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History of the Burgh of Dumfries
Chapter XVIX


THE scheme of Henry VIII. for uniting the two kingdoms under the Prince of Wales, by marrying him to the young Queen of Scots, fared no better than his former attempt to effect a matrimonial alliance between his daughter and James V. Beaton, and the Catholic party still in power, preferred wedding Mary to a French prince rather than to the son of the Pope-adjuring King of England. She was accordingly married, in Paris, on the 14th of April, 1558, to the Dauphin, who soon afterwards became King of France: but his early death left her a widow at the age of eighteen; and, on the invitation of the Scottish Parliament, she returned to her native country in the autumn of 1561. During Mary’s absence of twelve years the Romish Church in Scotland had been completely overthrown, the celebration of mass forbidden, under heavy penalties, the Protestant Confession of Faith ratified, and the Presbyterian system of ecclesiastical polity established by Parliament, though the Queen viewed these proceedings with aversion, and had steadily refused to sanction them.

Before noticing the collision between the Reformers and the sovereign thus provoked, we must glance at the way in which Dumfriesshire was affected by the rejection of the English alliance. During the three years in which Henry was cruelly operating upon Maxwell and the other captive lords, as already related, he was trying to accomplish his ends in Scotland by other agents and influences; and, whether he should gain or lose, he was resolved, at all events, to make the inhabitants of the Border district mourn with him that his matrimonial project had proved a failure.

On the 28th of September, 1543, a council of war was held by his command at Darlington, to consider what should be done “to Scotlande this wynter by the Westmarchers of Englande.” Wharton, as a matter of course, took part in the deliberations. The proposals made by him, and concurred in by three other chiefs, Lowther, Leigh, and Aglionby, which are still extant, illustrate strikingly the savagery of Border warfare. [State Papers, vol. v., pp. 344-5.] The style in which they proposed to “annoy” their neighbours of the north was thus explained by themselves after a devout prelude, expressing their trust in God to assist them – which sounds rather incongruously. They “trust,” in the first instance, to “burne, distroye, and maik waist” all the land watered by the Annan and the Milk; then to enter Eskdale, Ewisdale, Wauchopedale, and the Debatable Land, sparing none of them; taking special note of the “towne of Anande, which is the chief towne in all Anerdaill except Dumfreis [Occasionally, in very old documents, the modern spelling of the town is anticipated, or nearly so, as in this instance.], and all the townes, steids, beuldinges, and corne” within the whole parishes of the same, and those of “Dronoke, Reidkyrk, Gretnoo, Kyrkpatrik, Eglefleghan, Penersarkes, and Carudders; and in Wawcopdaill, the perishing of Wacoppe; in Eskdaill, the parishinges of Stablegorton and Watsyrkett; and in Ewsdaill the Over Parishing and the Nether Parishing, with all the townes, steids, beuldinges, and corne, within every of the said peryshings:” no one to receive immunity unless by agreeing to serve the King’s Majesty of England. Detailed plans for the devastation of the Middle Marches were also submitted; and though the Darlington programme was not carried out to the letter, it was acted upon in spirit.

The winter that was to see an immense tract of Dumfriesshire and Selkirkshire turned into a howling desert passed harmlessly away; and the wild-flowers of the next spring were just beginning to decorate the waysides and fields of Nithsdale, when Wharton’s armed host, passing northwards, trampled them into nothingness, while hurrying on to treat human beings in the same way with as little remorse. Encountering no opposition, they were encouraged to advance further than was at first designed, and the people of Dumfries, who had suffered much at Solway Moss, saw, to their dismay, the Southern army approaching, as they were conscious of possessing no adequate means of resistance or defence. The Burgh was entered and occupied by the invaders, who seen once again to have had their own wild wasting way. No more deadly visitation had Dumfries ever before experienced. They came for the purpose of leaving tokens of their vengeful presence in the County town, and obtained their wish – no one appearing with voice and look of authority to bid the ravagers begone. Entire streets were burned or demolished; and when the barbarous enemy disappeared, a large portion of the Burgh looked (to use the expressive Eastern term) as if it had been “sown with salt,” so desolate was its aspect. [Haynes, in whose work Wharton’s reports of his expedition are embodied, pp. 43-51.] Bearing with them all the valuable movables they could seize, and driving before them many herds and flocks “lifted” from the fields around, the plunderers withdrew to carry on their depredations in other parts of the County. Wharton, as may have been inferred, was the chief agent in these ruthless incursions; and that he might prosecute them with less molestation and more fatal effect, he enlisted some of the lawless tribes of Eskdale and Liddisdale, the Armstrongs, Beattisons or Beatties, Thomsoms, Littles, and other “broken men,” under his brigand banner, giving them an unrestricted commission to ravage and slay.  

