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St. Boswells Scotland

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Information on the village of St. Boswells in Scotland.

St Boisils Village

The village of St Boisil's was occupied for many years after his departure, but by the 17th century it was only a collection of ruined houses. The chapel ruins had gone - the stones used in the building of a new church - but the Queer was used as a burial vault. Many queers were so used, mainly by the chief heritor of the parish. The old mill, which had belonged to the monks of Dryburgh, was still working at the end of the 17th century. It stood near the entrance of the Kelly Burn into Tweed, and was driven by the "old miln lead" which was diverted from the Tweed below Benrig, ran along under the high bank below the church, crossed the St Boisil's Burn to run on and turn the mill before it emptied into Kelly Burn. The mill is shown on a map of 1789 as "the old mill" which might mean that it was no longer in use. The name "St Boisil's" appears frequently in the surroundings of the village - St Boisil's Burn, St Boisil's lands, St Boisil's Bank, St Boisil's Mill.

Before the people of St Boisil's deserted their village they may have come under the influence of the Knights Templar who are reputed to have had a hospice on the lands known as Temple farm. No trace has been found of such a building nor are there any records. The story seems to have been handed down from generation to generation.

By 1790, nothing remained of St Boisil's village though hewn stones and hearth stones have been uncovered by the plough and by draining operations.

Where had the people gone who once lived in the old village? Presumably they went to the village on the higher ground - Lessudden. The existence of Lessudden was known in the 12th century, and was possibly built a good time earlier than that. The name is derived from Leys-edwin, meaning the manor or place of Edwin. The Chartularies of Melrose and Dryburgh Abbeys of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries give the name as Lessedwin, Lessadwin and Lessedewyn! Who Edwin was remains a mystery - could he have been the Edwin who ousted Oswald of Northumbria, or a minor princeling who had his fortlet on the heights? In the first Statistical Account the derivation is given as Lis-Aidan, the place of Aidan.

The church of Lessudden - St Mary of Lessudden was there in the reign of David I. All the village and land belonged to the monks of Melrose, the new Abbey which had incorporated Old Mailros in 1136. In 1161, Lessudden was confirmed to the monks of Dryburgh and in 1170 Robert de Londonia granted to the monks of Dryburgh "the church of Lassidewyn with its pertinents".

The monks in Dryburgh also owned "the church of Newtown" (Longnewton?) which they gave up to the Abbey of Jedburgh and agreed to pay "2 merks per annum for Lessedwyn". The church was dedicated to St Mary, and the earliest grant was bestowed on condition that an altar be founded in the southern part of the church "in honour of St Mary the Virgin, and sing one weekly mass there for the souls of King David, of Margaret, the donor's wife, and all of the dear departed". All traces of the church have gone but it may have stood north of Lessudden House near the ford road.

Up till the 12th century, the barony and lands of Lessudden (with the exception of ten scattered acres at Ylifston (Elliston) which were given to Dryburgh by John, son of Ylif, of Ylifston) were in the care of the monks of Melrose. The barony consisted of the lands of Lessudden, Maxpoffle, Wodefordehuse, Heuiside, Cambieston, Newton and the Temple lands of St John.

In 1252, an agreement was reached between the Abbeys of Melrose and Dryburgh regarding the tiends of the above lands. Again, in 1444, according to the Chartulary of Melrose, the two Abbeys were once more disputing "the great Tiends of the parish of Lessudden".

In 1606, in July, the Titularity of the tiends, as well as the Patronage of the church came into the possession of the Lordship of Cardross along with the Fair of Lessudden, when the Earl of Mar left the estates of Dryburgh to his grandson, Lord Cardross, David Erskine. The Titularity eventually came to Scott of Raeburn, and the Patronage of the Church and Fair of Lessudden passed to "the noble family of Buccleuch".

I have already mentioned the gift of Robert of Londonia of the church and its pertinents to Dryburgh. This was no small gift for the pertinents gave many rights to the owner - the right to all minerals, trees, houses and mills (except forts); to the fishing except for salmon, to create thirlage, to all pendicles (parcels of land separated from the main estate). No wonder the monks were jealous of their holdings.


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