Eskdale: Not just Beatties and Littles

Samye Ling Tibetan Monastery, Eskdalemuir

Eskdale in Dumfriesshire is to some, a rather out of the way, insignificant place. However, it’s contribution to humanity has certainly been impressive ; the birthplace of Scots language poet and co-founder of the Scottish National Party Hugh MacDiarmid; the birthplace of arguably Britain’s greatest ever civil engineer Thomas Telford; and the amazing Buddhist centre of Samye Ling which has been attracting a huge range of visitors including major celebrities since its inception in the 1960s.

For those of us interested in family history, it is home to the Beattie and Little families with others like Telfer, Glendinning, Armstrong, Laidlaw and Scott prominent as well. One of the other influences across most of Eskdale are the Buccleuch Estates. The Dukes of Buccleuch have owned a large portion of farms across the four parishes of Langholm, Westerkirk, Eskdalemuir and Ewes for over 400 years. And whatever you think of that form of ownership, we genealogists are grateful for the historical record keeping associated with it. Rentals give us details of farm tenants in particular years and in some cases we get additional information about relatives – mothers, brothers, uncles etc. Buccleuch Estates preferred to support single family succession in many of their farms which means that we often find the same family surname in a farm over a lengthy period. I’ve been able to transcribe a number of rentals for Eskdale farms covering the years of 1714, 1766 and 1814 which in many cases allow us to see family succession over an extended period. If your ancestor was a Buccleuch farm tenant then there’s an excellent chance that you can learn something new about the family from some of these rentals, recorded at a time before decennial censuses were started.

As the title of this piece suggests, there were a considerable number of farm tenants in Eskdale named Beattie or Little. However there are at least 30 other surnames included in the rental documents. These documents are available HERE at a small cost and join a growing collection of transcribed rental documents covering Dumfriesshire and Roxburghshire parishes available from Relatively Scottish. I hope they may prove to be useful for you.

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