With the same base ends in view, the English chief fomented a quarrel between the Maxwells and Johnstones, who, had they co-operated in defending the County, might have made him pay dearly for his visits. His perfidy in this respect is depicted in a letter written by himself to the Earl of Shrewsbury, on the 10th February, 1545, in which, after mentioning that he had placed in Langholm Tower a considerable body of foot and a troop of fifty horse, he says he had long used a follower of Johnstone as an emissary to fan the flame of discord between the chief of the Johnstones and Lord Maxwell’s son (Maxwell himself being a prisoner with the English), and that a feud between them had broken out in consequence, which the Scottish Council in vain tried to allay; that he had offered Johnstone three hundred crowns for himself, one hundred for his brother, the Abbot of Soulseat, and one hundred for his followers, on condition of the Master of Maxwell being put into his power; that Johnstone had entered into the plot, but, unfortunately, he and his friends “were all so false” that the writer “knew not what to say” – was not sure of trusting them; but he added, that he would be “glad to annoy and entrap the Master of Maxwell, or the Laird of Johnstone, to the Kings Magestie’s honour and his own poor honesty.” Yet the knight who could thus coolly write himself down a knave, was about this time ennobled, under the title of Lord Wharton, by his royal master, Henry of England! He could not trust Johnstone; and we suppose the latter felt no remorse when, though pocketing the proffered bride, he resolved to shew his antipathy towards the Maxwells in some less dishonourable way, than by betraying the heir of their house into the hands of the English.

While Wharton was thus engaged in the Western Marches, Sir Ralph Evre and Sir Brian Latoun emulated his destructiveness, if not his artifice, in the Eastern Marches: for which service the former received, by deed of gift from Henry, the rich counties of Merse and Teviotdale – the King forgetting that he would thereby be sure to incense the Earl of Angus, some of whose estates were included in the donation. Angus, since the period of his disgrace, had, as already hinted, favoured Henry’s designs; and his marriage with Margaret, that monarch’s sister, together with a sum of money settled upon him by his royal brother-in-law, rendered him additionally devoted to the English party in Scotland. When, however, the proud old Earl- whose attainder had been removed soon after the death of James V. – saw his patrimony ravaged, and then conferred upon an English chief, his blood boiled within him; and his services having been accepted by the Regent Arran, he rushed to arms, and, with five hundred men, encountered and utterly routed the invaders on Ancrum Moor, though, they numbered five to one. Pitscottie attributes the credit of this extraordinary triumph to the Laird of Buccleuch, at whose suggestion the small Scottish force withdrew into a hollow, making the enemy suppose that they had taken flight. As was anticipated, the English advanced tumultuously, eager to annihilate the fancied fugitives; but they, “lighting on the ambush of the Scots all wearied and out of breath,” met with a fierce reception, which soon issued in a disastrous repulse. The Douglas party were favoured by having the sun and wind on their side – the former darting its beams, and the latter blowing the cannons’ smoke in the eyes of their opponents: “besides, the Scottish men’s spears were an ell longer than the English” ones. The assailants’ first line was driven back upon the second, the second upon the third, till inextricable confusion was produced, and something like a parallel to the Solway Moss catastrophe ensued, only that the slaughter of the defeated party was more extensive, and the success of the victors more due to real valour, than on that memorable occasion. Evre and Latoun, the two English leaders, with about five hundred of their followers, including many gentlemen, were slain, and the prisoners taken numbered one thousand; the Scots, as a small set-off to these gains, losing only two men – killed by the recklessness of their own artillery. [When Henry received news of this defeat, he accused Angus of black ingratitude, and threatened him with his deepest resentment; to with the Earl characteristically replied, “What!” said he, “is my brother-in-law offended because, like a good Scotchman, I have avenged upon Ralph Evre the defaced tombs of my ancestors? They were better men than he, and I ought to have done no less; and will the King take my life for that? Little knows King Henry the skirts of Kernetable: I can keep myself there, against all his English host.” – Hume’s House of Douglas, vol. ii., p. 123.] After the battle, “the Governor, calling for the Earl of Angus, highly commended his valour, resolution, and wisdom; and thanked Sir George Douglas, his brother, for his valiant service, assuring them that that day’s service had cleared them of all aspersions of disloyalty, and love to England, laid upon them by their enemies.” [Pitscottie, p. 186.]

