Colmslie, situated on the western bank of Allen Waters, is some five miles to the north of Melrose, and belonged to Melrose Abbey up to the end of the fifteenth century. The first mention of Colmslie in the Chartulary is when Malcolm IV granted to the monks of Melrose a site in the lower part of Cumbesley to erect a cowhouse for a hundred cows and a sheepfold. The name was doubtless derived from St. Colm or Columba, the ruins of a chapel dedicated to him marking a field still called Chapel Park. At the beginning of the sixteenth century Colmslie passed into the hands of the Cairncrosses, probably through the influence of Robert Cairncross, bishop of Ross, who was then, as we have seen, provost of the Collegiate Church of Corstorphine. The ruin of Colmslie Tower is still one of the places of interest to tourists in the Melrose district. This Colmslie estate remained in the possession of the Cairncrosses up to the year 1674, passing from father to son through six generations, that is, for nore than a hundred and fifty years, after which it became the property of the Scots. It is remarkable that both Colmslie and Balmashanner, the estate of the chiefs of the Family, should have been lost to the Cairncrosses at practically the same time, 1674 and 1676.

As most of the records of the Melrose Cairncrosses relate to land transactions, the following definitions, obtained from the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Chambers' Encyclopaedia, will be of assistance in understanding these records: - "Feu in Scotland is the commonest mode of land tenure; the word is the Scotch variant of 'fee'; and the relics of the feudal system still dominate Scots conveyancing. The system has recognised as many as seven forms of tenure - ward, socage, mortification, feu, blench, burgage, and booking.

WARD: the original military holding, was abolished in 1747, as an effect of the rising of 1745.
SUCAGE and MORTIFICATION have long disappeared.
BOOKING is a conveyance peculiar to the burgh of Paisley, but does not differ from feu.
BURGAGE is the system by which land is held in royal burghs. BLENCH holding is by a nominal payment, as of a penny Scots, or a red rose, often only to be rendered on demand.


In FEU holdings there is a substantial annual payment in money or kind, in return for the enjoyment of the land. The crown is the first overlord or superior, and land is held of it by the crown vassals, but they in their turn may 'feu' their land, as it is called, to others who become their vassals, while they themselves are mediate overlords or superiors; and this process of SUBINFEUDATION may be repeated to an indefinite extent. Casualties, which are a feature of land held in feu, are certain payments made to the superior contingent on the happening of certain events. The most important was the payment of an amount equal to one year's feu-duty by a new holder, whether heir or purchaser of the feu".
"A feu is a right in land granted in perpetuity in consideration of an annual payment in money, grain, cattle or services, called feu-duty, and certain other contingent burdens called 'casualties of superiority'." It is thus seen that land tenure in Scotland is still the same in the twentieth century as it was in the sixteenth and before.

With regard to the monetary system, a pound Scots was a Scottish gold coin, also divided into twenty shillings, but worth only one-twelfth of the English pound sterling, each shilling being of the value of an English penny. The merk, or mark, Scots was also an Anglo-Saxon money of account. Its original value was equivalent to one hundred pennies Scots, but in the twelfth century it had appreciated to one hundred and sixty pennies, i.e. 13/4d Scots.
Thus up to the seventeenth century, the merk was equal to 13/4d Scots or 1/12d sterling. Prices in the fifteenth century were only one-fourth or one-fifth of what they were in the nineteenth, i.e. 1 in the year 1500 was equal to about 5 in the year 1900.

JOHN (1509 - 1557.)

The first Cairncross to settle in Colmslie appears to have been John, the brother of Robert, the bishop. He married Helen Abernethy, and had four sons, Nicol burgess of Edinburgh, William of Colmslie, John.of Colmslie, and Walter of Lugate. (No daughters?)


In the Scots Peerage, Walter Cairncross of Lugate, who married Dame Grissell Scott, relict of William Lord Borthwick, is stated to have been the son of John Cairncross of Colmslie. Elsewhere this Walter is referred to as "brother of the late William of Colmslie". The heir of Robert Cairncross the Bishop was his brother John, and from this it has been inferred that the Bishop was the uncle of William, the first laird of Colmslie, though, of course there may have been two John Cairncrosses in Melrose in the early part of the sixteenth century. Robert the Bishop certainly had a son named John who was legitimated in 1537, but a study of the probable dates of birth and death of Nicol, burgess of Edinburgh, and of William of Colmslie his brother, does not lend colour to a third theory, viz.: that Robert the Bishop was the grandfather of the four brothers Nicol, William, John and Walter. Diligent search has failed to reveal any other information about the Bishop's children. It must be added, however, that there is an unusual lack of information in the old records about the ancestors of these four brothers.

