Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland
(now Borders County)


countryside of Jedburgh
"A royal borough [burgh] in the county of Roxburgh, delightfully situated on the banks of the river Jed, and surrounded on every side by hills of considerable height. It is a borough of very ancient erection, and appears to have been a place of note previous to the year 1165, from a charter from William the Lion King of Scotland, when he founded the abbey and monastery of Jedburgh, or as it was then sometimes called Jedworth. It continued a place of considerable importance, and, early in the last century, was one of the chief towns on the English border; but after the union of the two kingdoms, the trade of Jedburgh was in a great measure ruined, and the population and size of the town diminished in consequence ... The neighbourhood of the town is noted for its orchards, the annual average value of the pears alone being estimated at about 300L. The parish of Jedburgh is of great extent, being about 13 miles long, and in some places not less than 6 or 7 broad. The greater part of the parish is hilly, and laid out in sheep farms, which are dry, and covered with luxuriant pasture ... Population in 1801, 3834." -- from Gazetteer of Scotland published 1806, Edinburgh.

Jedburgh
The Royal Burgh Of Jedburgh, once a residence of Scottish kings, is a charming town located at the Southern end of Scotland. Jedburgh nestles in the valley of Jed Water, amongst glorious Scottish Border countryside. Typical of the Scottish Borders, Jedburgh is in the heart of lush green pastures, tree clad hills and valleys where the river Jed flows into the Teviot at Jedfoot. Jedburgh, known locally as "Jethart", is a warm and welcoming Border town that greets visitors from the South with majestic views of Jedburgh Abbey and the Parish Church.

Canongate Bridge
Canongate Bridge, now used only as a footbridge, was at one time the principal route into the town. It is interesting to note that, for defensive reasons, the approaches to the bridge are more or less at 90 degrees. Built in the 16th century, this is an attractive three-arched bridge, with chamfered ribs under each arch. Cutwaters, which relieve the pressure of the flowing water on the bridge, carry right up to parapet level, to form refuges where pedestrians could safely get out of the way of traffic (in those days horse traffic, including the stagecoach from Edinburgh to Newcastle).

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
Jedburgh Abbey on the banks of the Jed Water was founded in 1138 by King David I (1124-53), but there is evidence that a church was at the site since the 9th century. The Abbey, priory for the Augustinian canons who came from France, was damaged many times and rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Abbey was suppressed in 1559 as part of the religious Reformation in Scotland, meaning that the monks could no longer recruit new members to the order. The Abbey church was then used as the parish church until 1875 when a new church was built in the town and the Abbey then ceased to be a place of worship -- so our Taylor and Cranston ancestors assuredly worshipped at the Abbey! The Church is mostly in the Romanesque and early gothic styles and is remarkably complete.

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."
Also:
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
Jedburgh Castle was built in the 12th century, and changed between Scotland and England many times in the border battles. In 1174 Jedburgh Castle was one of the castles forfeited to the British to help raise the ransom demanded for the safe return of Scotland's William the Lion. In subsequent years the castle was much favoured as a royal residence -- Alexander III was married at Jedburgh Abbey and the wedding feast was held at the castle. The Scottish parliament had the castle destroyed in 1409, to put an end to the English claiming ownership. The county prison built in 1831 now occupies the old castle site.

Queen Mary's home at Jedburgh
Queen Mary's bedroom
Situated in the town centre is the Bastle House, formerly owned by the Kerr family. In 1566 Mary Queen of Scots came to Jedburgh to preside at the Circuit Court, and stayed at this house which now includes a museum dedicated to the story of the life of this tragic queen. In 1745, the Jacobite (Highlander) army led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") passed through the town on its way to England to claim the throne, and the Prince also spent the night at a house on the Castlegate -- his army subsequently lost at the famous battle at Culloden five months later.

