Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Border Reivers - Kinmont Willie Armstrong

by Tom Moss

The Border Reivers held sway in the lands on both sides of the English Scottish Border from the 13th to the 17th centuries. They are little heard of today but in their time they robbed, murdered and blackmailed the clans and surnames (families). Not only did they rob across the Border but also from their own people.

Authority and monarchy had little answer to their depredations. The Border Reivers answered only to the unwritten laws of their own people.

Border Marches

Kinmont Willie was, without doubt, one of the most notorious Scottish Border Reivers of the 16th century. His raids into England, in particular Tynedale in Northumberland, are particularly well documented. The primary sources from his day speak of big, organised raids involving hundreds of the reiver fraternity intent on spoil and destruction south of the Border.

As such Kinmont was well prized by the English. Unfortunately for them he was always one step ahead of any attempt to capture him and, when all else failed, it seemed that he was sheltered well by the Scottish March Wardens of his time, particularly the Maxwells. On at least one occasion the monarch of the Scottish realm, James Vl, was implicated by English authority smarting at the fact that Kinmont was never brought to justice. James was to laugh long and hard after one notorious raid led by Kinmont.

Some of the raids into England in which Kinmont took part resulted in complete penury for the English clans of Tynedale but he was never brought to justice even though the English hotly demanded that he should be made to answer for his crimes. This is especially true of the 1580’s.

Complaint of 30th August 1584.

‘Compleynes Bartrame Mylburne of the Keyme, Gynkyne Hunter of the Waterhead in Tynedale upon William Armestronge of Kinmowthe, (Kinmont), Eckye Armestronge of the Gyngles, Thome Armestronge called Androwes Thome, of the Gyngles, Johne Forster sone to Meikle Rowie of Genehaughe, George Armestronge, called Renyons Geordie, and his sons of Arcleton in Ewesdale, and there complices, for that they and others to the number of thre hundrethe parsons (persons) in warlike maner ranne one opyn forrowe (foray) in the daye tyme, on Frydaie in the mornynge last, being 30th August in Tynedale unto certen places that is to say the Keyme, the Reidheughe, the Black Mydennes, the Hill house, the Water head, the Starr head, the Bog head, the High feelde, and there raised fyer and brunte the most pairte of them, and maisterfullie refte, stale and drave awaye fowre hundrethe kyen and oxen, fowre hundrethe sheip and goate, 30 horses and mears and the spoyle and insight of the howses to the walewe of twoe hundrethe pounds, and slewe and murdered crewellie six parsons, and maimed and hurte ellevin parsons (persons), and took and led awaye 30 presoners, and them do deteigne and keip in warlike maner, minding to ransom them contrarie the vertewe of trewes (truces) and laws of the Marches. Whereof they aske redress.

Black Middens Bastle
‘At Michaelmas (29th September) 1584 Jake Huntter, Bartie Milburne of the Keam, Jarre Hunter, Michael Milburne and Lante Milburne of Tersett (Tarset) in Tyndaile (Tynedale) complain upon Davyee Ellot called the “Carlinge”, Clem Croser called “Nebless” (noseless) Clem, Thome Armestronge called “Symes Thom”, Will Armestronge called “Kinmothe” (Kinmont), Ector Armestronge of the Hillhouse, and other 300 men, who ran a day foray and took away forty score (800) kye (cows) and oxen, three score horses and meares (mares), 500 sheep, burned 60 houses and spoiling the same to the value of £200 sterling and slaying ten men’.

In 1593, some six years later, there is another complaint by the English against a Scottish raid involving William Armstrong of Kinmont:

‘On the 6th instant (October 1593), William Ellot (Elliot) of Lawreston, the Laird of Mangerton, and William Armstrong called Kinmott, with 1000 horsemen of Liddesdale, Eskdale, Annandale and Ewesdale ran an open day foray in Tyvedale (should say Tynedale) and drove off “nine hundred five score and five” (1005) head of nolt (cows), 1000 sheep and goats; 24 horses and mares, burned an onset and a mill and carried off 300l sterling of insight gear...'

Nicholas Forster (son of the English Warden) went to the king, James Vl, who was in the Scottish Borders at Jedburgh, demanding redress for the crime. The king protested it “was done contrary to his pleasure” and his present visit to the Borders was to see justice done and good order kept. A letter was received from the Scottish Council promising redress, but not so effectively as expected, as no “day of delivery is set down” (the handing over of the Scottish raiders).

