- HAWICK, a burgh of barony and a parish, in the district of Hawick, county of Roxburgh, 10 miles (W. S. W.) from Jedburgh, and 50 (S. S. E.) from Edinburgh; containing 8000 inhabitants, of whom 7000 are in the burgh. This place, of which the name simply denotes "a village or town in the bend of a river," is of remote antiquity, and is generally supposed to have been originally of Saxon foundation; but very little of its history is known prior to the commencement of the fourteenth century. The first authentic notice of the burgh occurs in a charter granted by Robert. Bruce; and the barony, together with that of Sprouston, appears to have been conferred by David II. on Thomas de Murray, from whom it descended, during that king's reign, to Maurice, Earl of Strathearn. In the early part of the fifteenth century, it became the property of Sir William Douglas, who, for his gallant services in the wars of the border, obtained from James I. a charter confirming to him the lands, of Hawick, and bestowing also those of Selkirk and Drumlanrig. The barony remained for many generations in the possession of his descendants, of whom Sir William Douglas was, in 1639, created Earl of Queensberry, Viscount Drumlanrig, and Lord Hawick. It subsequently became the property of the Scott family, who continued to exercise lordly authority over their feudatories till the year 1747, when, on the final abolition of heritable jurisdictions, the Duke of Buccleuch received from parliament the sum of £400, as a compensation. During the border warfare, the town suffered repeated devastation; in 1418, it was burnt by the forces under Sir Robert Umfraville, governor of Berwick, and in 1544 was laid waste by the troops of Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Brian Latoun. In 1570, to prevent its occupation by the English under the Earl of Surrey, the inhabitants themselves set fire to the town, which, with the exception of the ancient castle, called the Black Tower, was wholly destroyed, In rebuilding the town after these calamities, the dangers to which it was exposed led to the adoption of a peculiar style of architecture; the houses were built of rough whinstone, with walls of massive thickness, and without any entrance except from a court-yard in the rear. Of these buildings, each of which was well calculated for defence, there are still some few specimens remaining. From its situation near the confluence of two rivers, the town is exposed to inundations; and in 1767, after a heavy fall of rain, the Slitrig, in the course of two hours, rose to a height of twenty feet above its ordinary level, and carried away the garden wall of the manse, the parish school-room, a corn-mill, and the whole of the houses in one of the streets.The present Town is pleasantly seated on the south-east bank of the Teviot, and is divided into two parts by the river Slitrig, which flows through it into the former stream. It consists of one principal street, and of several smaller streets and lanes diverging from it on both sides; some new streets have been formed, and a handsome range of buildings called Slitrig-crescent, and another named Teviot-crescent. The streets are well paved, and lighted with gas; and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water, conveyed by pipes. Connecting the opposite sides of the town are two bridges over the Slitrig, one of which is of antique character; and towards the eastern extremity, an elegant bridge has been erected across the Teviot. The approach to the town, both from the east and west, derives great beauty from the nursery grounds and gardens in those directions; the surrounding scenery, also, is very pleasing. The public subscription library, established in 1762, is supported by a proprietary of shareholders, and has a collection of 3500 volumes; the trades' library, opened in 1802, has 1200 volumes; and there are several smaller libraries. The town also contains three public reading and news rooms, as well as subscription assembly-rooms, which are used occasionally for public meetings. A school of arts, founded in 1824, under the patronage of James Douglas, Esq., was formerly supported by subscription, for the delivery of courses of lectures on literary and scientific subjects.The staple Trade is the woollen manufacture, which of late has been rapidly increasing, and is now carried on to a very considerable extent. The weaving of coarse woollen stockings was first introduced in 1771, by Mr. John Hardie, and, on his retiring from the concern in 1780, was continued on a much larger scale by Mr. John Nixon. Still, comparatively little was done previously to the adoption of machinery for the spinning of yarn, which took place about the commencement of the present century. Since that period the woollen manufacture has greatly increased in variety and extent; and there are now eleven factories belonging to the manufacturers of this place, some of them, however, situated within the limits of the adjoining parish of Wilton. In all of these, machinery on the most approved principles is employed; four are partly driven by steam, and the others by water only. The articles are, underclothing, flannels, plaidings, shawls, tartans, druggets and woollen cloths of every description, lambs'wool hosiery of the finest texture, and Scottish and English blankets. The production of these affords occupation, including women, to nearly 3000 persons. There are also many persons employed in the making of thongs, gloves, candles, and some other articles, and in the tanning of leather and dressing of sheep-skins; the manufacture of machinery of all kinds is considerable; and there are numerous masons, carpenters, smiths, millwrights, and others occupied in handicraft trades. The post-office has a good delivery; and previously to the alteration in the rates of postage the revenue amounted to £1000. There are three branch banks, and a savings' bank, in which latter the deposits are nearly £7000. The market is on Thursday, and is amply supplied with grain and with all kinds of provisions. Fairs are held on the 17th of May, for cattle and hiring servants; on the 20th and 21st of September, for sheep; on the third Tuesday in October, for cattle and horses; and the 8th of November, for cattle and hiring servants. Facility of communication is afforded by turnpike and statute roads, which have been greatly improved, and by bridges over the rivers, kept in excellent repair.The more ancient records of the Burgh were lost in the destruction