present time-the Wilsons, the Laings, the Watsons, the Elliots, the Pringles, and the Laidlaws, who, besides the manufacture of hosiery, engaged in the manufacture of flannels, shawls, plaids, and blankets. About 1830 various firms commenced the manufacture of shepherd's checks, the first kinds of twilled cloth, usually called twills, and corrupted into the popular name of tweeds, and these were followed by the many kinds of checks and stripes, the endless variety of colours and mixtures in the plain and fancy styles of all kinds of this famous manufacture. Messrs Dicksons and Laings first introduced power looms, and, with these and steam power in all the factories, the trade rapidly grew into its present magnitude. Several firms relinquished the making of hosiery, and confined their energy to the extended making of tweeds, and now there are in Hawick several of the largest and most prosperous tweed factories in Scotland. Many of the improvements in the carding, spinning, and weaving machinery were suggested and carried out here in order to make the machinery for the production of woollen goods equal to that employed in cotton manufactories. There are now eleven tweed woollen factories, all large, and supplied with the most improved machinery. Great extensions in the hosiery manufacture have been made by the introduction of power loom machines, very complex and costly mechanisms, into the larger factories of the two Messrs Laings, and of Elliot & Pringle. Each of these, wrought by a woman, does the work of several men on the frame wrought by hand. There are at present thirteen hosiery manufactories at work. Besides these, the great staple industries, there are dye-works, tanneries, an oil manufactory, an iron foundry, and an engineering establishment. The steadiness of trade in Hawick is much due to the absence of strikes and the good feeling which exists between the employers and their workers.

Coming to the oldest industry, grazing and agriculture, Hawick's long been its centre in the Border counties. This again has been very greatly owing to the house of Buccleuch. The lands far around were let on the easiest terms, and for two centuries, considering the quality of the soil, at a lower rent than anywhere known. This, with the security of the tenure, engendered a state of things which produced wealth, and as wealth grew the desire arose on the part of the tenants to increase their acres. Formerly a large number of small farms existed, but as the stronger grew in intelligence and wealth, they dispossessed their weaker neighbours, and principles of political economy coming in to second those efforts, the smaller farms were gradually extinguished, and in the existence of the large and wealthy farms now, we are brought to see an illustration of the survival of the fittest. The writer of this article is one of those who regrets the extinction of so many small farms, but however this may be, the Duke of Buccleuch is the most generous of landlords. Nowhere will one see better houses or more commodious steadings than those which are seen in this Border land. This circumstance, and the situation and prosperity of the town, have made it a great market of grain, and especially of live stock. The old fairs for the sale of stock have long disappeared, and have been succeeded by the well-known sales in the auction mart. One of the first originators of these sales in Scotland was the father of the present Mr Oliver of Thornwood, who has long been known as one of the most extensive salesmen by auction of live stock in the kingdom, and at whose principal sales, attended by breeders from all parts, as many as 25,000 sheep and lambs have been disposed of in a single day. Besides his principal sales at the mart, extending to many acres, near the railway station on the river Haugh, covered with wooden pens, and a large stone erection for the accommodation of cattle, there is a weekly auction every Monday. The weekly corn market is held on Thursday, and hiring, cattle, wool, and sheep and lamb fairs are held at periods between springtime and the beginning of winter.

The great public festival of the year is the Common Riding, and is celebrated at the beginning of June. The practice of riding the town's marches dates from time immemorial. On the morning of the first day the Cornet, with his mounted troop, all gaily dressed, and bearing a flag the facsimile of one which their ancestors captured from a company of English soldiers in the neighbourhood, after the battle of Flodden, rides round the municipal lands, and this part of the ceremony is concluded by their singing in the town, accompanied by the attending multitude, the song of The Colour, the rousing martial Common Riding song! The music dates from the most ancient times, and expresses more than any other air the wild and defiant strain of the war tramp and the battle shout. The song seems to have been founded in the invocation of the early Saxon warriors to their chief deities Thor and Odin before their conversion to the Christian faith. In the Anglo-Saxon language it is ` Tyr hœbbe us, ye Tyr ye Odin,' which is ` May Tyr have us, both Tyr and Odin. ' The song has been changed by local poets in its descent to recent times. One refrain of it once was-

`T for Tiri. O for Odin,
H for Hawick, and C for Common.'