The first reference to John occurs in "The Chronicles of Melrose" where there are particulars of three documents written in a style that even a Latin scholar would find difficult to understand. It appears, however, that Bernard Bell, a monk in Melrose Abbey, owned property at Leith and that he sold or leased this property to Allen Wilson, the agreement being witnessed by John Cairncross, among others. The date is given as: Millesimo quingestesimo nono - apparently 1509.

The next record states that John Hwyme and his wife sold two husbandlands of the town and lands of Smalem with the "peill" of the same to "John Cairncorse in Cowmislie and Helen Abirnethye his spouse" on August 25th, 1547, sasine being given two days later.

On July 8th, 1550, "John Cairncorss in Colmslie, brither and heir to umquhile ane reverend father in God Robert Bishop of Ross" brought an action against certain persons, presumably in connection with his inheritance. In the following year, 1551, on March 26th, he and William Cairncross of Colmslie with twenty-nine others, signed the Auld Band of Roxburgh, binding themselves to be loyal to the Sovereign of Scotland and never to side eith their auld enemies of England, and to deliver up all breakers of the law etc. In this document he is designated "Johnne Carnecors of Colmslie".

The last record states that on May 15th, 1557, he resigned the lands of Whiteside and Glenmuth into the hands of James, Earl of Mortoun, in favour of Robert Cairncross of Colmslie. This Robert was probably his grandson.


WILLIAM (1533 - 1534)

The next person to occupy Colmslie was William the son of John Cairncross. William was apparently the first laird, as John seems merely to have been resident in Colmslie and not in possession. William married Marion Pringle, by whom he had seven sons, Robert who succeeded him, James of Allanshaws, Nicol of Calfhill, John, a clerk, George, Charles, and Walter[1], together with two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. The latter married Robert Lauder in June, 1565, and went to London. William also had a natural son, Robert Cairncross, who was known as Meikle Hob.

The earliest record of William is dated February 13th, 1533 - 4 or 1553 - 4?, when the Cardinal Grand Penitentiary confirmed a nineteen year old tak or lease by Robert, Abbot of Holyrood to him of the lands of Redheucht in the barony of Cars. William is here described as a layman. Three years later he obtained under charter an annual rent of 40 from the dominical lands of Hangug, with tower etc., in the shire of Striveling, from Archibald Craufurd, this being confirmed by the King on February 28th, 1536 - 7. In this charter he is designated "William Carncors of Colmslie". On April 9th, 1538, under charter of sale by Sir John Striveling of Keir, he obtained one-fourth of the lands of Faunis in the sheriffdom of Berwick.

Though he was a layman, William appears to have been a theologian, for on the death of James Hay, Bishop of Ross, in 1538, he was granted the temporality of this bishopric by letters under the Privy Seal, dated October 3rd, 1538, "till the lawful admission of a bishop thereof".

As is recorded in a previous chapter (p.43), Robert Cairncross became the lawful bishop on April 14th, 1539. On December 14th of the year 1538 a Great Seal Charter granted William "subjects at the Netherbow of Edinburgh". These were the land, mansion and buildings which had been granted to Robert Cairncross the Bishop in 1528.

On July 3rd, 1543, William was given sasine of the lands of Canlochmore and others in Ross, following on a feu charter by Robert, Bishop of Ross, and on December 12th, 1547, sasine was given him by the Commendator Of Melrose of the lands of Westerside of Housebyre and half the lands of Langley, with the croft or small field called Cellararhauche. On April 24th, 1550, his possessions were increased by the addition of the lands of Easter and Wester Rarechye, the lands of Milton of Westray, and the lands of Balinerch and Mekil Doles, under a charter by Alexander Ross, but he did not live to enjoy them for long, for he died prior to May 7th, 1554.

[1] This WALTER mentioned here and on page 55.4, has not been included in Genealog. Tree - page 169. He obviously did not die in infancy. Walter is again mentioned on page 80.1, 70.6, 67.4, 54.5.


ROBERT (1554 (not b. date) - 1573 (died)

The second laird of Colmslie was Robert, son of William Cairncross of Colmslie. Robert married Barbara Hume, daughter of Sir John Hume of Cowdenknowes, in January 1556, and had eight children, William who succeeded him, Alexander, George, John, Isobell who married Ralf Erskin on April 21st, 1588, Margaret, Christian and Agnes. Robert died in February, 1573, his wife surviving him.

