Chirnside in the 1700’s

A description of the village

“The line of the village is one of the highestillustration of lowland life in 1700 -1 in the Merse rising to some 400 feet above sea level. On the outskirts and along the slopes of the hill, in the early eighteenth century a common muir provided pasture for the sheep and cattle of the villagers. Their thatched cottages made of stone, clay and wood, were dark, dank, and smoky, and extends in two rows from East to West over the broad summit of the hill to the length of more than half a mile. Another row of them, not so compact, descends the hill three sides of it, at the distance of about 100 yards, to the Manse with its surrounding glebe-lands, and finally to the Kirk. Beyond the Kirkgate on the Berwick road was the change-house, a hostelry and public house where post-horses were changed or “baited”.

occupations in chirnside 1790The village held an annual fair late in the season to dispose of its staple commodity of sacking or bags for grain. One of Joseph Home’s documents shows that the laird kept twenty-eight shearers who had houses in Chirnside and shears at Ninewells, the houses being let to them at £3.10s Scots (5s 6d stg) yearly. These “shearers”were presumably cottars or other small tenants who in return for their holdings sheared the laird’s sheep with shears provided by him.
Until Mr Home of Ninewells built his family dwelling house, no edifice of modern structure was to be seen in the whole parish.”

The salubrious air, from the elevation of Chirnside Hill, exempt them from the epidemical diseases of agues, or intermitting fevers, that formerly prevailed. The most common complaint was of rheumatism, or pain in the joints and limbs.
There were several instances in the last generation of longevity to the extent of 85, 90 and one or two instances of near 100 years.”

illustration of lowland life-2

ref: From The Statistical Account of Scotland 1791 – 1799

Illustrations: Lowland Scottish Life in the 1700’s



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