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Parish of Borthwick

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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1791-99: Borthwick
1834-45: Borthwick

Borthwick, a parish of SE Edinburghshire, containing the village and station of Fushiebridge, on the Waverley section of the North British, 4¾ miles SE of Dalkeith, and 12¾ SE of Edinburgh; as well as part of Gorebridge village, 7 furlongs NW of Fushiebridge, at which are another station and a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments.

Irregular in outline, the parish is bounded N by Cranston, E by Crichton, SE by Heriot, SW by Temple, NW by Carrington, Cockpen, and Newbattle. From NNE to SSW its greatest length is 6¾ miles; its greatest breadth from E to W is 4½ miles; and its area is 9806¼ acres, including 666½ acres lying ¼ mile to the E of the main portion. Tyne Water traces the northern part of the Crichton boundary, and the South Esk follows the Carrington border, whilst through the interior Gore Water, formed near Borthwick hamlet by the Middleton North and South Burns, flows about 3½ miles north-westward to the South Esk. The surface, with charming diversity of hill and dale, has a general rise from the great undulating champaign of the Lothians to the Moorfoot Hills-from about 400 feet above sea-level near Gorebridge and Vogrie to 1249 on the SE border. The predominant rocks are Silurian in the S, carboniferous in the centre and the N; coal, limestone, and sandstone have been extensively worked.Cairns on the moors have been found to contain funereal urns, and ancient stone coffins, with two stone troughs supported by square pedestals, have been exhumed; but Borthwick's grand antiquity is the castle at its kirktown,3½ miles SE of Gorebridge, on a tongue of rocky land, protected S, E, and N by deep and wooded ravines, down two of which flow the head-streams of the Gore. About 1½ mile lower down, on the lands of Harvieston, beautifully situated by the side of the Gore, stands the ruined castle of Catcune, which is said to have been the seat of the Borthwicks, before they had risen to eminence. Towards the end of the 14th and begininng of the 15th century lived a Sir William Borthwick, who, being a man of - great parts, was employed as ambassador on several important negotiations, and concerned in most of the public transactions of his day. This William seems to have been created Lord Borthwick before 1430, for in October of that year, at the baptism of the King's two sons, several knights were dubbed, among the rest William, son and heir of Lord Borthwick; 1452, however, is the date of creation, according to an ancient chroincle- He obtained from James I- of Scotland a licence to build and fortify a castle on the lands of Lochwarret or Locherworth, which he had bought from Sir William Hay: 'Construendi castrum in loco illo qui vulgariter dicitur le Mote de Lochorwart. ' This grant was obtained by a charter under the great seal, June 2, 1430. A stately and most magnificent castle was accordingly reared, and afterward became the chief seat and title of the family- Standing in a base court 80 yards long from E to W by 35 from N to S, this noblest of Scotland's peel-towers is yet upon the whole very entire, and of astonishing strength. There is indeed in the middle of the E wall a considerable breach; but whether occasioned by lightning, the weather, or Cromwell's artillery, cannot with certainty be determined- The form of this venerable structure is nearly square, being 74 by 69 feet without the walls, but having on the W side a large recess, 14 feet broad and 20 deep, which seems to have been intended to give light to the principal apartments, and which gives the building somewhat the form of a Greek N. The walls themselves- without and within of hewn and firmly-cemented stone- are 14 feet thick near the bottom, and towards the top are gradually contracted to about 6 feet. Exclusive of the sunken story, they are, from the base-court to the battlement, 90 feet high; and if we include the roof, which is arched and covered with flag-stones, the whole height will be about 110 feet. From the battlements of Borthwick Castle, which command a varied and beautiful view, the top of Crichton Castle can be discovered, lying1¼ mile to the eastward. The convenience of communicating by signal with a neighbouring fortress was an object so much studied in the erection of Scottish castles, that, in all likelihood, this formed one reason of the unusual height to which Borthwick Castle is carried. A vault in the left or S wing contains an excellent springwell, now filled up with rubbish. On the first story are state-rooms, which were once accessible by a drawbridge. The great hall is 51 feet long, 24 wide, and, to the crown, about 30 high. The fireplace, 9 feet broad and 3 deep, has been carved and gilded, and in every corner may be traced the remains of fallen greatness. ` On the 11th June 1567, Morton, Mar, Hume, and Lindsay, with other inferior barons, and attended by 900 or 1000 horse, on a sudden surrounded the castle of Borthwick, where Bothwell had passed four days in company with the queen. Bothwell received such early tidings of their enterprise, that he had time to ride off with a few attendants; and the insurgent nobles, when they became aware of his escape, withdrew to Dalkeith, and thence to Edinburgh, where they had friends who declared for them, in spite of the efforts of Mary's partisans. The latter, finding themselves the weaker party, retreated to the castle, while the provost and the armed citizens, to whom the defence of the town was committed, did not, indeed, open their gates to the insurgent lords, but saw them forced without offering opposition. The sad intelligence was carried to Mary by Beaton, who found her still at Borthwick, "so quiet, that there was none with her passing six or seven persons. " She had probably calculated on the citizens of Edinburgh defending the capital against the insurgents; but this hope failing, she resolved on flight. " Her majesty," writes Beaton, "in en's clothes, hooted and spurred, departed that same night from Borthwick to Dunbar: whereof no man knew, save my lord duke (i.e. Bothwell, created Duke of Orkney) and some of his servants, who met her majesty a mile from Borthwick, and conveyed her to Dunbar." We may gather from these particulars, that, although the confederate lords had declared against Bothwell, they had not as yet adopted the purpose of imprisoning Queen Mary herself. When Bothwell's escape was made known, the blockade of Borthwick was instantly raised, although the place had neither garrison nor means of defence. The more audacious enterprise of making the queen prisoner was not adopted until the issue of what befell at Carberry Hill showed such to have been her unpopularity, that any attempt might be hazarded against her person or liberty, without hazard of its being resented by her subjects. There seems to have been an interval of nearly two days betwixt the escape of Bothwell from Borthwick Castle, and the flight of the Queen to Dunbar. If, during that interval, Mary could have determined on separating her fortunes from those of the deservedly detested Bothwell, her page in history might have closed more happily. ' The castle is surrounded on every side but the W by steep ground and water, and at equal distances from the base were drumtowers, 18 feet in diameter, two of which remain fairly entire. As in the case of many other baronial residences in Scotland, Sir William de Borthwick built this magnificent pile upon the very border of his property. The reason for choosing such a site was hinted by a northern baron, to whom a friend objected it as a defect, at least an inconvenience. ` We'll brizz yont ' (Angliee, press forward) was the baron's answer, which expressed the policy of the powerful in settling their residence on the extremity of their domains, as giving pretext and opportunity for making acquisitions at the expense of their neighbours. William de Hay, from whom Sir William Borthwick had acquired a part of Locherworth, is said to have looked with envy on the splendid castle of his neighbour, and to have vented his spleen by building a ill upon the lands of Little Lockerworth, immediately beneath the knoll on which the fortress stands, declaring that the Lord of Borthwick, in all his pride, should never be out of hearing of the clack of his neighbour's ill. The ill accordingly still exists as a property independent of the castle. Strong, however, as this fortress was, both by nature and art, it was not proof against the arms of Cromwell. John, tenth Lord Borthwick, during the Great Rebellion firmly adhered to the royal cause, and thus drew on himself the vengeance of the Protector, who, by a letter, dated at Edinburgh, 18 Nov. 1650, summoned him to surrender in these terms:

