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Kelso

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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Kelso, a Border town and parish of NE Roxburghshire. The town, which lies, at an altitude of from 100 to 142 feet above sea-level, on the left or N bank of the curving Tweed, opposite the Teviot's influx, by road is 8¾ miles WSW of Coldstream, 42 SE of Edinburgh, and ¾ mile N by W of Kelso station on a branch of the North British, this being 52 miles SE of Edinburgh, 11½ E by N of St Boswells, and 23 WSW of Berwickon-Tweed. From the station one enters across the fine five-arch bridge, erected by Rennie in 1800-3 at a cost of £17,802. This, the first bridge with the elliptic arch, may be said to have marked a new era in bridge-building, and was taken by its architect as his model for Waterloo Bridge in London. With a length of 494 feet including the approaches, it has a level roadway 23½ feet wide and 30 feet above the ordinary level of the river. Its arches, each 72 feet in span, arc separated by piers of 14 feet in thickness; and on either side it exhibits six sets of double three-quarter Roman-Doric columns, surmounted by a block cornice and balustrade. The former bridge, built in 1754 at a cost of £3000, and swept away by the great flood of 26 Oct. 1797, is alluded to in Burns's Border Tour, under date 9 May 1787:- 'Breakfast at Kelso; charming situation; fine bridge over the Tweed; enchanting views and prospects on both sides of the river, particularly the Scotch side.' And one learns that the poet was so impressed with the scene, that he reverently uncovered, and breathed a prayer to the Almighty. Scott, too, has left on record how he could trace hither the awakening within himself' of that love of natural scenery, more especially when combined with ancient ruins or remains of our fathers' piety or splendor, which 'was in him' an insatiable passion; 'and Leyden's Scenes of Infaney depicts this landscape with a truth that attests the power of its charm:-

'Teviot. farewell! for now thy silver tide
Commix'd with Tweed's pellucid stream shall glide;
But all thy green and pastoral beauties fail
To match the softness of thy parting vale.
Bosom'd in woods, where mighty rivers run,
Kelso's fair vale expands before the sun:
Its rising downs in vernal beauty swell,
And, fringed with hazel, winds each flowery dell;
Green spangled plains to dimpling lawns succeed,
And Tempé rises on the banks of Tweed;
Blue o'er the river Kelso's shadow lies,
And copse-clad isles amid the waters rise;
where Tweed her silent way majestic holds.
Float the thin gales in more transparent folds.'

Fine as the view is from Kelso Bridge, that from Chalkheugh Terrace is almost finer-the meeting of the Teviot and the Tweed; St James's Fair Green; Marchmound, with the fragment of Roxburgh Castle; Springwood Park; the Abbey; Floors Castle, its lawns and woods; the Waterloo Monument on distant Penielheugh; and, further still, the triple height of Eildon. Nor is Kelso itself unworthy of its environs, comprising a spacious central square, four streets diverging thence in different ways, two smaller squares, and a number of minor cross streets, whose airiness, neatness, and well-to-do houses, roofed with blue slate, and built of a light-coloured stone, entitle it still, as in 1547, to Patten's description 'a pretty market-town.' The Kelso, however, of Patten's day extended beyond the western limits of the present town into ground included now in the park of Floors Castle, where the site of its cross may still be traced. Long a mere village, a sort of suburb to Roxburgh on the opposite side of the Tweed, it rose eventually to the condition of a small town, and came to be known as Wester Kelso. Another small town, distinguished as Easter Kelso, with Kelso Abbey for its nucleus, was gradually extended westward into junction with Wester Kelso, and, on the destruction of Roxburgh in 1460, succeeded that ancient and important burgh as a centre of trade and of political and social influence on the Eastern Border. The great conflagration of March 1684 reduced Wester Kelso to ashes; but it was at its cross, on 24 Oct. 1715, that the Old Chevalier was proclaimed, amid shouts of 'No union! no malt tax! no salt tax!'

