The Douglas Archives

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The Scottish Marches is a term for the border country on both sides of the border between Scotland and England. From the Norman conquest of England until the reign of James VI of Scotland, who also became James I of England, border clashes were common and the monarchs of both countries relied on March Lords to defend the frontier areas known as the Marches.

Several Douglases held posts as wardens of the Marches. The border lands on each side divided into three marches: an east, middle, and west march. Each march had its own warden, who was responsible for the security of the area and its people Each Waarden answered to the Lord Warden. The Scottish wardens were familiar with their territories, and knew the people from the marches, and this gave them the opportunity to get involved in questionable dealings in order to further their position.

Throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the border country was ravaged by lawless Reiver families in a vicious cycle of raid, repirisal and blood feud.

Their allegiance was first to the family, the surname, not the crown, whether English or Scottish. "They are a people that will be Scottish when they will and English at their pleasure...."

A map of the Scottish Border Reivers from Gill Humphrys shows the areas of Border conflict and the home territories of the Reiver Families through the years 1500 to 1700. The map covers the area of the English and Scottish borders, and shows Carlisle and Newcastle in the South, up to Melrose and Berwick upon Tweed in the North. In addition to showing the locations of all the main border Families,it also features the march boundaries, the main battle sites, the Pele towers, the main valleys and rivers, and the Roman Wall.

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Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

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