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Help and advice for Wilton

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"WILTON, a parish in Teviotdale, Roxburghshire. It contains the villages of Dean and Appletree-Hall, the Wilton suburb of the post-town of Hawick, and another small portion of that town. It is bounded on the north-west by Ashkirk, and a detached part of Selkirk; on the north and north-east by Minto; on the east by Cavers; on the south-east and south by Hawick; and on the west by Roberton ... Wilton suburb consists principally of a long street, which commences near the end of the old bridge across the Teviot, and files away in the segment of a circle behind the town's 'common haugh'. It contains about one-half of the parish's population; and, as to its factories and nearly all its social interests, is completely identified with Hawick" From the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson, 1868.



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.



There were two cemeteries inside the parish boundaries: the modern Wilton Cemetery (near Burnfoot Road) and the much older Wilton Old Churchyard (south of Princes Street). The latter's gravestones were removed in the 1950s though a few stones remain, positioned next to the westerly wall.

A list of monumental inscriptions in Wilton Old Churchyard was printed in the Hawick Archaeological Society's Transactions. A surname list was printed in 1939 and the inscriptions printed in earlier volumes.

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.


Presbyterian / Unitarian
Wilton, Church of Scotland

You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Wilton area or see them printed on a map.


Church History

A 19th century account of Wilton parish includes much on the history of the parish.


Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1694. 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 the Wilton entry for the Statistical Account of Scotland (compiled 1790s, see the Statistics section of the Roxburghshire page for more details) the following comments are made about the completeness, or otherwise, of the parish registers:

"The average of marriages, for the last 3 years, is 13, of baptisms, 20, and of deaths, 8; but these numbers cannot be accounted precisely accurate, as all are not recorded."

The parish registers available worldwide on microfilm include some kirk session records:

  • In part 810/2: collections for 1757-1820
  • In part 810/4: accounts for 1708-1749
  • In part 810/5: accounts for 1749-1819

More information on kirk sessions and their records can be found in the Church Records section of the Roxburghshire page.


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 and Travel

Local websites giving information about the modern town are:

19th century descriptions of Wilton parish and Hawick town 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 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.

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.

You can see pictures of Wilton which are provided by:


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:

  • Part 1: 1854-1873. Appeared in issue 36 (February 1998) pages 14-17
  • Part 2: 1874-1890. Appeared in issue 37 (June 1998) pages 8-11

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.



Ask for a calculation of the distance from Wilton to another place.

Click here for a list of nearby places.



19th century accounts of Wilton parish and Hawick town say much about their respective histories.

History books about Hawick include:

  • A sketch of the history of Hawick: including some account of the manners and character of the inhabitants, with occasional observations: to which is subjoined a short essay, in reply to Doctor Chalmers on pauperism and the poor-laws by Robert Wilson (355 pages), published at Hawick in 1825
  • The history of Hawick: including some account of the inhabitants with occasional observations, to which is appended a short memoir of the author by Robert Wilson, 2nd edition (400 pages) published at Hawick in 1841
  • Annals of Hawick, A.D. 1214-1814. With an appendix, containing biographical sketches, and other illustrative documents by James Wilson, published at Edinburgh in 1850 (listed in the LDS Family History Library catalogue in microfilm format, so hopefully available worldwide in LDS family history centres)
  • Hawick and its old memories: with an appendix containing biographical sketches and other illustrative documents by James Wilson, published in 1858 (listed in the LDS Family History Library catalogue in microfilm format, so hopefully available worldwide in LDS family history centres). This out of copyright book has been scanned and put online by the Internet Archive.
  • Hawick in bygone days by James Turnbull (103 pages), published at Hawick in 1927
  • Provosts of Hawick, 1861-1931 by James Edgar (136 pages), published at Hawick in 1933 (reprinted from Hawick News)
  • The story of Hawick: an introduction to the history of the town by William S. Robson, 2nd edition (112 pages) published at Hawick in 1945
  • The story of Hawick: an introduction to the history of the town by William S. Robson, revised and enlarged edition (142 pages) published at Hawick in 1947

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

  • "Hawick and its people" by Charles John Wilson, 1921 transactions, pages 30-52 (list of names)
  • "The Hawick of ninety years ago" by James Edgar, 1929 transactions, pages 24-32
  • "The cholera visitation of 1849" by Richard Laidlaw, 1934 transactions, pages 55-58
  • "Hawick: some of my earliest recollections" by Mrs John Smith (Annie Cowan), 1935 transactions, pages 38-49 (memories dating back to the 1860s)
  • "Hawick and its people in the Victorian period, 1837-1901" by James Edgar, 1940 transactions, pages 10-52
  • "Hawick's prominent men in Victorian days" by James Edgar, 1941 transactions, pages 9-42 (list of names)

Language and Languages

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

  • "Braid Hawick: a treatise on the vernacular speech of Hawick" by Elliot Cowan Smith, 1927 transactions, pages 8-32

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


Names, Geographical

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:

  • "A comprehensive study of local place names: part I" [A-H] 1945 transactions, pages 26-46
  • "A comprehensive study of local place names: part II" [H-Y] 1946 transactions, pages 18-47

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:

  • "Wages and conditions in the Border woollen industry about 1890" by C. Gulvin, 1967 transactions, pages 36-48 (based upon evidence given by one Hawick manufacturer to the Royal Commission of Labour in 1891)
  • "Framework knitting in Scotland from 1682 to 1770" by James H. Oliver, 1969 transactions, pages 17-22

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:

  • "History of Local Police - Part I (up to 1850)", 1965 transactions, pages 27-46
  • "History of Local Police - Part II (section 1) (up to November 1861)", 1966 transactions, pages 3-26
  • "History of Local Police - Part II (section 2) (up to 1871)", 1967 transactions, pages 3-24
  • "History of Local Police - Part II (section 3) (up to 1880)", 1968 transactions, pages 3-17
  • "History of Local Police (1881 to present day)", 1969 transactions, pages 5-14

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.




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

  • 1755 - 936
  • 1795 - 1215
  • 1801 - 1307
  • 1811 - 1500
  • 1821 - 1661
  • 1831 - 1866
  • 1861 - 3357


See 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.