21. There was a Dumfries branch of the Irvings; this offshoot of a great Border Reiver clan flourished exceedingly in the town.
22. The local Border Reiver families would come to Dumfries to see the Warden of the Scottish West March on legitimate business. For instance, the notorious reiver, Johnnie Armstrong and his son Christie, signed a bond with Robert, 5th Lord Maxwell, at Dumfries in 1525, whereby Johnnie received the tenancy of lands about Langholm and agreed to serve Maxwell in peace and war.
23. Those who had complaints against reivers of the opposite nation were supposed to lodge their bills of complaint with their Warden, and the Wardens forwarded the complaints to each other. Lists of bills were presented to the Warden of the Scottish West March at Dumfries.
24. The townspeople of Dumfries and the people of the Border proper belonged to the same small, self-contained unique world, lived by the same rules, and shared not only the same inheritance, but also the same strange sense of Border community.
25. The local Border Reiver families were accustomed to come to Dumfries during the day to buy in the market, to drink at the alehouses, and generally to pass the time of day with the locals. To some townspeople the reivers would be friends, to others blood relations. The newspaper editor and local historian, William McDowell, who wrote his History of Dumfries in 1867, describes the townsfolk mingling with the Border Reivers, as 'filling the streets the drabber countrymen mingled: the town minstrel in his blue, red and yellow cloak: plaids and blue bonnets clashing with fashionable Elizabethan clothes: flamboyant Border Reivers like "Reid-Cloak", chief of the Bloody Bells: townsmen like Peter Lumisdaill, evil Thom Maxwell and perilous John Newall...'
26. The local Border Reiver families had representatives in the trades of Dumfries.
27. The Archbishop of Glasgow, Gavin Dunbar, in 1525 issued his "monition of cursing" in which he excommunicated the Border Reivers, 'dwelling in the south part of this realm, such as Teviotdale, Eskdale, Liddesdale, Ewesdale, Nithsdale, and Annandale.'
28. Dumfries was a centre of Border law. In 1563 commissioners of Scotland and England were meeting at Carlisle and Dumfries with the aim of bringing Border law and custom up to date.
29. The judicial expedition was one method for dealing with the Border Reivers, and high-ranking officials would sometimes lead the main expeditions to Dumfries or Jedburgh. We would like to cite as an example of a judicial expedition a passage from Godfrey Watson's The Border Reivers: 'By 1587 Kinmont and his sons were able to rely on the services of a fair-sized army and had, together with others, become such a nuisance on both sides of the Border that King James was forced to descend on Dumfries in order to make an example of them. Kinmont and his ally, Robert Maxwell, retired hastily to that inaccessible haunt of the Armstrongs, Tarras Moss.'
30. In 1561, various leading clansmen from a number of Border Reiver families were called to court in Dumfries to give advice to the leaders of a judicial expedition.
31. Because of the unruly behaviour of the Border Reivers, it was suggested in the Scottish Privy Council in 1599 that one hundred Scottish Highlanders should be sent to Dumfries to "daunton" the West March.
32. Border raiders hammered Dumfries during war-time. Although war-time English inroads cannot be classed as reiving proper, the reiver and the soldier were often one and the same in war. In addition to this, English raiders in war-time enlisted Scottish reivers.
33. One of the few reivers who ever bothered to describe a raid in writing was Sir Thomas Carleton, of Carleton Hall, Cumberland. The target of the raid was Dumfriesshire, and he describes how for ten days he lorded it in Dumfries, receiving pledges from Lairds and others in Nithsdale and Galloway.
34. Although the extent north and south in which the reivers operated did not have a solid limit (ambitious reivers penetrated deeply on both sides of the Border, English reivers sacking villages on the outskirts of Edinburgh, whilst the Scots probed as far south as Yorkshire), there was a recognised geographical area from which the reivers were drawn, and Dumfries was part of it.
35. It is important to understand that the Border Reivers, the finest light cavalry in Europe, were able to strike fast over remarkable distances; eighty miles a day seems to have been within their capability. The point is that the reivers didn't have to live within a dozen miles or so from the Border proper to be within range of raiding the opposite realm.
36. There are Border Reiver pele towers in Nithsdale, such as the sixteenth century tower of Fourmerkland, not far from Dumfries. The tower stands intact and the coat of arms above the main entrance are those of Robert Maxwell.
37. When King James VI of Scotland became King of all Britain, in 1603, he set about pacifying the Borderland. In November a detachment of the armed guard under Sir William Cranston was sent to Dumfries, with the aim of pacifying the Scottish West March. Their discipline was not accepted gladly and the townspeople tried to massacre Cranston and his troops; three of his mounts were shot down and Cranston had to fight his way out. Dumfriesshire was the 'last outpost of the Border Reivers', continuing to the end to be the final refuge of the reivers where they put up their final armed resistance against an authority whose policy was one of wholesale hanging.
38. In 1605, Sir Henry Leigh, a Border official and a colleague of Cranston's, was riding from Dumfries when he and a single companion were ambushed by a fugitive reiver, Rob's Fergie Graham. They narrowly escaped with the two of them riding one mount.
39. Many of the residents of Dumfries bear Border Reiver surnames, or in their veins runs reiver blood.
40. Carlisle, which served as the main judicial centre of the English West March and the headquarters of the Warden, has been pushing the Border Reiver theme in its rich heritage. However, there is little to remind the visitor to Dumfries that our busy town was once the main judicial centre of the Scottish West March and the headquarters of the Warden.
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