Source 7 : Report for the Parish of Smallholm, County of Roxburgh, in volume 3 of the ‘Statistical Account’
Printed book (NLS shelfmark: S.A.S.)
The ‘Statistical Account’ project relied on ministers to complete reports about their parishes and return them to Sir John Sinclair. Ministers were not paid – they volunteered their time to compile the reports.
Responses varied in length, theme, quality and format. This report is relatively short. It is for the Parish of Smallholm, now Smailhom, in the Scottish Borders.
History of the Origin and Progress of the Statistical Account of Scotland
Vol. III Statistical Account of Smallholm
PARISH OF SMALLHOLM.
(Counties of Roxburgh and Selkirk.)
By the Rev. Dr ALEXANDER DUNCAN.
Name, Situation, Surface, Extent, &c.
SMALLHOLM is the name of the parish. Whether it is derived from small-ham, a village, holm a wood, or Home, from the town of Home, two miles distant, which was formerly a garrison and a castle, is uncertain. It lies in the county of Roxburgh, in the presbytery of Lauder, and synod of Merse and Teviotdale. It is in extent somewhat more than three miles, from the north a little beyond the 34th mile stone, on the high road from Edinburgh to Kelso, to the 37th on the south. The form is irregular; it is near four miles from west to east, but at the east draws to a tongue, or small point. The turnpike road runs through the village, in the middle of which the church stands. Statute labour, when exacted, never came to any account; it is now commuted. The country is a mixture of flat and rising grounds. The soil is in different places very various, but generally a mixture of clay; though, upon the whole, when not too much of it is ploughed, or too often, it is thought to produce very good crops of oats, barley, pease, and some wheat. The air is healthy, neither is
the place liable to any topical or epidemical disease. The village, and two other parts of the parish, have rock for their bottom, and materials of that sort are got very near the public roads, to repair them. Of the diseases, that prevail among labouring people, four sixths are fevers; a physician who practised a good many years in this country, said that these diseases abounded most in years of plenty.
Antiquities. – On the south west corner of the parish, stands a large square tower, belonging to Mr Scott of Harden. It is a beacon or land-mark at sea, to direct ships to Berwick; it is called Sandy-know, or Smallholm-tower. The hills or rising grounds are covered with grass for sheep pasture. This neighbourhood, on both sides of Tweed, was formerly the warlike part of the country, and exposed to the inroads of the English; the lands, therefore, all lay run-rig, that when the enemies came, all the neighbourhood being equally concerned, might run to oppose them. After the Union of the Crowns, this contention ceased, and property became safe. The ravages in former times were so frequent, that there was no bishopric in Scotland, south of the Forth, until Charles I erected the bishopric of Edinburgh. In England, none were erected further north than Chester in the street, and Lindisfern in Holy Island; though on both sides of the border there were many abbacies. The reason was, abbacies were reckoned holy houses, and the people never touched them. But the bishop, his palace, and furniture, were reckoned secular; and therefore, on any inroad, the people, like the populace of Rome, on the sede vacante, accounted all his property lawful plunder. By this run-rig disposition of lands in Scotland, the possessions were formerly very small; but the people of such villages were more numerous. Now almost all these run-rig lands are divided. In the former shape they were incapable of improvement. In this parish, in the
years 1739 and 1740, 1800 acres of lands in run-rig were divided, and let into large farms. The villages and houses formerly possessed by the small farmers, have fallen down, and the lands are let to one sixth part of the former number of tenants. This is one certain cause of the decrease of the number of people in many places. Another is, young men going to the army and navy, many of whom never return. It was computed, that, during the two last wars, 70,000 men were recruited or raised in Scotland. It is also reckoned, besides those who have gone to North America, and to the East or West Indies, that 10,000 journeymen wrights, carpenters, bakers, gardeners, and taylors, &c. go yearly from Scotland to London. Many of them emigrate from this part of the country, sailing from Berwick and Newcastle, where the passage is short and frequent, and the freight easy.
Population. – In 1700, the number of inhabitants was 600; in 1743, the examination roll was 457; in 1790 it decreased more than 100. In Dr Webster’s report the number of souls is stated at 551. One effect of the diminution of the numbers is, in many places, to raise the price of labour. In 1744, day-labourers here had 5d. or 6d. a day without victuals; now they have 6d. or 8d. and victuals, and 10d. or 1s. without them. The number of examinable persons, who are inrolled after they are seven or eight years old, is 335; of these 150 are males, and 185 females.
Miscellanous Observations. – The public roads from south to north, through the middle of the parish, were made by act of parliament, and are supported by the tolls. A good part of the parish is inclosed, and is let at 10s. the English acre. Since 1744, the wages of ordinary or household servants are doubled, and are now from £6 to £8 a man servant in the year, and £3 or £4 a woman servant.
- Extract information about the following in Smailholm:
- Population size and breakdown , e.g. age, occupation, sex
- Main crops or products of the parish
- Education provided
Compare the length of text and detail of information provided in this source to that given in Sources 5 and 6. Were you able to extract comparable information on the topics above, and other evidence of social conditions from the three sources?
- Compare the discussion of run-rig farming with the one in Source 4. What does this suggest about the nature of the information provided in the reports? Is it always purely factual?
- Discuss whether sources 5, 6 and 7 suggest that the technique for collecting information for the Statistical Account provided a consistent and unbiased picture of the state of Scotland in the 1790s.