Hawick parish - a descriptive account


Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson and published by A. Fullarton and Co - 1868

"HAWICK, a parish, containing a post-town of its own name in the south-west of Roxburghshire. It is bounded by Roberton, Wilton, Cavers, Kirkton, and Teviothead. Its extreme length north-east-ward is nearly 6 miles; and its breadth is nearly 3 miles at the head, but gradually diminishes to a mere acute angle at the foot. Prior to 1850, the superficial area was computed at about 24 square miles or 15,360 imperial acres; but in that year there was annexed to the new parish of Teviothead more than two-thirds of that area. The "sweet and silver Teviot" runs along the entire length of the parish, receiving Borthwick water 2 miles above the town. The Slitrig comes in from the south, traces for 1¼ mile the boundary with Cavers, and then runs sinuously across the parish over a distance of 1½ mile, and falls into the Teviot at the town. Down the whole length of the parish, along the course of the Teviot, bending sinuously with the stream, stretches a valley pressed throughout into narrow limits by overhanging heights, beautified in every part and greatly enriched as to both soil and vegetation by the sparkling progress of the river, and set in an upland frame-work remarkable for the graceful forms and the verdant clothing of its summits. The bottom of the valley is throughout loamy and luxuriant, frilled or dotted with plantation, carpeted with waving crops of grain, or mirthful and picturesque with the rival enterprises of agriculture and manufacture; and at several stages of its long and narrow progress, it embosoms or spreads out to the view objects and scenes which have been celebrated in story and awarded with the outpourings of song. Another vale - of brief length compared with the former - follows the course of the Slitrig, paving the bed of that stream with rough stones and declivitous shelves, pressing in upon it at times with high and almost perpendicular banks of bare rock, garlanded or capped with young wood, and presenting altogether an aspect of mingled wildness, seclusion, beauty, and romance. While passing along the valleys southward or eastward, respectively toward Dumfries-shire or toward Liddesdale, a tourist, though never indulged with more than a limited view, is delighted and surprised at very brief intervals by the constantly changing beauties and varieties of the landscape, and all around is environed with chains and congeries of hills, delightfully variegated in form and dress, presenting an endless gradation of aspect.

The soil, in the haughs, is a mixture of loam, gravel, and sand; on rising grounds, between the valleys and the hills, is loam with occasionally a mixture of gravel; and on the hills is, in some places, light and dry, in some soft and spongy, and in others wet and stiff. All the high-lying wet lands have either been or are at present in the course of being thoroughly drained. Moss and heath occur only in small patches. The valleys and their adjacent rising grounds, though not thickly carpeted with soil, are far from being unfertile; and the hills, where not cultivated to the summit, are everywhere an excellent sheep walk. Rather more than one fourth of the whole area of the parish is in tillage; about 200 acres are under wood; and all the rest, with deductions for roads and the sites of the town and scattered buildings, is in pasture. The estimated average yearly value of raw produce in the years preceding 1839, which of course applied to the old uncurtailed parish, was 19,800 pounds. The yearly value of assessed real property in that parish in 1843 was 12,922 pounds; and in the new or curtailed parish in 1863, 29,346 pounds. The principal antiquities in the landward districts are the towers of GOLDIELANDS and BRANXHOLM, which we have already noticed in their own alphabetical place. The Edinburgh and Carlisle post-road enters the parish at the foot of the town; it then runs 2 miles along the right bank of the Teviot, and crosses to the left; and it then runs 4 miles along the left bank. The road into England through Liddesdale diverges from the former within the town; and runs up the valley of the Slitrig, a third of the way on the right bank of the stream, and two thirds on the left till it leaves the parish. The post-road from Hawick to Kelso and Berwick follows the course of the Teviot. In the lower part of the parish are two other roads, one leading due south, the other due east, and both diverging from the town. The Hawick branch of the North British railway does not enter the parish, yet has its terminus adjacent to the town. A project was some time ago entertained of a railway from Edinburgh to Hexham, crossing the Teviot about 4 miles to the east of Hawick; but this project seems to have been abandoned. Population of the parish in 1831, 4,970; in 1861, 8,726. Houses, 629. The increase of the population is attributable to the extension of the woollen manufactures.

This parish is in the presbytery of Jedburgh, and synod of Merse and Teviotdale. Patron, the Duke of Buccleuch. stipend, about 300 pounds; glebe, 62 pounds. Unappropriated teinds, 636 pounds 16 shillings 1 pence. The old parish church, now used as a chapel of ease, was built in 1764, and contains 704 sittings. A new parish church was lately completed at the expense of the Duke of Buccleuch, and contains 1,500 sittings. The Free church was built soon after the disruption in 1843, and contains 1,000 sittings; and the sum raised in connexion with it in 1865 was 456 pounds 0 shillings 9½ pence. There are three United Presbyterian churches, - the West End church, built in 1823 and containing 639 sittings; the East Bank church built a year or two ago to supersede an old one, containing 752 sittings; and Allars church, buit in 1811, and containing 750 sittings. The other places of worship are an Independent chapel, built in 1836, and containing 300 sittings; a Baptist meeting-house; a Morrisonian chapel, recently erected; a Roman Catholic chapel, built in 1843; and a Quakers' meeting-house, built in 1822, but not now frequented. The parochial school is conducted by three male teachers; and has attached to it a salary of 33 pounds, with school fees, and 19 pounds other emoluments. There are 12 non-parochial schools conducted by 6 male and 6 female teachers, and attended on the average by 1,400 scholars.- The parish is probably as ancient as the date of the Saxon settlement. The church was, in 1214, dedicated to St Mary, and, previous to the Reformation, was a rectory. The edifice, long after the Scottish canons had prohibited such an abuse, was employed not only as a place of worship, but as a court house; and it was occupied for the discharge of county business by the sheriff, during the period of the English having possession of the castle and town of Roxburgh. In 1342, while William Ramsay, one of the most gallant men of the age, was here seated on the bench, he was seized by William Douglas, the knight of Liddesdale, carried off to Hermitage castle, and there starved to death in solitary confinement."