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Parish of Whitsome

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: Whitsome and Hilton
1834-45: Whitsome and Hilton

Whitsome, a post-office hamlet and a parish in the Merse district, SE Berwickshire. The hamlet, a decayed place, is 9 miles N by E of Coldstream, 8 ESE of Duns, and 4 S of the post-town, Chirnside. In July 1482 it was burnt by the English under the Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III.

The parish, since 1735 comprehending the ancient parish of Hilton, is bounded W and N by Edrom, E by Hulton, SE by Ladybank, and SW by Swinton. Its utmost length, from E by N to S by W, is 4½ miles; its width varies between ¾ mile and 25/8 miles; and its area is 4896¾ acres, of which 11/6 is water. Leet Water, rising near the northern border, flows 3 miles south-south-westward through the interior until it passes off into Swinton parish on its way to the Tweed at Coldstream. Bands of flat ground, at no point sinking much below 150 feet above sea-level, extend along the course of the stream and along the north-eastern and eastern borders; but over the rest of the area they give place to undulations of surface, whose highest ground attains 294 feet. The parish everywhere has the finely enclosed and richly cultivated aspect which so generally distinguishes the Merse. The predominant rock is New Red Sandstone, which, forming a bed about 40 feet thick immediately beneath the soil, has been largely quarried. Coal was bored for in 1824-25, but without success. The soil of much of the low grounds is a deep alluvium, abounding in vegetable remains. Nearly 200 acres are under wood; and almost all the remainder is in tillage. In the field of Battleknowes on Leetside farm was an ancient camp; many querns, stone coffins, and a bronze caldron have from time to time been discovered in various parts; the memory of the KnightsTemplars' possessions at Myreside long survived in the names Temple-lands, Temple Hall, Temple Well; and down to the middle of last century the ` Birlie-Knowe ' or primitive mote-hill of the village could be seen to the E of the present schoolhouse. The Rev. Henry Erskine (1624-96), whilst residing at Ravelaw after his ejection from Cornhill, frequently preached at Old Newton. Among his hearers was the youthful Thomas Boston (1676-1732), author of the Fourfold State, who himself once preached in Whitsome church to so eager a multitude, that many, who could not gain access, climbed to the roof and tore away part of the thatch, so as to hear and see him from above. The Laws is the only mansion; but 6 proprietors hold each an annual value of more, and 5 of less, than £500. Whitsome is in the presbytery of Chirnside and the synod of Merse and Teviotdale; the living is worth £415. The present parish church, at the W end of the hamlet, was built in 1803, and contains 245 sittings. The public school, with accommodation for 151 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 84, and a grant of £77, 6s. Valuation (1865) £8976, 11s. 11d., (1885) £8228, 4s. Pop. (1801) 560, (1831) 664, (1861) 640, (1871) 608, (1881) 560.—Ord. Sur., sh. 26, 1864.

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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