Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A Look Around the Earlston Archives

Valuing the History of our Village
for Future Generations

 Since the start of the Auld Earlston Group in 2012, local people have been generous in  their  donations of photographs, postcards and other documents relating to the village's past.   

So take this look around our collections to date. We use the resources in our slide shows, exhibitions and displays, in answering the steady flow of enquiries and in providing inspiration for the Auld Earlston blog.  


The foundation of Auld Earlston activities with nearly 2000 items in this collection alone,   covering all aspects of life in the village, past and present, including street views, country views, churches, events, entertainment, schools, sports, societies, transport, VIP visits, farming, working lives, wartime and weddings.


Since 2012, Albums have been compiled of reports  in the local newspapers relating to Earlston.

Below are some of the other documents 
in our archive collection

  • The Church in Earlston, 600AD-1992,   a short history by the Rev. John Duncan.
  • Earlston Church Choir Trips, 1908 and 1936 - notes and photographs.
  • Earlston Parish Church Foundation Stone Service, 1891 - service sheet.
  • Earlston Parish Church - photographs of the pewter plate and men working on the building.  
  • Earlston Secession Church Soiree, 1843 - poster.
  • Ercildoune Church - notice on rental of seats. 
  • Press cuttings of ministers and church events, 1940's-50's. 
  • St. John 's Church - list of members, 1948. 
  • Four boxes of slides by Mary Duncan, mainly of church events, 1950's-70's. 

 Church Trip to Yarrow Manse, 1908

  • Christian Whale (1792-1862) and Marion Whale, Gingham Manufacturers - research papers, including a copy of Christian's 29-page will. 
  • David Swanston (1816-1874),  Earlston post-runner - research notes 
  • George Graham, postman - A list of subscribers to a gift  on the occasion of his marriage, 1911.
  • Isabella Wallace (c.1854-1920)  - Earlston's Friend and Benefactor - with a copy of her will, leaving money to the benefit of  the village.  
  • James MacKenzie, (1846-1898), Banker and Man of Many Roles - research notes
  • John Redpath, (1796-1869),  Canadian industrialist  and donor of the village clock - research notes.
  • Mary Mather, postie - press cutting and photographs 
  • Rev. William Crockett (1866-1945) - research papers, magazine articles, press cuttings.
  • Robert Carter (1807-1875), New York bookseller & publisher - biography, obituary & research notes. 
  • Thomas Gray (1796-1884),  known as  Gingham Tam   - research notes
  • Thomas the Rhymer & Mikhail Lermontov - leaflets from Friends of Thomas the Rhymer Group.
Inscription in the biography of Robert Carter, 
presented to Earlston Reading Room by his daughter, in 1892.

"The Southern Reporter" of 3rd September 1868
  • Earlston Civic Week - programmes  from 1973.
  • Masonic Bazaar, 1928  - 9 page programme of patrons, committee and stall holders 
  • Ercildoune Pageant, 1934   - souvenir programme, photograph album, notes and script. 
  • Guild Concert, 1911 - programme 
  • Prime Minister Asquith Visit, 1908 - research notes. 
  • A Welcome Home Dinner for returning serviceman and women, 1920 - programme  
  • What's On in Earlston, 1994 booklet.  
  • Border Common Riding 1952 - press cuttings, when local historian John Weatherly was Lauder Cornet. 
  • Auld Earlston "Remembering Earlston's Railway" Exhibition, Feb. 2016 - photographs, fact sheets, publicity, community liaison, survey, grant applications.
  • Auld Earlston "Earlston At Work and Play" Exhibition, Oct. 2016 - photographs, fact sheets, publicity, survey.

  • An Historical Tour of Earlston, by John D. Smith, 1996
  • Border Warfare - HMSO booklet, 1973, 
  • Chronology of Earlston History, by John Weatherly 
  • Earlston Comet - photocopy of newspaper, 1891 
  • Earlston News - four copies of community newsletter, 1989. 
  • Earlston Examples of Census Returns, Old Parish Records and Kirk Session Records.
  • Framed in time - photographs of Auld Earlston.  In Border Life Magazine: Issue 19, Spring 1999.
  • A3 laminated Ordnance Survey Map of Earlston, 1855. 
            Entry in Earlston Kirk Session Records, 1901.  ( 


  • Histories of the:  Chess Club, Curling Club, Golf Club,  and Horticultural Society.
  • Earlston Reading Room  - history, rules & regulations, minute book 1911-1950, centenary celebration in 1952, correspondence and finance papers, 1962-2002,
  • Two Cinema Programmes from the 1950's-60s.
Minutes of the meeting in 1906, with "20 gentlemen present", to set up Earlston Golf Club.  The Rev. Mr  N.C. Keith  was in the chair, with Mr Geo L. McDonald appointed  clerk. 
Curtain Down on Earlston Amateur Dramatic Society, 1991. 

  • Growing up in the West End, by Sheila  McKay 
  • The Spittal Trip by Train - memories of Inez Polson
  • Memories of Earlston, by Inez Polson - in Border Life Magazine:  Issue 1, May 1996
  • Transcript of talks with Earlston residents,  sharing their memories on growing up in the village. 