On May 7th, 1554, Robert was given sasine of the lands of Bakspittale and Foirspittale, as heir of the late Nicol Cairncross burgess of Edinburgh, his father's brother, and on January 24th, 1556-7 he inherited 42.13.4d Scots furth of the lands of Hartsid, together with the mill thereof.

On May 15th, 1557, John Cairncross of Colmslie resigned the lands of Whiteside and Glenmuth into the hands of James, Earl of Morton, in favour of Robert Cairncross. This John was probably Robert's grandfather, and a portioner in Colmslie. On the 25th of this month the Commendator of Melrose granted Robert a charter of the lands of Newtoun, in the shire of Roxburgh, this being confirmed on May 19th, 1587, fourteen years after his death, while under a charter by Queen Mary[2], dated July 23rd, 1557, he and his wife Barbara Hume became possessed of the lands of East and West Rareiches, the mill of Culles, etc. These lands had been the property of his father.

On April 23rd, 1557, Marioun (See p.54) Hoppringill(?) of Colmslie and her son Robert Cairncross were warned by the Chamberlain of Melrose to go to the Abbey Kirk of Melrose between sunrise and sunset on the 5th June, 1557, and to receive on the high altar of the Kirk the sum of 800, and other sums of money contained in the reversion for the redeeming of the lands of Langlie and Wolhousbyre, the West Raik. "Item, the same day, time and place, the said Marioun Hoppringill of Colmslie demanded from the said Chamberlain (Andrew Hog) a copy of the commission or warrant, according to law, but he declared he believed this to be unnecessary, yet if it was really necessary it would be presented within twenty-four hours. In the meantime he gave the said commission to George Cairncross, son of the said Marioun." (Hoppringill appears to be a clerical error for Pringill.)

[2]"Mary, Queen of Scots."


On May 14th, 1567, the Convent of Melrose ratified a bond dated November 15th, 1566, by Michael, Commendator, to Robert, in consideration of 3,000 merks paid by him, to maintain him and his heirs in possession of their lands held of the Abbey, specially Langlie and Wollisbyre, to discharge all reversions thereof granted by him or his father, and not to redeem the lands without first repaying the 3,000 merks,

Under a charter dated at Edinburgh and Coldenknowes on May 14th and 15th, 1570, Robert granted four oxgates and four acres of the lands of Redheucht, in the barony of Kers, to Robert Bartilmo, two of the witnesses being Nicol and Walter, brothers of Robert. This was confirmed by the King on August 2nd, 1592. On October 25th 1571, Robert was given letters of reversion, or right of redemption, of an annual rent of 70 merks out of Redheucht, provided he paid 700 merks, by William Stark, to whom he was indebted. On September 11th, 1571 Robert arranged for a nineteen year lease, from June 20th, 1574, of the teind sheaves of the lands of Boyntoun pertaining to the parsonage of St, Cuthbert, o the lands of Ridnoch in the barony of Kers , and others. However, he died before the commencement of the lease, which seems therefore to have been cancelled, for in 1585 his grandson James Cairncross obtained the same lease.

Robert's daughter Margaret married John Hamilton of Chapel who died prior to 1590. Mention is made in the next section (p.57) of a case in which two of their children figured. After Hamilton's death Margaret married William McDougall of Fleuris, who appears to have died before 1592, for on March 14th, of that year a decree was issued in favour of "Margaret Cairncross[3]; relict of William McDougall, and Mr. William Hairt, justice depute, now her spouse" against Thomas McDougall who in 1594 was denounced rebel for refusing to pay Margaret certain sums of money. On March 26th, 1601, Margaret and her husband Mr. William Hart obtained a charter of the lands of Birkinside in Berwickshire. On December 23rd, 1613, George, Archbishop of St. Andrews, confirmed a charter of the lands of Little Preston and Levelands to Sir William Hart of Preston, Knight, Justiciar Depute, and Lady Margaret Cairncross his spouse.

[3]This Margaret Cairncross might be the person dealt with on p.46 as "dame Margaret Cairncross".


