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Morebattle Scotland

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Information on the village of Morebattle, near Kelso in Scotland.

The Former Parish of Mow or Molle

Mow Parish consisted of what is now the southernmost part of Morebattle Parish. It is an area of land with a very long, complicated and well recorded history.
Today, little remains but the names such as Mow Law and Mowhaugh, and the remains of Mow Tower, as marked on the Ordnance Survey map, and the scattered farms of the valley of the Bowmont and its tributary streams. In past times, however, Molle was a thriving farming community with a large population and many farmsteads and towns.
It was united with Morebattle parish before December 1635, and was annexed in 1672. The church may have been dedicated to St Helen.

'This territory owes its name to the Cambro-British people, and intended to describe a mountainous tract, abounding with hills of a round form - Mole signifying a round or conical hill.'

So Jeffrey, writing in 1836, describes the origins of Mow or Molle in his History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire. He continues:

'Molle is bounded on the south and south-west by the march line between England and Scotland, beginning at a place called the Black Hag on the east, and ending where the boundary of Hownam meets the English border on the south-west. On the east it was bounded by the parish of Morebattle.... The march line left the English border near the Black Hag, at a place where Northumberland slightly indents itself into Roxburghshire, and from thence to the source of Altonburn (Attonburn). The burn then formed the boundary until it reached the water of Beaumont, which it crossed, and then ran in a straight line by the east of a place then called Hulaweshou (Ellisheugh), to the base of Hunedune (Hownamlaw) where it met the Hownam boundary, and along that line to the English border. The whole of the territory is mountainous.... The mountains afford the finest pasture for sheep, and the valley produces excellent crops.'

The first records of this piece of land are when, as a part of Northumbria, it was granted with other lands and towns on the Bowmont to Lindisfarne in the seventh century.

During the reign of Alexander I (1107 - 1124) it was owned by a person named Liulf. After his death, his son, Uctred succeeded to the land, but by 1153, the the church of Molle, with the adjacent lands, had been granted to the monks of Kelso.
From Uctred the remaining land passed to Eschena de Londonii, known as Lady Eschena of Molle. Why we do not know, as there is no obvious link known between Uctred and Lady Eschena. Her first husband was Walter the Steward, He was a son of Alan who was the son of Flaald, a Norman who was granted land at Oswestry in Shropshire soon after the conquest. Walter, as a result of backing the wrong side in the long rivalry between, the Empress Maud and Stephen for the English throne, which Stephen untimately won, becoming King in 1135, was one of many Normans who came north to Scotland. He joined David I, receiving from him large possessions in Renfrewshire, East Lothian and Kyle. Malcolm IV, who succeeded David I in 1153, granted to Walter lands in Berwickshire and also Molle, with 'all its just pertinents, to him and his heirs in fee and heritage, for a knight's service.'

This charter signed at Roxburgh is witnessed by Ernald, bishop of St Andrew; Herbert, bishop of Glasgow; John, abbot of Kelso; William, abbot of Melrose; Osbert, abbot of Jedbirgh; Walter, the chancellor; William, the king's brother; Richard the constable; Gilbert of Umphrmville; Waldeve, son of earl Cospatric; and Jordan Riddell.

About 1165, Anselm of Whitton, afterwards styled 'of Molle', appears to have had part of the territory of Molle. He had two daughters who both married and on Anslem's death, the lands were divided between them. The lands are named as Hulasheshou, Ladhladde, Thueles, Mollehope etc.

Walter the Steward died in 1177, leaving Alan, his son by Eschina, as successor to the estate and to the office of Steward of Scotland, and whose descendant, Robert the Steward became King Robert II in 1371.

After Walter's death, his widow married Henry of Molle and bore him four daughters, Margaret, Eschina, Avicia and Cecilia. Echina died about 1200, and shortly after the ownership is in the name of De Vescis. We know that Lady Cecilia married Simon Maleverer and the "Avicia" daughter of Eschina and Henry de Molle was probably the "Alicia de Molla" who married Richard Scott, ancestor of the Scotts of Buccleuch, but no information is known about the lives of the other two sisters.

With the death of Cecilia in about 1250, the family became extinct and the lands which were not in the possession of the monks of Kelso devolved to Gilbert Avenal and thereafter to Sir John Halyburton, of the Berwickshire Halyburtons. Through his daughter, the lands passed to Adam of Roule, whom she had married upon the death of her first husband, Ralph Wyschard.

By the end of the century, the lands were possessed by Alexander Molle, and soon after by John Molle.

Before 1357, the lands seem to have been in the hands of John de Copeland, who was probably a sheriff of the county, because we know that he resigned all the lands which had forerly belonged to Adam of Roule to John Ker of the forest of Selkirk.

In 1358, John Kerr, on the resignation of William of Blackdeane, of part of the lands of Mow and Auldtownburn (Attonburn), obtained a charter in favour of himself and his wife, Mariote, of the said lands and others.

In 1474, the lands of Altonburne, as part of the barony of Cessford, were resigned to James III by Andrew Ker of Cessford, and granted by the king to Walter Ker, Andrew's son.

1481 saw Walter resigning the same lands to the king, who granted them again to him in heritage, with the remainder in succession to his brothers, Thomas, William and Ralph and the heirs of Andrew Ker.

In 1542, these same lands were granted by James V to Walter Ker of Cessford for services against the English, and a sum of money paid to the king's treasurer.

In 1490, Robert Mow resigned the town and demesne lands into the hands of James IV, who granted them to John Mow, Robert's brother.

In 1536, John Molle of that Ilk, William Douglas of Bonne-Jedburgh (Bonjedward), Thomas MacDougall of Maccaristoune (Makerstoun) found caution to the extent of 1000 merks, to underlye the law at the next justicaire of Jedburgh for oppression and hamesucken (assaulting a person in their own home) done to the dean of Murray.

In May 1541, at Jedburgh court, John Mow of that Ilk, William Stewart of Traquair, Walter Ker of Cessford, Robert Scott of Howpeslat, and Gilbert Ker of Greenhead became cautioners for Jhn Johnstone of that Ilk, to the extent of 10,000. ( A huge sum!)

In that same year, John Mow and twenty nine others got a respite for three years, for art and part in the slaughter of William Burn, son of Robert Burn of Primsideloch, at the Kirk of Mow.

According to the 'Border Minstrelsy', in 1575, the laird of Mow died at the raid of the Redeswire.

In 1606, John Mow was legally determined to be heir to his father's lands in Mow - six mercat lands.

In 1631, Gilbert Mow was served heir to his father in the lands of Mow-mains.

In 1636, John Mow of that Ilk was declared heir to John Mow of the eleven-mercat lands and twenty-pound lands of Mow, called Mow-town and Mow-mains.

The Town of Molle

The town of Molle was of old of considerable extent, with a peel and many fair houses in and around it, but it has entirely disappeared. In the town the monks of Kelso had fourteen cottages, each of which rented for two shillings yearly, and six days work, with the common easements of the town, and liberty to pasture cattle wherever the laird's cattle grazed. They had also one malt kiln, which rented at half-a-merk. A few scattered onsteads, with here and there a shepherd's house, are all that is now to be seen on that important territory.

More: The Church of Molle


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