  • Opening of Earlston Junior Secondary School, 1962  - programme  
  • Ten boxes of slides by Mary Weatherly, nee Rodger, mainly of the primary school from 1960.   

  • Christmas cards from Earlston to serving soldiers in the First World War. 
  • Darlingfield Air Crash of German bomber, 1943 - research notes
  • Unveiling of the War Memorial, 1921 - research notes. 
  • Ercildoune Recipes and Healthy  Hints,  c.1940

  • Blacksmiths of Earlston, including the Brotherston family, Scott family and many more names   - research notes, fact sheets  and photographs.
  • Earlston entries in Slater's Trade Directory for Berwickshire, 1882 and 1903.
  • Red Lion Hotel - building plans of 1871, property documents 1814-1881,  census returns and photographs. 
  • Three centuries of Earlston Doctors, written by Dr. John Burns
  • Examples of Earlston Gingham

Testament of Blacksmith, Alexander Scott, with a list of 
those who owed his estate money.  (


                  Auld Earlston welcomes all contributions on the village's past  -
Please contact us on  

We are very grateful to Earlston Primary School 
for providing secure storage for our collections.


Thursday, 8 June 2017

My Grandfather's Grandfather was an Earlston Mole-Catcher

Stewart Paterson  (1832-1908) was a mole-catcher all his life  and  
also a bit of a property developer at the east end of Earlston  

We are grateful to Robert Johnston for sharing this story of his grandfather's grandfather.    There is also a family link to an earlier contributed post on Christopher Sanderson of Earlston. 

Stewart Paterson  was born in 1832 in Bendochy, north of Blairgowrie, the son of Emily and James Paterson,  a farm labourer.  Six  other children completed  the family - John, Hugh, Fyfe, Isabel,  Margaret and James. 

When Stewart was in his early teens, the family moved to Legerwood, 2 miles north of Earlston.  Sometime before he was 17, he left home to work at Newtonlees Farm, Ednam  as a mole-catcher for farmer James Ross who employed twenty four people   on his 606 acre farm.

The next we hear of Stewart was the calling of his banns of marriage in 1854  to Helen Mason of Pyatshaw in Earlston parish.    Stewart was back in Legerwood and described as a general labourer - he might not have liked this as he took pride in his status as a mole-catcher.

By the time of the 1861 census, the family was living at Standingstone, Earlston with two young children, Isabel born 1856 (my direct ancestor) and James 1858.  Also in the household were Stewart's older brother Hugh and widowed mother-in-law Isabel Mason. 

Around 1870 Stewart built a home  and a number of adjoining cottages for himself  at the East End, though it was unclear if he himself did the building or got others to do the work.  It would also  be interesting to know how he financed this venture.

 A photograph taken in 2012 - the house now has the address 2 Church Street,
 with the cottages 1, 2, 4, and 5 Church Street.  

By the time of the 1871 census, the family was living at  92 Main Street, with three more children - Alexander, born 1862, Emily 1867, and John 1869.  Also living with them was Stewart's 71 year old widowed father James.  

But family life had been marred by sadness.  Earlston Monumental Inscriptions (published by Border Family History Society)  lists the family gravestone,  recording the death of the first Emily, born in 1858 who survived only  5 months; Alexander who died at 15 years old; and a further  unnamed  son and daughter who died in infancy.  

Stewart's wife Helen died aged 49 in 1884, buried with her children  in Earlston Churchyard.  

 Robert Johnston besides his ancestors' gravestone in Earlston  Churchyard,

Six years later Stewart married in Galashiels  Jane Sanderson, a woollen tweed worker, 20 years his junior whose family had Earlston links. Two children were born to the marriage -  David, in  1892 and Elizabeth (Lizzie)  in 1895,   when their father would have been in his 60's. 

Stewart died 26th January 1908, aged 76, with death announcements in three Border newspapers, which described him as a rabbit-catcher.   He  appeared to be a relatively rich man.  My Uncle Arnold remembers his father  being called to Earlston to collect £300  left to various family members. 

It seems Stewart Paterson left wealth equivalent to £200,00 today - not bad for a young lad who began work as a mole-catcher! 


  • David Paterson, son of Stewart and his second wife Jane, was killed in Flanders in 1916,  buried in the Menin Road South Military Cemetery, Belgium.  He is remembered on Earlston War Memorial. 

  • Lizzie Paterson - I knew her as Aunt Lizzie and recall visiting her in the 1940's and 50's.  She  never married and continued to live in the house built by her father.   In 1932, my parents spent their honeymoon there.  She died in 1978 aged 82 and some older Earlston residents may well remember her. 

  • Jane Sanderson, Stewart's second wife, was the granddaughter of Christopher Sanderson who features in an early post HERE.  He appeared,  at one point in his life,  to be a successful Earlston businessman,  a master grocer who  built  property on the Green, but who later faced several charges of arson.  Jane died in 1923 aged 72.  

To find a fuller account of Robert Johnstone's  Earlston ancestors, see his website HERE 


Auld Earlston would be delighted to feature articles, photographs  and other contributions from readers.  Please contact