Sing Erslington and Cowdenknows,
Where Homes had ance commanding,
And Drygrange with the milk-white ewes,
'Twixt Tweed and Leader standing;
The birds that flee thro' Reedpath trees,
And Gledswood bank ilk morrow,
May chant and sing - Sweet Leader-Haughs
And bonnie holms of Yarrow.
Minstrel Burn.

The lands of Redpath lie to the east of Melrose, some two or three miles from that town, and on the east side of Leader Waters.

CHARLES (1541 (Lease) - 1607 (died.))

Charles Cairncross, portioner of Redpath, may have been the son of William the first laird of Colmslie, who on November 23rd, 1541, received a share of the lease of the teindsheaves of Barrow from his uncle Nicol Cairncross, burgess of Edinburgh.

He is mentioned as portioner of Redpath in 1547, and had a son named John and a daughter Marion. He died in the year 1607, his son inheriting his estate.

JOHN (1606 - 1607 (Legal Actions.))

On April 16th, and July 2nd, 1606, John Cairncross was sued by Thone Rogearm for cutting of his wood. In the same year John brought an action against the neighbours of Redpath for burning of the house called Craig House, the judge ordering him to produce the will of his deceased wife Elizabeth Lythgow, daughter of James Lythgow portioner of Redpath, before he be further heard, John apparently failed to produce this will, as there was no further reference to the case. At the same time he was found guilty of libel in that "it is sufficiently proven that he has miscallit James Linlythgow and Thome Trotter as mansworn carles."


On August 6th of the same year (1606) Sande Anderson appeared before the court and applied for absolution from a claim by Marion Cairncross against him, because her brother John had by a contract of alienation, dated at Melrose, December 20th, 1597, made over to him a husbandland, tenement, toft, croft, and their pertinents, including a house, in Redpath. Judgment was given eight days later, when Anderson was absolved from the claim, on the grounds of the effluxion of time, and because Marian's proofs were contradictory.

On May 27th, 1607, John Cairncross in Redpath was ordered to pay John Howatsone, "clangear", the sum of twenty merks for cleaning his house. On December 16th, John was on inquest, and on December 30th he became heir of' his late father Charles Cairncross in three husbandlands, houses, yards, lofts, and crofts, lying in Redpath.

JOHN (1587 (Inherited)).

There was another John Cairncross in Redpath about this time. On March 1st, 1587 - 8, under a charter by the King, he was declared heir of his late father Thomas Cairncross in Redpath, in a husbandland in Redpath, with pasturage on the common of Earlston, which Thomas Cairncross held of the Abbey of Melrose "in feuferme". The only other reference to a Thomas Cairncross in the sixteenth century is contained in a charter dated August 13th, 1617, wherein it is stated that the deceased Thomas Cairncross in Darnik was "infeft" by charter dated at Edinburgh, March 5th, 1566, in six acres of Darnik then occupied by him, and later acquired from him by the late Mr. John Scott. No other information relating to John Cairncross the son of Thomas Cairncross has been discovered.

ANDREW (Born c. 1592? (1632 Charter Legal) - 1666).

On May 5th, 1632, Andrew Cairncross in Redpath "whose ancestors have been native tenants past memory of man" received a charter of a sixth part and half a sixth part of the lands of Redpath, paying yearly 15, with thirlage to the mill of Redpath. He was then apparently forty years of age, and was the son of John Cairncross (probably the John, p.94).


In connection with a complaint by James Lythgow against John Rodger, on June 5th, 1658, for cutting and taking away trees from Redpath wood, Andrew was requested to inspect the ground and report the number and value of the trees, and what damage the complainant had suffered,

Andrew Cairncross, with John and William Anderson and John Rodger were sued on October 16th, 1658, for payment of teind duties, while on April 9th, 1659, complaint was made against Andrew and Jean Cairncross and twelve others, all inhabitants of Reepath, for cutting and taking away broom, whins, thorns and brambles out of the ground of James Lythgow. They were ordered not to do so again under a penalty of 5. On April 23rd, 1659, Helen Wright, Lady Gledswood, complained against Andrew and James Cairncross, and three others, all portioners of Redpath, for allowing their cattle, horses and sheep to trespass on her ground. Andrew thereupon stated that her cattle trespassed on the defenders' ground. On February 4th, 1660, Andrew was sued by James Rodger for a debt of 8.9.8d.

