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The Barony of Glenholm









This old parish is bounded partly by Biggar Water and partly by the Tweed, and includes the valley of the Holms Water


The earliest record we have of Glenholm is about 1200, when Gillecrist, the son of Daniel at Glenwhym, appears as a witness to the perambulation of the marches of Stobo. The lands were rated at �30 of old extent, and for a time their name was the surname of the family who were in possession. About the year 1233 Sir Nicholas 'Glenynwim,' who was rector in the church at Yetholm was a witness to charters of the lands of Stobo.

Stephen of Glynwhym was appointed in 1293 by King Edward I. of England to be guardian of Macduf the son of Malcolm sometime Earl of Fife pending that Earl's memorable appeal from the Court of King John Balliol and his barons to the justice of the Overlord of Scotland.

Estuene de Glenwhym of the county of Peebles signed the Ragman Roll in 1296. and he appears a few years afterwards as a witness to charters by Sir Simon Fraser dealing with the lands of Kingledoors, Hopcarton and Happrew. Later, in 1451 there was 'Robert of Glenquhym,' who had a grant of the lands of Wrae, and in 1466 'Dene James Glenquham, who was a monk of Kelso.

To what extent with the exception of Robert, these, members of the family of Glenholm held lands in the parish, there is no record to show, but it seems probable that such title as they had would be that of a sub-vassal. It is not unlikely that the barony was an early possession of the Fraser family, who were by far the largest proprietors of land in the county during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In the year 1272 John Fraser of 'Glenwym,' clerk of the diocese of Glasgow, granted to the Augustinian canons of Scone the advowson of the church of St. Cuthbert at Glenholm, which he stated belonged to him of hereditary right. He was probably related to the Frasers of Oliver Castle, but the early history of that family is confused and fragmentary and the connection has not been traced. Nothing more is known of this John Fraser, and nothing at all of his descendants but it would appear that his family retained their rights as lords of the barony till the first half of the fifteenth century, for when a new owner of the barony then appears he gets his grant from a Fraser. On 22nd December, 1439, William Fresal (Fraser), Lord of Uvertoun, in return for 'manifold counsel and assistance rendered' granted to James of Douglas, Lord of Avondale, the barony of Glenholm, with the right of patronage of the church and the superiority of the barony and services of the free tenants thereof. The reference there to the superiority shows that part of the barony, if not the whole of it, had been feued to sub-vassals, a fact which makes the task of tracing the early proprietors very difficult and often impossible.

James of Douglas was seventh Earl of the great House of Douglas, and is well enough known in history as a man of violent and impetuous temperament. He murdered Sir David Fleming of Cumbernauld and Biggar in 1406, and the year before he burned the town of Berwick, perhaps a patriotic but undoubtedly a cruel act. In 1437 he was created Earl of Avondale, and made Justice-General of Scotland. His third daughter, Janet, married Robert, first Lord Fleming, which is interesting in view of the subsequent connection of that family with the parish.

Glenholm was still in possession of the Douglas family in 1451, in which year William, eighth Earl of Douglas, conveyed to Robert of Glenquhym the lands of Wra (Wrae). This Earl when a young man under thirty, was stabbed by King James II. in 1452 at Stirling Castle, to which he had been invited under safe conduct. He was succeeded by his brother James, who after a futile protest against the King's broken vows lived to see his titles and all his possessions forfeited, and died broken and weary in the monastery of Lindores about 1484. He had no issue, and with him the main line of the Black Douglases came to an untimely end.

After them, there was no baron of Glenholm. But one family to a certain extent did take the place of the Earls of Douglas as overlords of the parish. On 9th July, 1527, William Porteous of Glenkirk sold to Malcolm, Lord Fleming, the superiority of the lands of Logan, Mossfennan, Quarter and Chapelgill. These lands were only a part of the whole barony, and how Porteous derived his right to that superiority there is no record to show. But in addition to that, the Flemings later obtained rights (principally of superiority) over other lands in the barony. In 1538 they had 'Urrisland' (Holmsmill) and Cardon. In 1541 they had right to the 40s. land of Smailhoppis (Smellhope), the 50s. land of Rachan (then occupied by John Berthram, Janet Porteous, and William Focart), and the 50s. land of Glenhigton and Glencotho (occupied by John Ramage and Michael Thomson). And by a Crown charter dated 31st January, 1595-6, there was bestowed on them the patronage of the church of Glenholm. These lands mentioned comprise all the properties in the parish, with the exception of Glenkirk, Whitslade, and the greater part of Rachan, which were probably by that time held direct of the Crown.

The Flemings, who became Earls of Wigtown, continued to hold superiority rights in the parish till the middle of the eighteenth century. In 1742 the trustees of John Fleming, Earl of Wigtown, sold to Major Thomas Cochrane, one of the Commissioners of Excise (afterwards eighth Earl of Dundonald), the superiority of Logan, Mossfennan, Quarter, Chapelgill and Cardon. He in 1753 sold the superiority of Chapelgill and one-half of Logan to John Naesmyth, Clerk to the Admission of Notaries, and the same year he sold the superiority of Mossfennan, Cardon, and the other half of Logan to Andrew Pringle, advocate, in liferent, and Robert Naesmyth, son of the deceased Sir James Naesmyth, in fee. John and Robert Naesmyth were succeeded by their brother, Sir James Naesmyth, who was served as heir in that capacity in 1775, and who was succeeded in 1779 by his son, Sir James. He sold in 1792 the superiority of Mossfennan, Logan and Chapelgill to John Welsh: the superiority of Cardon he retained, as he was then proprietor of the property. The Quarter superiority remained with the Cochrane family and is now dormant and the superiority of Mossfennan and Logan was consolidated with the property by John Welsh. The Chapelgill superiority is also now extinguished.


In 1804, the parish united with Broughton and Kilbrucho.





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Last modified: Tuesday, 01 February 2022