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News Letter Number Three
Society of Edgar Families
THE TWINLAW CAIRNS, NEAR WEDDERLIE
by William H Edgar
Not the least of the romantic legends associated with the Scottish House of Edgar is that of the Twinlaw Cairns, a story told in 20 verses by some unknown bard about 200 years ago.
Today the twin cairns stand boldly silhouetted on top of the bleak but wild and picturesque moorland of the Lammermuir Hills - that part of Scotland immortalised by Sir Walter Scott and breathing history from every wind-swept flank.
The tale is said to be common to the folk lore of most countries in some similar form but to an Edgar standing between the two monuments, as the sun sinks below the hills, it is not difficult to watch them fade away and to see two misty figures of fine powerful young men take their place, one the beloved adopted son of the old Saxon who had stolen the boy when little more than a babe on a raid some 20 years before, and now had learnt to love him as his own.
What were the old man's thoughts, as on this occasion the two small armies - raiding Saxon and defending Scot - decided to settle the issue by single combat, the honour going on the Saxon's side to the old man's adopted son and that of the Scots to young Edgar, son of the old Scottish chief?
This mist of centuries rolls away and we see the two armies of sturdy, fearless men facing each other, the chiefs conferring, the two chosen men stepping forward, each anxious and proud to defend his national honour with his life.
Word is given, the fight begins, blow for blow, parry for parry; save the crash of steel on shield and quick drawn breath no sound is heard. Two armies stand and watch in silence as the two young giants engage to the death.
Blood in flowing now from Saxon and Scot but still they fight on; a murmur runs through the ranks of watching men, men who live by feats of arms.
At last a shout "The Saxon falls!" Still fighting the young Saxon, weak with loss of blood, sinks to his knees, then down; it is the end. The old Saxon, heartbroken hastens forward, "He's dead" he cried, "the bravest youth e'er spring from Edgar's line".
Aghast, the old Scottish chief now knows the fallen Saxon for his lost son and crying "My son, my son" he falls to rise no more.
Young Edgar, mortally wounded, embraces his father and his brother, tears the bandages from his wounds and expires beside their bodies.
The villagers still tell the story and describe how the two armies formed a long line from the scene of battle to a burn and passed from hand to hand the stones for the two cairns.
In recent years the late Lady John Montague Douglas Scott had a cairn removed and an excavation made to learn if any relic lay below, but the search was fruitless and it is doubtless due to her interested that the two re-erected cairns today stand some 75 yards apart, about 10 feet high, uncemented, but well built in …** a small
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tower some 6 feet in diameter, recessed to provide a seat for those who would sit and watch while the evening mist creeps up the Lammermuirs and, who knows? Two ghostly armies may perhaps be seen passing down the hillside laid a lasting memorial to two brave men.
** the paper was torn and a few words are missing
So that the material published in the News Letter may become known as widely as possible and be permanently preserved in a number of centres, complimentary copies have been presented to the following libraries:
National Library, Canberra FCT; Mitchell Library, Sydney; Library of the Society of Australian Genealogists, Sydney; Victorian Public Library, Melbourne; British Museum Library, London; Library of the Society of Genealogists, London; Scottish National Library, Edinburgh; Library of Congress, Washington, USA.
All these institutions will continue to receive all the genealogical publications of the Society.
Moffat Edgars: Correspondence entered into by the Hon Secretary and members of the Edgar of Moffat family who live in Scotland is still being carried on. The material being collected is being reserved for publication at a later date.
Canadian (Keithock) Edgars: James Keithock Edgar, of Toronto, the representatives of the Edgar Lairds of Keithock and a nephew of Professor Pelham Edgar, FCRS has forwarded a typescript of nearly 200 pages, suitably bound, which represents the labours of his late grandmother, Lady Edgar, in the Royal Library of Windsor Castle. Lady Edgar's considerable experience in historical research enabled her to trace the letters of James Edgar (of the Keithock family), Secretary of State to "James III" the Old Pretender, and transcribe them. It was her intention to publish this interesting collection but death claimed her before the task was done. The letters were written to the Secretary's nephew, the Laird of Keithock, and they are the more interesting because of the fact the Keithock's replies are included in the collection.
Only special consideration has obtained for us the temporary custody of Lady Edgar's unpublished typescript which must soon be returned to Canada and the Executive Council of the Society has, for some time, been earnestly considering what method of copying these letters would be the least expensive and yet satisfactory. It is most desireable, if possible, that all our members should have a copy of this collection of letters.
If it can be arranged a full history of the Keithock Edgars will be issued with the Jacobite letters. At present however the question of raising the necessary funds to finance the publication of this material is receiving earnest consideration.
Offers of assistance and donations towards the cost should be sent to the Hon Secretary.