In the following year we find Johnstone and the Master of Maxwell friends once more, and, in company with Gordon of Lochinvar, leading a successful expedition across the Western Border; while, with the view of protecting the Scottish side, its two principal fortresses, Carlaverock and Lochmaben, were strengthened by the direction of the Government. But neither the victory in Teviotdale, nor the retaliatory raids made by the chiefs of Dumfriesshire, nor yet the increased attention pain to its defences, served to keep the English in check; as, early in 1547, they succeeded in overrunning a large portion of the County.

Sir Thomas Carleton, of Carleton Hall, Cumberland, who commanded the invading force under the orders of Lord Wharton (and with whose name, as Captain of Carlaverock in 1545, the reader is already familiar), has left a manuscript account of his predatory mission, from which we gather many particulars of it, interesting in themselves, and richly illustrative of the fighting times on the Border, and from which, therefore, we borrow extensively in the following narrative. 

Carleton tells us that, in February, 1547, he made “a road into Teviotdale, and got a great booty of goods.” Lacking proper shelter in the sore weather for both men and horses, they pushed into Canonby; and after lying there “a good space” proceeded to Dumfries – the lieges of which town submitted themselves to him, and “became the king’s majesty’s subjects of England.” “The morrow after coming to Dumfries,” he goes on to say, “I went into the Moot-hale [Moat-hill, probably, on the north side of the town], and making a proclamation in the King of England’s name, that all manner of men should come in and make oath to the king’s majesty, every man at his peril, they all came and swore; whereof I made a book [list of names], and set it to the Lord Wharton. And so I continued about ten days: and so making proclamation that whoso should come in and make oath and lay in pledges to serve the king’s majesty of England, he should have our aid and maintenance, and who would not, we should be on him with fire and sword, many of the lairds of Nithsdale and Galloway came in and laid in pledges.”

“The town of Kircobree,” to its credit be it mentioned, set the proclamation at naught, so that Carleton was moved by Lord Wharton to give it “a preiffe [proof, threat] to burn it.” “And so we rode thither one night, and coming a little after sun-rising, they who saw us coming barred their gates and kept their dikes: for the town is diked on both sides, with a gate to the water-ward, and a gate in the over end of the fell-ward. There we lighted on foot, and gave the town a sharp onset and assault, and slew [wounded] one honest man in the town with an arrow, in so much that one wife came to the ditch and called for one that would take her husband and save his life. Anthon Armstrong, being ready, said, ‘Fetch him to me, and I’ll warrant his life.’ The woman ran into the town and fetched her husband, and brought him through the dike, and delivered him to the said Anthon, who brought him into England and ransomed him.” The invaders, however, did not get all their own way. M’Lellan, the tutor of Bombie, coming to relieve the town, “impeached them with a company of men;” “and so,” continues the English reiver, “we drew from the town, and gave Bombye the onset; where was slain of our part Clement Taylor, of theirs three, and divers taken, and the rest fled.”