One of the older versions, still used, was composed about a century ago by Arthur Balbirnie. It begins thus-

'We'll a' hie to the muir a-riding.-
Drumlanrig gave us for providing-
Our ancestors of martial order,
To drive the English o'er the Border.

` Up wi' Hawick's rights and com m on,
Up wi' a' the Border Bowmen:
Teribus and Teri Odin,
We are up to ride our Common.'

The more popular song, and the one now sung after the riding of the marches, was composed by James Hogg nearly seventy years ago. The following are some of the stanzas-

` Scotia felt thine ire, O Odin!
On the bloody field of Flodden;
There our fathers fell with honour.
Round their king and country's banner.

` Teribus, ye Teri Odin,
Sons of heroes slain at Flodden,
Imitating Border Bowmen.
Aye defend your rights and Com mon.

` 'Twas then Drumlanrig. generous donor,
Gave (immortal be his honour)!
What night soothe Hawick's dire disaster,
Land for tillage, peats, and pasture.'

The song goes on to describe the victory of the Hawick men over a plundering party of English soldiers below the town; and then concludes-

" Hawick shall triumph 'mid destruction,"
Was a Druid's dark prediction;
Strange the issues that unrolled it
Cent'ries after he'd foretold it.

` Peace be thy portion, Hawick, for ever!
Thine arts, thy commerce flourish ever!
Down to latest ages send it-
" Hawick was ever independent."

The present municipal constitution of the burgh was established by a special act of parliament in 1861. It is governed by a provost, 4 bailies, and 12 councillors, who also act as Police Commissioners. In 1867 it acquired the rank of a parliamentary burgh, and, united with Galashiels and Selkirk, returns one member to parliament. The electors were fortunate enough to secure the services of the Right Hon. George Otto Trevelyan, one of the most energetic and distinguished of the younger statesmen on the Liberal side, and between him and the great body of his constituents there has always been a harmony of political sentiment. The annual value of real property rose from £33, 652 in 1872 to £57, 556 in 1883. The revenue derived from the burgh property is £1765. The parliamentary electors number 2470, the municipal 3013. The population of the burgh extended to its present limits was (1861) 10, 401, (1871) 11, 356, (1881) 16,184, and is rapidly increasing.

