1902 Encyclopedia > Selkirk, Selkirkshire, Scotland

Selkirkshire, Scotland

SELKIRK, the county town of Selkirkshire, is on the river Ettrick, between its absorption of the Yarrow and its junction with the Tweed, and is connected by a branch railway with the 1Vaverley line from Scotland to Eng-land. Although almost entirely a manufacturing town, having several large mills for woollen cloth and yarn, it is not without importance as the centre of an extensive pastoral are,a,. The county offices and prison excepted, the public buildings of Selkirk are not striking. The popula-tion of the burgh was 1053 in 1735, 1800 in 1831, and 6090 in 1881.

From the charter by which David I., while prince of North. umbria, established in Selkirk the Benedietine abbey afterwards removed to Kelso, it appears that even at that remote period (1119- 24) it was an old town and the prince's residence. David's castle continued to be a frequent resort of his successors 011 the throne, particnlarly of William the Lion, many of whose charters were signed " in plena curia apud Scelchircham." Enlarged and strength-ened by Edward I., the fortress was captured by the patriotic party soon after Wallace's return from France. Nothing now remains of it but green mounds and the name " Peel Hill." It is significant of the destruction wrought by repeated conquests and reconquests that Selkirk, notwithstanding its antiquity and early irnportance, boasts not one building a century and a half old. As its early name (Scheleschyrche) implies, it was originally a collection of forest "shiels" beside which an early church wa.s planted, probably by the Culdees of Old Melrose. Clear light is thrown upon the manners and customs of old border towns by the ancient records of this burgh, still extant (with gaps) from 1503. A minute of 1513 mentions the steps taken to comply with the king's letter ordering the levy before Flodden, where, according to tradition, the burgesses of Selkirk fought with stubborn valour. James V. granted the community right to enclose 1000 acres from the common and gay° them leave to elect a provost, the first to fill that office being slam in defence of the burgh lands. From an early period shoemakers were a numerous craft in Selkirk, and in 1715 and 1745 they were forced to furnish several thousand pairs of shoes to the Jacobite armies. " Souters of Selkirk " is still a synonym for the inhabitants.

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