On March 10th, 1660, Andrew and his wife Margaret Meen granted two husbandlands of Redpath to John Dinant, under reversion, for 1,000 advanced by him to them, Margaret Meen declaring under oath that she was not coerced thereto.

On February 2nd, 1662, James Mercer and James Mean were ordered to deliver "two bolls and four and a half bolls a little frilly of beans" respectively to Andrew, due by them to Barbara Mean, widow of Bernard Mean, son of late John Mean, portioner of Newstead. On October 11th, 1662, Thomas Lythgow was ordered to pay a fine of 10 for a riot committed by him upon Andrew and his servant George Chrystie in August. On the same day Andrew was absolved from an action by David Brown of Park.

Margaret Ker, Lady of Coldenknows, complained, on January 9th, 1664, against George Bell, Andrew Cairncross, and the rest of the friars and inhabitants of Redpath "who daily molest and oppress her by cutting her wood, holding up and cutting her broom and whins, and eating her grass, without any licence, and the bailie ordains them to desist and not act thus thereafter, under penalty of 13/4d for each offence."


On December 9th, 1665, Margaret Mein, wife of Andrew Cairncross portioner of Redpath, ratified a heritable and irredeemable bond of this date, by Andrew, with her consent and that of their son John, to Mr. John Lythgow, minister, of their two husbandlands in Redpath, reserving a little house and yard.

Andrew was ordered on July 21st, 1666, to pay James Rodger the sum of 8.15.8d of borrowed money and certain necessaries furnished, while on October 20th, 1666, William Anderson was ordered to pay 23.3.0d to Andrew, in conformity with his ticket.

JOHN (1665 (Bond) - 1673 (Marriage)).

A reference to this John, son of Andrew, is contained in the document of December 9th, 1665, quoted above. He married Isabella Marr in 1673, his subsequent history being unknown.

JAMES (1608 (Legal Actions) - 1659).

In 1608 James Cairncross in Redpath was ordered to pay the sum of 7 to James Wood, as the price of a young colt. On April 23rd, 1659, James and Andrew Cairncross, with others, were complained against by Lady Gledswood, the details of the complaint appearing above.

Jean (1659 (Legal) - 1666?).

On April 9th, 1659, Jean and Andrew Cairncross, with others, were complained against by James Lythgow. On July 14th, 1666, mention is made of Jean Cairncross, widow in Redpath, and John Anderson, her son.

NICOL (1610 (Charter) - 1646 (Died)).

Nicol was a younger son of William Cairncross, the third laird of Colmslie. He is first mentioned on June 7th, 1610, when he witnessed a charter by his father. On July 4th, 1620, Nicol, his brother Robert and his father William figured in a Privy Council case, and on April 4th, 1625, he gave his consent to a charter of a husbandland in Redpath to John Anderson.


On June 7th, 1628, under a charter by the Earl of Haddington, Nicol became possessed of two husbandlands lying on the east side of the town of Redpath, "paying yearly 44/8d, six kain fowls, and two long carriages, with duplication and thirlage to the mill of Redpath". Three weeks later, with the consent of his wife, Nicol disposed of these lands to James Lythgow under reversion.

On July 24th, 1628, Nicol and several others were complained against by the Earl of Haddington for injuring the greenwood on the Earl's lands of Sorrolesfield. As they did not appear to answer the charge, they were "put to the horn." A year later, on July 30th, 1629, the Earl again complained about the destruction of his wood, the charge against Nicol being that he cut and took away three oak trees, and sold them for his own profit. As the defenders again failed to appear in court, they were declared rebels. In the following year, 1630, on May 26th, the widow of the late Laird of Cowdenknowes complained that Nicol Cairncross and others came with axes during the first four months of the year, and cut, destroyed, and took away a great number of trees. The defenders, failing to appear, were "put to the horn".

In 1646, Nicol Cairncross in Redpath having been killed by the enemy[1], his widow Isobel Pringle petitioned Parliament for the support of her six children.

[1]"the enemy" : - Probably referring here to the Royalist forces supporting Charles I of England, in their campaign to crush the Covernanters in Scotland - 1665, during the Civil War.

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