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Society of Edgar Families
OLD WEDDERLIE TODAY
by William H Edgar, JP
Some ten days spent in the delightful surroundings of Westruther must awaken deep feelings of sentiment, romance and racial pride in the heart of an Edgar who is privileged, as I was, to tread the same paths and touch the same walls as were so familiar to the ancient Lairds of Wedderlie for some four centuries.
Here indeed is the "Cradle of the House of Edgar". The volume dealings with the Edgar history published by the Grampian Club in 1873 tells us that "the territory once in the possession of the Edgars of Wedderlie appears to have extended in a broken chain from the West in Berwickshire to the Solway Firth", and again, "at the opening of the eighteenth century, Edgars were still numerous in the neighbourhood of Wedderlie, and several families of the name still lived, - some of Lairds, others as "kindly tenants" - around the chief of their house." Today no Edgars are to be found at Westruther, but a few of that name, mostly in humble positions, are scattered across the Border counties.
The kindness of Lady Hersey Baird, mother of the young owner of Wedderlie, of Mr Mickle, the lessee of the property at the time of my visit, and of Mr Callen, Minister of Westruther, made possible the viewing of Wedderlie House and permitted access to the parish records and enabled me to tap every possible local source of information.
It is interesting to note, in view of the long period during which the Edgars remained at Wedderlie and their importance as landowners, that not even a gravestone is left to mark the last resting place of any one of them. One stone in Westruther Old Kirkyard, still legible, records the passing of "George Edgar in Evlie (Evelaw) who dyed May 9th, 1716, his age 74". The same grave contains the remains of his wife Margaret Stot and one Jean Hunter. Another stone is erected to the memory of "Margaret Edgar, the beloved wife of John Boyd, who died at Havering Park, Essex, 28th January 1863, aged 35 years".
Even the stone referred to in the volume already mentioned "on which the last resident Edgar Laird has left a memorial of himself" - is no longer to be seen. An iron-railed enclosure at the back of the kirk is, however, almost certainly the resting place of at least some of the family. This enclosure is supposed to occupy the site of the former Edgar Aisle, which was a small building joined to the kirk and, traditionally, the Edgar burial place. Of the chapel at Wedderlie no trace now exists. It was there, as Sir T D Saunders recorded in his Rivers of Scotland, that the earliest Edgars were buried in a structure of great antiquity; a number of charters yet preserved testifying to its existence.
The late Mr Silver, of Lauder, a noted antiquary, writing to Major Baird about 1917 says "the burying place of the Edgars is one of the many mysteries connected with them".
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I wondered what these other mysteries might be as I emerged from the Fourteenth century tower, complete with its Ghost - the "Green Lady" she is called - and its five-foot-thick rugged stone walls, now modestly clad in ivy, and gazed across the Lammermuir Hills - surmounted at a few miles distance by the Twinlaw Cairns, the traditional scene of the mighty combat in which those Edgar twins fought for Scot and Saxon, so long ago. The villagers still eagerly tell that ancient tale and the Cairns yet mark the spot; old Wedderlie still stands amid its glorious trees and even Evelaw Tower, another Edgar stronghold, suggests its rugged strength, but, alas, the old Edgar Lairds are no more.
One likes to think that the efforts of our Society will eventually reveal the heir-male of this ancient and honourable house.
The Society of Edgar Families is most fortunate in having as Vice-President one who is so keenly interested in the history of the Edgars as Mr William H Edgar whose article an old Wedderlie is featured in this issue of the News Letter.
On his recent visit overseas Mr Edgar spent several weeks in the Scottish Lowlands and has brought back a great quantity of most valuable material relating to the various branches of the Edgar family. He has presented to the Society a number of large-scale ordnance survey maps which will be most useful in solving the difficult topographical problems which some Edgar pedigrees present.
Mr Edgar has made many contacts in Scotland which are likely to result in assistance in our researches there and which have already made our work known to a wider circle.
We look forward to being able to publish further articles from Mr Edgar's pen.
Moffat Parish Registers: The Registrar at Moffat, Dumfrieshire, has supplied the following list of the registers now kept in the Register House, Edinburgh. Births, 1723-1819; Marriages and Deaths, 1709-1732; Marriages, 1732-1781; Deaths, 1733-1825; Marriages, 1783-1819; Births and Marriages, 1819-1854; Deaths, 1825-1853.
Origin on the Moffat Edgars: Mr W H Edgar, Vice President, was told, on his recent visit to Moffat that an old identity, now long since dead, used to say that the Edgars around Moffat came from the original Begotten at Howeslack, which is a farm about 1.5 miles north of Moffat.
Moffat Churchyard: Mr Edgar has presented to the Society a photograph of the oldest Edgar tombstone in Moffat Kirkyard. This records the ancestry of David Edgar, the Australian pioneer pastoralist, quite legibly, from about 1717AD. Prints may be obtained from the Hon Secretary, price 1/6 each.
Mr Edgar copied monumental inscriptions on seven tombstones. A pedigree will be compiled incorporating this new material together with further details which are being sought from various sources in Moffat and this will be published in a later edition of the News Letter.
