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
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-
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.)
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.
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
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
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-
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
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,
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.)
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.
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
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
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
Call number: 1111729