The English doubt that the delays will be dangerous as they note that William Ellot and the principals of the crime have been before the King and “nothing is yet done”. Yet for all his infamous notoriety and his successful and uncontested raids into England Kinmont was to suffer the greatest of indignities when he was captured by the English at a time when he thought he was protected by the law of the Border at a ‘Day of Truce’.

On the 17th March 1596 a ‘Day of Truce’ was held at the Dayholme of Kershope. The Dayholme was an area of flatland abounding the little Kershope burn, the Border, to this day, between England and Scotland. It was a place traditionally used to hold ‘Days of Truce’, a day when felons and miscreants were brought to the Border Line to answer for their crimes against the Border Law.

At the Dayholme of Kershope on that day in the early spring of 1596 gathered about two hundred men to witness that the trials and judgement were both fair and deserved. Half of the witnesses were Scottish, the other half English. Among the Scottish contingent was one, William Armstrong of Kinmont, called by his March Warden to witness the events.

To bring together so many English and Scots who were often at loggerheads and feud could not be achieved without the promise of safe conduct. Therefore, written into Border Law was an ‘Assurance’ that all who attended did so on the understanding that they were immune from confrontation with any enemy from the opposite side of the Border or, indeed, fellow countrymen with whom they might be at feud. The ‘Assurance of the Truce’ was thus the vehicle which gave all confidence that they could attend with impunity. The ‘Assurance’ did not last only for the time that the trials were in session but until the sunrise following the Truce so that all who had attended would have time to return to their homes in safety.

The ‘Day of Truce’ at the Dayholme of Kershope was over before sunset on the day, it was but a minor affair held to comply with the requirements of Border Law. Both the English and Scottish contingents began to make their way homewards. Kinmont with a few acquaintances from the Scottish West March rode down the Scottish side of the river Liddel whilst his English counterparts made for home down the English side. All were confident that the ‘Assurance’ of the Truce still held and would do so until sunrise of the next day.

Suddenly the English turned and rode furiously across the river and chased Kinmont, just as suddenly aware that he was in imminent danger, down the Scottish bank. Not far from where the rivers Liddel and Esk join forces and run from there to the Solway Firth the Scottish party was overtaken and overcome. Kinmont was bound to his horse and conveyed, under guard, to Carlisle castle to await a decision on his future from Thomas Lord Scrope, English West March Warden, who was away on business at his ancestral home of Bolton castle in Wensleydale, north Yorkshire.

Scrope's Tomb
Thomas Lord Scrope was made English West March Warden in 1595. Even though he presided over the embarrassing and humiliating debacle that ensued following the capture and rescue of Kinmont Willie Armstrong, he was made a Knight of the Garter in 1599. He is buried in the village church of Langar in Nottinghamshire, England.

Following the capture, the Scots were up in arms and claimed that Kinmont Willie had been taken against the Assurance of the Truce and thus the English, in their rush to take the Scot, had transgressed the Border Law.

His capture by the English, the defiant yet rambling stance of Scrope in his efforts to justify Kinmont’s imprisonment in Carlisle castle is adequately documented in the ‘Calendar of Border Papers.’ Likewise the fury of his Scottish counterpart, Sir Walter Scott of Branxholme and Buccleuch, Keeper of Liddesdale, who rattled and railed yet endeavoured to effect Kinmont’s release through petition and diplomacy is also well recorded.

Sir Walter Scott of Branksome and Buccleuch was, without doubt, the major figure in the English Scottish Border lands of the late 16th century. Even though an arch Scottish Border Reiver he was knighted and made a Lord by James V1 of Scotland.

The relationship between these two main adversaries in Kinmont’s capture was particularly strained even by the standards of the times. March Wardens, acting for the west, middle and east of the country on each side of the Border were, at the very least in office to work in harmony. It was paramount in the role that they worked together to subdue the unruly Border people.

The reality was somewhat different. Often the Wardens of the Scottish and English Marches were at loggerheads as favour towards a particular family or clan on one side of the Border created friction on the other. There were many Wardens down the ages, with an eye for the main chance, who were not adverse to the receipt of a lucrative backhander from the product of the reive should they be willing to turn a blind eye to the reprehensible proceedings.

Scrope and Buccleuch took this iniquitous relationship to a newer and higher level. Scrope was to say of Buccleuch on the day following the capture of Kinmont:

‘Buccleugh’s messages and letters, extant with me, carried always in there fronte a note of pryde in him selfe and of his skorne towards me… a backwardness to justice, except the kind that he desired, which was solely for the profit of his own friends, and showed his disposition to disquiet the frontier, and disturb the peace between the princes’. (Elizabeth l and James Vl).

