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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Greenlaw, a small town and a parish in Berwickshire. The town, standing, 500 feet above sea-level, on the left bank of Blackadder Water, has a station on the Berwickshire loop-line of the North British, 14½ miles NE of St Boswells, and 7½ SW of Duns. A burgh of barony, it was the county town from 1696 till 1853, but now divides that dignity with Duns. The original town stood 1¼ mile to the SSE on the 'green,' round, isolated `law,' or hill, that gave it name ; the present town was founded towards the close of the 17th century, and, for a short time, promised to become a central seat of trade for the county, but never, in point of either size or commerce, has risen to be more than a village. Its market cross, supposed to have been erected in 1696 by the celebrated Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth (afterwards Earl of Marchmont), was taken down in 1829 to make room for the County Hall, but in 1881 was discovered in the basement part of the church tower, and was again set up on the W side of the town. Shaft and Corinthian capital were entire ; but the surmounting lion-rampant, the Marchmont crest, was gone. Greenlaw comprises a spacious square, with three or four short radiating streets, and has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a branch of the Royal Bank, two insurance agencies, two inns, a library, and two yearly fairs-for horses on 22 May, for hiring on the last Thursday of October. On the S side of the square stand the old county court and jail-the latter, a narrow gloomy structure. The new jail, to the W, was built in 1824, and, containing 22 cells, has served since August 1880 for prisoners whose period does not exceed a fortnight. The new court-house, erected in 1834. is a handsome edifice in the Grecian style, with a hall 60 feet long, 40 wide, and 28 high ; and is used for jury courts and county meetings. The parish church, a venerable building, containing 476 sittings, adjoins the old jail, of which the under part of its tower formerly was part, known as the Thieves' Hole. A Free and a U.P. church have 450 sittings apiece. Sheriff small-debt courts are held on the last Thursdays of January, February, May, June, and November, on the Thursday before the last Friday of July, and on the last Friday of September. Pop. (1831) 895, (1861) 800, (1871) 823, (l881) 744.

The parish is bounded N by Longformacus, NE by Polwarth, E by Fogo, SE by Eccles, SW by Hume, and W by Gordon and Westruther. Its utmost length, from NNW to SSE, is 8 miles ; its breadth varies between 17/8 and 3½ miles ; and its area is 12,200 acres, of which 51 are water. Blackwater Water, formed by two head-streams in the NW of the parish, winds 3½ miles south-south-eastward along the Westruther and Gordon border, and 3¾ miles south-eastward through the interior to the town, thence bending 17/8 mile east-north-eastward to the boundary with Fogo, which it traces for 7 furlongs north-north-eastward. Faugrist Burn, coming in from Longformacus, drains most of the northern district to the Blackadder ; and Lambden Burn, a little tributary of Leet Water, flows 23/8 miles north-eastward along the boundary with Eccles. The surface declines along Lambden Burn to 260, along the Blackadder to 290, feet above sea-level. Between these streams it rises to 563 feet near Elwarthlaw, 633 at Old Greenlaw, and 680 at Foulshotlaw ; beyond the Blackadder, to 677 feet near Whiteside, 786 near Hallyburton, 780 near Hule Moss, 813 at Hurd Law, and 1191 at Dirrington Little Law, a summit of the Lammermuirs on the northern border. A moorish tract occupies most of the northern district, and an irregular gravelly ridge, called the Kaimes, 50 feet broad at the base, and from 30 to 40 feet high, extends fully 2 miles in semicircular form across the moor, whilst on the S side of the Kaimes lies Dogden Moss, 500 acres in extent, and in some parts 10 feet deep. The southern district, comprising rather more than one-half of the entire area, presents, for the most part, a level appearance, but is diversified with several isolated, rounded hillocks of the kind called Laws. Sandstone has been quarried at Greenside ; and peats, nearly as good for fuel as coal, are cut and dried upon Dogden Moss. The soil of the southern district is deep and fertile ; that of the northern is mostly moorish and barren. In the NW are several cairns or barrows ; remains of an ancient camp, called Blackcastle are at the confluence of Blackadder Water and Faugrist Burn ; and a number of gold and silver coins of Edward III. were found in 1832 in the line of a trench running southward from this camp. Two religious houses, subordinate to Kelso Abbey, were formerly in the parish, but have entirely disappeared, as also has a castle near Old Greenlaw, which, in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, was a seat of the Earls of Dunbar, ancestors of the noble family of Home. Mansions are Lambden, Old Greenlaw, and Rowchester ; and one proprietor holds an annual value of less, as three of more, than £500, much the largest being Sir Hugh Hume-Campbell, Bart., of Marchmont House, who is also superior of the burgh. Greenlaw is in the presbytery of Duns and synod of Merse and Teviotdale ; the living is worth £346. Its public school, with accommodation for 270 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 179, and a grant of £149, 1s. Valuation (1865) £10,253, (1882) £12,022, 10s. 5d. Pop. (1801) 1270, (1831) 1442, (1861) 1370, (1871) 1381, (1881) 1245.—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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