Border Life  



Such was the conditions in the Border with its almost constant violence and anarchy, that it was inevitable that there would be conflict between friends and families.

If one member of a clan did harm to another, the issue would not simply be between the two involved; the whole of both families would become involved.
Violence invariably broke out during any meeting or encounter with the other clan often with deadly consequences. 
 No wonder this state of affairs was known as 'deadly feud.'

Feuding between clans was widespread and often resulted in quite complex permutations.

The following is just a fraction of  contemporary Border feuds.

The Bells V the Irvines
The Irvines V the Musgraves
But the Musgraves were friendly with the Bells.
Kerrs V the Scotts, but two factions of the Kerrs were at feud with each other.
The Kerrs V Turnbulls and the Herons of Northumberland.
The Armstrongs V the Robsons, Ridley, Johnstones.
The Grahams V the Bells and the Maxwells.
The Elliots V the Fenwicks, Scotts, Pringles and Ogles.
And so on.

Feuding was as common in both countries and grudges sometimes lasted for generations until the original cause of the feud was forgotten.

Satisfaction was carried  to lengths. On one occasion a Kerr was murdered by a certain man named Lilburn at a Truce Day meeting. He was arrested , but later escaped.

In an effort to throw off his pursuers, he settled far to the south in York. But the Kerrs never abandoned the chase and found him at his home. They brought back his head to the satisfaction of the clan.

Many laws were passed attempting to stamp out feuding but it was not until 1597 that some progress was made.


In 1565, Scott of Buccleuch had executed four Elliots caught reiving. 
This began a deadly feud between the Scotts and the Elliots which went on for many years and resulted in much bloodshed.


Probably, the most vicious and long lasting feud was between the Maxwell and the Johnstones which caused widespread misery in Annandale and beyond and lasted generation after generation.


There was even examples of feuding within a clan. 
The Kerrs of Cessford were at feud with the Kerrs of Ferniehirst. 

 Border Life Index Page