The gas company was started in 1831; but on 5 Feb. 1818 the fish monger's shop in Bridge Street, formerly office of the Kelso Chronicle, and tenanted then by an ingenious coppersmith, was lighted with gas, this being its earliest introduction to Scotland. In 1866, under the direction of Mr Brunlees, C.E., a native of Kelso, the town was drained, and a gravitation water supply pumped by steam from the Tweed, at a cost of £7000. The Town Hall, on the E side of the Market Place, is a tetrastyle Ionic edifice of 1816, with a piazza basement and a cupola. The Corn Exchange, in the Wood Market, was built by subscription at a cost of £3000 in 1856 from designs by Mr Cousins. Tudor in style, it measures 124 by 57 feet, contains 71 stalls, and is sometimes used for lectures, concerts, and balls. The parish church, near the abbey, built in 1773, and much altered in 1823 and 1833, is an octagonal structure, containing 1314 sittings, and has' the peculiarity of being without exception the ugliest of all the parish churches in Scotland, but an excellent model for a circus. 'The North quoad sacra parish church, a Gothic building, with 750 sittings and a conspicuous tower, was erected in 1837 at a cost of £3460 for the Establishment, to which it reverted in 1866, after having for twenty-three years belonged to the Free Church. The present Free church, on the E side of Roxburgh Street, facing the Tweed, was built in 1865-67 at a cost of £6000 for Horatius Bonar, D.D., the well-known hymn-writer, who, ordained at Kelso in 1837, was a minister there for upwards of thirty years. Decorated in style, with 750 sittings and a lofty spire, it is not unlike the Barclay Church at Edinburgh, and forms a striking feature in the landscape. Other places of worship are East Free church (1844, remodelled in 1883; 500 sittings), the First U.P. church (1788; 950 sittings), the East U.P. church (1793, remodelled in 1877; 475 sittings), the Baptist chapel (1878; 350 sittings): St Andrew's Episcopal church (1868; 214 sittings), and the Roman Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception (1858; 230 sittings). The last succeeded a cottage chapel, burned by a mob on 6 Aug. 1856; while St Andrew s, a Geometric Gothic structure, near the Tweed's bank above the bridge, superseded a chapel of 1756, whose congregation dated from the Revolution. Kelso High School, at the E end of the town, is a handsome red sandstone edifice of 1877-78, and comprises a large hall 70 feet long, with class-rooms attached, and dormitories above for 30 boarders. It has higher-class, middle, and elementary departments, and is conducted by a rector and 6 assistants. At the old grammar school, adjoining the abbey, Sir Walter Scott in 1783 was the six months' school-fellow of James and John Ballantyne; its site is now occupied by a fine new public school (1879). There are also the Duchess of Roxburghe's school (1817), the Bowmont Street infant school (1880), and two young ladies' seminaries.

Shedden Park. at the E end of the town, was presented to the inhabitants in 1851 by the late Mrs Robertson of Ednam House, and took its name in memory of her nephew, Robert Shedden (1820-49), who perished in the search for Sir John Franklin. Comprising an area of fully 8 acres, it adds greatly to the attractions and amenity of Kelso; is maintained from the rental of a number of dwelling-houses and gardens, given by Mrs Robertson for that and for other benevolent purposes; and has a handsome entrance gateway, erected-by public subscription, in gratitude for the gift. Immediately beyond is the beautiful cemetery, the ground for which was gifted to the town by the late Duke of Roxburghe. Kelso Library, a handsome edifice in Chalkheugh Terrace, overlooking the Tweed, and commanding a very beautiful view, contains a valuable collection of books, first formed in 1750, and now comprising over 7000 volumes, the most interesting of which is the identical copy of Percy's Reliques that entranced the boyhood of Sir Walter Scott. The adjoining Tweedside Physical and Antiquarian Society's Museum (1834), with frontage towards Roxburgh Street, is a massive two-story building; contains a fine collection of stuffed birds of the district, some portraits, relics of Sir Walter Scott, etc.; and is open free to the public on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The Dispensary, occupying a healthy and airy site in Roxburgh Street, was founded in 1777, and enlarged and provided with baths in 1818. The Union Poorhouse (1853), which has had on average of 10 years 20 inmates, is a neat and spacious building, with accommodation for 70 inmates, and is situated in the 'Tannage' field, to the N of the North Parish church. The Parochial Board offices are in Bowmont Street, to the W of the Poorhouse. The number of paupers upon the roll is generally about 100, and the assessment is at present 1s. 7d. per £, raising a total of over £2000. Amongst other institutions are the Billiard and Reading-room (1855), the New Billiard and Readingroom (1852), the Mechanics Institute (1866); the Border Union -Agricultural Society, established as the Border Society in 1812, united with the Tweedside Society in 1820, and yearly holding a stock and sheep show on 5 Aug., a bull show in spring, and a great sale of Border Leicester and Cheviot rams in September; an Association for the Analysing of Manures and the Testing of Seeds (among the first of the kind instituted in Scotland); the Horticultural Society, under the patronage of the Duke of Roxburghe, and holding a great show in September; the Poultry Exhibition (1881), a Dog Society (1883), a Cycling Club (1883), the Total Abstinence Society (1862), three Good Templar lodges, and a Rechabite tent; two lodges of Freemasons (1815), Foresters (1845), and Oddfellows (1841); the Choral Union (1864), the Cricket Club (1850), the Border Cricket Club (1854), the Bowling Club (1818), the Quoiting Club (1851), the Curling Club (1790), the Angling Association (1859), and the Border Racing Club (1854). The Kelso races are held annually for two days in the beginning of October on a racecourse 9 furlongs N of the town, which, formed in 1822 out of what was once a morass, is perhaps the finest in Scotland; and the Border steeplechases are run in April partly on the racecourse.