Though the outside defenders of “Kircobree” seem to have been scattered, its assailants did not persevere with the siege. In retiring, they “seized about 2000 sheep, 200 kye and oxen, and forty or fifty horses, mares, and colts, and brought the same towards Dumfries.” Whilst thus employed, a force of “Galloway folks, from beyond the water Dee,” came in sight, bent on recovering the booty, and prepared to cross the interposing river at Forehead Ford. “So,” says Carleton, “we left our sheep, and put our worst horsemen before the nowte and nags, and sent thirty of the best horse to preake at the Scots, if they should come over the water, and to abide with the standard in their relief: which the Scots perceiving, stayed, and came not over. So that we passed quietly that night to Dumfries, leaving the goods in safety with a good watch.”

Next morning a curious scene occurred. The party repaired to the place where the plunder had been stored, a mile beyond Dumfries, in order to divide it; “and some claimed this cow, and some that nagg,” while, “above all, one man of the Laird of Empsfielde came amongst the goods, and would needs take one cow, saying that he would be stopped by no man, insomuch that one Thomas Taylor, called Tom-with-the-Bow, being charged with the keeping of the goods, struck the said Scotsman on the head with his bow, so that the blood ran down over his shoulders. Going to his master there, and crying out, his master went with him to the Master Maxwell [afterwards Lord Herries]. The Master Maxwell came, with a great rout after him, and brought the man with the bloody head to me, saying, with an earnest countenance, ‘Is this, think ye, well; both to take our goods, and thus to shed our blood?’ I, considering the Master at that present to be two for one, thought best to use him and the rest of the Scots with good words, and gentle and fair speeches, for they were determined, even there, to have given us an onset, and to have taken the goods from us, and to have made that their quarrel. So that I persuaded him and the rest to stay themselves; and for the man that hurt the other man, he should be punished, to the example of all others to commit the like, giving him that gave the stroke sharp words before them; and [commanding that] the goods should all be stayed, and none dealt till the next morrow, and then every man to come that had any claim, and, upon proof, that it should be redressed: and thus willed every man quietly, for that time, to depart.”

It seems to us marvellous in the extreme, that the Master of Maxwell, instead of being cozened in this fashion by the pawkie Southern leader, did not at once try to settle the question at issue between them by sword and spear. The English influence must have been indeed overpoweringly great in the district, to have made its chiefs and their retainers so spiritless and submissive.

Carleton, fearing that the Scots might be ashamed of their own apathy, and might try to catch him at a disadvantage, made ready for war. On returning to Dumfries, “about one of the clock in the afternoon,” he gave “every one of the garrison secret warning to put on their jacks, and bridle and saddle their horses,” and ordered them to join him immediately at the Bridgend. They having obeyed his commands, he sent forty-two men for the goods, with instructions to meet him at a ford a mile above the town – Martinton Ford, probably. At that point the booty was conveyed across the river, and taken forthwith to Lochmaben, where it was quietly divided that night. The party then returned to Canonby, Carleton concluding this part of his narrative by complacently remarking, “And thus with wiles we beguiled the Scots.” He has evidently been a smart, clever, unscrupulous moss-trooping chief, not overstocked with modesty, and prone to swagger in his speech. The way in which he won Lochwood Tower is so graphically recorded by him that we must give the history of the achievement in nearly his own words. The ruins of this old castle, once the chief seat of the Johnstone family, are still to be seen in the north end of the parish of Johnstone. It was built in the fourteenth century, and from the thickness of its walls, its insulated situation, surrounded by almost impassable marshes, it must have been difficult to take by storm or siege.

Carleton, before telling how he captured it by stratagem, says: “Considering Canonby to be far from the enemy (for even at that time all Annerdale, Liddesdale, and a great part both of Nidsdale and Galway, were willing to serve the King’s Majesty of England, saving the Laird of Drumlanricke, who never came in, nor submitted himself, and with him continued Alexander Carlel, Laird of Bridekirk, and his son, the young laird), I thought it good to practice some way we might get some hold or castle, where we might lie near the enemy. . . . . Thus practicing, Sander Armstrong, son to Ill-Will Armstrong, came to me and told me he had a man called John Lynton, who was born in the head of Annerdale, near to the Loughwood (being the Laird Johnstone’s chief house), and the said laird and his brother (being the Abbot of Salside) were taken prisoners not long before, and were remaining in England. It was a fair large tower, able to lodge all our company safely, with a barnekin, hall, kitchen, and stables, all within the barnekin, and was but kept with two or three fellows and as many wenches.”

