15 September1999 hewat@ill.fr

Early Hewats in Roxburgh - 4 Days in August 1999

In early August 1999, I spent 4 days in Roxburgh, searching out early Hewats. On the day of the eclipse I was at the Selkirk Local History Centre*, under the stern eyes of the portrait of Borders Councillor Alastair Hewat (OBE), reading the microfilms of the old Parochial Records and the 1690 Roxburgh Hearth Tax list, a kind of census of all Roxburgh housholds in that year.

By re-arranging the parochial lists according to year, husband or wife's family name, I was able to construct a chart of the early Hewat families from the early 1600's to the1700's. From this chart we can try to deduce some probable relations from the systematic naming of children after grandparents.

Note that Roxburgh village is divided by a small stream ending near the Roxburgh Mill into Over Roxburgh and Nether (Lower) Roxburgh. The parish extends about 8 miles in length and 4 in breadth at the extremities, including an area of 7000 acres of land... The soil is mostly a rich loam, well calculated for bearing turnips or wheat; the lands are therefore very valuable, but rather unpleasant to labour, being banky in some places... The greatest part of this parish is in a very high state of cultivation... the farmers here are particularly attentive to the cultivation of potatoes... (Andrew Bell, Statistical Account 1790's).

For various reasons, many childrens names are not registered; and the people in general all over this country having an idea of property in their family burying place, carry their dead there; and by neglecting to do so, they seem to feel themselves guilty, not only of violating a natural propensity in men to sleep with their fathers, but also of infringing a sacred obligation... (loc. cit.)

Another day I spent walking around Roxburgh, from the churchyard whose Hewat gravestones I photographed and transcribed, to Heiton across the river and then to Kelso and back by Barns. In Kelso I talked with Brian Wain, a local vet., who had written a short history of Roxburgh; I found a similar history of Heiton in the Kelso library. The present Roxburgh Church with its imposing Hog and Hewat gravestones was only built in 1752. The earlier church was apparently almost entirely underground, with an entrance believed to be in the roofless burial vault of the Kers of Chatto and Sunlaws, which has a stone inscribed 1612. The list of Church Ministers starts in 1569 !

From maps and other old documents I had obtained in Selkirk, I was able to locate other Hewat haunts, such as Ettrickbraes, the home of Richard in Makerstoun (on an 1859 map), Mertoun Newstead, Dalcove Mains and old Dalcove, the nearby homes of Andrew after returning from Carolina. I visited and photographed these places, and enquired about them from the Mertoun Estates land office, who have no old records, but told me that old Dalcove could be rented by the week; an interesting place to hold a small Hewat reunion.

I am most grateful for the assistance of the personnel, and especially Helen Daun, of the Scottish Borders Archive and Local History Centre, Library Headquarters, St. Mary's Mill, Selkirk TD7 5EW.
Tel. 01750.20842; Fax. 01750.22875 Email: library1@netcomuk.co.uk

Alan William Hewat (hewat@ill.fr)