Kelso has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and railway telegraph departments, branches of the Bank of Scotland, and of the British Linen Co., Commercial, National, and Royal banks, a National Security savings' bank (1849), offices or agencies of 20 insurance companies, the Cross Keys (1760) and 5 other hotels, and 2 weekly newspapers, the Wednesday Conservative Kelso Mail (1797) and the Liberal Friday Kelso Chronicle (1832). A weekly general and corn market is held on Friday, a fortnightly auction stock sale on Monday; and the following is a list of the fairs- horses, second Friday of March; wool, second Friday of July; St James's Fair, of very ancient origin, and long of great importance, but now little else than a pleasure fair, held on the Friar's Haugh, on the right bank of the Tweed, opposite Floors Castle, 5 Aug., or if a Sunday, the Monday following; tups, second Friday of September; cattle and ewes, 24 Sept., or if a Sunday, the previous Saturday; hinds and herds hiring, first Friday of March; shearers' port, every Monday during harvest; young men's and women's hiring, first Friday of May and November. The sale of corn in the weekly market is very great; and that of Border Leicester rams at the September fair is greater than at any other mart in the kingdom, viz., from 1405 to 1573 in the four years 1879-82, when the highest price reached was £160 in 1879 for a ram of Lord Polwarth's rearing. Formerly Kelso was famous for its shoes, its leather, its blue bonnets, and the produce of its handloom-weavers; later it ranked second only to Dumfries in pork-curing; but now the town mainly depends on its coach-building establishments, fishing-tackle manufactories, cabinet and upholstery works, duty-free warehouses for wines and spirits, extensive nursery gardens, corn, manure, and saw mills, agricultural machinery, iron foundry, and Wooden woollen-mills, whose trade in tweeds, blankets, and plaidings has much revived since 1880. The original Chronicle, published by 'Blackneb' Palmer from 1783* to 1803, with its antidote, the existing Mail, started by James Ballantyne in 1797, was among the earliest Scottish newspapers, its only provincial senior being the Aberdeen Journal (1748). Palmer was printing books as early as 1782, one large volume, noteworthy for its typography, being still not seldom met with in the private libraries in the town; and from the Ballantyne press here the two first volumes of Scott's Border Minstrelsy came out in 1802, towards the close of which year James Ballantyne removed to Edinburgh. 'When the book appeared, the imprint "Kelso" was read with wonder by connoisseurs of typography, who had probably never heard of such a place, and were astonished at the specimen of handsome printing which so obscure a town had produced: it was received with the exclamation, "What a beautiful book!"' (History of the Ballantyne Press, Edinb. 1871). Kelso's printing traditions have since been worthily maintained by Messrs Rutherfurd, among whose publications may be noticed Hunter's History of Coldingham (1858), the Southern Counties Register (1866), the -Border Almanac (1867, etc.), Stoddart's Songs of the Seasons (1874), the Autobiography of John Younger (1882), four or five works by the Rev. John Thomson, Hawick, and the centenary edition of the poetical works of Dr John Leyden. They also issued some of Dr Bonar's works, including the once celebrated Kelso tracts, which were the first of his productions to bring him into notice as an author.

A free burgh of barony since 1634, and a police burgh under the General Police and Improvement Act (Scotland) of 1861, the town is governed by a chief magistrate, 2 junior magistrates, and 9 other police commissioners. Police courts are held as occasion requires; sheriff small debt courts on the Fridays after the second Mondays of February, April, June, and December, and after the last Monday of July and the last Tuesday of September; and justice of peace courts on the second Wednesday of every month. The police force since 1881 has been included in that of the county; and the prison was closed in 1878. The municipal voters numbered 800 in 1883, when the annual value of real property amounted to £23,580, whilst the revenue, including assessments, is £2000. Pop. (1851) 4783, (1861) 4309, (1871) 4564, (1881) 4687, of whom 2510 were females. Houses (1881) 1085 inhabited, 23 vacant, 6 building.

