Greenlaw, pp.705-706.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

   GREENLAW, a parish in the Merse, Berwickshire. It is of an oblong form, extending from north-west to south-east; and measures, in extreme length, 8 miles, in extreme breadth, 4 miles, – and in superficial area, 25 square miles. It is bounded on the north by Longformacus; on the north-east by Polwarth and Fogo; on the south-east by Eccles; on the south-west by Hume and Gordon; and on the west by Westruther. The southern division, comprising rather more than one-half of the whole area, is well-enclosed and highly cultivated, and presents in general a level surface, variegated here and there with low detached rounded grassy hills of the class called laws, – from one of which the parish derived its name. Throughout this division the soil is a deep strong clay, and produces excellent wheat, prime grain of other species, and fine pasture. The northern division is, for the most part, a moorland and hilly tract. Some of the hills are dry, and partially cultivated; others are wet and covered with short heath, and adapted only for sheep-walks and the raising of young cattle. Across the moor, over a distance of fully two miles, stretches an irregular gravelly ridge, about 50 feet broad at the base, and between 30 and 40 feet high, called the Kaimes. The ridge bends round in the form of a semicircle, presenting its face or hollow to the hills. On the south side of it is Dogden moss, 500 acres in extent, and in some places 10 feet in depth, yielding peats which, when properly cut and dried, are a fuel little inferior to coals. Blackadder water comes down upon the parish from Westruther, runs along its western boundary for 3 miles, and then, including a considerable bend in its course southwards, at the extremity of which lies the town of Greenlaw, it passes through to the eastern boundary over a distance of about 4 miles. In summer, and even in winter, it is, in general, but a tiny stream; but, being fed by a number of rills and little mountain torrents, it sometimes swells suddenly to a great size, and overflows, to a considerable extent, the grounds adjacent to its banks. The stream is of much local value by giving water-power to a lint-mill, a fulling-mill, and two flour-mills. A rill of about 4 miles in length of course comes in upon the parish from the north, and flows southward through it to the Blackadder. Another stream, of about 8 miles in length of course, comes down from the south-west upon its most southerly angle, forms its south-east boundary-line over a distance of 2¼ miles, and then passes onward through the conterminous parish of Eccles to fall into the Leet. The high and precipitous banks of the Blackadder, before the river reaches the town, afford abundant quarries of red sandstone, and, at the point of its leaving the parish, exhibit a coarse white sandstone, with a superincumbence of dark claystone porphyry. At Greenlaw, which is well-sheltered by hills, the air is mild; in the southern division of the parish it is more gentle and dry than in the northern division; and, in the entire district, it very rarely floats the miasmata of any epidemical disease, and is peculiarly healthy. Two miles north-west of the town, on the verge of the bold banks of the Blackadder, and its confluent stream from the north, are vestiges of an encampment; and leading off directly opposite to them, an intrenchment, whence numerous coins of the reign of Edward III. were very recently dug up, runs first along the banks of the river, and then goes due south in the direction of Hume castle. About a mile north from the town, an old wall or earthen mound, fortified on one side with a ditch, but of unknown original dimensions, formerly ran across the parish, and is traditionally reported to have extended from a place called the Boon – a word which in Celtic means boundary, or termination – in the parish of Legerwood, all the way to Berwick; but at what time, or by whom, or for what purpose, the wall was constructed, are matters not known. The principal mansion in the parish is Rochester; the beautiful one of Marchmont, with its extensive and wooded demesnes, belonging to Sir H. Purves Hume Campbell, Bart., the proprietor of two-thirds of the soil, being within the limits of the conterminous parish of Polwarth. The parish is traversed by the post-road between Edinburgh and Coldstream, and by a branch going off toward Dunse, and contains altogether about 18 miles of public road. Population, in 1801, 1,270; in 1831, 1,442. Houses, in 1831, 252. Assessed property, in 1815, £5,477. Greenlaw is in the presbytery of Dunse, and synod of Merse and Teviotdale. Patron, Sir W. P. H. Campbell, Bart. Stipend £254 15s. 5d.; glebe £25. Unappropriated teinds £1,023 16s. 3d. The parish-church is ancient, and was new-seated about the year 1776. Sittings 476. – There were two Dissenting places of worship on 1835. The United Secession congregation was established in 1781. Their place of meeting, originally a dwelling-house, was purchased in 1783-4 for £115, and altered and repaired at a cost of upwards of £100. Sittings 329. Stipend £92, with a house and garden; £8 for sacramental expenses. – The Original Burgher congregation was established in 1800. Their place of worship is now a quoad sacra chapel, the congregation having joined the Established church. Sittings 222. Stipend £65. – The parish-school is attended by a maximum of 150 scholars. Salary £34 4s. 4½d., with £55 fees, and £16 other emoluments. A non-parochial-school is attended by a maximum of 47 scholars. The interest of a legacy of 2,000 merks Scots, left in the year 1667 by Thomas Broomfield, and called the Broomfield mortification, is currently expended in alleviating the sufferings of the poor, and educating their children. The church of Greenlaw, and chapels respectively at Lambdeno, and on the old manor of Halyburton, belonged, till the Reformation, to the monks of Kelso. The ruins of the two chapels have but recently disappeared. During the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, the kirk-town of Greenlaw, or Old Greenlaw, was the residence of the Earls of Dunbar, the ancestors of the family of Home: see article DUNBAR. 

