of Johnstone's lands and tilled and sowed them; Bells had "beaten the servants of
the goodman of Bonshaw, taken their ploughs and forcibly tilled their land. " John-
stone admits retaliatory proceedings, in which some of his "puir folkis hes coft pairt
of thair awin geir bak agane." ¹ In a list of Johnstone outrages on Lord Sanquhar's
tenants in 1599 is the complaint of Janet M'Millan that they had burnt her house
of "twa hous (i.e. rooms) hicht with a laich hall," etc. ² Already, however, despite
the King's weakness for him, ³ the Privy Council had in 1598 denounced Sir James
Johnstone of Dunskillie (as he is now generally entitled) for detestable slaughters and
bloodshed, his slaying of Maxwells and "honest men of the Sanquhar," and his per-
sistence in a "maist wyld and bludie cours," for all which he was put under sentence
of outlawry, none to hold any communication with him. ⁴ But by August 1600 the
wild and bloody Johnstone was Warden again. ⁵
Such being the conditions of life on the West March in the second half of the 16th
century, one grasps the significance of its great equipment of all degrees of defensive
dwellings from the castle proper to the mere stone house. Every man who could afford
it found it incumbent to have some sort of dwelling not easily forced or inflammable
from outside. ⁶ So are explained, too, the various reconstructions and rebuilding still
in many cases dated upon such of the structures as survive.
The next century saw the beginning of the great change which followed on the
accession of King James to the throne of England. That a new spirit and a fuller
power affected the Government was shown in the last act of the Johnstone-Maxwell
feud. In 1607, at a prearranged meeting of the two heads at "Achnanhill," ⁷ which was
to prepare a reconciliation, Johnstone was assassinated. but Lord Maxwell could not
now outface the consequences. To avoid arrest he had to say "good-night" to Scotland:
"Adieu! Dumfries, my proper place,
But and Caerlaverock fair!"
In 1613 he ventured back to Scotland, was arrested, and suffered the death penalty
at Edinburgh. Estates and honours were forfeited, but five years later restoration
was initiated in favour of the heir, a younger brother, who, further, in virtue of the
loss of the earldom of Morton, was in 1620 created Earl of Nithsdale.
The Union of the kingdoms in 1603 obliterated the Borders in a political and
administrative sense. They were now "the verie hart of the cuntry." ⁸ Still, much
in the way of special measures had to be taken, and it was a long time ere the peculiar
features of Border life were completely eliminated. Some years before the Union
the Government had come to the conclusion that one origin of Border malpractices
was neglect of religion, ⁹ and initiated a movement towards the rebuilding of churches,
which seem generally to have been in a ruinous condition. Then it was found that
in certain quarters "the povertie of the inhabitantis" was so great that neither
could kirks be repaired nor ministers supported unless adjacent parishes were united.
Thus came about the uniting in 1609 of groups of parishes, served by a new church
in a central position: Little Dalton, serving Meikle and Little Dalton and Mouswald;
Cummertrees and Trailtrow having a common church at Cummertrees: Redkirk
and Gretna at Gretna; Kirkpatrick and Kirkconnell at Kirkconnell; Middlebie,
"Tundersachs," and Carruthers at the first named; St. Mungo and Tundergarth at

1 Johnstone MSS., p. 37.
2 Reg. P.C., vi. p. 115.
3 Border Papers, ii. No. 546.
4 Acta Parl., iv. p. 166; Birrel's Diary, p. 46.
5 Border Papers, ii. No. 1231.
6 See map on p. lxiii.; and cf. note on p. lxii.
7 Spottiswoode, ii. p. 191.
8 Reg. P.C., vi. p. 560.
9 Johnstone MSS., No. 87, p. 40.


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