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"A considerable town and parish in the county of Roxburgh. The town stands at the confluence of the small river Slitridge with the Teviot, and is well built. It is a borough [burgh] of barony, independent of the lord of erection, and appears to have existed free from a very early period; but the rights and documents of the borough being either lost or destroyed during the inroads of the English borderers, a charter was granted in 1545, by James Douglas Comes de Drumlanark, confirming to the burgesses such rights and lands as they formerly possessed. This charter was confirmed in toto by another, granted by Queen Mary, in May of the same year ... The parish of Hawick is of considerable extent, being nearly 16 miles long, and 4 1/2 broad. The general appearance is hilly; but none of the hills are of remarkable size, and all are green, and afford excellent sheep pasture ... Population in 1801, 2798." from Gazetteer of Scotland published 1806, Edinburgh.

See also Wilton parish which was in many ways a twin parish of Hawick. Both make up the modern town of Hawick with Hawick parish lying to the south of the River Teviot and Wilton parish to the north.

Archives and Libraries

A considerable quantity of archival and historical material is held at the Scottish Borders Archive and Local History Centre at the Heritage Hub in Hawick.


A bibliography "of Works relating to, or published in, Hawick: with an Appendix containing a List of Hawick Newspapers, Local Maps, and Music" was printed in the 1908 transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society. This was compiled by James Sinton and appears on pages 49-64.


A number of monumental inscription lists were printed in past editions of Hawick Archaeological Society Transactions:

Rev. Wallace's account of Hawick mortality in 1849 appeared in the The Scotsman newspaper the following year. 1849 was the year of a major cholera epidemic in the town, and Rev. Wallace's account gives an impression of the devastating impact on many local families. 150 years after the epidemic, in December 1999, Hawick Archaeological Society erected a plaque commemorating the 197 victims of the epidemic, near the mass grave in Wellogate Cemetery where many of the victims were buried.

Nigel Hardie has transcribed and published parish of Hawick deaths for 1775-1820.

See under Obituaries for details of James Wilson's unofficial register of deaths in Hawick between 1825 and 1862.


Graham and Emma Maxwell have transcribed and indexed the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census returns for this parish.

Church History

A 19th century account of Hawick parish includes much on the history of the parish including a list of churches in the town in 1868.

Rutherfurd's Southern Counties Register and Directory of 1866 lists the following non-conformist churches:

Pigot and Co's Commercial Directory of Scotland published in 1837 lists the following non-conformist churches or meeting houses in Hawick:

There may have been other non-conformist churches at different times.

An article entitled "The Society of Friends in early nineteenth century Hawick" by Mark B. Duffill was published in the 1998 Hawick Archaeological Society Transactions, pages 26-35.

Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1634. Old Parish Registers (before 1855) are held in the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, and copies on microfilm may be consulted in local libraries and in LDS Family History Centres around the world. Later parish registers (after 1855) are often held in the National Records of Scotland as are any records of non-conformist churches in the area (often unfilmed and unindexed, and only available there).

In his entry for the Statistical Account of Scotland (compiled 1790s, see the Statistics section of the Roxburghshire page for more details) the Rev. Robert Gillan made the following comment about deficiencies in the parish registers of Hawick in the late 18th century:

"There is no exact register kept of marriages, baptisms, or burials."

Extracts from the Kirk Session records for Hawick parish between the years 1700-1704 were published in the 1909 transactions of Hawick Archaeological Society, pages 25-45. The original records are held at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For further details of this see the National Records of Scotland website.

Correctional Institutions

Graham and Emma Maxwell have indexed the prison registers of Hawick Prison for 1844-1862.

Description and Travel

Local websites giving information about the modern town are:

19th century descriptions of Hawick parish, Hawick town, Branxholm, and Goldielands can be read online. The online description of the town of Hawick also includes a description of the town's streets, as witnessed by a traveller entering the town from the Kelso direction.

R.E. Scott's Companion to Hawick and District is intended as a "guide to what may still be seen of the more interesting places and relics which have survived through an age of change, demolition and development". It was first published in 1970 by Deans & Simpson of Hawick, and the third edition was published by the Hawick Archaeological Society in 1998.

Hawick as it was (or "A photographic glimpse of Hawick as it was") was published jointly by Hawick Archaeological Society and Hawick Camera Club. The book is 96 pages long and is full of old photographs of Hawick and its people from the past.

For an older pictorial record, see Pictures from the Past of Auld Hawick by J.J. Vernon and J. McNairn, published in 1911 at Hawick, and full of paintings and photographs of Hawick in bygone years.

In a similar vein, Ian Millar's website has a large collection of photographs of Hawick in the past.

For the views of visitors to Hawick through the ages, see James Sinton's article "Hawick and its neighbourhood described by travellers at different periods" which appeared in the 1918 transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society, pages 26-50. This describes the views of a dozen or so travellers to the town, the earliest dated 1548, the latest 1864.