At another time Buccleuch had insisted that a notorious English reiver be brought to the Truce Day for trial and due justice but had then refused to hear the case because the ‘recettor’ or receiver of the stolen goods was not also present. Scrope was furious but his ire fell on deaf ears.

Their relationship was cold, inert and replete with attitude and stance. It did not augur well in coming to agreement in the case of the capture of Kinmont Willie Armstrong.

Scrope wrote to Elizabeth l asking what he should do with Kinmont. In his opinion he was such an important prisoner that he needed the ruling of the English monarch as to the course he should take. Should he bend to Buccleuch’s demands for Kinmont’s release or should he hold on to the great Scottish reiver?

He did not receive a reply and thus deemed that it was best that Kinmont should stay where he was, warded in Carlisle castle. Moreover he would have lost face with the Scottish West March if he had been ordered to loose Kinmont and probably have witnessed an escalation in the number of raids into his Wardenry. The Scots would not have been slow to perceive the lack of support from the highest of English authority and taken advantage of the fact. Thus the silence of Elizabeth brought some relief to the embattled English Warden.

Buccleuch wrote to Thomas Salkeld, Scrope’s deputy warden who had directed the English at the ‘Day of Truce’ at the Kershope burn. He demanded Kinmont’s release. He did not receive a reply.

At the same time Thomas Lord Scrope wrote to Cecil giving details of the capture and hinting that the Assurance of the Truce at the Dayholme had terminated at sunset on the same day and not at the following sunrise which was the norm. Cecil sought guidance as to the procedure at a Truce Day from Sir Ralph Eure who stated that the Assurance would normally terminate at the sunrise following completion of the Truce but that often, following dialogue between the Wardens, other times were agreed. One of these was sunset of the day if the ‘bills of complaints’ were few in number and those who had attended lived near enough to make their way home before sunset.

In all, the conclusions of the deliberations between Burghley and Eure added not only confusion but an effective smoke-screen behind which the English held on to Kinmont against the rising crescendo of calls from the Scots for his release.

Scrope would suffer because of his intractable and dictatorial approach towards the very men with whom he should have promoted harmony and unity when William Armstrong of Kinmont was captured and imprisoned in Carlisle castle. The Lowthers and the Carltons, both prominent north Cumbrian families, would endeavour to best Thomas Lord Scrope following Kinmont’s incarceration.

Scrope, on one occasion, was to sum up his approach to those who served him in a letter to Lord Burghley, Elizabeth’s chief minister, in 1593. ‘ This I consider no small contempt and scorning of my authority… for I hold myself so much dishonoured by the disobedience of any under me, that I must beseech her Majesty to countenance my orders in execution of my office…’

Working behind the scenes as the episode unfurled were the premier English Border clan, the Grahams. They were friends with Thomas Carleton, erstwhile Captain of Carlisle castle who had been dismissed by Scrope because of his double-dealing with the Scottish reivers. The latter readily invaded the barony of Gilsland at Carleton’s behest as long as a percentage of the takings came his way. When Scrope became aware of Carleton’s double –dealing he dismissed him out of hand. Fair as this was, Thomas Carlton from that time forward harboured a deep and lasting grudge against the English West March Warden.

The Grahams requested that Buccleuch should meet them to discuss the Kinmont affair. They inhabited the areas verging on the rivers of Esk and Line (Leven in the 16th century) as well as Netherby and Mote and had no great affinity with the Armstrongs of Liddesdale and Ewesdale, thus the request to meet Buccleuch was intriguing to say the least.

At the meeting the Grahams ventured the thought that Buccleuch, suitably accompanied with a party of Scottish reivers mainly from the vales of the rivers Liddel, Ewes and Annan, should raid Carlisle and force their way into the castle and rescue KInmont. Carlisle castle was the second strongest fortress on the Borders, only the castle of Berwick was stronger, and Buccleuch saw little chance of breaching its walls without a veritable army of Scots from the Border valleys.

When, however, the Grahams intimated that there would be not only inside help from the inmates of the castle but also a journey south through English territory uncontested by any of the English clans, Buccleuch warmed to the notion. The Grahams were emphatic in their claim that there would be no resistance to the raiding party’s crossing the Border into English territory.

