Reiver Families of Liddesdale and Canonbie in 1630

I’ve often seen it suggested that what with the wholesale hanging of reivers in the years following 1605 and the considerable exodus of reiver names to the Ulster Plantation after 1609, that areas like Liddesdale and the Debateable Lands of Canonbie were radically changed in the years that followed. And indeed most of the killing, plundering, blackmail and moonlight riding did stop. But what if we were able to see what families were living there in place of the reivers some twenty years later ?

By 1621, the Earl of Buccleuch had acquired pretty much all of Canonbie and much of Liddesdale. And thanks to the historical rental records of the Buccleuch estates we can see exactly who was tenanting all their farms in Liddesdale and Canonbie as early as 1630. I have transcribed the information as best as I can and the results may surprise you. The rental lists are shown in the two links below.

Liddesdale farm rentals in 1630

Canonbie farm rentals in 1630

In Liddesdale you can see that it’s pretty much all Armstrongs and  Ellotts with some Crosers , Nixons and Hendersons

In Canonbie it’s Armstrongs, Irvings and Bells with a few Grahams, Beatties and Littles for good measure. So pretty much the same mix of names that would have been found 30 years earlier.

What’s also noticeable is a smattering of the most infamous reiver families live on – there’s no less than 3 sons of Kinmont Willie and also Lancie Armstrong of Whithaugh. There’s a Clement and a Quentin Croser – definite echoes of their distinctively named reiver forebears.

For some families at least tenanting under  Buccleuch estate management  brought stability and longevity. My own family were Buccleuch tenants in Canonbie for at least 250 years.











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Reiver Families of Liddesdale and Canonbie in 1630 — 4 Comments

  1. being an Elliott I’ve read many books regarding the Border. The one thing that caught my eye was the double T in Elliott. We members of Clan Elliot have always been under the assumption that the double T started with the Elliott’s of Ulster but I see that is was used in Scotlands Border as well. hummmm

  2. All the written references to the name in the Buccleuch rentals are spelled ‘Ellott’ until about 1660 when the standard spelling seems to start morphing into ‘Elliot’ which is standard by the 18th century.

  3. Do we have any info on when the Croser’s became Crozier? To my knowledge, only the latter spelling is present in Ulster to this day. My sources tell me that some 28 Crozier clan groups departed the lowlands for Banbridge, Co. Down following 1603, but the trail goes cold until the 18th century. Any further info would be appreciated.

  4. I’ve had a look at spellings in the early Old Parish Registers of Scotland . Both Croser and Crozer are in use in the 1600s. The earliest Crosier / Crozier appears in 1716 but Croser and Crozer are still in use. It seems to have been a gradual change over in Scotland at least. I’ve taken a look at all the births in Scotland recorded between 1855 and 1900. There were just 14 Croser ; 22 Crosier ; 53 Crozer ; and 552 Crozier.

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