Of Kelso Abbey Dr Hill Burton writes, in Billings' Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities (1852), that ' in the rich wooded vale where the Teviot meets the Tweed, a huge ruin, partly Norman and partly of the earlier pointed Gothic, frowns over the pleasant market town, more like a fortified castle than the residence of peaceful monks, devoted to unambitious repose. The massive tower of the building, with corner projections, which are rather towers than buttresses, has a great deal of the baronial in its character, and probably has a closer resemblance to a Norman castle than any other building in Scotland; for, in the purely baronial remains in the North, there is no well-authenticated specimen of the Norman form. It will be seen that the history of this house has been too much in conformity with its warlike architecture, and that, situated so close to the dividing line between two fierce inimical nations, it had an unquiet career. One wonders, indeed, that after the perils and outrages it has incurred, so large a mass of it should still remain; and we can see that there must have been sound judgment in the Norman builder who environed the spiritual brethren with such ample means of carnal defence.' The minster, forming a Latin cross, with the head to the W, consisted of a large Galilee or ante-church, 23 feet square, in lieu of a nave; an aisleless transept, 71 by 23 feet; an aisled choir, 61 feet wide, and extending into a presbytery and Lady chapel of indeterminate length; and a central tower, 91 feet high and 23 square, surmounting the crossing. Thereof is left part of the W front, the transept, two bays of the choir, and the S and W sides of the tower. The two round-headed arches on the S side of the choir spring from massive piers with circular side pilasters and boldly projecting capitals; but the two extant tower arches, 45 feet high, are exquisite specimens of Early Pointed. The side walls have intersecting arcades, with rich ornamentation; the shallow N porch (circa 1150), obliquely recessed, with an interlacing arcade and pediment above the arch, filled with a network pattern, has the character of a deep doorway. The western archway, half of which now is gone, is lavishly sculptured, and offers a striking example of the mixed richness and symmetry of Norman decoration. Nothing is left of the abbot's hall, the gatehouse, the dormitory, and other offices; but the extant remains are sufficient to warrant Cosmo Innes assertion that 'the beautiful and somewhat singular architecture of the ruined church of Kelso Abbey still gives proof of taste and skill and some science in the builders, at a period which the confidence of modern times has proclaimed dark and degraded; and if we could call up to the fancy the magnificent abbey and its interior decorations, to correspond with what remains of that ruined pile, we should find works of art that might well exercise the talents of high masters. Kelso bears marks of having been a full century in building; and during all that time at least, perhaps for long afterwards, the carver of wood, the sculptor in stone and marble, the tileworker, and the lead and iron worker, the painter (whether of Scripture stories or of heraldic blazonings), the designer, and the worker in stained glass for those gorgeous windows which we now vainly try to imitate- must each have been put in requisition, and each, n the exercise of his art, contributed to raise the taste and cultivate the minds of the inmates of the cloister. Of many of these works the monks themselves were the artists and artisaus.,

