Sunday, November 2, 2014

Visiting the Scottish Borders

I am making my second visit to the Scottish Borders in a little over a year (this is my sixth visit to the region). This time I am not alone. I am escorting a group on a trip that is a fund raiser for the Bovina United Presbyterian Church, arranged through Celtic Tours in Albany. Eleven hardy souls have joined me, with four having Bovina roots. Jim Hilson, Jean Parsons Merenberg and I have a common ancestor in Francis Coulter, born Francis Coltherd. The Hilson family also hails from the borders, specifically Hawick. Also traveling in the group are two people with Scottish Borders ancestry by marriage - Pat Thomas Parsons Miele and Jim's wife, Peg Hilson.

On November 1, 2014, we visited the Hawick Heritage Hub in Hawick. This is the regional archives for the borders area. They really rolled out the red carpet - or in this case cool documents that all contained recognizable Bovina surnames. The Archive Manager, Paul Brough, had found several documents listing Hilsons who very likely are related to the Bovina Hilsons. He also found a reference to a Glendenning getting in trouble for being in a brawl! Glendennings are ancestors of the Bovina Coulters. I also saw a map with accompanying documentation that included a reference to one of my Ormiston relations. The full title of the document was
State of the Process of Division of the Commonalty of Wilton, Robert Langlands of that Ilk v Henry, Duke of Buccleuch and others, with plan, with a date of 1764. It included a map and a large index, both of which have been cataloged, with a transcript and keyword searching on all proper names in the index. Below is the page from the index (which I saw only by luck when Paul turned the page) which references James Ormston from Boonraw. Below that is the map. I need to review more thoroughly the catalog entry to fully understand this record, but wanted to share it sooner rather than later.

Below is a session minute book from a Borders church, or, in Scotland, Kirk. I was struck by how similar the content and phrasing was to the session minutes of the Bovina Associate Presbyterian Church (the predecessor to the Bovina UP Church), though given the Scottish origins of the Bovina church, it should not be a big surprise.

The final document here was in the display case as we came in. We were struck by all the Bovina surnames. If you recognize anyone as an ancestor, let me know. It is a list of members of the Hawick Farmers Club.

To see the on-line catalog, go to and play around with the 'Advanced Search' feature. Be prepared to try different spellings of your ancestor's name, but it should be worth trying it out. I'm planning to work at it more when I get home.

For more information on the Hawick Heritage Hub, go to:

We continue our adventures in the Borders today by visiting three of the Borders Abbeys - Jedburgh, Kelso and Dryburgh (we saw the fourth one on Saturday). Then it is on to Edinburgh.

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