   The town of GREENLAW, the capital of its parish, a burgh-of-barony, and the county-town of Berwickshire, stands on the north bank of the Blackadder, on a peninsula formed by a bend of the river, 7½ miles south-west of Dunse; 20 miles south-west of Eyemouth; 20 miles west of Berwick; 10 miles north-west of Coldstream; 12 miles east of Lauder; and 37 miles south by east of Edinburgh. The original town – still commemorated by a farm-stead on its site called Old Greenlaw – stood on the top of a verdant eminence, or green law, about a mile south of the present town. At some distance to the east stood the ancient castle of Greenlaw, vestiges of which have long since disappeared. When the modern town rose from its foundations, its baronial superiors, the family of Marchmont, who had great political influence after the Revolution, speedily invested it with very considerable importance. In 1696 – in spite of the superior intrinsic greatness and the more advantageous relative position of Dunse, which, jointly with Lauder, wore at that time the county-honours – it was constituted by act of parliament the county-town of Berwickshire; and it has continued since to be the seat of the county-courts and other jurisdictions. Yet, apart from its public civil buildings – which belong rather to all Berwickshire than properly to itself – it is a mere village, inconsiderable in bulk, sequestered in position, and innocent of the activities and the productiveness of trade or manufacture. It consists simply of one long street, with a square market-place opening from it on the south side. Over the whole recess or further side of the square, the parish-church on the one side, and the old court-house on the other, send up between them an ancient and sepulchral-looking steeple, formerly occupied as the prison; and the entire group of building – its seat of justice and its place of worship jamming up the gloomy narrow jail between them, and all backed by the burying-ground of the town and parish – suggested to some wag the severe couplet:- 

“Here stand the gospel and the law, 

Wi’ hell’s hole atvveen the twa!” 

But both the court-house and the prison have been superseded by new edifices which, in an architectural point of view, are highly ornamental to the town, and whose position is less liable to satirical remark. In the centre of the square formerly stood an elegant Corinthian pillar, surmounted in sculpture by the armorial bearings of the Earls of Marchmont, and serving as the market-cross. The site of this defunct antiquity and some circumjacent spaces are now occupied by the new county-hall. This is a chaste yet elegant Grecian edifice, built solely at the expense of Sir W. P. H. Campbell, Bart., the baronial superior of the town, and the successor of the powerful family of Marchmont, and presented by him to the county. In front, it has a beautiful vestibule surmounted by a dome. In the interior is a hall, 60 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 28 feet high, adorned at each end with two fluted pillars with Corinthian capitals. In the dome is a fire-proof room for the conservation of documents. There are in the building, also, several other apartments for the accommodation of the sheriff and other county officials. The new jail, at a little distance, was built in 1824. It has 2 day-rooms for felons, 1 day-room for debtors, 18 cells, and 3 courts for the use of prisoners; and is surrounded and rendered quite secure, by a high wall bristling up in a chevaux-de-frieze. It will, however, require considerable alterations to adapt it to the separate system of discipline now introducing under the New Prisons act. The town, besides 6 or 7 inferior inns or alehouses, has one large inn, a new, neat, and commodious edifice. It has also the two Dissenting chapels of the parish, a public subscription library, a friendly society, a branch bible society, a regular hiring-market for servants, and two annual cattle fairs, one on the 22d day of May, and the other on the last Thursday of October. A daily coach, plying between Edinburgh and Dunse, passes through the town Greenlaw, as a burgh-of-barony, holds of the proprietor of Marchmont. Nearly the whole town is feued; and the feuars, about 80 in number, are a respectable class of persons. Population, in 1811, about 600; in 1821, 765; in 1831, 895.

   GREENLAW, a hamlet in the parish of Glencross, Edinburghshire, on the road between Edinburgh and Pennycuick, 8 miles from the former, and 2 miles from the latter, where there is an extensive range of barracks, but chiefly for prisoners of war. 

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