Makerstoun, Roxburghshire, Scotland
(parish dissolved 1975; county is now Borders)


River Tweed
Makerstoun was a rural parish on the North border of Roxburghshire, whose church stands 5 miles SW of Kelso. The name is supposed to have been derived from the original proprietor, Machar, or Machir. The parish is in the presbytery of Kelso and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, and in the patronage of the Duke of Roxburghe. Its utmost length, from ENE to WSW, is 3 miles; its utmost breadth is 2 miles; and its area is 2913 acres, of which 48 are water, and 80 are under wood. The Tweed flows along the southern boundary, dividing it from Roxburgh. The soil is, generally speaking, rich and well-cultivated -- in the southern part it is a dry loam, exceedingly fertile; but it is less productive towards the north, being chiefly a thin clay. In the 1840s, the crops were wheat, barley, oats, peas, turnips, and potatoes, of which two last there were on the average 400 acres; the plantations include the different kinds of timber usually grown in this part of the country, and there are some good meadows and rich pastures. The prevailing rock is Old Red sandstone; the chief natural feature in the parish are the Trow Crags. These are a series of projecting rocks, rising from the bed of the Tweed' like the sides of a man's hands.' At one time, they were so close together, that, when the river was low, it was possible to pass by means of them from one bank to the other. An accident, however, occurred, and in consequence, the middle rock was blown up to prevent the recurrence of a like mishap. When the river comes down in flood, its waters break over the rocks with very fine effect.

In the 1840s, nearly all the land was the property of Sir Thomas and Lady Makdougal Brisbane; the remainder belongs to the Duke of Roxburghe.
Makerstoun House
The MakDougall residence, today known as "Makerstoun House," is a square three-storied building, situated on the N bank high on a hill overlooking the river Tweed, and standing in grounds that are extensive and well-wooded. The park contains about 100 acres. An observatory, erected by General Sir Thomas Brisbane (1773-1860) in the park at Makerstoun and demolished after his death, was the first magnetic astronomical observatory and clarified problems of terrestrial magnetism identified by Humboldt. He was the husband of the eldest daughter of Sir Henry Hay Makdougall (son of George Hay); the estate came to him through his wife. The estate of Makerstoun passed next to the Scotts of Gala. The history of Makerstoun House began nearly 900 years earlier when Corbett built a peel tower to defend local inhabitants from the invading English. The house expanded until in 1545 when it was burnt to the ground by the English (Earl of Hertford). In 1714 the house was rebuilt to designs by William Adam, father of Robert Adam, and was enlarged again in 1812 by Archibald Elliot, who turned the house into a Victorian mansion. Sadly Makerstoun was burnt down again in 1970, however the current family rebuilt Makerstoun to the original plans of William Adam, with work complete in 1973. Today, the Makerstoun Estate is a modern sporting estate with some of the best salmon casting in Scotland.

Duke of Roxburgh's Floors Castle
Floors Castle has been home to the family of the Duke of Roxburgh since it was built for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe in 1721. It is the largest inhabited house in Scotland, and is clearly visible from Kelso Bridge, looking upstream. The site for the building of Floors Castle is a natural terrace overlooking the River Tweed and facing the Cheviot Hills, and was once the strongest fortress along the former march with England. In 1721, William Adam was commissioned by the 1st Duke to make additions to the eastern end of an existing tower-house to create a plain, but symmetrical, Georgian country house. The 6th Duke invited the leading architect in Edinburgh, William Playfair, to remodel the castle between 1837 and 1847. He drew his inspiration for Floors from the highly ornamented picturesque style of Heriot's Hospital in Edinburgh. The result is a romantic fairytale castle with its roofscape of turrets, pinnacles and cupolas. The very splendid entrance gates were erected in 1929 as a silver wedding gift from the 8th Duchess to her husband. On view, within the Castle, are many fine pieces of French furniture from the 17th and 18th centuries, along with oriental and european porcelain. Within the grounds are fine walks, a walled garden, picnic areas and a garden centre and restaurant. Floors Castle was the setting for the 1984 film 'Tarzan of Greystoke'. Today Floors Castle is open to the public from Easter to October, seven days a week.

Population. The parish's population has decreased from its high in the mid 1800s (380 people) to the current day low of under 100. The poluation figures over time are: 165 in 1755; 248 in 1801; 352 in 1811; 345 in 1821; 326 in 1831; 380 in 1861; 361 in 1881.

1808 Makerstoun Kirk
Church. The hamlet is made up of the Kirk (church), the Manse (Kirklee - the parsonage or rectory), several farm houses (more like small manor houses) and several groups of workman's cottages and the old schoolhouse - now a Girl-Guide (Girlscouts) center. The monks of Kelso Abbey held 'the church of Makeriston with the tithes thereof' in the middle of the 12th century. A private chapel was granted the right to celebrate Divine Service by Hugo, abbot of Kelso, in 1241. It is not possible to be sure if this private chapel was in the first Makerstoun House, or actually within the parish church. The remains of the parish church and graveyard lie close to Makerstoun House today. In 1644 the Presbytery complained of the 'want of a school, the want of a bell and the want of glas windowis'. Nothing seems to have been done to rectify these problems as the minutes of 1668 record that 'the kirk and queir are seats commodiusly within'. By 1800 the old present church replaced it in 1808, being 'in a more centrical place' for the church members. Kirklee is the old manse, or rectory. It's been a private residence since at least the 1960s.

