Borders Estate Rentals

For almost 400 years , a large part of the rural Scottish Borders covering much of Roxburghshire,Selkirkshire and eastern Dumfriesshire has been owned by just 3 landowners. As a legacy from the reiving times ,  the ancestors of the Duke of Roxburghe, the Marquis of Lothian and the Duke of Buccleuch acquired vast swathes of the Border country. Much of this land remains with these major landowners.  Consequently,  historical records from these estates can be a very useful source of  family history information for genealogists. In particular, rental lists for the estates give names of tenants and often sub-tenants and cottars too. By comparing successive rental lists it is often possible to work out family relationships, and sometimes (if you’re lucky) the rental is quite specific about family relationships.

Records for two of the three estates have been deposited in the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and are consequently publicly available . Lothian Estates covers much of the area around Jedburgh and Ancrum. Buccleuch Estates is the largest landowner in Britain and covers much of Selkirkshire, about half of Roxburghshire and eastern Dumfriesshire.  Rental records for both of these estates are available in the NRS. Unfortunately, Roxburghe records, covering much of eastern Roxburghshire around Kelso, remain with the estate and are not available for general public access.

I have included lists of all the farms and farmtouns as recorded in the rental for 1814-1815 (for Buccleuch) and 1734-1735 (for Lothian) which may be of some interest to you if you had any ancestors in these locations. In the archives, rentals for many different years are available roughly covering the period from the mid-17th to the mid-20th century.  It is particularly useful for the pre-1841 era when no census information was available.

With a Reader’s Ticket, you can access the records at the NRS in Register House in Edinburgh or I will be happy to take commissions to investigate on your behalf.

List of Buccleuch Estate Farms

List of Lothian Estates Farms

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