Buccleuch, apprehensive as he was at the involvement of the Grahams, was convinced that there was little option to their aid. There would be no better chance of freeing Kinmont. Then again Kinmont was married to one of the Grahams and family ties were the mainstay of the Border clans. Allegiance to the clan was paramount.

After further meetings held at Carvinley (north of Longtown and Netherby) and Archerbeck (near Canonbie), the final plans were agreed at a dinner in Langholm castle where all the main plotters and instigators had gathered earlier in the day on the pretext of watching the horse racing on the Castleholm. A remark recorded from the mouth of Lancelot Carleton is worthy of note:- ‘If this comes to passe (the release of Kinmont) it will make an end of my Lord Scrope and devide Mr Salkeld and hime’. (Thomas Salkeld of Corby was Scrope’s deputy).

On 12th April 1596 the rescue party, about seventy strong, assembled at Mortonrigg, Kinmont’s tower in the Debateable Land and headed south for Carlisle at sunset. When they reached the eastern end of the Scots Dyke, the contingent from Annandale led by the Johnsons broke away from the party and went into hiding. In true reiver fashion they would remain there through the night and contest any pursuit of the rescue party on their return.

The remainder of the men heading for Carlisle, now about fifty strong, made their way under cover of darkness through the Graham lands of Esk and Leven. They encountered no-one. The Grahams had done their work well. On reaching the Staneshaw bank above the Eden (modern day Stanwix), the Irvines of Bonshaw (a tower still to be seen near Kirtle Bridge), broke from the others and concealed themselves near the road north, yet another potential ambush party.

Carlisle Castle
Soon after the remaining twenty-five or so of the raiders, mainly Armstrongs now, were looking across the river Eden, near its confluence with the river Caldew, at the formidable pile of Carlisle castle. Leaving their horses on the north bank, they swam the river, and made their way to a postern gate in the western wall of the castle. The gate was opened from the inside, probably by one of Thomas Carleton’s servants still employed there.

Only five of the raiders entered the castle. They knew the exact whereabouts of Kinmont’s warding because on the previous day a Graham, on legitimate business, had been told by one of the garrison, sympathetic to the cause, where Kinmont was held.

The weather on the night was horrendous. On the ride south the rescue party had been buffeted by torrential rain. On entering the castle they were served by the weather as the watch, almost to a man, were undercover, protecting themselves from the worst of the elements. Thus their entry was hardly contested. Only two men attempted to impede their progress to Kinmont’s cell and they were soon dealt with. Another guard, marshalling the entrance to the cell, was badly wounded.

The rescue party, now with Kinmont in their midst, left the castle, swam the river, and were soon on their way home to Scotland. The Irvines, stationed at the Staneshaw bank and the Johnstones at the Scots Dyke were soon to swell their numbers.

Scrope was to claim in letters to Lord Burghley that the castle had been attacked by 500 men from the Scottish Borders. In a letter to the Privy Council he wrote:

‘Yesternighte in the deade time therof, Walter Scott of Hardinge (Harden, south of Hawick), the chief man about Buclughe, accompanied with 500 horsemen of Buclughes and Kinmontes frends, did come armed… unto an outewarde corner of the base courte of this castell and to the posterne dore of the same-which they undermined speedily… brake into the chamber where Will of Kinmont was (and) carried him awaye… The watch, as yt shoulde seeme, by reason of the stormye night, were either on sleepe or gotten under some covert to defende them selves from the violence of the wether… Yf Buclugh him selfe have bin therat in person, the capten of this proude attempte, as some of my servants tell me they hard his name called upon… then I humblie beseech that her Majesty (Elizabeth l) wilbe pleased to send unto the Kinge (James Vl) … that he maye receive punishment’.

Scrope’s initial assessment would prove to be way off the mark. The humiliation he suffered on learning that the postern gate had been opened from the inside and, to add insult to injury, that the raiding party was but twenty-five strong, left him bemused, dispirited and looking for any available scape-goat.

He was soon to point the finger at his own subordinates for the ease with which the castle was breached:

‘ And regardinge the myndes of the Lowthers to do villeny unto me, havinge beene assured by some of their owne, that they woulde do what they coulde to disquiet my government, I am induced vehementlye to suspect that their heades have bin in the devise of this attempte, and am also persuaded that Thomas Carlton hath lent his hand hereunto; for it is whispered in myne eare, that some of his servauntes, well acquainted with all the corners of this castell, were guydes in the execution herof’.

