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Old 24th November 2022, 11:50 PM   #1
Peter Hudson
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Default THE BORDER REIVERS.

For my main reference I will lean heavily on a good solid base of information at Wikipedia and begin with a quote and a few questions since Sir Walter Scott is said to have quoted Elizabeth 1st as having said that "With ten thousand such men, James VI could shake any throne in Europe."

Thus my question is; If this was the case then why didnt the English recruit these superb horsemen into their order of battle and who were they and what became of them?

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Peter Hudson.
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Old 25th November 2022, 01:27 AM   #2
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Hello Peter and thank you for bringing up this topic! I have only recently started to study these clans of the Southwest regions of Scotland. I recently found out through Ancestry.com that I'm 27% Scot and realized it was on my paternal grandmother's side. She was a Young. The Young clan were one of the many family groups of this region that were made up of the Border Reivers. As you probably already read, they were ferocious fighters who attacked other clans and also the English over their border (thus the name!). I would imagine they made great warriors, but by their very nature, they were not 'team players'. I always imagine one of their clan being asked to whom do they hold allegiance to and they replying;

"To the three, laddie...me, myself, and I! Now go %$#* off!"

So they held no allegiances and were prickly around others. As I understand it, they were finally crushed by the king's forces near the end of the 16th century. It would indeed have been interesting, had they survived and remained strong, to see where they might have sided during the Jacobite troubles.
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Old 25th November 2022, 08:10 AM   #3
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This is indeed a fascinating and esoteric topic, and as Mark has noted, the fact that their allegiance was primarily to their family or clan likely made them less than reliable for incorporating into regimented ranks. Their well earned reputation as fierce fighters and rugged came with their nature of outlaw character, with the term reiver from Old English, 'reive'=to rob.

Regardless of whether they were ever officially brought into the English order of battle, they were likely involved in degree, and as described, depending on the situation. What I think is important is the influences of the arms and armor used, which seem to consist of interesting assortment of forms from European sources with many apparently associated in the evolution of the famed basket hilt swords of Scotland. These of course were actually evolved in England as well and through these border regions and people.
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Old 25th November 2022, 10:50 AM   #4
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Both Scots and English kings used them in their local wars, but found them inclined to have their own alliances and motivation in combat. The unification removed their reason for existence and James really hated them, especially the Graham family who he outlawed and banished from the UK. The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Frazer is a good reference if you can get hold of it.
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Old 25th November 2022, 05:40 PM   #5
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Default The Grahams

I'm a Graham; at least I was until my father married my mother.
Her family finally settled down to farming in Ford/Etal but her father ran off with the circus and became a lion tamer.
We were not alone in our infamy: the bloody Armstrongs and Robsons were equally unpleasant... they are still a thorn in my side - having employed both over the years.
It has now become fashionable, up here on the borders, to take pride in your Reiver ancestry.
The value of such prestige is as debatable as the borderlands; although our Port wines can inspire such confidence.
Here's our crest:
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Old 25th November 2022, 05:54 PM   #6
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What, who is the hawk, eagle eating?

Never mind. I found an answer https://www.scotsconnection.com/clan_crests/Graham.htm . I did not find out what the stork represented.
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Old 28th November 2022, 05:57 PM   #7
fernando
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Originally Posted by urbanspaceman View Post
The value of such prestige is as debatable as the borderlands; although our Port wines can inspire such confidence...
You know Keith, you could by a high-end sword for the price of a bottle of Graham's 'Ne Oublie' Tawny Port ? .
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Old 26th November 2022, 01:33 PM   #8
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Default obdurate

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Originally Posted by Peter Hudson View Post
Thus my question is; If this was the case then why didn't the English recruit these superb horsemen into their order of battle and who were they and what became of them?
I don't think they were recruit-able.
You suggested yesterday that only by essentially enslaving them could they be commandeered, but I suspect they fought to the death at every opportunity.
Execute them or (as you also suggested) banish them.
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Old 26th November 2022, 01:43 PM   #9
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Default Blood of the Clans

For anyone interested in Clan warfare and all its details (such as dress and weaponry) I can seriously recommend this BBC 3 part documentary by Neil Oliver.
https://www.facebook.com/Dazzlerfilm...6451934449838/
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Old 26th November 2022, 04:26 PM   #10
Jim McDougall
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As noted, this is a fascinating topic, and seldom specified in most historical studies of Great Britain, but the 'Reivers' were a distinguishable group for centuries in these border regions between North England and Scotland. While references claim they existed as such as far as the early 17th century, it is of course obvious that they did not disappear, but simply became less known as a cohesive entity. They clearly assimilated into the societies of the recognized nations on either side which had effectively unified into one nation, Great Britain, so the outlaw convention had become infeasible under one law .
The inevitable strife remained, however political rather than warring.