In his will, which is dated January 19th, 1573, Robert appointed his wife and his brother Nicol, his executors and Nicol to be tutor to his son William until the latter should come of age. To his son Alexander he left a nineteen-year lease of the Wellhouse byre, after the decease of his mother, or, should he refuse, the teinds of Redheucht and Burrowmure. To his son George he left the lands of A1lanshaws, held by his (Robert's) brother James for the latter's lifetime. Further reference to Allanshaws will be found in Chapter XIV. To his brother Waiter, Robert left 600 merks due to him by Walter from the lands of Northlands. The free residue of Robert's estate amounted to 2,486.

WILLIAM (b.1558 - died c1630)

The third laird of Colmslie was Robert's son Willaim, who married Margaret Hoppringill and had four children, James who succeeded him, Nicol, Robert and Jean, who married James Hamilton in 1593. William was born in 1558 and died about the year 1630. On June 22nd, 1574, William was proclaimed heir of his father Robert Cairncross of Colmslie. On November 9th, 1575, under a charter by Patrick Murray, he and his mother Barbara Hume were granted the lands of Cranston-Riddell in the shire of Edinburgh, she in life-rent and he heritably. This was with the consent of Mark Hume of Craig and Nicol Cairncross of Calfhill, Willaim's curators, Robert (Meikle Hob) half brother of Nicol, being a witness.

Three years later, on June 4th, 1578, the King confirmed a charter by Willaim, whereby, with the consent of Nicol Cairmcross of Calfhill (his uncle) and Mark Hume his curators, he sold the lands of East and West Rariches, Mill of' Culles, etc, to George, Earl of Caithness. On the 19th of the preceding month he had obtained the lands of' Spittel and others in Lauderdale from David Hume, these being held of Dryburgh Abbey in feu, together with five and a half husband-lands of Slegden, in the earldom of March, from John Hume brother of David, these husband-lands being held of the King.

In this year he also obtained half of the lands of Langley with the croft called Sellerheuche as heir of his father, while in 1581 he inherited the mill of Newtoun with the multures thereof.


On April 16th, 1579, William, under letters of Reversion by George Wouchop, redeemed the lands of Cranston-Riddell, bearing an annual rent of 100 merks Scots, by payment of 1,000 merks, these lands having been pledged or mortgaged by him; and on June 12th, 1582, he and his wife Margaret Hopringill redeemed the lands of Mekill Catpair in the lordship of Stow in Weddell, by payment of 500 merks Scots, under Letters of Reversion by James Hoppringill and his spouse. Again, on November 7th, 1586, Willaim redeemed an annual rent of 120 merks Scots out of the lands of Reiddoche in the barony of Brochtoun, by payment of 1,000 merks Scots, under Letters of reversion by Mr. John Moscrope.

In 1583 - 4, William became surety to a Bond of Caution by Gilbert Lawson of Whiteslaid for 5,000 merks, his uncle Nicol Cairncross of Calfhill or Hillslope being witness thereto. On October 12th, 1587, Willaim obtained a lease, for his lifetime and thereafter to his son James and his heirs for nineteen years, from the Commendator of Melrose, of the teind sheaves of the lands of Langley, Colmslie and Wooplaw, the lease duty being 10 for Langley, 6.13.4d for Colmslie and 1.10.0d for Wooplaw. On March 6th, 1590 - 1, William became surety for another Bond of Caution in 1,100 merks by Andro Lauder and his sons that they would not harm Robert Lauder of that Ilk and his adherents. Robert Lauder married William's aunt Margaret Cairncross in 1565.

William was apparently well acquainted with the famous leader of the Reformation, Mr. John Knox, minister at Melrose, for on July 2nd, 1587, he witnessed a tack of the latter, who in turn witnessed on November 9th, 1597 (1587?) the disposition by the Commendator of Melrose to Willaim of the feu duties and teind silver of the lands of Langley and Wouplaw, the teind silver of Colmslie, the rent of Newtoun Mill, and the teind silver of the Westerside of Housebyre, extending in all to 52.


The Cairncrosses appear to have had their full share in the quarrels and feuds which were such a feature of Scottish life, but though there are numerous references to these quarrels, details are disappointingly few. The following episode is the only one recorded with any detail, and even here imagination must fill in the picture.