In 1113 David, Earl of Huntingdon, brought thirteen reformed Benedictine monks from the newly founded abbey of Tiron in Picardy, and planted them on the banks of the Ettrick beside his Forest castle of Selkirk. In 1126, the year after David's accession to the throne, this Tironensian abbey of SS. Mary and John was translated from Selkirk to 'the place called Calkou,' and here its conventual church was founded on 3 May 1128, Roxburgh then being in the zenith of prosperity. David, and all his successors down to James V., lavished on Kelso Abbey royal favours. Whether in wealth, in political influence, or in ecclesiastical status, it maintained an eminence of grandeur which dazzles -the student of history. The priory of Lesmahagow and its valuable dependencies, 33 parish churches, with their tithes and other pertinents, in nearly every district (save Galloway and East Lothian) S of the Clyde and the Forth, the parish church of Culter in Aberdeenshire, all the forfeitures within the town and county of Berwick, several manors and vast numbers of farms, granges, mills, fishings, and miscellaneous property athwart the Lowlands, so swelled its revenues as to raise them to £3716 per annum. The abbots were superiors of the regality of Kelso, Bolden, and Reverden, frequent ambassadors and special commissioners of the royal court, and the first ecclesiastics on the roll of parliament, taking precedence of all other abbots in the kingdom. Herbert, third abbot of Selkirk and first of Kelso, was celebrated for his learning and talent, and having filled the office of chamberlain of Scotland, in 1147 was translated to the see of Glasgow. Arnold, his successor, in 1160, was made bishop of St Andrews, and in 1161 the legate of the Pope in Scotland. In 1152 Henry, the only son of David, and heir-apparent of the throne, died at Roxburgh Castle, and, with pompous obsequies, was buried in the abbey. In 1160 John, precentor of the monastery, was elected abbot, and in 1165 he obtained from Rome the privilege of a mitred abbey for himself and his successors. Osbert, who succeeded him in 1180, was despatched in 1182 at the head of several influential ecclesiastics and others, to negotiate between the Pope and William the Lyon, and succeeded in obtaining the removal of an excommunication which had been laid on the kingdom, and in procuring for the King expressions of papal favour. In 1215 Abbot Henry was summoned to Rome, along with three Scottish bishops, to w2tend the Fourth Lateran Council. In 1236 Herbert, who fifteen years before had succeeded to the abbacy, performed an act of abdication more rare by far among the wealthier wearers of mitres than among the harassed owners of diadems; and, solemnly placing the insignia of his office on the high altar, passed into retirement. Edward I. of England, having seized all ecclesiastical property in Scotland, received in 1296 the submission of the Abbot of Kelso, and gave him letters ordering full restitution. In consequence of a treaty between Robert Bruce and Edward III., Kelso Abbey shared in 1328 mutual restitutions with the English monasteries of property which had changed owners during the international wars. In 1420 the abbot, having his right of superiority over all other abbots of Scotland, contested by the Abbot of St Andrews, by formal adjudication of the King was compelled to resign it, on the ground of the abbey of St Andrews being the first established in the kingdom. In 1493 Abbot Robert was appointed by parliament one of the auditors of causes and complaints. On the night after the battle of Flodden (1513) an emissary of Lord Hume expelled the abbot, and took possession of the abbey. In 1517 and 1521 Abbot Thomas was a plenipotentiary to the Court of England; and in 1526 he was commissioned to exchange with Henry or his commissioners ratifications of the peace of the previous year. On 20 June 1523 the English demolished the vaults of the abbey and its chapel or church of St Mary, fired all the cells and dormitories, and unroofed every part of the edifice. Other inroads of the national foe preventing immediate repair or restoration, the abbey, for a time, crumbled towards total decay; and the monks, reduced to comparative poverty, skulked among the neighbouring villages. From 1536 till his death in 1558, James Stuart, the natural son of James V., nominally filled the office of abbot, and was the last who bore the title. The abbeys of Melrose, Holyrood, St Andrews, and Coldingham were, at the same date as the abbey of Kelso, bestowed on James's illegitimate offspring; and, jointly with it, they brought the royal family an amount of revenue little inferior to that yielded by all the possessions and resources of the Crown. In 1542, under the Duke of Norfolk, and again in 1545, under the Earl of Hertford, the English renewed their spoliations on the abbey, and almost entirely destroyed it by fire. On the latter occasion, it was resolutely defended by 12 monks and 90 other Scotsmen, but, cannon being brought up, a breach was opened, apparently in the conventual buildings. The assault was given to the Spaniards, but, when they rushed in, they found the place cleared. The nimble garrison had run to the strong square tower of the church, and there again they held out. Night came before they could be dislodged from this their last citadel, so the besiegers had "to leave the assault till the morning, setting a good watch all night about the house, which was not so well kept but that a dozen of the Scots, in the darkness of the night, escaped by ropes out at back windows and corners, with no little danger of their lives. When the day came, and the steeple eftsoons assaulted, it was immediately won, and as many Scots slain as were within"' (Hill Burton's Hist. Scotl., iii. 242, ed. 1876). In 1560 the remnant of the brotherhood was expelled, and the abbey wrecked, by Reformers. Its vast possessions, becoming now Crown property, were in 1594 distributed among the favourites of James VI., who, by a charter of 1607, erected the abbacy into the lordship and barony of Halidean, comprising the town and lands of Kelso. Rudely ceiled over, with a thatched prison above, the transept served as the parish church from 1649 to 1771, when, part of the roof giving way during service one Sunday, the people ran out, expecting the fulfilment of Thomas the Rhymer's prediction that the kirk should fall at the fullest. In 1805 the ruins were cleared of unsightly additions; and in 1866 they were placed in a state of thorough repair by the late Duke of Roxburghe.

In the 12th century Kelso was known as Calkou or Calchou, a name which Chalmers identified with Chalkheugh ('chalk height'), a precipitous bank with strata of gypsum cropping to the surface; but, according to Professor Veitch, its name was Calchvynyd in the old Cymric times. Of events not noticed under our history of the abbey and of Roxburgh, the earliest on record occurred in 1209, when, a Papal interdict being imposed upon England, the Bishop of Rochester left his see, and took refuge in Kelso. Ten years later "William de Valoines, Lord Chamberlain of Scotland, died in the town. In 1255 Henry III. of England and his queen, during a visit to their son-in-law and daughter, Alexander III. and his royal consort, at Roxburgh Castle, were introduced with great pomp to Kelso and its abbey, and entertained, with the chief nobility of both kingdoms, at a sumptuous banquet. In 1297 Edward I., at the head of his vast army of invasion, having entered Scotland and relieved the siege of Roxburgh, passed the Tweed at Kelso on his way to seize Berwick. Truces, in the years 1380 and 1391, were made at Kelso between the Scottish and the English kings. On the death of James II. by the bursting of a cannon at the siege of Roxburgh Castle (1460), his infant son, James III., being then with his mother in the camp, was carried by the nobles, in presence of the assembled army, to the abbey, and there crowned and treated with royal honours. In 1487 commissioners met at Kelso to prolong a truce for the conservation of peace along the unsettled Border territory, and to concoct measures preliminary to a treaty of marriage between the eldest son of James III. and the eldest daughter of Edward IV. The disastrous results of the battle of Flodden, in 1513, seem-in consequence of James IV. 's death, and of the loss of the protection which his authority and presence had given-to have, in some way, temporarily enthralled the town to Lord Hume, and occasioned, as we have already seen, the expulsion of the abbot from his monastery-the first of a series of events which terminated in the ruin of the pile. In 1515 the Duke of Albany, acting as regent, visited Kelso in the course of a progress of civil pacification, and received grave depositions respecting the oppressive conduct of Lord Hume, the Earl of Angus, and other barons. In 1520 Sir James Hamilton, marching with 400 men from the Merse to the assistance of Andrew Kerr, Baron of Fernieherst, in a dispute with the Earl of Angus, was overtaken at Kelso by the Baron of Cessford, then Warden of the Marches, and defeated in a brief battle.