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There was a good attendance of Members and Associates at the Annual General Meeting on 8th March, 1939 at the Railways Institute Rooms. In the absence of the President, the Hon W H Edgar, MLC, who was prevented from attending by the illness of Mrs Edgar, the Vice President, Mr William H Edgar, took the Chair. The retiring Office-bearers were all re-elected.
Lt Col JM Edgar, with the aid of a projector, delivered a delightful lecture in which he told us of his visit to Toronto and his meeting there with the Keithock Edgars who own many most valuable family relics and paintings. Professor Pelham Edgar and his nephew, the titular Laird of Keithock "were very interested in the work of the Society" said Colonel Edgar, "and were keen to have anything which we might publish from time to time". Lt Col Edgar was shown the Chair which Sir James David Edgar, KCMG occupied from 1896-1899 as Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons.
At Westruther, in Berwickshire, Colonel Edgar was joined by our Vice President, Mr William H Edgar, and with their respective ladies, a happy re-union was enjoyed on the very threshold of Wedderlie itself. With the Colonel's son Mr Allan Edgar (who has since joined the RAF) making a third, the male members of the party explored the Westruther Churchyard and engaged in excavation work which might have been expected to yield at least the long lost family vault, but didn't. After the Colonel's departure our Vice President remained in the Wedderlie district for more than a week for the purpose of "pumping the old identities" as he put it. He was able to collect quite a number of worth while notes for our files.
Lt Col Edgar made his references to the Keithock Lairds very clear to his audience by means of a carefully prepared pedigree which he projected on the screen.
A vote of thanks to the lecturer was moved and was seconded by acclamation.
No 2 page 27, Edgar of Wedderlie for "Brinan" read Crinan"
No 2 page 27, Edgar of Wedderlie (Sub Authorities) after "Account of the Surname of Edgar, (1873)" read "by J H Lawrence-Archer"
Mr Walter Bermingham Edgar (born 23 March 1856, at Pine Hills Station, Harrow, Vic), third son of David Edgar, the pioneer pastoralist, died at Portland, Vic on 22 February, 1939. (see News Letter No 1, page 16). Mr Edgar disposed of the Pine Hills estate to the late Mr R Ellis, in 1936 and had, since that time, visited England with Mrs White, his daughter.
Although it is now just four months more than a century since David Edgar landed from Scotland, his eldest son Mr John Thomas Edgar, formerly of Kadnook Station, still survives as does his daughter Miss Isabella Edgar, of Babba Mia Estate, Harrow. The former, with Mrs Edgar attended the inaugural meeting of this Society and still retains a keen interest in its work.
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Edgar of Wedderlie (Part Two)
Robert Edgar, 2nd Laird of Wedderlie, married …; their son,
John Edgar had a Charter of confirmation of the resignation of the Wedderlie estates in favour of his father, (circa 1384). He married …;
Adam Edgar, 4th Laird. In 1476 he claimed the land of Knockfield from the Aboot and Convent of Dryburgh. It is presumed that he stood in the relationship of a son to John Edgar (above) but it should be recognised that the succession to Wedderlie in the 15th and 16th centuries is still obscure.
Robert Edgar, 5th Laird. He had a grant of the ward and marriage of William Redpath, 16th November 1497. Supposed by most authorities to have been a son of Adam Edgar, (above). Lawrence-Archer suggests that he may have been a brother of George Edgar, of Swinton, or a nephew of Adam Edgar.
Robert Edgar. He was a witness to a Charter by Gilbert Grierson, of Dalton to John Lindsay, the younger, of Barclay, 2nd December, 1552. Lawrence-Archer states that this Laird's name was Richard, who married Ailsone …, (her Will proved at Lauder, 1564). Robert, (as given by Nisbet, 1892) or Richard, had issue as follows:
1. Robert, circa 1585-1586
2. James, ancestor of the Edgars of Grueldykes (Dunse)
3. Oliver, ancestor of the Edgars of Newtoun de Birgham, (Eccles-Newton), Berwickshire
4. John. He is usually identified as the John who is noticed below.
5. Richard, witness to a Charter, 26th October, 1557.
1. Margaret, married firstly William Spottiswoode; secondly Walter Scott, of Harden
John Edgar, Laird of Wedderlie. He found caution to appear at next Assize, 19th November, 1556. Granted a Charter in consideration of a sum of money in name of dowry paid to George Hoppringle, of Torwoodlie, in favour of Elizabeth, daughter of the said George, his future spouse, 26th October, 1557. Acquitted of the charge of slaughtering John Ullasone and two others, 9th December, 1561. He had issue:
1. Robert, Laird of Wedderlie, of whom later.
Robert, Laird of Wedderlie was served heir to his father in 1596. Had a Charter of the lands of Wedderlie and Bassendean, 28th January, 1606. By his wife, Mary Douglas, he had issue:
1. John, Laird of Wedderlie, of whom later.
2. James, he was witness to a Charter, 11th March, 1619.
(to be continued)