Chronicles of the Armstrongs; (1902) James Lewis A. excerpts rf Elwald

The Elliots

were called Ae(Æ)lwolds, Elewalds, Elwods, Alwods, El-

yards, Helwals, and by many other forms of the name

which meant Elk-wood (Anglo-Danish Elgwalt, the

name is expressed upon many of their shields). They

were ancient neighbors of Mangerton, and sprung, as

did the Armstrongs, from Northumbria; they were”

mentioned as early as 1165. page 30


King ( König; German/Scandinavian) Elgwalt

Certain shields of the Elliots,

called also Elwods, Elyards, and

Elwalds, of the Alfords who came from near Croyland

to the Border, of Loumanes, of the Liddals, of the

Armstrongs, and other Border families undoubtedly

pictured this tradition. Now these Liddesdale fam-

ilies were called after their shields, and so were the

Forresters and others. The legend of the Fairy Bear

is found first in the Edda, then in old Danish (Tor-

feus’ History of Hrolfe Kraka) and in the South Ger-

man (Die Missgeburt). It has travelled through many

centuries; it was undoubtedly known in the eleventh

century, and applied to the barbaric ancestor of Siward.

This legend was carried from Denmark to Northum-

berland, and from the Border to Fermanagh. Its seem-

ing coarseness would, in these times, naturally keep it

out of print and from the refined and moral, but it was

known by some of those descending from the Borderers

in’ Fermanagh. I heard the Irish version when a child

from the Johnstons, about Irvinestown, Fermanagh,

who came over from the old estate. I also heard an-

other version from an intelligent farmer and distant

relative from near Irvinestown. This story is referred

to upon the old stone door in Agahvea. The devices

of the Littles gave the sheep or bear holding the

**suord,” the crescent, and mullet, and in addition

other distinctions according to the generation (not

house) represented. If we may rely upon this lore, and

it is well substantiated, (see for example, History of

Page 32


and Malcolm on his return finding them arrived made

good all his engagements and took to wife Margaret the

sister of Edgar. It is not only probable but there is

considerable evidence that many of these people settled

(Boece) about Liddesdale, where the Hendersons of

Cockburn, the Elwalds of Schaw, and the Armstrongs

had lands, given to them by Malcolm after the battle

of Birnam Wood (woods).


The Danes had boasted that they would keep their

Yule at York. William kept his Yule there instead,

while the English for miles around wandered starving

in the snow. He gave away the lands of Edwin and

Morcar to his liegemen; but not Waltheorf’s, because

he loved Waltheorf and wanted to maintain his friend-

ship. (Kingsley.)


Waltheorf, an earl of high descent, had be-


come extremely intimate with the new king

(William the Conqueror), who had forgotten his former

offences, and attributed them rather to courage than to

disloyalty. For Waltheorf, singly, had killed many of

the Normans at the battle of York; cutting off their

heads, one by one, as they entered the gate. He was

muscular in the arms, brawny in the chest, tall and

robust in his whole person; the son of Siward, a most

celebrated earl, whom, by a Danish term, they called

“Digera the Strong.” (William of Malmesbury.)


Page 54


sculptured devices the greatest deeds of valor of their

ancestors. By these devices certain Liddesdale families

were known, and from them they were named. Some

were said to have been granted as ensigns armorial;

they were also employed as expressive symbolism in

heraldic ornamentation in architecture, for they revered

the traditions and relics of their forefathers and in this

manner they perpetuated the records of their deeds.

Among the most important of these devices are the

Whithaugh shield, the Mangerton shield, the Milnholm

Cross, the monuments in Ettleton, the Gillside stone,

the stone built into Gilnockie Bridge, the door-stone

of Gilnockie Castle, and others mentioned later in this



Here are a few interpretations of the most important

symbols used by the ancient Borderers of Liddesdale

and the surrounding country.


The square stood for a shield, (The Milnholme Cross, may represent a sword though a shield) but sometimes repre-sented a casket.


The triangle stood for the chief


The paly stood for father or forefather.


The bar stood for son.


Red meant blood.


Black meant sorrow.


The chevron stood for the estate.


The sun meant day, and was drawn like a wheel.


The double quatrefoil was employed as an heraldic

distinction and was also similar to a wheel.


