Select Scott Miscellany

Here are some Scott stories and accounts over the years:

Uchtred, Son of a Scot

Uchtredus Filius Scoti - that is Uchtred, son of a Scot - was witness to an inquisition respecting possessions of the church of Glasgow in the reign of Alexander I, around 1120, and as well to the foundation charter of the abbey of Holyrood by David I in 1128, as also was Herbert Scot, and to that of the abbacy of Selkirk in 1130.  He was called Uchtredus filius Scoti to distinguish from others of the same Christian name, probably Saxons or Normans. 

His son Richard le Scot witnessed a charter granted by the bishop of St. Andrews to the abbey of Holyroodhouse about 1158.  From his line was said to have come the Scotts of Murdockstone in Peeblesshire (from whom came the Scotts of Buccleauch) and the Scotts of Balwearie in Fifeshire

Scott of Buccleuch

Scott of Satchells who published, in 1688 A True History of the Right Honorable Name of Scott gave the following romantic and imaginary account of the origin of the Scotts of Buccleuch. 

“Two brothers, natives of Galloway, had been banished from that country for a riot or insurrection and had come to Rankleburn in Ettrick Forest.  The keeper there received them joyfully on account of their skill in winding the horn and in the other mysteries of the chase.  Kenneth MacAlpin, then King of Scotland, came soon after to hunt in the royal forest and pursued a buck from Ettrickheugh to the glen now called Buccleuch, which is about two miles above the junction of Rankleburn with the river Ettrick.  Here the stag stood at bay.  

The King and his attendants who followed on horseback were thrown out by the steepness of the hill and the morass.  John, one of the brothers from Galloway, had followed the chase on foot and now, coming in, seized the buck by the horns.  Being a man of great strength and activity, he threw him on his back and ran with his burden about a mile up a steep hill to a place called Cracra Cross where Kenneth had halted.  He laid the buck at the sovereign’s feet.” 

This account, though widely believed, had no basis in fact.  The lands of Buccleuch did not become the property of the family of Scott until at least two centuries after the time of Kenneth III.  It was not until 1426 that the designation Lord of Buccleuch began to be used by the head of the Scott family.  The cradle of the Scotts was not in Ettrick Forest at all, but at Scotstown and Kirkurd in the county of Peeblesshire.

Old Wat O'Harden

One of the most famous border reivers was Walter Scott of Harden, commonly known as “Auld Wat.”  He was a renowned marauder and many of his exploits were commemorated in Border traditions and ballads.  His stronghold was the old castle of Harden just to the west of the town of Hawick.  He died in 1629.

In the dark recesses of the glen on the edge of which the castle stood, Auld Wat would keep his ill-gotten gains.   Legend has it that when the food supply was running low, Auld Wat would be served a clean pair of spurs under a covered dish by his wife, a beautiful woman known as “the flower of Yarrow.”  This was a hint that it was time to replenish the food supply with some fresh beef from Northumbria. 

nother story relates to the booty brought back on one marauding trip into Cumberland.  Upon their return laden with spoil which lay scattered in heaps around the hall, the lady of the house heard a wailing sound from one of the bundles.  Upon unwrapping it she found an infant who flung his arms around her neck and clung to her breast.  She subsequently took charge of the little captive and brought him up as her foster-child.  Although he spent his life at Harden, he had no taste for the wild and adventurous life and spent his life in the quiet scenes of pastoral pursuits.  He was said to have been the author of some of the most beautiful songs and ballads on the Borders.

Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford

In a letter of 1811 to his friend John Morrit, Scott wrote that he had 'bought a small farm, value about £150 yearly, with the intention of ‘bigging myself a bower’ after my own fashion.”  This farm was Clarty Hole Farm, situated in the Borders between Kelso and Melrose, which Scott would rename Abbotsford. 

Abbotsford originally comprised 110 acres but grew exponentially as Scott bought up neighboring property so that by 1825 the acreage was ten times its original size.  The building too had been radically transformed.  In fact he had demolished the existing cottage and erected a two-story manor house in its place. 