of the town during the border wars; and the oldest charter now extant is that granted by James Douglas, baron of Hawick, and dated in 1537. Under this charter, ratified and extended in 1545, by Mary, Queen of Scots, the inhabitants exercise all the privileges of a royal burgh, with the exception of sending a member to parliament. The government is vested in two bailies, elected annually, a treasurer, and a council of thirty-one members, of whom fifteen are appointed as vacancies occur, and hold their seats for life, and fourteen are chosen every year by the seven incorporated trades, each of which returns two. The fees for admission as a burgess are, for strangers £4, for the sons-in-law of burgesses £2, and for sons £1. The incorporated trades are, the weavers, tailors, hammermen, skinners, shoemakers, butchers, and bakers, the highest fee for admission into which is ten shillings. The magistrates hold courts when requisite, both for civil and criminal cases within the burgh, in which they are assisted by the town-clerk, who acts as assessor; in civil pleas their jurisdiction extends to sums of any amount, but in criminal cases is confined to petty misdemeanours. Annually, on the last Friday in May, O. S., a procession of the magistrates on horseback occurs, which is called the riding of the marches; and on this occasion, a standard taken in 1514, the year subsequent to that in which the battle of Flodden Field was fought, is carried before them. There is a townhall, in which the courts are held; and a gaol has been very recently erected for the use of the town and district.The parish, which is situated in the western portion of the county, is about fifteen and a half miles in length, and rather more than a mile and a half in average breadth, comprising an area of 15,360 acres, of which 4100 are arable, 160 woodland and plantations, and 11,100 meadow and pasture. The surface is beautifully diversified. A sinuous valley, watered by the river Teviot, intersects the parish nearly through the whole length, and is bounded on either side by ranges of hills, clothed with verdure to their summits, and several of which have a considerable elevation. The vale of the Slitrig, intersecting the parish towards the east, forms also a rich pastoral district, though of more wild and secluded aspect. The scenery is greatly enlivened by the windings of the two rivers, which unite at the town; and the hills command a varied prospect over the adjacent country. The soil along the banks of the streams is generally gravelly, and on the other arable lands a light loam. The system of agriculture has greatly improved within the last few years; and a considerable quantity of waste has been drained, and rendered profitable, under the auspices of an agricultural society for the west of Teviotdale, formed in 1835, under the patronage of the Duke of Buccleuch. The usual crops are, grain of every kind, with potatoes and turnips. The farm-buildings are commodiously arranged; all the various improvements in agricultural implements have been adopted; and great attention is paid to the breeds of cattle and sheep, of which great numbers are reared in the pastoral districts. The plantations are well managed, and in a thriving state. The rocks are composed chiefly of greywacke; and there are some quarries of stone, of good quality for the roads. The rateable annual value of the parish is £12,923.The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Jedburgh and synod of Merse and Teviotdale. The minister's stipend is £278, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £56 per annum; patron, the Duke of Buccleuch. The old parish church, erected in 1764, on rising ground in the centre of the town, is a very plain structure containing 704 sittings, a number totally inadequate to the population. An elegant new church has been erected by the Duke. The members of the Free Church have also a place of worship; and there are places of worship for the United Associate Synod, Relief, Independent body, Roman Catholics, and Society of Friends. The parochial school is under the management of a rector and his assistant, who divide between them a salary of £33, paid by the heritors, £19, the proceeds of a bequest by the Rev. Alexander Orrock in 1711, and the fees, averaging £106, of all which the rector has three-fifths, with an allowance of £17 in lieu of a dwelling-house, and the assistant two-fifths. The school is attended by about 220 children, who are instructed in the Latin, Greek, and French languages, and the mathematics, &c. There is also a school in the hamlet of Newmill, endowed by the heritors with a salary of £12 to the master, in addition to his fees, which average £18 per annum. At the upper extremity of the town are the remains of a moat, supposed to have been a place for administering justice; and in various parts of the parish are vestiges of border fortresses, of which the most remarkable is that called the Black Tower, the baronial seat of the lords of Drumlanrig, subsequently the residence of Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch, and now forming part of the Tower inn. Another is attached to the castle of Branxholme, the ancient residence of the Buccleuch family, and celebrated by Sir Walter Scott in his Lay of the Last Minstrel. This castle was burnt by the Earl of Northumberland, in 1532, and blown up with gunpowder during the invasion of the Earl of Surrey, in 1570; but was partly rebuilt, according to an inscription on the walls, by "Sir W. Scott, of Branxheim, Knyte," in 1574, and completed by "Dame Margaret Douglas, his spous," in 1576. On the brow of a hill at Goldielands, about two miles distant, is a third border fortress, which retains much of its original character, and is said to have been the residence of the Goldie family. An ancient vessel of bronze, with a handle and spout, and standing on three feet, supposed to have been used by the Romans for sacrifice, was dug up a few years since, at Reasknow, and is now in the possession of James Grieve, Esq., of Branxholme Braes, who has also a coin of Alexander III., discovered in the moss at Hislop, and in a very perfect state. On the removal of a cairn near the town, about 1809, several large stones placed edgewise, and inclosing a human skull and bones of large size, were found; and some sepulchral urns of rude workmanship have been discovered at various times.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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