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
The Capon Oak Tree is reputed to be over 1000 years old. This old hollow oak, one of the 50 most significant trees in the UK and one of the last survivors of the ancient Jed Forest (most oaks were felled during the Napoleonic Wars to build Britain's Royal Navy warships), has a trunk 21' feet in circumference. Nowadays the Capon Tree is held together with concrete, bricks and timber beams supporting its trunk and branches due to a massive split down the middle of the trunk. Despite its delicate nature it still continues to grow. The highlight of Jedburgh's cultural calendar is the July Callants Festival to commemorate past skirmishes and reaffirm border boundaries. The "Callant", or leader, heads a group on horseback round the locality over a period of two weeks, beginning with a ceremony at the Capon Tree. Bands of pipes and drums add local colour.

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'

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Notes: 1791-99 Statistical Account, 17 page summary about Jedburgh.

Ferniehirst Castle today -- built c.1598
In 1765 upon Jane Ann Taylor's birth (her birth record is Jean Ann), her father is specified to be a tailor at Carrsheugh (Kersheugh) -- which is less than one mile from Ferniehirst Castle, home of Lord Kerr. Ferniehirst -- "unrivalled 16th century Border architecture" -- was built by Sir Thomas Kerr in 1476 on the remains of an earlier foundation, sacked by the English in 1523, recaptured in 1549, damaged by the English in 1570, destroyed by James VI in 1593 (because the Kerrs allied with the Earl of Bothwell) and rebuilt about 1598. In the 1760s the house was the home of William 3rd Marquis Lord Lothian, but showing signs of delapidation. He had married his second wife, Jean Janet Kerr on 1 Oct 1760, and died in 1767; his wife died in 1787. Since then Ferniehirst had various uses, including as a youth hostel and a WWII army billet. In 1986 Fernfiehirst was purchased by Lord Lothian, restored, and is now open to the public in July. In the 1760s, Lairds, house servants, ploughmen and shepherds all felt themselves to be one family -- in the previous turbulent times those who came to live and work at Ferniehirst, and many of those who simply offered their loyalty and accepted the protection, took up the name of Kerr as a sign that they belonged. (Obviously, this makes genealogy more difficult, since the origin of last names becomes more suspect). It is not known if Thomas was a tailor to the Kerr family at Ferniehirst. His wife being a relative of the Cranstons of nearby Crailing and the naming of his first daughter Jean and his second Janet indicate that it is a possibility.

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)
Given the fact that comunications over a large distance were difficult in those days (no telephones, and the mail was slow), the orchestration of the emigration of 100 people simultaneously probably required that they move in closer proximity. (While not all of the 100 may have been friends/family, we know of 5 Hays, 11 Swans, 4 Taylors and 2+ Davidsons -- 22 immediate family members, and it is known there were others from Roxburghshire who settled in the Saluda area too.) While Robert and Cranston Taylor had previously emigrated (~1808-1810), the 1811 emigration involved three Taylor siblings -- Jane of Linton, Janet of Ancrum, and Thomas (residence unknown -- perhaps Jedburgh).
-- Jane lived in Linton for at least 1792-1804. The 1809 birth record for her daughter Ann has not been located.
-- Janet lived in Ancrum for at least 1794-1806. The ~1808-1811 birth records for her daughters have not been located.
-- Thomas Taylor's marriage and children birth records, for ~1795-1811, have not been located.
I think it is compelling that William and Jane left Linton by 1809 and John and Janet left Ancrum around the same date, and this date is probably when Robert and Cranston left Scotland for America. I hypothesize that the remaining Taylor siblings and their families all moved to the same locale in Scotland prior to emigration together, for planning purposes. Although travel between the towns was common at that time, it was not speedy (no automobiles before 1900s or trains before 1860s) -- it would probably have taken five hours by horseback to travel the 15 miles from Linton to either Ancrum or Jedburgh, or all day by foot, assuming one would have to circumnavigate plenty of lochs in between. And performing this travel with so many young children would have greatly compounded its difficulty.

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.