|A significant family of the Scottish Border living in the shadow of a powerful neighbour, the Kerrs.|
I have received the following email from
James Pringle, a visitor to the Border Reivers Website,
which is very informative and of special interest to
those associated with the Pringle family:
I am proud to be descended from Armstrong, Douglas, Elliot, Johnston, Kerr and Scott and no doubt many others unknown to me with family connections with Cockburn, Murray, Ogle, Rutherford and Turnbull.
Although the Pringles originated and held lands between the Gala and the Leader before much of the lands passed out of the family in 1458 when they passed to the heiress of Pringle of that Ilk.
The Smailholm branch had their main influence around Galashiels and were appointed master ranger and ranger of the Tweed Ward of Ettrick Forest following the fall of the Earl of Douglas in 1455.
My lot (William second son of David, Ranger of the Tweed Ward) moved to East Teviotdale (Cessford) before 1467; he also obtained a lease to Craiglatch (Tweed Ward) before 1480, which was sold in 1920 by my grand-father's executors following his death at the end of WWI. I am a descendent of the Pringle's of Stichill, Rox. who are the male heirs of the Pringles of Craiglatch.
Many of the descendents of Pringle of Craiglatch lived in East Teviotdale until at least the beginning of the seventeenth century.
I believe that both Smailholm Tower and Cessford Castle were built in the early 15th century.
My umpteenth great grand father, William Hoppringill (Pringle) was constable of Cessford Castle from at least 1467 to 1500 and his grandson Dand (Andrew) was constable after him. My family were constables of the castle until at least 1540.
Ker of Cessford obtained the lands of Cessford around 1400 and it is very probable that the castle was constructed soon after this date.
On 10th April 1990, I received a letter from Chris Tabraham BA FSA Scot then of Historic Buildings and Monuments, Scottish Development Department of 20 Brandon Street, Edinburgh, stating with regard to Smailholm Tower 'I agree with you that a post-1455 date seems to be highly suspect. When I wrote the first guidebook (and its predecessor the leaflet), I felt obliged to hold to the party line of a 16th -century date given in the Royal Commission's Inventory of Monuments: Roxburghshire because at that time I had neither carried out my excavations nor had the opportunity to take a critical look at all the evidence. And although the excavations failed to answer the question of date clearly, all the "bits and bobs" of evidence would seem to endorse your view that we have in Smailholm a towerhouse from the early 15th century'.
Pringles were squires to each of the nine successive Earls of Douglas until 1455. History strongly favours an earlier date than this and Smailholm was very probably constructed before 1424.
A 16th-century tower it certainly is not.
James Pringle E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org