Lynton’s opinion was that the fortress might be captured; and with this end in view the whole English troop set off, arriving in the vicinity of it an hour before sunrise. Most of the men lurked outside the wall; while, according to previous arrangement, about a dozen climbed over it, “stole close into the house within the barnekin, and took the wenches, and kept them secure in the house till day-light.” So far the plot had proved successful; and now for its full development. “Two men and a wench” were in the tower, and, at dawn, one of the former, rising in his shirt, went to the tower-head, and seeing no one astir, he bade the woman who lay in the tower to get up and open the tower door, and call up them that lay beneath. “She so doing, and opening the iron door and a wooden door without it, our men within the barnekin brake a little too soon to the door; for the wench, perceiving them, leaped back into the tower, and had gotten almost the wood door to, but we got hold of it, that she could not get it close to. So the skirmish rose; and we over the barnedin, and broke open the wood door, and she being troubled with the wood door, left the iron one open: and so we entered and wan the Loghwood.” A most valuable capture it proved, as the castle was well stocked with salted beef, malt, butter, and cheese.

Leaving Armstrong in charge, Carleton rode off to Carlisle, and reported his success to Lord Wharton, who constituted him keeper of Lochwood. At his lordship’s instance, he then proceeded to Moffat, and made a proclamation there similar to the one issued at Dumfries; intimating also, that “whoso did others wrong, either by theft, oppression, or otherwise, that he should order it amongst them, and refer all weighty causes to his Lordship and his council.” “So,” proceeds the writer, “I continued there for some time, in the service of his majesty, as captain of that house, and governor and steward of Annerdale, under the Lord Wharton. In which time we rode daily and nightly upon the King’s majesty’s enemies; and amongst others, soon after our coming and remaining there, I called certain of the best horsed men of the garrison, declaring to them I had a purpose offered by a Scotsman, which would be our guide, and that was to burn Lamington, which we did wholly, took prisoners, and won much goods, both malt, sheep, horse, and insight, and brought the same to me in the head of Annerdale, and there distributed it, giving every man an oath to bring in all his winnings of that journey; wherein, truly, the men offended so much their own conscience, every man layning [concealing] things, which afterwards I speired out, that, after that tiem, my conscience would never suffer me to minister an oath for this, but that which should be speired or known to be brought, and every man to have share accordingly.”

This miniature Cæsar, the congenial chronicler of his own doughty deeds, closes his record in the following terms: - “After that I made a road in by Crawfurth Castle and the head of Clyde, where we seigèd a great vastil [bastile] house of James Douglas; which they held till the men and cattle were all devoured with smoke and fire: and so we returned to the Loughwood, at which place we remained very quietly, and, in a manner, in as  civil order for hunting and pastime as if we had been at home in our own houses. For every man within Annerdale, being within twelve or sixteen miles of the Loughwood, would have resorted to me to seek reformation for any injury committed or done within the said compass, which I omitted not, but immediately after the plaint either rode myself, and took the party complained of, or sent for him, and punished or redressed as the cause deserved. And the country was then in good quietness: Annerdale, Nidsdale, and a great part of Galloway, all to the Water of Dee, were come in and entered pledges;” and “Kircobree,” vanquished at last, “came in and entered pledges also.”

In the summer of this year (1547) – a disastrous one to Dumfriesshire – Robert, Lord Maxwell, son of the chief who was captured at Solway Moss, proceeded to the Court of the Regent Arran at Edinburgh, to ask for aid against the enemy. He stated that the fields of Nithsdale and Annandale were as so many wildernesses; that the fortresses of the district were in the hands of the English; that the cultivators of the soil, expelled from their paternal roofs, had been reduced to beggary – all which miseries they endured rather than renounce their allegiance; but that if no steps were taken for their relief, they would be forced to swear fealty to the King of England, and that others, fearing similar misfortunes, would be in danger of doing the same.