'For the Governor o-f Borthwick Castle, These.
'Sir,-I thought fitt to send this trumpett to you, to lett you know that. if yon please to walk away with your company. and deliver the house to such as i shall send to receive it. yon shall have libertie to carry off your armes and goods. and such other necessaries as yon have. Yon harboured such parties in your house as have basely inhumanely murdered our men: if you necessitate me to bend my cannon against you. yon must expect what i doubt yon will not be pleased with. I expect your present answer, and rest your servant, `O Cromwell.

A surrender was not the immediate consequence of this peremptory summons, for the castle held out until artillery were opened upon it, when, seeing no prospect of relief, Lord Borthwick obtained honourable terms of capitulation, viz., liberty to march out with his lady and family unmolested, and 15 days allowed to remove his effects. From the death of this Lord Borthwick the title was dormant till 1762, as again from 1772 to 1870, when it was revived in favour of Cunninghame Borthwick of Ravenstone, Wigtownshire, eleventh Baron in possession of the dignity, and twentieth in order of succession. The castle, untenanted for fully 150 years, passed by purchase towards the close of last century to Jn. Borthwick, Esq. of Crookston, with whose descendants it has since remained. Inhabited mansions are Arniston, Currie, Harvieston, and Vogrie; and 5 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 2 of between £100 and £500,3 of from £50 to £100, and 3 of from £20 to £50. Principal Wm. Robertson, D.D. (1721-93), the historian, was born in the former manse; the minister from about 1790 to 1 819 was the Rev. Jn. Clunie, author of I lo'e na a laddie but ane, and a friend of Burns, who styles him ` a worthy little fellow of a clergyman. ' Erected in 1596 into a charge distinct from the college-kirk of Crichton, Borthwick is a parish in the presbytery of Dalkeith and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale (living £310), but gives off portions to the quoad sacra parish of Stobhill. The ancient Romanesque church of St Mungo, with tiny apsidal chancel and the effigies of the first Lord Borthwick and his lady, was reduced by fire to a ruin in 1775; the present neighbouring parish church ` was rebuilt in excellent taste in 1850, and consists of a western tower with a broach spire, a nave, chancel, and round apse, and two transepts, of which that to the S is old, and mainly Decorated in style, though with some traces of Romanesque work. ' Two public schools, Borthwick and Gorebridge (heritors' female), and Newlandrig subscription school, with respective accommodation for 94,84, and 83 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 71,65, and 61, and grants of £63,12s., £54,9s. 6d., and £38,6s. 6d. Valuation (1881) £16,529, including £1474 for railway. Pop. (1801) 842, (1831) 1473, (1861) 1569, (1871) 1494, (1881) 1374.—Ord. Sur., sh. 32,1857. See Provincial Antiquities of Scotland (1835); Billings' Baronial Antiquities (1852); and an exhaustive article in The -Builder for 21 April 1877.

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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