Scrope even received an anonymous letter implicating the Carletons and Grahams:-
‘ Right honourable lord, pleaseth your lordship to ken this truth of the takinge oute of Kynmont… and speciallie Englishmen dwelland within the ground of England quha (who) was counsell and causers of it… Albeyt the Layrd of Buckclughe tooke the deede on hand, there is others that sarvis mare blame. The dischardginge of Thomas Carlton of his office (Scrope had dismissed him as Constable of the castle earlier that year) hes helpit your lordschip to receave this schame, with the help of Richey of Brakonhill (Brackenhill tower is still to be seen near Longtown), and others of the Grames (Grahams) quha was led by their counsel, hes done what they coulde to breake the countrey ever san Thomas was dischardged his office…’

It was soon established who the anonymous writer was. Richie’s Will, a Graham, had suffered horrendously at the hands of Buccleuch and had been waiting for the day when he could exact some retribution from the Teviotdale warlord.

Kinmont went in to hiding in Ewesdale and within a very short time resumed the ordinary business of his life- reiving. His last known raid was on High and Low Hesket (on the A6 between Carlisle and Penrith). After that he fades into oblivion and it is assumed that he died in his bed in about 1603 and is buried in Sark churchyard near his tower of Mortonrigg.

All hell let loose following the rescue. Elizabeth l was incandescent with fury that one of her premier Border strongholds had been attacked in time of peace between the two nations. On learning from Scrope that Walter Scott of Branxholme and Buccleuch was responsible for leading the raid she demanded that he be turned over to the English for due punishment.

James Vl of Scotland was between the ‘rock and the hard place’. Much as he admired Buccleuch and was sensitive that the eyes of the whole of Scotland were fixed on how he would deal with the English monarch’s demands, he was very conscious that he could not afford to alienate the English sovereign. In 1586 at the ‘Treaty of Berwick’ James had been granted a pension of £4000 by the English monarch, millions in today’s money, and a promise of sorts that he would rule in England on her death. As was his usual wont he stammered and stuttered and prevaricated.

The war of words which was to follow demonstrates clearly that the capture and rescue of Kinmont was not a minor affair. Rather it would severely strain the uneasy peace which existed between the realms.

The English Ambassador to Scotland demanded redress. He met with James Vl in May of 1596 in private and was to state that the two countries had been at lesser odds before which had resulted in war.

He was to say to James:

‘Foreasmuch as Walter Scott of Buccleuch, knight, with his complices, on April 13th last past, in warlike manner and hostility, hath entered into and invaded her Majesty’s realm of England, hath assailed her Majesty’s castle at Carlisle, and there violently assaulted her subjects, and committed other heinous offences there, contrary to the league and amity betwixt her Majesty and the King, giving thereby just and manifest occasion of the breach and violation of the same league and amity. Therefore it is required that he maybe be duly fyled (accused) for this fact and breach of the league and amity, and also delivered for her Majesty to suffer the pains, and to be afflicted and executed on him for the same fault.’

Two weeks later James Vl was to meet with his Council to consider the demands of Elizabeth. Buccleuch was present at the meeting.

He was to say:

‘that he went not into England with the intention to assault any of the Queen’s houses, or to do wrong to any of her subjects, but only to relieve a subject of Scotland unlawfully taken, and more unlawfully detained; that in time of general assurance, in a day of truce, he was taken prisoner against all order, neither did he attempt his release till redress was refused; and that he carried the business in such a moderate manner, as no hostility was committed.’

As three of the garrison of Carlisle had been injured in the assault Buccleuch said he was prepared to be tried by Commissioners.

Bowes, The English Ambassador, replied to the Scottish Council.

‘By the treaties of peace, laws, customs and practices of the Marches, such a crime ought to be punished. Buccleuch should be delivered up to England without examination by Commissioners.’ Bowes had spoken to Thomas Lord Scrope, English West March Warden, and been assured that the English had complied with Border Law and its Assurance.

As this statement was a blatant misrepresentation of the facts, James then wrote to Elizabeth. He encouraged Elizabeth to foster a more balanced view of the affair.