On March 9th, 1590, an action was brought by Patrick Hamilton, brother of the late John Hamilton, and others, "near kynsmen and friends of the saidis dochteris*"; against William Cairncross of Colmslie for the recovery of Margaret and Mary, daughters of the late John Hamilton, who married Margaret Cairncross, William's sister. These children were stated to have been seized by William Cairncross and twenty-four accomplices when being taken to Edinburgh. William in his defence declared that Patrick Hamilton with diverse persons took away the children from their mother, in whose keeping they were, without any order or law, "in doing which deid(?) a great affray was in the country". William summoned his friends and pursued Patrick Hamilton immediately after he had taken the children from their mother, retook them from him, and delivered them to their mother, "which for the said William Carnecors as dear kinsman to the bairns it was lawful to do".**

Three months later (1590) William sold the lands of Colmslie to Stephen Hutchesoun, to be held "de me" for one penny Scots of blench duty, sasine being given on June 3rd. At this time also he was one of the sureties for James, Lord Borthwick, with Nicol Cairncross of Calfhill, his uncle; Walter Cairncross in Lugate (William's granduncle) and his spouse Dame Grissell Scot, relict of William, Lord Borthwick, being principal sureties.

On June 8th, 1593, Willaim obtained a feu charter from the Commendator of Melrose of the lands of Wooplaw at a feu duty of 3.10.0d Scots, and on April 23rd in the following year he gave sasine of these lands to Stephen Huitsone. On March 24th of this year 1594, under a charter by the King, the lands of Selmure, alias Colmslie, with manor, Westerside of Housebyre, Mekle Catpair, and half the lands of Langlie, which all belonged to William and his predecessors, had been of new granted to him.

In 1597, on June 18tn, the teinds of Wester Raik of Wolhousbyre were assigned to William by Thomas Cranston, John Cairncross being one of the witnesses. Cranstoun had obtained a lease of these lands from Alexander Cairncross, probably a brother to William of Colmslie, and Cranstoun's sub-tenant, for nineteen years at a yearly rental of 10 from May 15th, 1595.

* dochter - Old Scottish = daughter.
**Possibly the Hamilton family did not wish to have the daughters of the deceased John Hamilton and his wife Margaret Cairncross, to be brought up with the name of McDougall when Margaret remarried, possibly before 1590. (Ref. p.54.8 for Margaret's marriages.) Another possible reference to this Margaret appears at p.46.9.


In the same year, 1597, William's uncle Nicol Cairncross of Calfhill and the latter's son Nicol, sold the remainder of their tack of the lands of Blainslee to him for his heritable right to the lands and barony of Newlands. On May 9th he became surety in S1,000 for Mary Borthwick and her spouse John Home not to harm James Pringill of Smalhame.

On May 6th, 1600, William purchased the lands and teinds of Allanshaws from Charles Cairncross of Allenshaws, to be held "de me" for one penny Scots of blench duty, Nicol Cairncross apparent of Calfhill, Nicol brother of Charles, and others witnessing sasine on 6th June, while on June 19th of the following year he disposed of the lands of Spittell and others in Lauderdale to Alexander Home, John his brother and James his son witnessing the charter.

Another quarrel resulted, on July 29th, 1602, in a complaint by Margaret Home, relict of Robert Mitchelson, with her four sons and others, before the Privy Council, against William Cairncross, his son James, his brothers Alexander and Jonn, his uncles George, Robert (Meikle Hob) and Nicol Cairncross of Calfhill (with the latter's five sons), his late granduncle Walter's three sons and see also grandson, Charles Cairncross in Birksneip with his six brothers, John Cairncross called The Chief; and the two nephews of the late James (p.57), Lord Borthwick, - in all, twenty-four Cairncrosses. The complaint (pp, 71,3, 99.5) was that "the defenders not only molest and oppress pursuers in the possession of their lands, but also menace to have their lives, lying at wait for them at all occasions with that view". The defenders failing to complete, and some failing to appear, judgment was given against them, and they were required to find sufficient caution and law burrows for the indemnity of the complainers as follows:- William and his son James each in 3,000 merks, Nicol of Calfhill in 2,000 merks, and each of the rest in 1,000 merks, While Alexander Cairncross, the sons and grandson of the late Waiter Cairncross, John the Chief, and the Borthwicks were denounced rebels. An echo of this case is probably heard in the record of the redemption by William and his son James of the lands and teinds of Allanshaws on August 7th, 1605, by payment of 1,000 Scots to James Mitchell, minister at the Stow, and 1,000 to William Pringill and his spouse.

