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St Boswells

(Lessuden)

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.

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St Boswells, a village and a parish of NW Roxburghshire. The village of Lessudden or St Boswells stands near the right bank of the river Tweed, 1 3/8 mile ESE of St Boswells or Newtown station (in Melrose parish), and 4 miles SE of Melrose. A place of high antiquity, it is thought to have got its original name, Lessedwin (`manor-place of Edwin'), either from Eadwine of Northumbria (586-633) or from some yet earlier prince. It contained sixteen strong bastel houses in 1544, when it was burned by the English; and now it consists of one long street, extending north-eastward from St Boswells Green. This common, about 40 acres in extent, is the scene of a handball match on 12 March, and of a fair on 18 July, or the following Monday if the 18th falls on a Sunday. At the close of last and the beginning of the present century, St Boswells fair was the greatest in the South of Scotland for lambs, cattle, horses, wool, and general business; and from £8000 to £10, 000 changed hands in the course of the day. It was largely attended by the Tinklers and Potters of the Border Counties. In his History of the Gipsies (2d. ed., New York, 1878) Mr Simson describes their encampment; and states that on one occasion ` there were upwards of 300 Gipsies in the place. Part of them formed their carts, laden with earthenware, into two lines, leaving a space between them like a street. In the rear of the carts were a few tents, in which were Gipsies, sleeping in the midst of the noise and bustle of the market; and numbers of children, horses, asses, and dogs, hanging around them.. Any one desirous of viewing an Asiatic encampment in Scotland, should visit St Boswells Green, a day or two after the fair., There is one good inn, the Buccleuch Arms; and at the end of the Green are the kennels of the Buccleuch Foxhounds (56 couples), erected by the late Duke of Buccleuch about 1830. Braeheads, a ridge to the N of the village, commands a most exquisite view of the ruins of Dryburgh, the winding Tweed, and the triple Eildons. Pop. of Lessudden (1831) 433, (1861) 447, (1871) 556, (1881) 555.

The parish is bounded NE by Mertoun in Berwickshire, SE by Maxton and Ancrum, SW by Bowden, and NW by Bowden and Melrose. Its utmost length, from NE to SW, is 3 5/8 miles; its utmost breadth is 2 miles; and its area is 3198 ½ acres, of which 43 ½ are water. The Tweed curves 3 miles south-eastward, north-eastward, and south-by-eastward along all the Berwickshire border, though the point where it first touches and that where it quits the parish are but 1 ½ mile distant as the crow flies. It is spanned here by two suspension bridges, one erected by Lord Polwarth in 1880; and its bank on the St Boswells side is steep and wooded. The surface sinks to 200 feet above sea-level along the Tweed, and rises gently thence to 268 feet at Benrig, 326 at Hiltonshill, and 538 near Maxpoffle, thus everywhere being dominated by the Eildon Hills (1385 feet) in the neighbouring parish of Bowden. Red sandstone, of good building quality, is the predominant rock; and the soil is variously alluvium, black loam, and stiff clay. Rather less than 200 acres are under wood; and most of the remainder is in tillage. The parish is named after Boisil, who from about 650 to 661 was successively prior and abbot of the Columban monastery of Old Mei.rose, and the fame of whose sanctity attracted thither the youthful St Cuthbert. Not a vestige remains of the ancient village of St Boswells, which stood near the parish church, 7 furlongs SE of Lessudden. This parish was the lifelong residence of, and has given designation to, John Younger (1785-1860), the shoemaker-fisherman-poet, who was born at Longnewton, and whose interesting Autobiography was published at Kelso in 1882. Near the village is Lessudden House, ` the small but still venerable and stately abode of the lairds of Raeburn. 'Other mansions are Benrig, Elliston, Maxpoffle, Maxton Cottage, and The Holmes; but only one out of seventeen proprietors holds an annual value of more than £500. St Boswells is in the presbytery of Selkirk and the synod of Merse and Teviotdale; the living is worth £375. The parish church is an old building, and, as enlarged in 1824, contains over 300 sittings. There is also a Free church; and the public school, with accommodation for 125 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 112, and a grant of £95, 3s. Valuation (1864) £6403, 12s. 8d., (1884) £9029, 4s. 11d. Pop. (1801) 497, (1831) 701, (1861) 865, (1871) 973, (1881) 959.—Ord. Sur., sh. 25, 1865.

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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