‘Stoppe the one ear quhill (while) you heare the other pairtie and then all passion being remouit (removed), uiselie (wisely) and justlie to judge, for I am fullie persuadit that quhen ye shallbe richtlie informed that injurie quhich made this other deide to follow (the capture followed by the rescue), the proceedinge shall yet qualifie very muche the other in your iuste censureing mind… my ansoure and request is both that ye wille be contente to appoint commisioneris on your pairte, as I shall be most reddye upon mine…’

On receiving this letter from James, Elizabeth resolved to discontinue the pension granted at the Treaty of Berwick in 1586. She was adamant that Buccleuch’s case would not be heard by Commissioners and was beginning to tire of the stance from James. Even her fertile mind, though, had not given due consideration to the removal of the pension.

The Scottish Council quickly perceived that James could not now conform to the wishes of Elizabeth. Had he done so and handed over Buccleuch to the English it would appear to the people of both nations that he had done so for the money. In due course, as a result of this, Elizabeth softened her approach. She did, however, still refuse to involve a Commission and openly stated that once this issue was resolved to her satisfaction, she would resort to the normal procedures involving Commissioners.

‘Wherein we shall receive present redress for the world’s satisfaction in this so extraordinary a crime then shall none be more ready, in things doubtful, to be guided by the rules of equal and ordinary proceedings by Commissioners, nor in any good offices according to the custom.’

Her frustration now boiled over:

‘Shall any castle or habytacle of mine be assailed by a night larcin, and shall not my confederate send the offender to his due punishment? For Commissioners I will never grant, for an act he cannot deny that made… and when you with a better weighed judgement shall consider, I am assured my answer will be more honourable and just.’

Acutely aware that the whole of Scotland were following the case with great interest and high feeling that Buccleuch had done nothing else but the duty of a committed Scotsman in righting a wrong, James wrote again to Elizabeth:

‘That he might, with great reason, crave the delivery of Lord Scrope, for the injury committed by his deputy (Thomas Salkeld of Corby who had presided for the English at the Day of Truce at the Kershope burn), it being less favourable to take a prisoner, than relieve him that is unlawfully taken. Yet for the continuing peace, he would forbear to do it and omit nothing on his part, that could be desired, either in equity or the laws of friendship.’

Yet again James calls for Commissioners when he states that he will do everything that is expected of him in ‘equity’. Elizabeth made one final plea. It would appear to be heartfelt and, as at Berwick in 1586, there is mention of an English crown for James. Her soft approach, however, was very soon followed by an overt yet tactful threat which threatened the peace and amity of the two countries.

‘I beseech you to consider the greatness of my dishonour, and measure his just delivery accordingly. Deal in this case like a King who will have all this realm, and others adjoining. See how justly and kindly you both can and will use a prince of my quality.’

‘If the king of Scotland… keeping the said offenders in his grace and protection… therefore involves himself in their guiltiness, leaving the queen to have her remedy by another nature.’

At about this time Buccleuch and Kerr of Cessford had embarked on particularly vicious inroads into English territory. Buccleuch, with others of Teviotdale, was responsible for thirty seven murders in Tynedale on the English side, though he was quick to point out that he followed legal pursuit in the Hot Trod for crimes committed in his valley.

It is said that Buccleuch’s raid was in reprisal for Thomas Lord Scrope’s massive incursion into Liddesdale when he rounded up the men of the valley and led them naked and in chains back to Carlisle, leaving their women and children naked, homeless and without any means to feed themselves; a backlash, it is said, because of the humiliation he felt over the springing of Kinmont. Elizabeth 1 had given Scrope permission to follow this course when he complained that he could never get any redress for the crimes committed by the Liddesdale clans. They, it seemed, often acted with Buccleuch’s connivance.

Sir Robert Bowes, the English Ambassador, wrote to Burghley and the English should threaten the Scots with war unless Buccleuch’s raids were to cease as the latter’s raid on Tynedale had ‘well nigh defeated the Treaty’ that existed between the two countries.

Buccleuch was finally warded in Berwick in October 1597 much to the satisfaction of Elizabeth. The Kinmont affair, which had raged for over a year, slowly lost its impetus. Thus it was consigned to history. It remains to be verified exactly what Elizabeth meant when she spoke of ‘remedy by another nature.’

Perhaps one day that quandary may be resolved.

I have studied the history of the English and Scottish Border Reivers for many years now. I have visited over 600 Reiver sites in Cumberland and Northumberland, England and the Border counties of Scotland.

In 2007 I published a book about the capture and rescue of Kinmont Willie Armstrong. It is both an account from the primary sources of the time, well documented in the Calendar of Border Papers, coupled with a fictional account of what came to be known as the ‘Kinmont Affair’.

My website, which includes my blog with a link under Border Reivers Stories can be seen at

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