Notes written by Graeme Glass, 102 Brookvale Road, Havelock North, New Zealand. Email: "" 04 May 2000.

Some thoughts on the connection between the Homes that we can legitimately claim and the main stream of that family.

Our family tradition – handed down through several branches of the Home and Hopkirk families is fairly well understood but it does not constitute proof.

We have done considerable research in tracing “our” Homes back as far as available records will allow and it seems that the following is about as far as we can get with only a fair certainty of correctness.

We can be almost certain that the George Home who was baptised at Gordon in 1706 was the George Home who married Alison Brodie at Gordon on 25/4/1743 and that he was our ancestor. Beyond George we have to make some assumptions and it looks as though the tree – working backwards - is:

George Home. m Alison Brodie at Gordon 1743.

James Home m. Beatrix Tuntor at Gordon 1694.         Estimated Born C 1669

James Home. m Margaret Archer at Gordon 1656     Bp. 1633

James Home. m Margaret Waitt                                 Born C 1610

This tree is based on reasonable assumptions with regard to the records that are available to us. There is a record of a James being baptised at Gordon on 12/12/1669 and he is likely to be the father of our George. He would have been aged 25 years at the time of the marriage to Beatrix Tuntor, which seems reasonable. At James’ baptism his father’s name was shown as James. Because Gordon parish did not record the name of the mother we have to make a guess and the only way to do this is to find the marriage of a James at some time before 1669. The only such marriage in Gordon was on 23/11/1656 when a James Home married Margaret Archer. The main flaw in this theory is that it was not until 10 years after the marriage that a child (Marian – bapt. 29/4/1666) was born, and another three years before James was born. There could be several explanations for this but the link could be regarded as not without fault. However, if we continue down that line we can find a James baptised at Duns in 1633 and our theory is based on the assumption that this was the husband of Margaret Archer – he would have been aged 23 years at the time of the marriage – again reasonable. We then follow this James and note that the only baptism of a James Home who could fit our line is one at Duns on 18/11/1633 – the son of another James Home and Margaret Waitt. There is no record of their marriage and so the trail runs out. However, it is reasonable to assume that a marriage did take place and that this final James would have been in his mid twenties when he married which would suggest that he was born about 1605/1610.

The fact that the baptism took place at Duns and not Gordon should not be an obstacle.

These towns are only twelve miles apart on a direct road.


At this stage it may be an advantage to know something of the history of the 17th Century in the Borders region.

In 1603 James VI (and 1st) inherited the throne of England on the death of Queen Elizabeth and commenced his programme of reform on the Borders. His Deputy for Scotland, George Home, Earl of Dunbar instigated the rigorous measures, which forever removed the threat of the reivers. Many were executed, some were transported and some sent as mercenaries to fight in European wars. The worst of the troublemakers lived in the Middle and West Marches and the East March, which included Berwickshire, did not suffer as heavily as the other Marches.

James died in 1625 and was succeeded by his son Charles I. who, 8 years later was also crowned as King of Scotland.

In 1625 an Act of Revocation was passed by Parliament which compelled the Scottish nobles to hand back the ecclesiastical property which they had taken over at the Reformation. This Act did much to lose Charles the support of the Scottish nobles. However, there was a period of relative peace on the borders from about 1620 until 1638, when, as a reply to Charles’ attempts to promote Episcopalianism among the staunchly Presbyterian Scots there was strong and unified resistance which culminated in the signing of the National Covenant in Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh. The following year Charles attempted to impose his will by military means but his invasion of Scotland petered out on the Northumbrian borders with little real fighting after a strong Scottish army mustered at Duns to oppose him.

In 1641 the English Civil War broke out and continued until 1651. Although the conflict was mainly confined to England and the north of Scotland the Covenant (now The Solemn League and Covenant), which was revived in a somewhat different form, took the side of Parliament and despatched strong forces into England to assist the Roundheads. Many of the officers and men of these forces were recruited on the Borders and several Homes served in the Merse Regiment of Sir David Home of Wedderburn and the East Lothian Regiment. It is highly possible that some of our ancestors were involved in these campaigns.

In 1645 the Marquis of Montrose brought a part of his victorious army to the Border regions in an attempt to rally support for the Royalist cause, but found little support among the borderers and was soundly defeated at Philliphaugh (near Selkirk) by a portion of the Covenanting army, which was hurriedly recalled from England.

