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Kilbucho (Gaelic: Cille Bheagha) is a small settlement in southern Scotland near Biggar and Broughton. It is in Peeblesshire, near the Lanarkshire border.

The name is after an Irish abbess, who also gives her name to St Bees in Cumbria.

Kilbucho is "fenced" in by hills on three sides, including some of the highest in southern Scotland east of Galloway. Coulter Fell is near here. The area is strongly connected with John Buchan, the author of The Thirty Nine Steps and former governor general of Canada. It is thought that the inspiration for his 1927 novel Witch Wood comes from this particular area.

Sir John de Graham of Dalkeith, had no male heir, so divided his estates between his two daughters. One of his daughters, Margaret or Marjory, married Sir William Douglas of Kincavil Lord of Hermiston, and in 1341 Sir John granted the barony of Kilbucho to Sir William.

Kilbucho later passed to the Tweedie family, and it is possible that the Douglases retained superiority of the barony while granting the Tweedies the permission to live there.

20 December 1509: Charter by John, earl of Mortoun, to John, his son, of the lands of Bodeleys, in the barony of Robertoun (annexed to the barony of Dalkeith). At the castle of Dalkeith. Witnesses: Mr. William Dowglas and Mr. John Dowglas, sons of the granter, parsons of Kilbotho and Newlands, Patrick Roul, provost of the collegiate church of Dalkeith, William Gifferd, James Kneland, William Borthuik, sirs John Crechtoun and John Scot, vicar and prebendary of the said church of Dalketh, and William Liddale, the granter's marshel.

In 1535, James Douglas, 3rd Earl of Morton, sold Kilbucho to Malcolm, 3rd Lord Fleming. Fleming’s daughter, Janet, married Richard Brown, son and heir of Andrew Brown of Hartree, and Kilbucho seems to then have been occupied by the Brown family. In 1587 Archibald Douglas, 8th Earl of Angus and the heir of his uncle James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, laid claim to the lands and barony of Kilbucho in Parliament. He appears to have won his case against John Fleming, 6th Lord Fleming and later 1st Earl of Wigtown, as in 1631 William Douglas, 7th Earl of Morton, sold the barony of Kilbucho, along with the lands of Newlands and the barony of Linton, to John Stewart, later 1st Earl of Traquair

These lands, which we are now dealing with, consist of the farms of Kilbucho Place and Calzeat, Kilbucho Mains, Blendewing and Raw, Mitchellhill, Cleuch, Goseland, and Parkgatestone (or New Mains). Being part of the barony, their general history has already been outlined up to the end of the fifteenth century. Prior to that Mitchellhill, Kilbucho Mains, Cleuch and Goseland, and perhaps other parts, were in the possession of sub-vassals, and in the early years of the sixteenth century most, if not all, of the remainder was disposed of and only the superiority retained.

About 1614 the lands themselves (with the exception of Mitchellhill and Kilbucho Mains) became the property of Mr. John Douglas, who was styled 'of Kilbucho,' and were held by him under the Earl of Morton. He was the son of Mr. Archibald Douglas, Archdeacon of Glasgow, and Margaret Tweedie, and was related to the Cavers family. He married Margaret Douglas, and they were both concerned in a number of transactions concerning the lands of the barony. In 1618 his brother, Mr. Robert Douglas, had a wadset from him of the lands, and was infeft in an annual rent of 200 merks from them. John Douglas died about 1624, when his son, Archibald, was charged at the instance of creditors to enter as heir to his father and grandfather.

The greater part of the lands became the property - the links have not been traced - of Sir Archibald Murray of Blackbarony, and in the weaponshaw of 1627 at Peebles he appeared with forty-two horsemen from his properties in Kilbucho and Eddleston. By charter dated 18th January, 1628, he granted his lands of Kilbucho to John Dickson (Lord Hartree), and this was ratified by William, Earl of Morton, on 13th August, 1630. The lands are described as the town and lands of Kilbucho, the mill lands and multures thereof, the lands of Moitt or Mains of Kilbucho, Raw, Blendewing, Cleuch and Goseland, with the patronage of the Kirk. The superiority of the barony passed in 1631 from the Earl of Morton to the Earl of Traquair, who in 1645 resigned his rights to John Dickson, thus enabling him to hold Kilbucho (which also included the superiority of Hartree and Thriepland) direct of the Crown. In 1646 John Dickson acquired Mitchellhill, and as he had also acquired Hartree and Thriepland in 1634, he thereby became proprietor of the whole parish. He was succeeded in 1653 by Alexander, the eldest surviving son of his first marriage.

The poet "Kilbucho" also takes his name from this area. Many self-published, he has gained some minor notoriety as a latter day "McGonigal", and has written poems about this area, and also Biggar.   Janet Thomson, whose family knew Tom Todd Kilucho, contributes:  Local 20th century shepherd and poet TT (Tom Todd ) Kilbucho continued the Lowland Scots tradition of putting into verse his thoughts on the countryside, the folks he met and on the wider world. BBC radio regularly broadcast his poems which survive in a collection of books.

•  During the 1970s the property was renovated by the architects Frank Mears & Partners, and Robert James Naismith, and is now a private family home.


Sources for this article include:

•  Stravaiging around Scotland

•  Papers of the Earls of Morton


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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024