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CORRIGENDA ET ADDENDA:
No. 1 page 1 for Mrs Agnes Edgar, Tatanur should read Mrs Agnes Edgar, Tapanui
No. 2 page 9 for James Huston (Rev) born 19th July 1872 should read born 19th August 1872
No. 2 page 8 further information as follows:
Helen Isobel (Mrs L A Kirk, of Tapanui) died 9th June 1937
No. 2 page 23 (Sub. Lineage) Miss Jane Scott, of Moffat, died on 8th August 1838.
Wedderlie Photographs: Because Wedderlie is rightly regarded as the "Cradle of the House Edgar" a number of our members may desire to possess prints of some of the fine photographs of the old home brought back to this country by Mr William Edgar and Lieut Col J M Edgar. Sets of half a dozen different prints may be had for 5/-, post free.
Illustrated Lecture: Arrangements are in hand which will, it is hoped, make it possible for Members and Associates to enjoy the privilege of a lecture by Lieut Col J M Edgar on the subject of his recent visit to Scotland and the Edgar Country. Slides prepared by the lecturer will illustrate his tour. A General Meeting of the Society will precede the lecture.
Authorities: Nisbet's Heraldic Plates (1892); Account of the Sirname (sic) of Edgar (1873); Genealogical Collections concerning the Scottish House of Edgar (published by a Committee of the Grampian Club, 1873)
The origin of the Edgar family is obscure but the traditional descent indicates that the Edgars were descendants in the male line from Maldred, brother of King Duncan the First. If such a descent can be accepted then the Edgars form a cadet branch of the Royal House of Scotland.
Crinan, (slain 1045), Lay Abbot of Dunked, a descendant of the Mormaers of Atholl, married Bethoc daughter of King Malcolm the Second (1005-1016). Their younger son:
Maldred, married Algetha, daughter of Ughtred, the Saxon Earl of Northumberland, by his wife Elgiva, daughter of King Ethelred the Second, of England (978-1016). Their son:
Cospatrick (1068) Earl of Northumberland. His son:
Cospatrick, was created Earl of Dunbar (c 1115). His son:
Cospatrick, second Earl of Dunbar, died 11 October 1147. he had issue four sons:
1. Cospatrick, third Earl of Dunbar, ancestor of the later Earls of Dunbar and March.
3. Edgar, who appears to have adopted the Surname of Edgar; of whom later.
4. Ughtred, the supposed ancestor of the Dundas and Knox families.
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Edgar, the son of Cospatrick, second Earl of Dunbar, married a lady with the baptismal name of Alice. They had issue two sons:
2. Alexander, of whom below.
Alexander married and had issue at least two sons:
2. Walter. This Sir Walter Edgar is mentioned in the Kelso Chartulary. He married and had issue a son:
(1) Patrick. This Sir Patrick Edgar lived at Coldstream. He married, about 1282, Margeta, widow of William, Earl of Home. They are believed to have been the parents of a son:
Richard Edgar, a witness at the second marriage of King Robert, the Bruce; appears to have been the first Edgar Laird of Wedderlie (Reg. Great Seal of Scotland, 1327), an estate formerly in the possession of the Polwarth family. he married Isabella, elder daughter and coheiress of Robert de Rous, Lord of Sanquhar in Galloway. Isabella de Rous was a descendant of William the Lion, King of Scotland and her children were thus nearly related to the competitors for the Scottish Crown. Richard and Isabella Edgar had issue five sons:
1. Richard; renounced succession to Wedderlie in favour of his younger brother Robert (Reg. Seal of Scotland, 1376). He is believed to have settled in Galloway.
2. Robert, second of Wedderlie, of whom later.
3. Douenald (Donald). Settled in Galloway.
4. Dungal, Settled in Galloway.
5. Edgar, only once mentioned in old documents, and often overlooked.
(to be continued)
NOTE: This is a reprint of News Letter number Two which was first published for the Society of Edgar Families in January 1939.
I Trentham-Edgar FSAG, Hon Secretary and Treasurer of the Society of Edgar Families, at 75A Fitzroy Street, Melbourne; 2nd March 1940
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SOCIETY OF EDGAR FAMILIES
Lecture and Annual Meeting
A cordial invitation is extended to all bearers of the EDGAR surname and their immediate relatives, to attend the Third Annual Meeting of the Society of Edgar Families which will take place at 8.00pm (sharp), Wednesday 8 March, 1939 in Room 110, Railways Institute, Railway Buildings, Flinders Street, Melbourne.
At the conclusion of the Meeting, Lieut Col J M Edgar, who recently returned from a tour abroad will deliver an Illustrated Lecture.
The Lecturer explored the Edgar country in Scotland and while in Canada made contact with the ancient family of Keithock Edgars who were so closely associated with Bonnie Price Charlie. He brought back many curious tales and legends concerning the Edgars and their former extensive estates, together with photographs of historic places in Edgar family history. It is interesting to know that the "Screen" which will be used for the projection of photographs at the Lecture is actually a sheet which was spun and woven over a century ago by a lady of the Edgar family.
DO YOU KNOW THAT:
· The Society of Edgar Families has entered upon its third year?
· Every year so far has seen our membership up 100%
· There are members of the Society all over Australian and in Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand?
· Copies of the Society's quarterly publication, the News Letter, which is free to Members and Associates is accepted for filing by all the leading National and State Libraries throughout the English speaking world?
· The Society has permanently recorded many Edgar pedigrees and has acquired a collection of many thousands of Edgar references which is being continually built up.