After the execution of Charles I. the Covenanters changed sides and tried to promote the cause of Charles II with the result that Cromwell invaded Scotland in 1650 and once more the borders were overrun by the English. It was in this year that Home Castle was finally subdued and destroyed. Cromwell defeated the Scottish army at Dunbar was able to impose his iron handed rule on Scotland. Berwickshire, being in the middle of the fighting, saw many changes and much devastation and probably suffered more than any other part of Scotland. Our ancestors would have been caught up in these upheavals whether they wanted to be or not.

Oliver Cromwell died in 1658 and for two years England was in a state of chaos but in 1660 Charles II was recalled to take up the throne of his father and the old order was restored. However, Scotland, which had been ruled by a form of theocracy remained divided and the militancy of the Covenanters entered a new phase. Attempts to reform the religion were bitterly opposed and were equally bitterly suppressed. by Government

Forces. From this period comes the legends of Conventicles and Dragoons which caused much strife on the Borders with the Covenanters fighting a form of guerrilla with the Government forces in the name of their religion. In 1689 James II was dethroned and his Protestant daughter, Mary, together with her husband, William of Orange took the crown and apart from some fighting in the Highlands, Scotland moved into a relatively peaceful period.

The Jacobite rising of 1715 had little impact on the Borders and in 1745, although Prince Charles’ army marched south through Kelso and other towns there was no actual fighting and very few borderers joined the Jacobite cause. An exception was Sir George Home of Wedderburn who, with a brother and a son were captured at the Battle of Preston (in Lancashire) in November 1715. His estates were forfeited and the Wedderburn line lost its importance.

Another interesting note is that the then Earl of Home was one of the commanders of the Royalist army which was thrashed by the Jacobites at Prestonpans in September 1745.

Life on the Borders through these centuries would have been difficult. The inhabitants would have been subject to the normal succession of droughts, hard winters and failed crops not to mention the occasional incursions of invaders and truculent neighbours. Agriculture would have been using the methods and crops of centuries and there would have been little innovation and absolutely no labour saving devices. They would have been subject, in earlier times, to the demands of their feudal landlords particularly in times of war and at times they may have been treated as “cannon fodder”. However, they would, in good times, have eaten reasonably healthily and in the worst years they were probably significantly better off than the townspeople, who in bad times were often on the brink of starvation.


As set out in the first part of this paper we can, with a reasonable amount of certainty, trace our Home ancestors back to about 1610 we are still unable to establish the link with the main line that family tradition tells us existed. If it existed, that link may well be in the 16th, or even 15th Century and the only course seems to be try to tackle the problem from the other end. By this I mean to examine the main line genealogy to see if there could have been a branch of the family which is not accounted for, or, for which the descendants could have been overlooked, or regarded as not significant to the main line.

The fact that the main line of the family, that is the direct line of eldest sons, died out in 1633 and the succession then reverted to the line of the second son of the first Lord Home is of some help to our search. This means that there were no male family members born between John of Ersiltoun (Earlston), who died in 1493, and the Earl who died in 1633 who had a prior claim to the title. This clearly rules out the possibility that our ancestor, if he was connected to the main line, was born in the period of, say, 1460 to 1633. While this puts our linkage well back in time, at least the knowledge is positive and suggests that we should look into the very distant past, if we are find the connection.

The generation of Alexander, the 2nd Lord Home can be ignored because he appears to have had only one brother, the aforementioned John of Ersiltoun. The previous generation comprised Alexander, Master of Home (Eldest son of the 1st Lord) who died in 1456. He had brothers, John, who was Prior of Coldingham, George; who was Laird of Ayton, and who left a line of his own, Patrick; who was Laird of Fastcastle and also left a distinct line: There is, however, another branch to this family. Alexander, the 1st Lord married twice. The children abovementioned are from the first marriage to Marion Lauder but there were three children from a second marriage, to Margaret, daughter of the Master of Montgomery. They were: Thomas, described as, of Langshaw, Nicholas (probably a girl) and David. Perhaps our connection comes from one of these lines.