Emigration and Immigration

Marjorie Gavin has noted Australian deaths recorded in the Hawick Advertiser between the years 1854-1890. The results were published in Borders Family History Society magazines as follows:

In addition to Australian deaths, Marjorie has recorded events during this period relating to Hawick emigrants in other parts of the world, e.g. Canada, America, New Zealand etc. She has offered to check her notes for fellow researchers, and for further details please contact her directly.


A 19th century account of Hawick town includes much on the early history of the town.

Hawick in the early sixties by James Edgar was published at Hawick in 1913 and outlines the history of the burgh in the early 1860s, covering subjects like housing conditions, the hosiery trade, the role of police, the impact of the railway, the Common Riding, the volunteer movement, and social life and local associations. There are quite a lot of lengthy lists of some locals, including:

History books about Hawick include:

Many articles about Hawick's history have been published in past transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society. These include

Language and Languages

A number of articles on the Hawick tongue have been published in past transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society. These include:

See also the section on the Roxburghshire page about local dialects.


A reprint of John Wood's plan of Hawick compiled in the early 19th century is available from Caledonian Maps. This was one of a number of plans of Scottish towns compiled during the period 1818-1825, most naming streets and property owners.

Ordnance Survey maps covering Hawick include:

The town is also covered by an old Victorian one-inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map published by Caledonian Maps. The relevant sheet is sheet number 17 "Hawick & Jedburgh" which also includes Ancrum, Ashkirk, Bedrule, Bonchester, Cheviot Hills, Hobkirk, Lilliesleaf, Minto, Teviotdale and Watling Street.

The National Records of Scotland holds the following as part of its collection of maps and plans:

Names, Geographical

The name of Hawick is commonly thought to originate from the Old English words haga and wic, meaning "a settlement surrounded by a hedge". Other ideas suggested in the past include "high dwelling or village" ("heah-wic") or "village in the bend of the stream or confluence of rivers" ("ha-wic") but such views seem not to be favoured among scholars today.

For the origin of many place names in Hawick and Wilton, see W.S. Robson's articles which appeared in past transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society:

See also Hawick place names: a study of their origin and derivation, with a series of pictorial reconstructions of Auld Hawick by Allan Watt Robson by William S. Robson, published in Hawick in 1947.

J.W. Kennedy also had a short article "Our street names" published in the 1929 transactions, pages 3-4.


James Wilson (1797-1862), a solicitor in Hawick, kept an unofficial register of deaths of the "better-known citizens of Hawick" between 1825 and 1862 and a transcript of this was published in past transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society.


A 19th century account of Hawick town includes much on the early history and development of trade in the town, especially the woollen industry. The article also includes a comparative table showing the increase in numbers of mills, production etc. between the years 1771 and 1850.

For many years Hawick (like several other Border towns) had a thriving woollen industry, providing employment for many inhabitants of the town. A number of articles on this industry and conditions within it have been published in the Hawick Archaeological Society's transactions:

Also relevant (but covering a wider area) is The Border Hosiery and Knitwear Industry 1770-1970 by Clifford Gulvin, published by Border Booklets of Selkirk in 1979 (Border Booklet 3).

An article based upon the extracts from the diary of James Grieve (1751-1838) of Branxholm Park near Hawick was published in the Hawick Archaeological Society transactions of 1950, pages 27-37. "Farming conditions in the year 1800" by E. Barton describes life at that time, from the viewpoint of farmers.

A series of articles on the history of local police was published in the Hawick Archaeological Society's transactions. All were written by Sergeant George Dorward:

John W. Kennedy's article on "Lapsed trades of Hawick" appeared in the 1929 transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society, on pages 19-21. The article was based on a talk given to the Society in 1897, and discusses among other trades: carpet manufacture, hat manufacture, inkle or tape manufacture, glovers, linen industry, nurseries, tobacco manufacturers, whip and thongmakers, brickworks, pottery, brewers, candlemakers, clockmakers, skinners, and tanners.

(Place Names - see Names, Geographical)

Politics and Government

James Edgar's article "A Chapter of Local History: the Hawick Burghs, 1868-1918" outlined the history of this parliamentary constituency, founded in 1868 and dissolved in 1918. The article appeared in the 1934 Hawick Archaeological Society Transactions, pages 20-34.


Here are some figures showing the parish's population through time:


A 19th century account of Hawick parish includes much on the schools then.

See also A. M. Watters' "History of the Orrok Educational Bequest, and Two Hundred Years of Secondary Education in Hawick" published in the Hawick Archaeological Society Transactions of 1927, pages 40-53.

Social Life and Customs

For a description of Hawick's annual Common Riding (a traditional festival dating back to an event of 1514) see Chapter 19 ("Border Traditions: The Common Ridings") of The Borders Book.

Social life in Hawick and Melrose in 1866: a comparison compares life in the two towns in 1866.

See also the History section above.


The Hawick Archaeological Society publishes an annual set of transactions full of local history articles about the town and surrounding area. It also holds evening lectures in the town.

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Last updated: 9th September 2011

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