The interesting ruin of what was first a Roman Catholic chapel and then a Protestant church was used by the Makdougall family as a place of interment at least as late as 1881, and stands a little way from the house, entirely shut in by trees. In the graveyard is a sundial to Sr Thomas Macdougall Brisbane's (1773-1860) memory. The parish church is a plain building, erected in 1807 nearly in the centre of the parish, and can accommodate 150 people. The setting of the church and churchyard is beautiful and peaceful. The bell tower on the south wall has 1808 inscribed on it. The church is light, with plain windows and original pine pews, pulpit and precentors desk, with a Gallery and Sunday School upstairs. In 1846, the minister's stipend was £219. 14. 7., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £25 per annum.
Communion token
In the late 19th century, Communion Cards were used to ensure that only eligible members of the parish took communion. The precursor to this custom was the Communion Token, usually made of lead, but were also sometimes made of other alloys like brass or even leather. On the example of one from Makerstoun to the right, the front of the token bears the name Makerstoun and the back has the initials MSB (Minister Samuel Brown, minister from 1715 to 1725) and the date 1723.

A Free church, with 250 sittings, was built by the late Miss Elizabeth Makdougall, who also left £1500 towards its endowment, and built, at her own expense, an excellent manse. The Free Church was lised in the 1855 Rutherfurd's Southern Counties Register and Directory of non-conformist churches. According to Rev. William Ewing's Annals of the Free Church of Scotland (published 1914 in Edinburgh) "at the Disruption [1843] a group of Free Church adherents formed a congregation here." The 1848 membership of this congregation was 78; in 1900 it was 95.

School. The public school, with accommodation for 103 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 76, and a grant of £48, 11s. Valuation (1864) £5001, 1s., (1884) £6809, 9s. —Ord. Sur., sh. 25, 1865. In 1846 The parochial school is well attended, and affords a liberal education; the master has a salary of £34, with £28 fees, and a house and garden.

Taxation. In the 1690s a tax was levied by Parliament on every hearth in Scotland. Both landowners and tenants had to pay this tax and are therefore recorded in the records which were kept at the time. A transcript of the hearth tax records for Makerstoun parish (NAS reference E69/21/1) is included with the list of monumental inscriptions published by the Borders Family History Society. -- get MIs and hearth tax from Makerstown

1791-99 Statistical Account. (p.1, p.2, p.3) by the Rev. Mr. James Richardson.
           News, Situation &c. The etymology and derivation may be, the Town of MacKer or Ker's Son. It lies in the county of Roxburgh, in the presbytery of Kelso, and synod of Merse and Teviotdale. Its form is a long square, stretching five or six miles along the north bank of the Tweed, from east to west. Its breadth, from north to south, is between four and five miles. The country is flat, with a gentle ascent from the Tweed. The air is dry, and the soil fertile. There is no lake or river, except the Tweed, which produces fine salmon and trout. The former are sold from 3d. to 1s. per pound, according to the season; but by far the greatest proportion is carried to Berwick, pickled, and sent to the London market. The Tweed is not navigable here. The pastures are for the most part rich, and so very fine, that they feed the mest mutton, though not the largest in this country; with very good oxen, cows, and horses, that fetch high prices. A good many swine are also fed.
          Population. The population of this parish must be greatly decreased, which is the case in all the neighbouring country parishes. About 50 years ago, there were 16 small farmers in the village of Makerston, where now there is not one. It contains only 12 old cottages. There were formerly about 24 farmers in this parish, with their families and servants, where we can now reckon only nine. I presume, that the number of inhabitants must then have exceeded 1000, where I can hardly find above one fourth of that number, viz. 250 or 255. Of these, there is nearly an equal number of males and females, about 60 under 10 years of age, and 10 or 12 between 10 and 20. All the rest are between 20 and 70 years. The total number of births, for these six last years, is 76. The marriages are only 18 in that space. In Dr. Webster's report the number of souls is stated at 165.
           Church. The value of the living, including the glebe, may be, as victual now sells, about L.100; one half is paid in money.
           Miscellaneous Observations. There is no map of the parish, but it is supposed to contain about 3300 acres, which yield in rent about L.1700 or L.1800. Of these, perhaps 600 or 700 may be in pasture, on which above 1000 sheep are fed; and 160 or 180 black cattle are fed for the butcher, and for family use. There are 60 horses for plough, cart, and saddle; besides one chaise and two waggons. The farms are laboured by 18 ploughs, and as many carts carry the corn to market, and bring home the coals; which are the only fuel used, except some cuttings of wood, and a few whins. There is no moss, and there are not five acres in the whole parish, of moor land. Wheat, barley, oats, pease, turnips, and potatoes, are the produce of the land. All the coals and lime, used here, are brought from Northumberland, about 20 miles; or from Mid-Lothian, at a still greater distance. A cart load of 1200 or 1400 weight costs 10s. and often more. A turnpike road, which is in tolerable good repair, runs through the parish. The statute labour is not exacted in kind, but is commuted at a fixed rate.

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William Hay lived in Makerstoun and Jane Ann Taylor lived in Jedburgh prior to their marriage in 1787, and then as a couple they continued to live there 1-4 years after marriage (Annie was born in Makerstoun in 1788; Bella was born in Linton in 1792).