In 1522 Kelso, and the country between it and the German Ocean, received the first lashings of the scourge of war in the angry invasion of Scotland by the army of Henry VIII. One portion of the English forces having marched into the interior from their fleet in the Forth, and having formed a junction with another portion which hung on the Border under Lord Dacre, the united forces, among other devastations, destroyed one-half of Kelso by fire, plundered the other half, and inflicted merciless havoc upon not a few parts of the abbey. So irritating were their deeds, that the men of Merse and Teviotdale came headlong on them in a mass, and showed such inclination, accompanied with not a little power, to make reprisals, that the devastators prudently retreated within their own frontier. After the rupture between James V. and Henry VIII., the Earl of Huntly, who had been appointed guardian of the Marches, garrisoned Kelso and Jedburgh, and in August 1542 set out from these towns in search of an invading force of 3000 men under Sir Robert Bowes, fell in with them at Hadden Rig, and, after a hard contest, broke down their power and captured their chief officers. A more numerous army being sent northward by Henry, under the Duke of Norfolk, and James stationing himself with a main army of defence on Fala Moor, the Earl of Huntly received detachments which augmented his force to 10,000 men, and so checked the invaders along the Marches as to preserve the open country from devastation. In spite of his strenuous efforts, Kelso and some villages in its vicinity were entered, plundered, and given up to the flames; and they were eventually delivered from ruinous spoliation only by the foe being forced by want of provisions and the inclemency of the season to retreat into their own territory. When Henry VIII.'s fury against Scotland was kindled anew about the proposed marriage of the infant Queen Mary and Prince Edward of England, an English army, in 1544, entered Scotland by the Eastern Marches, plundered and destroyed Kelso and Jedburgh, and ravaged and burned the villages and houses in their neighbourhood. This army having been dispersed, another 12,000 strong, specially selected for their enterprise, and led on by the Earl of Hertford, next year trod the same path as the former invaders, and inflicted fearful devastation on Merse and Teviotdale. They plundered anew the towns of Kelso and Jedburgh, wasted their abbeys, and also those of Melrose and Dryburgh, and burned 100 towns and villages. While Kelso was suffering the infliction of their rage, 100 men, as mentioned in our notice of the abbey, made bold but vain resistance within the precincts of that pile. The Scottish army shortly after came up, and took post at Maxwellheugh, intending to retaliate; but they were spared the horrors of inflicting or enduring further bloodshed by the retreat of the invaders.

In 1553 a resolution was suggested by the Queen Regent, adopted by parliament, and backed by the appointment of a tax of £20,000, leviable in equal parts from the spiritual and the temporal estates, to build a fort at Kelso for the defence of the Borders; but it appears to have soon been dropped. In 1557 the Queen Regent, having wantonly, at the instigation of the King of France, provoked a war with England, collected a numerous army for aggression and defence on the Border. Under the Earl of Arran, the army, joined by an auxiliary force from France, marched to Kelso, and encamped at Maxwellheugh; but, having made some vain efforts to act efficiently on the offensive, was all withdrawn, except a detachment left in garrison at Kelso and Roxburgh to defend the Borders. Hostilities continuing between the kingdoms, Lord James Stuart, the illegitimate son of James V., built a house of defence at Kelso, and threw up fortifications around the town. In 1558 the detachment of the army stationed at Kelso marched out to chastise an incursion, in the course of which the town of Duns was burned, came up with the English at Swinton, and were defeated. In 1561 Lord James Stuart was appointed by Queen Mary her lieutenant and judge for the suppression of banditti on the Borders, and brought upwards of twenty of the most daring freebooters to trial and execution; and, about the same time, he held a meeting at Kelso with Lord Grey of England for the pacification of the Borders. In 1566, in the course of executing the magnanimous purpose of putting down by her personal presence the Border maraudings, from which she was wiled by her romantic and nearly fatal expedition to the Earl of Bothwell at Hermitage Castle, Queen Mary visited Kelso on her way from Jedburgh to Berwick, spent two nights in the town, and held a council for the settlement of some dispute. In 1569 the Earl of Moray spent five or six weeks in Kelso, and had a meeting with Lord Hunsdon and Sir John Foster, on the part of England. In 1570 an English army entered Scotland in revenge for an incursion of the Lords of Fernieherst and Buccleuch into England, divided itself into two co-operating sections, scoured the whole of Teviotdale, levelled 50 castles and strengths and upwards of 300 villages, and rendezvoused at Kelso preparatory to its retreat. The Earl of Bothwell, grandson to James V. and commendator of Kelso, made the town his home during the concocting of his foul and numerous treasons; and during ten years succeeding 1584 deeply embroiled it in the marchings and military manœuvrings of the forces with which, first his partisans, and next himself personally, attempted to damage the kingdom.