The addition of personal geneological anecdotes here has greatly enhanced the dynamic of this discussion and for my view, heightened the discussion colorfully!
I would note that my own grandfather, a Highlander from the Western Isles, was noted in family lore to have advised, when choosing a wife, several attributes to seek, BUT be sure 'she is not a Campbell'.
This rather illustrates the internecine strife that existed between clans in Scotland, much as in most tribal cultures.

To best understand the character of these situations, with the many aspects of the Jacobite uprisings; the Stuart cause; Whig history; religious conflicts and clan conflicts of the British Isles the best reference I have found is "The Myth of the Jacobite Clans", Murray Pittock, 2009.

While not mentioning the Border Reivers by name, they were certainly part of the dynamics profoundly described in this analysis of these times .

Getting back to the main topic here, I would say that it was not just that Border Reivers were not specifically 'recruited' into one army or another, it that just as in most cases, people were not exactly 'card carrying' members of any specific group, clan or otherwise.Therefore though not 'officially' members of one army or another, they did function in auxiliary status in degree and as circumstances were in their favor. It is clearly noted that Reivers had only 'one side', which was their own family group, and that prevailed over all else.

Much as the famed 'pandours' in Europe, who were comprised of various ethnic and national groups and operated in assembled as raiding forces under the auspices of Austria in the mid 18th century, the 'Reivers' were much the same only less 'committed' to one specific controlling entity.

The 'pandours' adopted their own styles of warfare as well as weaponry, in the same manner the Reivers did, unique and effectively terrifying.
As I have mentioned, it would be interesting to look into the types of arms and armor that characterized the Border Reivers, and the influences that became integral in the development of nationally recognized forms from or through them.

Case in point would be the basket hilt, and how this distinctly formed weapon developed from the hilt forms of certain European swords, and became known in both England and Scotland in the 16th into 17th centuries. Many of the swords known to be used among the Border Reivers became essentially prototypes for what became the Highland hilt, or basket hilt.
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Old 26th November 2022, 05:31 PM   #11
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Thanks to all for the replies ...As it happens Im a Charlton on my mothers side and even they were largely uprooted and moved to the Durmam coal Fields...Others were either executed often without trial or transported. The Apallatian region was heavily planted with Border Reiver names and Nixon and Armstrong were respectively President and moon walker ...both Reiver names. Place names in that region copiedfamous locations in the Border areas such as Durham County...and Durham City as well as Northumberland and Cumberland. It is understood that many dialectic words crop up in Hillbilly linguistics directly linked to Borden Reiver style.

In his book The Northumbrians the author Dan Jackson states that 25,000 Border Reivers were incorporated by Henry V111 into his cavalry making it the finest in Europe....

To compound the problem take a giant stride forward to Marsden Moor in 1644 ..the biggest fight on English soil ever! The Marquis of Newcastle with a couple of thousand Northern Horse on the Royalist side. These were Border Reivers in all but name but all were there in their famous White Coats by which they were then known. Other names were Hobilars and sometimes they took the name of the famous lance they carried..Prickers. The entire outfit was very late since the night before they were all the worse for drink but worse still a Royalist Prince Rupert.. gave them all a huge reprimand before they were placed on the battlefied. Of the roughly 3000 men probably consisting of half Infantry and Half Cav... only about 30 survived a massive Scottish onslaught...The Marquis ran away to the Low countries but a few years later was allowed to return but what about the Border Reivers?
In about 1603 when the amalgamation of Scotland with England occurred and by then the Borders were extinct... not even the word Borders was allowed and new laws were in place essentially trebling the fines against thieves ...and being caught with a horse could mean jail and or the chopping block. Even the famous Galloway horse was doomed thus the famous Border Reivers were closed down, rounded up, and either transported or killed...

To be a Border Reiver meant belonging to a clan like structures not unlike that of The Mafia with a kind of unwritten Reiver Mantra... An Eye For an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth....


The weapons of the Border Reivers is well worth looking at and the next phase I would like to bring on is just that...

Regards,
Peter Hudson.

Last edited by Peter Hudson; 26th November 2022 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 26th November 2022, 05:44 PM   #12
Jim McDougall
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More great perspective Peter, and it is great to have more dimension revealed on how these distinct Reiver groups were indeed factored into armies in these cases.
As agreed the use of their weapon forms and many terms which have entered vernacular as expressions have shown the profound influence the Reivers have had culturally.

Attached is a paper on the swords of the Reivers (please pardon my scribbled notes in the copy I saved which are not relevant to the printed work).
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File Type: pdf Sword Hilts of the Border Reivers_c1611_1999 F.S.Dixson.pdf (360.4 KB, 617 views)
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Old 26th November 2022, 05:56 PM   #13
Peter Hudson
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Thanks Jim and nice to see the great artwork you have detailed. Peter

Please download the following;

https://archive.org/details/lordward...p?view=theater
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