LILLIESLEAF, a parish, in the district of Melrose, county of Roxburgh; containing 771 inhabitants, of whom 355 are in the village, 6 miles (E. S. E.) from Selkirk. This parish, the name of which has in various records been written Lillesclive and Lillesclif, is seated on the river Ale, which, after forming its boundary for about four miles, falls into the Teviot. In common with other places similarly situated, it was thickly studded with fortresses, as a defence against the incursions of the enemy during the border warfare, in which it largely participated. Of these there were not less than fourteen, the most considerable being on the highest part of the eminence whereon the village is built; it was two stories high, and rendered strong by its position, having a gradual ascent from the Ale on the north, and a large pool and morass on the south. It was of rectangular form, and capable of maintaining 100 men within its walls. There were numerous smaller towers, called peels, in the village, in which the inhabitants commonly resided, their houses at that period being necessarily constructed for defence against incessant attacks: the remains of two of these towers are still to be seen. On the suppression of conventicles in the reign of Charles II., the moors in this parish were, from their secluded situation, selected for holding meetings; and some of the inhabitants were visited with imprisonment, exile, and death for attending them.
   The parish is nearly six miles in length and about two miles and a half in breadth, and comprises 7000 acres, of which 2800 are arable, 3500 meadow and pasture, 650 woodland and plantations, and fifty waste. The surface is intersected from east to west by several ridgy heights, and is agreeably varied with rich valleys and well-cultivated declivities, interspersed with flourishing plantations, and presenting altogether an aspect of cheerfulness and fertility. The soil in some parts is a loam, and in others a heavy clay resting on a substratum of whinstone; the land is productive, and mostly in a high state of cultivation. Considerable advances have been made; and much land formerly a morass, and the resort of sea-gulls, has been drained. The system of agriculture called the four-shift course is prevalent. The want of lime, which is to be procured only from a distance of nearly thirty miles, and at a very considerable expense, is deeply felt; but on some farms where it has been used, the increase of the crops, and the melioration of the lands, have been found commensurate with the cost. The plantations are larch and Scotch fir, with a portion of oak, ash, and elm; and being well managed, are generally thriving. A saw-mill, for the purpose of cutting and preparing the timber produced by thinning the plantations, has been erected some years on the Riddell estate; it is worked by water, and has been found of extensive use. The farm-buildings have been already much bettered, and are in a state of progressive improvement; the fences are well kept, and add greatly to the appearance of the parish. The principal fuel is coal, which, being brought from a distance, is of very high price; but peat of inferior quality, brushwood, and the thinnings of the plantations, are often used, though, from the scarcity of the peat, which is nearly exhausted, and the dearness of brushwood, coal is little more expensive. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5684. The principal mansion is Riddell, for many generations the property and residence of the Riddell family, but which, on the death of Sir John B. Riddell, Bart., in 1819, was purchased by Mark Sprot, Esq.
   The village is pleasantly situated and neatly built; a few of the inhabitants are employed in weaving stockings for the manufacturers of Hawick, but the population is chiefly agricultural. A subscription library has been formed within the last thirty years, which has a large collection of volumes; and a post-office has been established in the village of late: facility of communication with the neighbouring towns is maintained by roads kept in repair at the joint expense of the landholders and their tenants. The parish is in the presbytery of Selkirk and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, and in the patronage of the Duke of Roxburghe: the minister's stipend is £243. 8. 5., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £17 per annum. The church, built in 1771, is in good repair, and conveniently situated for the resort of the parishioners, but, from the lowness of the site, is subject to damp; in the eastern aisle is a stone with the date 1110, removed from the old church, which must have been of great antiquity. There is a place of worship for the United Associate Synod. The parochial school, for which a very commodious building has been erected by the heritors, affords a liberal education; the master has a salary of £30, with £17 fees, and a house and garden. There is also a private school, for which a schoolroom has been provided rent-free. The sum of £100 was bequeathed to the Kirk Session above a century since; the interest is regularly distributed among the poor. Two stone coffins, one containing an earthen pot filled with ashes and arms, and inscribed with the date 727, and the other containing the bones of a skeleton of gigantic stature, and bearing the date 936, were discovered in the ancient chapel on the Riddell estate, which has long ceased to exist. These are supposed to have been the remains of ancestors of the Riddell family, to one of whom, Walter Rydale, sheriff of Roxburgh, a charter was granted by David I., confirming to him the estate of Lilliesclive, and others which his father, Gervasius de Rydale, possessed at the time of his death.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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