Kelso, in 1639, made a prominent figure in one of the most interesting events in Scottish history-the repulse of the armed attempt of Charles I. to force Episcopacy upon Scotland. The Covenanting army of General Leslie, numbered variously at from 12,000 to 30,000 men, rendezvoused at Duns, and, marching thence, established their quarters at Kelso. The King, at the head of his army, got intelligence at Birks, near Berwick, of the position of the Covenanters, and despatched the Earl of Holland, with 1000 cavalry and 3000 infantry, to try their mettle. General Leslie, however, easily repelled the Earl from Kelso, made a rapid concentration of all his own forces, and next day, to the surprise of the royal camp, took up his station on Duns Law. The Covenanters of Scotland and the Parliamentarians of England having made common cause against Charles I., Kelso was made, in 1644, the depôt of troops for reinforcing General Leslie's army in England. Next year the detachment under the Marquis of Douglas and the Earl of Airlie: sent by Montrose to oppose the operations of Leslie in the Merse, marched to Kelso on their way to the battle-field of Philiphaugh, where they were cut down and broken by the Covenanters. Two years later the town was the place of rendezvous to the whole Scottish army after their successes in England, and witnessed the disbandment of six regiments of cavalry after an oath had been exacted of continued fidelity to the Covenant.

In 1645 Kelso was visited and ravaged by the plague. In 1648 a hundred English officers arrived at Kelso and Peebles, in the vain expectation of finding employment by the breaking out of another civil war. On 22 Oct. 1715 the rebel forces of the Pretender-the Highlanders under MacIntosh of Borlum, the Northumbrians under Mr Foster and Lord Derwentwater, and the men of Nithsdale and Galloway under Lord Kenmure -rendezvoused in Kelso; and next day, being Sunday, the infamous Robert Patten preached to them at the great kirk on the text, 'The right of the first-born is his.' They formally proclaimed James VIII., and remained three days making idle demonstrations, till the approach of the royal troops under General Carpenter incited them to march on to Preston. In 1718 a general commission of Oyer and Terminer sat at Kelso, as in Perth, Cupar, and Dundee, for the trial of persons concerned in the rebellion; but here they had only one bill, and even it they ignored. In Nov. 1745 the left of the three columns of Prince Charles Edward's army, on the march from Edinburgh into England, which was headed by the Chevalier in person, spent two nights in Kelso, and while here suffered numerous desertions. From November 1810 till June 1814 Kelso was the abode of a body, never more than 230 in number, of French prisoners on parole. The only other events that need be noticed are the tremendous floods of 1782, 1797, and 1831; the bridge riots of 1854; and Queen Victoria's visit to Floors Castle, in Aug. 1867.

Illustrious natives of Kelso have been the Rev. Wm. Crawford (1676-1742), author of Dying Thoughts: James Brown (1709-88), linguist and traveller; the printers, James Ballantyne (1772-1833), and his brother John (1774-1 821); Robert Edmonstone (1794-1834): artist; Sir William Fairbairn, LL.D., F.R.S. (178 9-1874), engineer, who spent the first ten years of his boyhood here, and, beginning life as a labourer in the building of Kelso Bridge, was for weeks disabled by a stone falling on him; and Lieut. James Henry Scott Douglas (1857-79), of Springwood Park, who fell in the Zulu war. The Rev. James Melville M 'Culloch, D.D., educational writer, was minister from 1832 to 1843; and Thomas Tod Stoddart (1810-80), angler and poet, resided here from 1836 till his death. 'Beardie,' the Jacobite great-grandfather of Sir Walter Scott, long resided and died in a house still existing in the corn market of Kelso. The tomb containing his remains and those of others of his family is conspicuous in a detached portion of the churchyard near the abbey.

