|countryside of Jedburgh|
Jedburgh is steeped in history and contains a wealth of historical and architectural jewels. The history of Jedburgh dates back several centuries when around AD 830, Bishop Ecgred of Lindisfarne formed two settlements on the Jed Water, calling them both by the same name. The oldest form of this name is written Gedwearde - meaning "the enclosed settlement by the River Jed" and this dates from around 1050. By the mid 16th century, the name ‘Jedworth’ was being used. Situated just 10 miles from the border between Scotland and England, the town saw more than its fair share of turmoil. During the Wars of Independence in the 13th and 14th centuries, Jedburgh was captured by the English on numerous occasions, and the town and Abbey were burned three times in the 15th century by the English.
|Jedburgh Abbey - built in 12th and 13th centuries|
The abbey was built of Old Red sandstone, and belongs mostly to the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th centuries. The architecture is mixed, and the abbey is a beautiful example of the Norman and Transition styles. The total length is 235 ft., the nave being 1331 ft. long and 591 ft. wide. The west front contains a great Norman porch and a fine wheel window. The nave, on each side, has nine pointed arches in the basement storey, nine round arches in the triforium, and thirty-six pointed arches in the clerestory, through which an arcade is carried on both sides. The tower, at the intersection of the nave and transepts, is of unusually massive proportions, being 30 ft. square and fully loo ft. high; the network baluster round the top is modern. With the exception of the north piers and a small portion of the wall above, which are Norman, the tower dates from the end of the 15th century.
In his 1791-1799 Statistical Account of Scotland the Rev. Thomas Somerville wrote the following: "There are four clergymen in the town of Jedburgh; the minister of the Established Church, of the Relief congregation, of the Burgher, and the Antiburgher, seceders. Their respective examination rolls are as follows: Established Church 800; Relief congregation 1200; Burgher congregation 600; Antiburgher 150 ... Near a half of all the families in the parish of Jedburgh, and a great proportion of the families in all the surrounding parishes, are members of this [Relief] congregation."
Pigot and Co's Commercial Directory of Scotland published in 1837 lists the following non-conformist churches in Jedburgh: United Secession at High Street; United Secession at Castle Street; Relief Synod at High Street.
[However, the only secession church record books that remain are for the Associate Congregation later called Blackfriars United Presbyterian (baptisms for 1737-1839 and 1825-1858).]
|Jedburgh castle site today|
|Queen Mary's home at Jedburgh|
|Queen Mary's bedroom|
In the unsettled times before the union of the two crowns, Jedburgh was unable to embark upon any industry that required security for its success. During the period that lay between the accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne (1603), and the final union of the two countries under Queen Anne (1701), Jedburgh shared in a very lucrative contraband trade, which arose from the unequal duties levied on certain goods at the custom-houses of England and Scotland. When this was done away with, its prosperity was endangered until the introduction of the manufacture of woollen goods. The first spinning-mill was started in Jedburgh in 1728, but was not successful. Others were set up in 1738, 1745, 1786, 1806; and in 1883 there were four mills working, which employed about 300 persons. The chief articles made were woollen tweeds and blankets. Jedburgh also had an iron-foundry, engineer-works, breweries, tanneries, and two auction marts.
After the 1707 union of the two kingdoms, when the trade of Jedburgh was ruined, the parish population diminished: from 5816 in 1755 to 3288 in 1799. Even though the population steadily increased over the next 75 years, it did not again reach the 1755 level (3834 in 1801, 4454 in 1811, 5251 in 1821, 5647 in 1831, and 5263 in 1861). The twon of Jedburgh accounts for over half of the parish population (2000 circa 1780). [Our Taylor relatives emigrated in the early 19th century, circa 1807-1811. The loss of almost half (43%) of the Jedburgh population between 1755 and 1799 certainly must have made those who remained think of emigrating as well.]
Food and Customs. Jedburgh is noted for its orchards, and is famous for its pears, apples and plums; long ago these fruits were hawked by street vendors in the streets of London, where the 'Jethart pears' were a favourite delicacy, and a source of substantial income to the growers. Jedburgh is also the home of a local delicacy, known as 'Jethart Snails' -- these are brown mint-flavored sweets made from hard toffee. The recipe is believed to have been brought to the town by French prisoners of the Napoleonic War.