We are told by Alexander Hopkirk, repeating the words of his mother (Isabella Home), that:

“Our forefathers by my mother’s side came originally from Gordon, Berwickshire close to the old Home Castle which I have often seen from Gattonside Hill. There seems to have been two branches of the clan. The Gordon branch, to which we belong was considered the oldest. I have heard my mother tell that her forefathers had the privilege of entering the castle by the Postern Gate which was used by the head of the clan”.

This is all the “evidence” that we have to have to go on and it is flimsy in the extreme. However, we now know that roughly the same story was handed down through at least three branches of the Hopkirk family and one of the Homes and it should not be discarded lightly. The fact that various Hopkirk and other descendants were given the Christian name of Home or Hume demonstrates the credence that was given to the “legend”. Also, we see Alexander using the term Home Hopkirk.

When Alexander Hopkirk refers to two branches of the Home family he must be referring to the main stream and to the Wedderburn line which comes from David Home (First of Wedderburn) a son of the Sir Alexander Home who was killed at the battle of Verneuil (In France) in 1424. Another brother, Patrick of Rathburn may have left progeny, which are not accounted for.

As time went by the Homes prospered and formed several distinct branches. Nigel Tranter in his book “Portrait of the Border Country” (ISBN 0 7090 3147 5) page 47, states:

The resounding list of Home lairdships in this Merse of Berwickshire, great and

not so great, is impressive indeed and reads like a gazetteer of the County. We see the Homes of Wedderburn, of Polwarth, of Marchmont, of Manderston, of Blackadder, of Simprin, of Kames, of Broomhouse, of Ninewells, of Whiterigs, of Cowedenknowes, of Bassendean, of Bunkle, or Bonkyl, of Preston, of Edrom, of Hutton, of Paxton, of Fastcastle, of Linthill and of Eyemouth. No doubt there were many others.

Thus we see that the holdings of the family were extensive and Mr. Tranter has not mentioned the families of Ayton and Coldingham, but, as he said, there were others. However, it would be fair to say that many of these branches originated either from the mainstream line or from the Wedderburn line. This line which had seven sons known as “The Seven Spears of Wedderburn” at the time of Flodden in 1513, certainly accounted for several branches of the family so we can see the proliferation of lairdships that occurred as each son established a dynasty of his own.


I am inclined to accept Alexander Hopkirk’s words. They may be inaccurate and inconclusive but they are basically confirmed by the legends of other families. Therefore, we accept that there is a basis in what he says.

The link must lie somewhere between the founding of the Wedderburn line (in say, 1420)

and the clear succession which comes from Alexander 1st Lord Home who died in 1491.

Whether our line comes from a brother or a son of the 1st Lord will be difficult to prove.

We know that our proven ancestors were tenant farmers at East Gordon for at least two or three generations prior to the 1680s and we believe that the lands of East Gordon were either owned, or leased by the Lords Home from 1498. It seems to be true that these tenancies were heritable and it is likely that when the tenancies were allocated that Lord Home would have shown a preference for family members, or at least loyal supporters of the clan.

The key to the feudal system which prevailed in Scotland in the 15th Century was that leaders of families and men of influence surrounded themselves with family members and retainers who could be depended upon for support when the need arose. With Home Castle, the centre of the family power, only a couple of miles from East Gordon it made sense to have friends close at hand.

My theory is that the original tenancy of whatever portion of land they occupied was given to our ancestor as a relative of the head of the family, possibly the younger son of a younger son and that tenancy was held until Robert, the son of the George who was born in 1706 departed for America in the 1790s.

As far as relationship is concerned, there is always the possibility of illegitimacy but I don’t think that the family pride in the relationship would have been so strong if that had been the case.

Family legend is something that we have to consider and it can either have a basis in fact, be the result of distortion, or just plain wishful thinking. The problem is to decide which. I recall my mother saying that one of our ancestors was the Roger Kirkpatrick of Closeburn who was one of Robert Bruce’s squires and assisted Bruce in the killing of the Red Comyn. I accept that legend at face value but where he fits in I do not know. However, I note that Thomas Home of Langshaw, son of the 1st Lord Home married, as his second wife an Alison Colquhoun. It is a flimsy connection but the Kirkpatrick name is shown as having a connection with the Colquhouns. Maybe there is something in it.

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This page last updated 11 May 2000