The stirrup stood for chevalier or knight.


The sword upon the Armstrong monuments stood for

Siward, anciently called Suord.




Page 77


The oak-tree and arm referred to Siward’s achieve-

ment at Birnam Wood.


The sword and bear stood for Suord Beorn.


The oak-tree, acorn, oak-branch, oak-leaf, also stood

for Birnam Wood.


The arm stood for the name Armstrong.


The sheep-shears meant woman.


St. Andrew’s cross stood for Scotland, but it was borne

on the Middle and West Marches by the descendants

of the followers of Bruce.


The heart represented Bruce’s heart, and was borne

upon the shields of the descendants of those who fought

the Moors in Spain with the Good Sir James Douglas

in his effort to carry that heart to Jerusalem; the heart

in a casket had a similar meaning.


The closed hand with two fingers pointing upward

meant mercy.


The elk-head and antlers stood for the names Elkford

or Alford, and Elwald, Elkyard, or Elliot; the latter

name originally meant Elk of the Forest.


The hunting-horn stood for the Hunters and For-



The foregoing signs are often only recognizable to

the practised eye. For example, in Liddesdale the arm

and hand holding a tree must not be taken for the hand

holding the palm-leaf, which we are informed “shows

pilgrim from the Holy Land”; nor should the carved

tree be taken for a chalice or goblet, which it often





Page 78



We now hear of the Armstrongs, Elliots or

Elwalds, Crossars, Wighams, Nyksons, and

Henrisons in connection with a widespread conspiracy

to place Warbeck on the English throne. A rising in

Ireland and the proclamation of the imposter in Eng-

land was to be followed by the invasion of the latter

country by the young Scottish king, James IV, but an

ill-timed inroad by the impetuous Armstrongs, Elwalds,

and others, undertaken during the month of November,

1493, with the view of inducing the inhabitants of

Northumberland to rise in favor of Warbeck, drew

the attention of the English monarch to the conspiracy

and enabled him successfully to grapple with the diffi-

culty. (Tytler.)


On the 16th November, 1493, commissioners were

appointed on the part of England to treat regarding the

limits of the Debateable Land in the West Marches and



Page 113


the site and boundaries of the monastery of Canaby.

(Rotuii Scotia f vol. ii, p. 513.)


On 1 9th November Walter in Harden made his sub-

mission at a justiciary court held at Jedburgh, on the

charge of communicating with Archibald Armstrong,

at the horn (outlawed) for the slaughter of the Laird

of Eldmer. (Books of Adjournal, manuscript, Justiciary

Office, vol. 1 493-1 504, f 7, p. 2.)


A small river, now known as the Line, rises

in the northeast of Cumberland, and after

draining the districts of Bewcastle, Stapleton, and Kirk-

linton falls into the Solway Firth between the Esk and

the Eden. This river was, during the fifteenth and

sixteenth centuries, known as the Levyn, and the dis-

trict through which it takes its course was, like the

Debateable Land, infested by the outlaws of both na-

tions. A number of these fugitives of the surnames of

Elliot and Armstrong had been recently engaged in

“hereschip” of Quitmur, from which place they had

carried off a hundred cows and oxen and much other

booty. Hector Lauder, brother of the laird of Todrig,

being accused of the treasonable inbringing of these

outlaws and of the Forstars, and also of the common

resetting of the Elwalds, Armstrangs, and Forstars in

their common rapines, appeared before the justice court

at Jedburgh, on the 28th February, 1494-95, and pro-

duced a remission for the same. (Books of Adjournal,

manuscript. Justiciary Office, vol. 1493-1504, ff. 25,

p. 2 ; 26, p. I ; 26, p. 2 ; 27, p. I .) Among those named

are William Armstrang, George Armstrang, Patrick

Armstrang, Alexander Armstrang, Thome Armstrang,



Page 114


Robert Armstrang, Archibald Armstrang, Andrew Arm-

strang, and William Armstrang called Slittrik.