Bowling (lawn bowling) was a common amusement in the early and mid 1700s. Dr. Thomas Somerville of Jedburgh in his "My own life and times" said in 1741 "bowls were a common amusement. Every country town was provided with a public bowing green.... all classes were represented among the players, and it is usual for players of different ranks to take part in the same game."
On Shrove Tuesday each year, Jedburgh is the scene of a custom dating back to medieval times, when a game of handball is played through the streets. The ancient ball game known as 'Jethart Hand-ba' supposedly derives from the Jedburgh men playing with the heads of English soldiers. Today the game is played at Candlemas and Easter E'en by two opposing teams -- the 'Uppies' (the residents of the town born above the mercat cross), and the 'Doonies' (those born below it).
|Capon Tree at Jed Forest|
|20th century Callants Festival|
Education. Scotland was the first country anywhere in the world to have a law making education compulsory for anybody — in this instance the eldest sons of noblemen and "principal heritors" (a category which included the Lairds of Ferniehirst), enacted by the Scottish Parliament of 1496, and Jedburgh itself was one of the first communities of any size to make it compulsory for everybody — girls as well as boys — in 1628. The First Education Act further required the sons of lords and lairds to receive this education in a "grammar school" and not simply from private tutors, the objects of the exercise being, in part, to get them away from home and into a different environment where they might grow more civilised and where the King could keep some sort of eye on them. The idea thus emerged that the right place to get an education was in fact a school and that boys, if not girls, of all social classes should at least start together. whatever happened to them afterwards. It is difficult to believe that such a measure could have been enacted in a country wholly occupied with the struggle for survival as a country
The end of the fifteenth century saw the establishment of the first institution to bear the name Jedburgh Grammar School. It was a project of the abbey and the education provided by the monks (to boys only) was grammar, that is, Latin grammar, together with a basic grounding in Christian doctrine. Neither the abbey nor this first edition of JGS was to survive the next turbulent century. What the English began with their destruction of the abbey, the Scottish Reformation concluded (in the mid 16th century). The abbey buildings never again housed a religious or educational community, but they did not cease to be a place of prayer. The Reformed church, now organised on Presbyterian lines, chose the nave of the ruined abbey as the site for the Jedburgh parish church.
The new Protestant church carried on the educational tradition with its parish schools -- the level of iteracy was higher in Scotland than anywhere else in Europe. In towns such as Jedburgh, these parish schools co-existed with burgh or grammar schools under the control of the town's heritors (landowners in the parish). The heritors appointed a schoolmaster. The schools were not free; the cost was about a penny a day (a relatively large expense given the ordinary household income of £20-50 a year and the large number of school-aged children in a family). Fees were normally paid by the pupil's parents and the school master's earnings were derived directly from these. He could augment his income by offering board for students from out of town. Schooling was available up to age 12.
Wordsworth visited Jedburgh in the autumn of 1803, and, owing to the inns being full, took up his abode at 5 Abbey Close. The attention and willing service of his hostess are referred to in the well-known lines: 'I praise thee, matron! and thy due is praise, heroic praise, and true. With admiration I behold Thy gladness, unsubdued and boid; Thy looks, thy gestures, all present The picture of a life well spent'
Notes: 1791-99 Statistical Account, 17 page summary about Jedburgh.
|Ferniehirst Castle today -- built c.1598|
It is known that the Thomas Taylor family lived in the Jedburgh area for at least 27 years -- from Robert's birth in 1761 to Jane's marriage in 1787. However, they maybe have lived here as much as twice as long -- as early as 1746 to as late as the emigration in 1811. And it is likely that the Cranston family lived here long before that, as the Roxburghshire Cranstons were from the Crailing area, just four miles from Jedburgh, even though a separate parish.
|Roxburghshire map (click on map for larger image)|
I conjecture that the Taylor siblings and their families may have moved to Edinburgh or Jedburgh, if the latter, perhaps living with the Taylor parents, or perhaps taking over the abodes for Robert and Cranston. It is unknown if Ann Cranston and Thomas Taylor were still alive circa 1809; no tombstone inscriptions for them have been found, no death record (mortcloth rental -- these records are not available for 1650-1821 in Jedburgh OPRs, and no secession death records at all), and no will for Thomas has been located.