St Boswells


"BOSWELL'S (ST.), or LESSUDDEN, a parish containing a post-office village of its own name, on the north border of Roxburghshire. It is bounded on the north by Berwickshire, and on other sides by the parishes of Maxton, Ancrum, Bowden, and Melrose. Its length north-eastward is 3 miles; and its breadth is about 1½ mile. The Tweed, flowing between bold, beautiful, well-wooded banks, forms the boundary with Berwickshire ... Population of the parish of St Boswell's in 1831, 701; in 1861, 865."

"The VILLAGE OF ST BOSWELL's or LESSUDDEN stands on the east side of the parish, nearly opposite Dryburgh Abbey, 4 miles south-east of Melrose, and 10 west-south-west of Kelso. The original village of St Boswell's stood about ¾ of a mile south-east of this, but has completely disappeared. It derives its name from St Boisel, who was the preceptor of St Cuthbert, and is supposed to have founded the church. The present village generally bears the name of Lessudden, and may have originally been called Lis-Aidan, which means the residence of Aidan, or perhaps Lessedwin - as it is in the old chartularies - that is, the manor-place of Edwin."

From the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson, 1868.



Change at St Boswell's (the story of a Border village)
by Lieut-Col. Frederick G. Peake
published by John McQueen and Son Ltd., Galashiels, 1961 (127 pages).



The Borders Family History Society has published a booklet of St Boswells monumental inscriptions.

The Scottish Genealogy Society holds a list of pre-1855 gravestones in this parish (65 in total) in its library in Edinburgh. Similar lists may be available elsewhere, for example in the Scottish Borders Archive and Local History Centre in Selkirk.



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



Presbyterian / Unitarian
St Boswells, Church of Scotland

Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1692. 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).

The presence of non-conformist churches in the parish is revealed by Rutherfurd's Southern Counties Register and Directory which lists the following in the year 1866:

  • Free Church

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


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.


Description & Travel

An account of the parish (history, topography etc.) may also be found in the Borders Family History Society's booklet of monumental inscriptions.

You can see pictures of St Boswells which are provided by:




Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which St Boswells has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



Change at St Boswells (see the Bibliography section for details) relates the history of the parish from the earliest times through to the middle of this century.



Ordnance Survey maps covering St Boswells include:

  • Landranger 74: Kelso & surrounding area - scale 1:50000, or 1.25inch:1mile, or 2cm:1km
  • Outdoor Leisure 44: Tweed Valley (Peebles to St Boswells) - scale 1:25000, or 2.5inch:1mile, or 4cm:1km

St Boswells 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 25 "Kelso & Melrose" which also includes Earlston, Galashiels, Gordon, Greenlaw, Lauder, Polwarth, Roxburgh, St Boswells, Selkirk and Westruther.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT585297 (Lat/Lon: 55.55931, -2.659755), St Boswells which are provided by:


Military Records

At the time of the Napoleonic wars, lists of young men in parishes were compiled so that should there be a need for them to fight, they could be drafted into the Militia. If there were not enough volunteers for a list, a ballot was used to select names for it.

In their booklet of St Boswells monumental inscriptions, the Borders Family History Society has included a transcript of the Lessudden militia list.



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

  • 1755 - 309
  • 1801 - 497
  • 1811 - 508
  • 1821 - 636
  • 1831 - 701
  • 1861 - 865


In the 1690s a tax was levied by Parliament on every hearth in Scotland. Both landowners and tenants had to pay this tax and are therefore recorded in the records which were kept at the time. A transcript of the hearth tax records for this parish (NRS reference E69/21/1) is included with the list of monumental inscriptions published by the Borders Family History Society.

Most taxation records are held at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh.