Law and order on the Anglo-Scottish Border 1603-1707
For centuries the Borders were notorious for their lawlessness and were regarded as beyond redemption by those in London and Edinburgh. Undisturbed, the landowners had assumed extensive powers and the population organised themselves into virtually autonomous clans. For James VI and I, however, the Borders symbolised the Union of the Crowns, for 'be the happie union' they were now 'the verie hart of the countrey'. It was thus, intolerable that the Borders should remain in their old state and so from 1603 there was a new drive to. pacify the region. Previous studies have either considered the region from one side of the frontier only, or have stopped at some date within the seventeenth century. It is however, important that the Border counties of England and Scotland be considered as a whole, for although divided by man-made divisions, they were united geographically, topographically, economically and socially. It is equally vital that the seventeenth century be regarded in its entirety, for the pacification of the Borders was a gradual process, of which the final stages were not reached until the last quarter of the century. In order to examine the whole process of the pacification and how the region gradually adapted to its new role as the Middle Shires of Britain, the thesis looks at the whole range of law courts operating in the area - from the central courts in London and Edinburgh, down to the local burgh, franchise and ecclesiastical courts. A chapter is devoted to each level of court and examines the role of a particular type of court in the judicial hierarchy of England and Scotland - its methods, procedure and personnel and the type of offender and offence dealt with. Perhaps the most important chapter in this respect is that on the Border Commissioners who were the body most intimately concerned with pacifying the region and who made a lasting impression upon every aspect of Border society. The Commissions have spanned over 80 years and more than any other judicial body shaped the Borders into the Eiddle Shires, yet no detailed study of them has ever been undertaken before. The combined effect on the inhabitants of all the law courts operating in the Borders, is measured in the Conclusion, where it can be seen that the life and ways of the Borderers had changed significantly between the Unions of the Crowns.