The Regent, moved by these representations, led a small force into Dumfriesshire, and captured the Tower of Langholm, which the Armstrongs had, three years before, treacherously taken when its owner, Lord Maxwell, was a prisoner in England, and had delivered it to the Lord Dacre. Arran was preparing to attack other garrisons, when he was under the necessity of returning with his troops to join a French auxiliary force that had landed in the Forth, for the purpose of besieging the Castle of St. Andrews – then held by the conspirators who, in the preceding year, assassinated the tyrannical Cardinal Beaton. Scarcely had the foreign allies departed, after accomplishing their task, than the Duke of Somerset, who had been appointed Protector on the death of Henry VIII, entered Scotland by the Eastern Marches, at the head of fourteen thousand soldiers, gave battle to the Scots under Arran, on the field of Pinkie, and defeated them with great slaughter.

At the same time, Lord Wharton appeared in Dumfriesshire with a powerful force, and carried on the work of subjugation which his lieutenant, Sir Thomas Carleton, had already half accomplished. The invaders set fire to the town of Annan; but the inhabitants garrisoned the church, and from its tower, which had been strongly fortified, proved “very noisome” to the enemy, who took it with difficulty, and sixty-two of its brave defender, and then blew it up with gunpowder. [Patten’s Account of the Expedition, p. 95.] Castlemilk surrendered to theirs arms; but Lochmaben and Carlaverock defied the assaults of the English, as they had frequently done before. [Ayseu’s History, p. 321.]

The successive raids made this year by the enemy, coupled with the disastrous defeat at Pinkie, resulted in rendering the Shire all but completely submissive; and it probably suffered as much as during any year since the Southrons began to menace the independence of Scotland. A record has been preserved of the chiefs of Dumfriesshire and East Galloway, with their followers, who swore fealty to England at this dismal period. It is here subjoined: - William Johnstone of Coites, with one hundred and sixty-two; Johnstone of Lochmaben, with sixty-seven; Johnstone of Malinshaw, sixty-five; Johnstone of Crackburns, sixty-four; the Johnstones of Dryfesdale, forty-six; the Johnstones of Craigyland, thirty-seven; Gavin Johnstone, with thirty-two; Jardine of Applegarth, two hundred and forty-two; the Laird of Kirkmichael, two hundred and twenty-two; Patrick Murray, two hundred and three; the Laird of Ross, one hundred and sixty-five; the Laird of Amisfield, one hundred and sixty-three; the Laird of Holmains, one hundred and sixty-two; the Laird of Wamphray, one hundred and two; the Laird of Tinwald, one hundred and two; the Laird of Dunwoodie, forty-four; Lord Carlyle, one hundred and one; Irving of Coveshaw, one hundred and two; Jeffray Irving, ninety-three; the Irvings of Pennersacs, forty; Irving of Robgill, thirty-four; Wat Irving, twenty; the Lairds of Newby and Gretna, one hundred and twenty-two; the Bells of Tintells, two hundred and twenty-two; the Bells of Toftints, one hundred and forty-two; the Romes of Torduff, thirty-two; the Moffats, twenty-four; the town of Annan, thirty-three. The chiefs of Nithsdale mentioned in the catalogue were the Master of Maxwell, one thousand and more; Edward Maxwell of Brackenside (afterwards of Hills), and the Vicar of Carlaverock, three hundred and ten; Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, four hundred and three; Grierson of Lag, two hundred and two; the Laird of Cowhill, ninety-one; the Laird of Cransfield, twenty-seven; Edward Crichton, ten; the town of Dumfries, two hundred and one. In Eskdale, the Beattisons and Thomsons, one hundred and sixty-six; and in Eskdale and Liddisdale, the Armstrongs, three hundred.