The history of Hawick shows that the people have been distinguished for intelligence, enterprise, courage, and a love of political freedom. If few have attained to lasting national distinction, it has always been rich in humourists, poets, and local historians, who have sweetened its native air and enrobed its romantic scenery in the charms of literature. In his valuable history James Wilson says-that Gawin Douglas, afterwards Bishop of Dunkeld, was appointed rector of Hawick in 1496. According to Dr Laing, the late celebrated antiquary, the reading of the original MS. is Hawche, which was the old name of Linton or Prestonkirk, near Dunbar. It is therefore doubtful at least whether the poet bishop tuned his Virgilian verse by the banks of the Slitrig. The Rev. William Fowler, parson of Hawick, was celebrated as a poet and a scholar. Several of his pieces in MS. are preserved in the library of the University of Edinburgh. The Rev. Alexander Orrok, who died in 1711, a profound divine and one of the leaders of the Church of Scotland, was a man of warm and extensive charity, and a promoter of higher education, leaving a large part of his property for an endowment to the Grammar School. The Rev. William Crawford, minister of Wilton, who died in 1742, was the author of several religious works of a high order, eminently practical, and much read throughout the country. Dr Thomas Somerville, for nearly 60 years minister of Jedburgh, and celebrated for his history of the reign of Queen Anne, was born in the parish manse, and was the son of the minister. The Rev. Dr John Young, minister of the first antiburgher congregation, a man of powerful ability, was the author of various works, and, among them, of a work in explanation and defence of the British Constitution, a book written to expose and counteract the revolutionary sentiments which spread in many parts of the country after the French Revolution. The book came to the notice of Mr Pitt, who was so struck with its force, and impressed with its utility for the times, that he sent a complimentary letter to Dr Young, and secured a pension for two of his daughters. The parish of Wilton enjoyed for 53 years the ministry of Dr Samuel Charters, a man of warm benevolence and exalted piety, a deep thinker, an accomplished scholar, a Christian philosopher, whose excellences shine in his published sermons, and in his less known Essay on Bashfulness, which reveals such a delicate knowledge of the human heart, and such a power of portraying its most tender movements, as to give him a place among the more famous sentimentalists of the land. Mr Robert Wilson, a native of the town, and devoted to its interests, published his history of Hawick in 1825. The annals of the town and neighbourhood, after much and learned research, were compiled by Mr James Wilson, the town clerk, and were published in 1850. This work has been much approved, has been widely circulated, and has stimulated the production of similar annals of other towns. Foremost, however, of all the citizens of Hawick in national reputation, stands James Wilson, long the editor of the Economist, and the chief expounder of the principles of political economy which have been widely dominant throughout the empire. Having entered Parliament he rose in influence and authority, and at a very peculiar and critical juncture in our Eastern affairs, after the Mutiny, was appointed and sent out to act as the Finance Minister of India. He brought his great knowledge and energy to bear on the accumulated difficulties which met him, and in a short time succeeded in promoting the most beneficial improvements in the regulation of taxation and finance. But very soon his career was terminated by a fatal disease induced by his extraordinary exertions, and he died to live in the memory of his contemporaries, and in the role of the great and beneficent statesmen whom Britain has been enabled to give to sway the destinies of the Indian Empire.

Previous to 1850 the parish of Hawick reached from Teviot stone, the source of the river, to 1 mile below the town, 16 miles long, by 2 to 3 miles broad. It thus included a large part of the vale of the ' sweet and silver Teviot. ' In the above year the larger part was disjoined, and, with a considerable part of the parish of Cavers, was formed into the quoad omnia parish of Teviothead. The Duke of Buccleuch was here also the benefactor, building both church and manse at his own expense, giving ground for the glebe, and furnishing the greatest part of the stipend. The parish is 6 miles from SW to NE, 3 miles broad, and contains 6203 ¼ acres, of which 90 ¾ are water. At the hamlet of Newmill, at the upper end, there is a landward school, with schoolhouse, with accommodation for 117 children, an average attendance of 72, and a grant of £70, 14s. The scenery of the parish is soft and beautiful throughout - Teviot, with its tributaries, the Allan, the Borthwick, and the Slitrig, flowing through smiling valleys richly cultivated, rising into slopes and knolls crowned with woods, and backed by ranges of undulating hills. Branxholm stands on an elevated terrace above the Teviot, rich in its ancient woods, the scene of Sir Walter Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel, and of one of Allan Ramsay's finest songs, dedicated to The Bonnie Lass of Branksome-

'As I cam' in by Teviotside'
And by the braes of Branksome,
There first I saw my booming bride.
Young, smiling, sweet, and handsome '

Nearer the town, and on a beautiful eminence which commands one of the finest views on the Border, stands the ancient tower or peel of Goldielands, one of the most complete now in the South of Scotland. It has been already mentioned that the approach to the town, alongside the parks and woods of Teviot Lodge, is of remarkable beauty, and, after leaving the town, fair Teviot has the same tale to tell. The valuation of the landward parish was £4547 in 1882. In 1881 the population of the entire parish was 11,758, of whom 5211 were in Hawick parish, 3464 in St Mary's quoad sacra, and 3083 in St John's quoad sacra.

' Sweet Teviot, on thy silver tide,
The glaring bale-fires blaze no more,
No longer steel-clad warriors ride
Along thy wild and willowed shore.

' All now is changed, and halcyon years
Succeed the feudal baron's sway:
And trade. with arts and peace. appears,
To bless fair Scotia's happier day.'

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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