* The identity of "John, The Chief" ? 23 members of the C. family can be definitely located on Genealog. Tree - p.169. "John, The Chief" was possibly, - the sixth son of Nicol of Calfhill (d. 1618 ?). It .is conceivable he would be involved with the five brothers as noted. John, son of Charles (d. 1607), seems to be one other possible person. Little seems to be recorded concerning Walter, brother of Robert of Colmslie (d. 1573). We are not informed about his children. If one of them was "The Chief", it would surely have rated a mention. John, "The Chief" rates a mention in the G.T.R.C. Folio also on p.19, without any attempt to identify his relationship. Is he the person referred to as "John in Exiltoun" pp. 71.4 and 99.6? These are the only two mentions of the latter.


In 1608 at the instance of Sir Gideon Murray and his procurator James Cairncross, the bailies of Melrose decreed William Cairncroas of Colmslie as feuar of the lands of Wooplaw and Allanshaws, together with Nicol Cairncross of Calfhill and others, to pay multure and other duties, and to bring their corn to Langshaw Mill. On April 13th, 109, William complained to the Privy Council against. Sir Alexander Home of Snoke for debt.

Together with the Homes, William, on June 7th, 1610, obtained in Lou farm blench the lands of Mersington in the sheriffdom of Berwick, his son Nicol being one of the witnesses to saline. In the following year, 1611, on May 15th, he made over the lands of Wooplaw to be held of the granter's immediate superiors, paying yearly 3.10.0d Scots, to James, his eldest son and heir apparent, and Janet Ker his spouse, in terms of the contract of marriage between William and his son on the one part, and Sir Andrew Ker of Hotoun, Andrew his son and heir, and Janet, the latter's daughter, on the other part. Saline was given on October 10th, 1611, the witnesses being Robert, son of William Cairncross, Archibald Pringle his servitor, and James Dods in Wooplaw.

The result of the case of 1602 does not appear to have deterred William, for on September 10th, 1617, he and his son James were again complained against, and also appear in the Privy Council register for October 27th, 1619; on July 4th, 1620, William with his sons Robert and Nicol are mentioned.

In 1622 James Cairncross of Colmslie disposed of the lands of Langley and Westerside of Housebyre to Mr. John Mitchell, minister of the church of St. Andrew, London, for 5,000 merks, with reservations to William Cairncross elder of Colmslie of his liferent of Westerside of Housebyre. Saline was given on March 13th, 1624.


On July 27th, 1626, William obtained two merklands of Faunis as heir of his grandfather William Cairncross of Colmslie, who died in 1554. On July 11th, 1627, William and others witnessed the apprehension of Christian Paterson, widow of Mr. John Knox, late minister of Melrose, and Mr. Thomas Forrester, present minister, in connection with the stipend of the kirk, at the instance of Thomas, Earl of Melrose. The last record of William is dated May 22nd, 1630, and consists of a copy of retour as general heir of provision to the late Nicol Cairncross, burgess of Edinburgh, his "gudsyris" (grandfather's) brother, who died about 1544.

JAMES (1585 - 1652).

The fifth resident and fourth Colmslie laird was James, the son of William Cairncross. He was born about 1580 and died between 1652 and 1655. In May, 1611, he married Janet Ker, daughter of Andrew Ker and granddaughter of Sir Andrew Ker of Hetoun. They had three sons, Andrew, Robert and James.

On March 8th, 1585 - 6, when he could hardly have been more than six or seven years of age, James obtained a nineteen-year lease from the Commendator of Holyrood of the teinds of the lands of Boyntoun and others, which had been granted to his grandfather Robert Cairncross in 1571, as we have seen. In 1587 he is mentioned as next in succession to his father William Cairncross, in a lease of the latter's, and on June 19th, 1601, he witnessed a charter granted by his father. In the following year, 1602, he was involved in the quarrel with the Homes, described in the preceding section (p.58), and in 1605 he and his father redeemed the lands of Allanshaws for 2,000, probably bonded by then to meet the fines imposed on them in 1602.

On October 10th, 1611, James and his spouse Janet Ker were given sasine of the lands of Wooplaw, under a charter dated May 15th, 1611, by William Cairncross, of Colmslie, in terms of contract of marriage between William and James, on the one part, and Sir Andrew Ker, with his son Andrew and the latter's daughter Janet, on the other part.


In 1617, on September 10th, James and his father were complained against to the Privy Council, and appear again in the records of the Council for October 27th, 1619. However these complaints do not appear to have resulted in any public approbrium, for about 1620 James was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Roxburghshire.