Another list of a different kind, and extending over a longer period, probably, is preserved in the “Talbot Papers.” It professes to give “the names of such Scottish pledges and prisoners as were taken since the war began in these West Marches; with an estimate of their values and estimations, and where they were bestowed at the first:” it being explained that “nertheless divers of them are dead, part exchanged and let home upon ransoms and otherwise.” A few extracts are subjoined: - “Robert Maxwell, now Lord Maxwell, an ancient baron, of great lands, himself remaining as yet in Carlisle; the Laird Johnstone, a gentleman of 100 marks sterling or above, for whom the King’s Majesty has paid 100 merks in part payment, for ransom to his taker, and remains himself in Pontefract Castle; the Laird of Cockpole, a gentleman of £100 lands sterling, or thereabouts, himself remains with Sir William Ingleby; John Maxwell, the Lord’s brother, who answers for all upon his brother’s lands, having at that time no lands, and now, by marriage, fair lands, his pledge Hugh Maxwell, his nephew, for one thousand men and more; the Abbot of Newabbey [Gilbert Brown] of 200 merks sterling in right of his house, his pledge Richard Brown and Robert Brown, his cousins, for one hundred and forty-one men; the Laird of Closeburn, £100 sterling, and more, his pledge Thomas Kirkpatrick, his cousin, for four hundred and three men; the town of Dumfries, a fair market town, pledge for it, Cuthbert Murray, worth little or nothing, for two hundred and twenty-one men.”

If the Duke of Somerset had followed up his victory at Pinkie, he might have imperilled the independence of Scotland; but as pressing business, involving his own influence at Court, recalled him to Loudon, the country, which he had half subdued, gradually recovered its courage and freedom. Dumfriesshire was nominally under English rule for a year or more after the date of the battle. In 1548 and 1549, it was the theatre of several conflicts, caused by the chiefs having risen up against Lord Wharton’s authority. On the 24th of March in the following year, they, and their countrymen generally, participated in the benefits of a treaty entered into between France and England with Scotland, whereby hostilities were brought to a close, and a welcome peace was secured, which continued unbroken by the English for nearly ten years. Robert, Lord Maxwell, was one of the Commissioners who formed this treaty, which was signed at Norham in June, 1551. [Rymer’s Fœdera, p. 265.]

It comprehended it its provisions the settlement of the famous Debatable Land, which, as already explained, formed part of Scotland originally [“The tract,” says Chalmers (vol. iii., p. 98.),  “certainly belonged to Scotland, as many charters of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries evince with full conviction.” He refers to Rymer, pp. 245, 289, 337, in corroboration of the statement.], but had, in the course of the Border warfare, been often occupied by England, and had at length become a sort of neutral territory, claimed by both kingdoms, really possessed by neither, and ruled by laws of its own: that is to say, when these were not set aside by the sword. In times of peace, the subjects of both countries pastured their herds on its tilled fields during the day time, but were required to remove them before sunset at their own peril; and when they did foolishly run the risk of leaving their cattle exposed during the night watches, the likelihood was that they would be carried off before morning by Clym of the Cleugh, Hobbie Noble, or some other reiver of the same stamp; and in that case no redress was obtainable by the owners.

The tract lay along the Scottish side of the Esk and Liddel, was bounded on the west by the Sark, and was eight miles long and four broad. After several conferences between the commissioners of both nations, assisted by an envoy from France, a division of the Debatable Land was resolved upon; according to which, it was intersected by a line drawn from the Sark on the west to the Esk on the east – the northern portion, or parish of Canonby, being assigned to Scotland; the southern, or parish of Kirkandrews, to England. By this arrangement, a tract of country that was fruitful of violence and strife, but in other respects little better than a waste, was brought under culture; and the little stone pillars put up to form the line of partition, looked like the literal pale of civilization, within which the territory and its turbulent population had at length been brought. The treaty of Norham struck at one of the main sources of the warfare that had desolated the Border districts from more than two hundred and fifty years; and whilst its beneficial effects were felt by both England and Scotland at large, it was more especially a boon to Cumberland and Dumfriesshire, both of which had often reason to regret their indissoluble connection with the Debatable Land. 

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