The parish of Kelso, containing also the village of Maxwellheugh near the station, comprises, on the Tweed's left bank, the ancient parish of Kelso or St Mary, formerly in the diocese of St Andrews; and, on the Tweed's right bank, the ancient parishes of Maxwell and St James, formerly in the diocese of Glasgow. It is bounded N by Stitchel and Ednam, E by Ednam and Sprouston, SE by Eckford, SW by Roxburgh, and W by Makerston and Smailholm. Its utmost length, from N by W to S by E, is 41/8 miles; its breadth varies between 13/8 and 3¼ miles; and its area is 5542 acres, of which 1531/3 are water. The Tweed, here a glorious salmon river, curves 17/8 mile east-north-eastward along the Roxburgh border, then 2 miles through the middle of the parish; and the Teviot flows 1¾ mile north-north -eastward along the Roxburgh border, and next ¼ mile through the interior, till it falls into the Tweed ¼ mile above Kelso Bridge. The Teviot's average width is 200 feet, the Tweed's 440; but, above and below the bridge, the channel of the latter river is interrupted by two low islets-Kelso and Wooden Anas; and, above Kelso Ana, it is 'bridled with a curb of stone'-the long mill-cauld ascribed by tradition to Michael Scott's familiar. Eden Water runs 7 furlongs eastward along the northern boundary; and Wooden Burn, falling into the Tweed 3½ furlongs below the bridge, though only a rivulet, is noteworthy for its romantic ravine and its tiny but beautiful waterfall. Along the Tweed the surface declines to 98 feet above sea-level, thence rising northward to 289 feet near Sydenham, 324 near Stodrig, and 400 at Easter Muirdean, southward to 281 at Southfield, 306 near Huntershall, 433 at Middle Softlaw, and 526 at the Eckford boundary. As seen from Sweethope Hill (731 feet), near Stichill House, the entire parish looks to be part of a broad, rich strath, a plain intersected by two rivers, and richly adorned with woods, but from the low ground along the Tweed near the town it shows itself to be a diversified basin, a gently receding amphitheatre, low where it is traversed by the rivers, but cinctured in the distance with sylvan heights. Trap rocks prevail in the higher grounds, and sandstone, shale, and marl-limestone in the vales. The soil on the banks of the rivers is a rich deep loam, incumbent on gravel; in the north-western district is a wet clay; and in the S is thin and wet, on a red aluminous subsoil. Enclosed plantations cover some 260 acres; a large extent of ground is disposed in the planted dells of Pinnacle Hill and Wooden, and in the splendid parks of Floors and Springwood; 365 acres are in permanent pasture; and all the rest of the land is either regularly or occasionally in tillage. Several antiquities of some note that once existed in the landward districts are now reduced to little more than the sites of a Roman tumulus and. Bony Brae near Wooden, of the ancient churches of Maxwell and St James, and of a Maison-Dieu near the right bank of the Teviot. There is still a well-defined 'kaim' at Kaimknow, 1¼ mile N of Kelso. Mansions are Floors Castle, Springwood Park, Wooden House, Sydenham House, Broomlands, Edenside, Ednam House, Edenbank, Pinnacle Hill, Rosebank, Tweedbank, Walton Hall, and Woodside, of which the first four are noticed separately. The Duke of Roxburghe owns more than one-half of the entire rental; but 7 other proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 19 of between £100 and £500, 48 of from £50 to £100, and 100 of from £20 to £50. The seat of a presbytery in the synod of Merse and Teviotdale, this parish is ecclesiastically divided into Kelso proper and North Kelso, the former a living worth £447. The public, tine infant, and the Duchess of Roxburghe's school, with respective accommodation for 523, 219, and 177 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 220, 140, and 129, and grants of £214, 19s., £93, and £108, 13s. Valuation (1864) £32,848, 14s. 4d., (1882) £32.458, 19s. 4d. Pop. (1801) 4196, (1821) 4860, (1841) 5328, (1861) 5192, (1871) 5124, (1881) 5235, of whom 2782 were in Kelso proper and 2453 in North Kelso.—Ord. Sur., sh. 25,1865.

The presbytery of Kelso comprises the old parishes of Ednam, Kelso, Linton, Makerston, Morebattle, Nenthorn,- Roxburgh, Sprouston, Stitchel, and Yetholm, and the quoad sacra parish of North Kelso. Pop. (1871) 12,383, (1881) 12,061, of whom 324l were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878.-The Free Church has a presbytery of Kelso, with 2 churches in Kelso, and 8 in Coldstream, Eccles, Gordon, Makerston, Morebattle, Nenthorn, Westruther, and Yetholn48which l0 churches together had 1877 members in 1883.-The U.P. Church has a presbytery of Kelso, with 2 churches in Kelso, 2 in Jedburgh, and 5 in respectively Greenlaw, Leitholm, Morebattle, Stitchel, and Yetholm, which 9 churches together had 2788 members in 1881.

See James Haig's Topographical and Historical Account of the Town of Kelso (Edinb. 1825); Cosmo Innes' Liber S. Marie de Calehou; Registrum Cartarum Abbacie Tironensis de Kelso, 1113-1567 (Bannatyne Club, 2 vols., Edinb., 1846); and Rutherfurd's Guide to Kelso (Kelso, 1880).

* Kelso can boast of having had a newspaper published in it at least weekly for upwards of a hundred years, the centenary of the founding of the newspaper press in the town having occurred in February, 1883.

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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