In 1621 James and his wife gave a charter of the lands of Easterside of Langley and Westerside of' Housebyre to Mr. John Mitchell. In 1622 they gave a charter of Allanshaw, Wooplaw, Westerside of Langley (p.90.3) etc., to George Pringle. On the 6th of July of this year 1622 James signed a charter narrating "that in terms of her marriage contract Janet Ker, his spouse, was infeft in conjunct fee or life-rent in half of the lands of Selmure otherwise called Colmslie, Allanschawis, and Wowlaw, and the teinds thereof, which infeftments were declared null and void at the instance of Thomas, Earl of Melrose, by Decreet of the lords of Council and Session, and whereas these lands have been disponed to the said James Cairnecorce, his heirs and assignees, by the said Earl of Melrose for certain great sums of money, and the said Janet Ker at the desire of her spouse gave her consent to the alienation and impignaration of the said lands of Allanshawis and Wowplau, which formerly pertained to her in conjunct fee or life-rent, for certain sums of money to be raised by her spouse for payment of the aforesaid sums of money due to the Earl, therefore the said Janet Ker is hereby infeft in life-rent in half of the lands of Selmure otherwise called Colmslie, with the mill etc., thereof, and also an annual rent of 50 merks from the Westersyde of Housebyre; to be held of' the Earl of Melrose for yearly payment for the half of Colmslie of' 50 stones of butter or 6/8d for each stone, and for the annual rent from Westersyde of Housebyre one penny blench if asked."

On February 28th, 1624, James, as superior, granted a precept of Clare Constat in favour of John Mitchell of the lands of which in 1621 he had given a charter. On June 26th James resigned the lands of Easter Langley occupied by himself. In 1629, on December 12th, he obtained nine husbandlands of Smelholme.


After the death of James, there was registered, in 1657, a bond presented by John Pringill, granted by Thomas Boll in Colmslie to James Cairncross of Colmslie, obliging himself and his heirs to send their corn of Langlie to be ground at the mill of Colmslie, "paying only a peck for each six firlots of multure with the customary knaveship, and shall always abstract none of our corns which we shall happen to grind that grows upon the east side of Langley, but shall import the same to the said milne, and shall abide watter and rowne throughout for the space of one month next after the corn be in readiness, under the pain of dry multure, in case I or my tennants foresaid divert the same to any other milne providing also the millers and servants are at the said milne help to their power the carrying of our said corns thankfully to and from the said milne". The bond was dated at Longhauche on March 4th, 1633.

In 1637, following on a charter of confirmation by James, his spouse Janet her obtained sasine of the Westerside of Housebyre in life-rent.

In 1641 - 2 James gave a charter, with the consent of his spouse Janet Ker, his son Robert, and James Pringle, to John Fischer of Drygrange of half of the lands of Selmure alias Colmslie, with the mill, for yearly payment of 50 stones of butter. Andrew Cairncross, son of James, was one of the witnesses at Whitebank.

On December 2nd, 1643, James, with consent of his wife and James Pringill, gave a charter in implement of a contract in favour of William Cairncross of Auldmelrois for the sum of 2,000 merks Scots of the lands of Wouplaw.

On January 1st, 1644, James Cairncross, son of James Cairncross of Colmslie was one of the witnesses to a bond by Bernie Merser for 21.6.8d "as the price to two miskets with their bandoliers". On August 15th, 1644, James of Colmslie became repossessed of the lands of which in 1641 - 2 he had given a charter to John Fischer, Andrew Cairncross being attorney for his father James Cairncross.

On May 22nd, 1649, James and his wife gave a charter in implement of a contract in favour of James Pringill of' Whitebank, of the lands of Wouplaw, under reversion, for the sum of 5,300 merks Scots. Three years later, on July 12th, 1652, James with consent of his son Andrew and James Pringill gave sasine of these lands to John Pringle of Cortilferrie, under reversion of payment to him of 5,000 merks Scots, and such back tack duties extending yearly to 200 as might be due then. Payment of this sum must have been effected, for in 1659 Andrew was in possession of these lands. James died between the date of this charter, 1652, and October 31st, 1655.


ANDREW (Born c.1612) (1641 - 1679). died c.1680.

The fifth and last laird of Colmslie was Andrew the son of James. He was born about 1612 and does not appear to have had any offspring or to have been married. His possessions on 1655 must have been extensive, for besides being laird of Colmslie he was the owner of Wouplaw, Langley, Newtoun Mill and Sellarahauch.. However, he parted with nearly all his inheritances, and with him ended the Cairncross proprietorship of Colmslie, after having existed for more than a hundred and fifty years.