Many commentators have seen Abbotsford as an echo of the blending of ancient and modern that Scott attempts in his written works.  Externally, it resembles a Scottish fortified house of the 16th century, with turreted towers, high chimneys, and a castellated fringe.  The interior is filled with relics of both national and family history: heraldic devices, suits of armor, old weaponry, and paintings of Scott's forebears.  Abbotsford proved immeasurably influential on 19th century building styles, sparking the Victorian revival of Scots-Baronial architecture. 

Scott's 'plaything in stone' came at a great expense to himself.   After its completion in 1824, Scott had barely a year to enjoy his realized vision before financial disaster struck.  To finance Abbotsford, he had taken advances from his publisher and also raised a number of loans.  When the financial crash of 1826 happened, he found himself in debt to the tune of £120,000.  However, he had had the foresight to settle Abbotsford upon his newly-married son in 1825.  According to Scots law as it then stood, it was thus beyond the reach of Scott's creditors.

The Scott Family of Scot's Hall

William Scott, the founder of the Kentish family of Scots Hall, was the son of John Scott, seneschal of the manor of Brabourne in Kent. He was appointed Justice of the Common Pleas in 1336 and died in 1350.  Family tradition has it that Sir William was descended from a younger brother of John de Baliol, King of Scotland and of Alexander de Baliol, the Lord of Chilham in Kent.  But there is no documentation in support of that claim.  

A later William Scott, who died in 1434, is credited with the building of Scots Hall.  His eldest son John was Sheriff of Kent in 1460 and later Warden of the Cinque Ports and Marshal of Calais.  He died in 1489.

The Scotts of Scottsville, Indiana

Wesley Scott, a second generation “Hoosier,” was the village blacksmith and postmaster of Scottsville and in his later years began to organize his ancestral recollections.  He died in 1907.  But his daughters typed, edited and eventually published his memoirs.  They appeared as The Scott Family: A Pioneer Family of Kentucky and Indiana. 

According to Wesley Scott’s memoirs, Robert Green came to America in the 1770’s with his brother Archelaus and they settled in what was then Virginia territory and is now Kentucky.   They were in Woodford county in 1792 when George Washington signed the Act which made Kentucky the 15th state in the Union, separate from Virginia. 

By 1814 Robert and Archelaus had begun to explore what new lands might be available in the Northwest Territory, later Indiana.  They and their families were recorded in Washington county, Indiana by the time of the 1820 census.  Wesley’s father John Scott was part of this migration from Kentucky to Indiana.  He described the ordeals. 

“Coming to Indiana while it was still a territory, coming as far as the Ohio river, no navigation or boats, having to cross the river in his own canoe.   Bringing his wife and children the first load then returning to obtain the household goods or belongings. 

In marching up the bank he found nothing but laurel growing.  The first residents he saw was a cabin owned by a man named Whittaker.  There he left his family for a few days.  Taking his gun he traveled through the forest ten or twelve miles north.  There he built himself a cabin.  His little cabin was surrounded by deer, wolf, bears, and panthers.“ 

These Scotts were to settle in what became the Scottsville settlement of Lafayette township in Floyd county.

Thomas Scott in Canada

According to Lord Dufferin, when he was Governor General of Canada, Thomas Scott “came of very decent people.  His parents are at this moment tenant farmers on my estate in the neighborhood of Clandeboye in county Down.  But he himself seems to have been a violent and boisterous man such as are often found in the North of Ireland.” 

Scott turned up in Canada West around the year 1863.   He was a Presbyterian and an active and zealous Orangeman.  In the summer of 1869 he arrived at the Red River settlement and found employment as a laborer on the Dawson Road project.  That August he led a strike against John Snow, the contractor, who wisely capitulated after Scott had threatened to throw him into the Seine river. 

Scott later got embroiled in the political dispute over the future of the Red River settlement, joining up with the opposition party to Riel and his Metis supporters.  In the fighting that followed Scott was captured and put in prison.  On March 3, 1870 a court martial convicted him on the charge of insubordination and the death penalty was invoked.  The following day he was shot by a Métis firing squad.  

Thomas Scott, an obscure if volatile figure during his life, became a cause célèbre after his death.   He was seen as a martyr to his cause, a sentiment implicit in the letter of his brother, Hugh Scott, to the Canadian Prime Minister: “My brother was a very quiet and inoffensive young man, but yet when principle and loyalty to his Queen and Country was at stake he was throughout a brave and loyal man."

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