Midside Maggie

 

Life in the Border hills during the 17th century was hard, especially during the long winter months.   The farm at Midside by Tollishill, in Lauderdale, suffered terribly during one particularly severe winter. They lost many sheep and it gradually became obvious that they would be unable to pay the rent due. Maggie  Hardy, accepting the inevitable, went to see the laird and begged to be excused the rent on this occasion.

Not a particularly pleasant character, the laird, being little concerned with her plight, while not refusing her request, scoffingly demanded that she should either bring him the rent on the day due in mid June, or else a snowball.

Maggie retired just a bit bewildered, but, undaunted, she accepted the challenge. There was plenty snow about them in the winter, and she made her way into the hills and rolled a huge snowball into a well-sheltered cleft which never saw the sun. 

Thus, in June, to the lairdís obvious surprise, Maggie presented him with a snowball, no longer huge, but big enough. 

To do him justice, the laird kept his part of the bargain, and the Hardys retained their farm.  They steadily increased their stock, and the farm prospered. 

Many years later, the laird found himself imprisoned in the Tower of London, for being on the wrong side at the wrong time. During his long imprisonment, the Lauderdale tenants paid no rent.

Maggie had an uneasy conscience as she recalled her lairdís charitable act, and considered what she could do to help. She had saved the rents, which now amounted to quite a considerable number of gold coins. Baking them in a large bannock, she took the cake, and accompanied by her husband, they made the long and hazardous journey to London. 

Once there, she obtained permission to see the prisoner, and she presented him with the golden bannock. 

With the money, he purchased his release and eventually returned to Lauderdale a chastened, wiser man. He granted Maggie and her heirs the lease of the land forever.

 

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  Tollishill is located in Lauderdale at map reference 73 519 580.               

The last descendants of Midside Maggie of Tollishill immigrated to Canada in the 1930ís.

Note the nearby bastle at reference 73 502 551, a rare feature in Scotland.

 

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