The first mention of Andrew is on December 4th, 1641, when he was one of the witnesses at Whitebank to a charter by his father and his brother Robert. He was again a witness to a charter by his father on December 12th, 1643. On January 27th, 1645 he was attorney for his father.

On July 12th, 1652, Andrew gave his consent to a charter by his father to John Pringle of the lands of Wouplaw for 5,000 merks Scots. These lands must have been redeemed for in 1657, two or three years after his father's death, Andrew was sued by the Earl of Haddington for feu and tack duty of' Wouplaw, Wester Langley, Newtoun Mill and Sellerahauch.

Andrew appears in a sasine of Mr. William Duguid, minister at Uphall, and Barbara Cairncross* his spouse, on October 31st, 1655, and in 1657 he was sued by James Smyth for the sum of 7.3.4d and costs. On August l6th,1662, he and John Fischer, acting apparently in the capacity of Justices of the Peace, gave judgement in a case about the value of some lost sheep; on December 22nd, 1662, Andrew was called upon to pay a portion of the stipend of Mr. John Waughe, schoolmaster, for 1666.

* See p.64.9


In 1674, Francis Scott, brother of James Scott of Galashields, obtained the disposition of Colmslie, and the Cairncrosses were dispossessed. Andrew had apparently moved to Langley some fourteen years previously, and during the period 1660 - 1679 he is referred to either as Andrew Cairncross of Colmslie, or Andrew Cairncross of Westerlangley. However, there may have been two Andrews at this time, and Andrew of Langley may not have been Andrew of Colmslie, though this supposition does not receive much support from the little evidence available.

On February 2nd, 1660, Andrew of Wester Longlie and Woplaw was sued for the rent of a house in Hillslope occupied by Andrew's deceased brother Robert in 1659. About the same time Andrew of Wester Langlie was sued by John Cruikes and William Maben, bailies in Galashiels, about a bank of wood bought from him. On March 17th, 1666, Andrew of Wester Longlie was called upon to pay 17.3.4d, being part of the stipend of the minister of Melrose.

Wooplaw was disposed of on October 13th, 1668, by Andrew of Westerlonglie to Mr. John Scott of Longshaw for an annual rent corresponding to the principal sum of 2,300 Scots; and Langlie, the last of his major possessions, was bonded on March 5th, 1675, to Mr. Alexander Cairncross, minister at Dumfries, for 1,000 merks.

The last reference to Andrew of Wester Longlie occurs on August 21st, 1679, when he must have been sixty-seven years of age; from this it appears that he had redeemed Langley. He died shortly after this date, and on May 9th, 1682, William Cairncross, eldest son to the deceased Robert Cairncross of Colmslie, and nephew and nearest heir to the deceased Andrew Cairncross of Wester Langley, obtained sasine of the lands of Wester Langley, the Mill of Newtoun, and others, proceeding upon a Precept of Clare Constst granted to him on April 22nd, 1682, by William Cairncross[4] of Wester Langley, writer in Edinburgh. This latter William has not been identified, William Cairncross " of Nesterlongley" married Mistress Marie Gray on July 27th, 1691, his subsequent history, together with that of Langley, being unknown.

[4] Was this William also of Wester Langley? It might be an error, as a writer operating in Edinburgh could hardly have been domiciled 30 miles away from the 'office' in the late 1600's??
(Definition) - WRITER: an ordinary legal practitioner in Scottish country towns.
(Chambers' 20th Century Dictionary.)


Barbara Cairncross, mentioned under date 1655, may have been a sister of Andrew. On October 2nd, 1658, Margaret Ker, widow of James Cairncross of Calfhill, and Anthony Murray, her spouse, complained against Barbara Cairncross as follows: - "About seven years ago Margaret Ker sent to Edinburgh with Marion Fogs the sum of 18 Scots, which the said Marion delivered to the said Barbara 'to have bocht ane pair of good and sufficient new plaids with te the pursuer' as she had promised to do, and had asked tile money to be sent, yet neither are the plaids delivered nor the money returned. Defender confesses the receipt of the money but alleges pursuer owed her a greater sum. Decerns upon her confession, and pursuer to find caution before extracting to answer at defender's instance; Andrew Cruik in Melrose becomes cautioner. Expenses 40s." Some time after the death of her husband, Barbara was ordered by the court to remove from certain houses and yards in Langhaughe then possessed by her and her tenant William Wilson.

Click here to go back to the Title page.

Click here to go back to the CONTENTS page.

Click here for the Kings of Scotland.

Click here to go to Chapter XII.