At the justiciary court, commencing at Liddesdale on

2d March, 1494-95, Patrick earl of Bothvill, lord of

Liddalisdale, and George Turnbull of Aula de Rule

(Halrule), captain of Hermitage at that time, were

called as lawful sureties for twelve Armstrangs, Elwalds,

and others, for whom they as governors of the dis-

trict had become lawful surety, and not appearing they

were fined ten pounds each for eighty-four persons

mentioned. (History of Liddesdale.)


On 5th March John Scott of Dalloraine appeared

before the justice court at Selkirk and was allowed to

compound for the treasonable resetting of Hector Arm-

strang, a traitor of Levyn. (Books of Adjournal, manu-

script. Justiciary Office, vol. 1493)


Patrick earl of Bothwell was at this period

not only lord of Liddesdale but probably

lieutenant and warden of the Middle March. He re»

ceived in an indenture from the “crownar” a number

of Borderers, — among whom were “George Arm-

strong, Hector’s bruther; Willyam Elwald, his mach


Alexander Armistrang, Robert Armistrang, Archibald

Armistrang, Andro Armistrang, Androi’s son, Wilyam

Armistrang, callit Sittrick, Hector Armstrang, and Wil-

yam of Dalgless [William of Douglas] with Hector

Armistrang’s bruther,” — for whom he had become

pledged to enter to the justice aire at Jedburgh, on 226.

October, 1498. This he failed to do and was conse-

quently adjudged in the sum of £ Scots. (Reg.

Sec. Sig., vol. ii, p. 45.)




Page 115


n the 2d September, 1503, King James IV again

visited the Borders and despatched a messenger to the

Armestrangis commanding them to appear before him.


We have no knowledge of their having at-

tended to the summons, and it cannot be


stated whether they submitted and received a pardon for

their offences. It is also noticeable that although Both-

well was lord of Liddesdale, warden of the West and

Middle Marches, and also lieutenant, it cannot be

stated that he accompanied his sovereign upon this ex-

pedition. (Lord Treasurer’s Accounts of Scotland, f.

163 b.)


On 17th November, 1508, Adam Hepburn, earl of

Bothwell, he who afterwards died on Flodden by his

sovereign’s side (see 151 3), was served heir

to his father in the lordship of Lidellisdaill.

[Scotts of Buccleuch.)


“A respit maid to Robert Elwald of Redheuch”

(then follow other names) “and Alexander Armestrang,

saufly and surelie to cum to the kingis presence to

Striveling, or quhare it happenis him to be

for the tyme, thar saufly and surelie to remane




Page 118


Page 119


of the loth and 26th of May, and the following docu-

ment, more important than either of the preceding,

may be accepted as the result of so desirable an inter-

view: “A respitt maid to Robert Elwald of Redheuch,”

“Sym Armstrang, Thomas Armstrang, George Arm-

strang,” “and to all and sindry utheris, the inhabitaris

and induellaris [indwellers] within the boundis of the

lordschip of Liddisdale, for quhatsumevir crimez com-

mittit and done be thaim, or ony of thaim, in timez

bigane unto the day of the date hereof, tresson in the

kingis person alanerly [only] except, to be unpunyst in

thare persons for XIX yeris nixt to cum efter the date

hereof, etc. Of the date at Jedburgh, the XK day of

November, the yere, etc., V and X yeris, and of the

king the XXiij yere. Gratis Ade Hepburne de Craggis.

Subscriptum per dominum Regem.” (Reg. Sec. Sig.,

vol. iv, fol. 93.)


This respite had naturally the effect of inducing those

who had assisted the Liddesdale men in their evil prac-

tices to make peace with the crown. The name of

Alexander Armestrang, which occurs in the respite of

loth of May, 1510, does not appear in this document.

At the date of his summons he may have been chief of

his clan, and, if so, in the event of his decease, his place

would naturally be filled by one of his kinsmen. Alex-

ander, the oldest of the four brothers, was represented

upon later shields as the trunk of the oak. Two of

those who now come to the front we can identify —

Sym, as **Sym the lord” of Whithaugh, a moving spirit

on the Borders, who will be frequently mentioned, and

whose execution occurred in 1535-36, and Thomas, as




Page 120







Chronicles of the Armstrongs; (1902)


Author: Armstrong, James Lewis

Subject: Armstrong family

Publisher: Jamaica, Queensborough, N.Y., The Marion press

Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT

Language: English

Call number: 1111729

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