Canonbie, Dumfriesshire

Historical Description

CANONBIE, or CANOBIE, a parish, in the county of DUMFRIES, 6 miles (S.) from Langholm, and the same distance (N.) from Longtown; containing 3032 iuhabitants. An ancient priory that was situated here is supposed to have given name to this place, Canonbie probably signifying "the residence of the canons". How long this religious establishment existed before the year 1165, when a grant of land was made by William the Lion, is uncertain. In the year 1533 Henry VIII. claimed it as having belonged at one time, as well as the whole parish, to England; upon which pretence he ordered hostilities to be commenced on the Scottish borders. About the end of the reign of James V., in 1542, after the surrender of the Scottish army at Solway Moss, the English soldiers, upon the same pretext, pillaged and laid in ruins both the monastery and church. The church was dedicated to St. Martin, and was often called the Church of Liddel or Liddal, from the river near which it stood: in the reign of David I., Turgot de Rossedale founded a canonry in connexion with it, which afterwards came into the hands of the monks at Jedburgh, but was dissolved at the Reformation. Canonbie is called debatable land; and on account of its exposure to the English borderers, many places of defence were formerly erected, the vestiges of some of which still remain. At a place called Gill-knocky, eastward of Hollows bridge, stands the tower of Hollows, the reputed castle of Johnnie Armstrong, a famous chieftain in the reign of James V., and styled John of Gill-knocky, he was the terror of the western marches of England, and forced the inhabitants of Cumberland, Westmorland, and a great part of Northumberland, to become his tributaries, or annually pay him blackmail. Not far from Penton Linns, on the banks of the Liddel, was the strong tower of Harelaw, the residence of Hector Armstrong, the famous freebooter, who, by bribery, betrayed the Earl of Northumberland into the hands of the regent Murray.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis