- source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
- source: Family History Library Catalog
- the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia
Cockburnspath (pron. CO-burns-path or CO-path) is a village in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland. It lies near the North Sea coast between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh. It is at the eastern extremity of the Southern Upland Way, a long-distance footpath from the west to east coast of Scotland, and it is also the terminus of the Sir Walter Scott Way. At the nearby village of Cove, there is a small fishing harbour.
The area has many archeological remains which indicate it has been lived in and fought over since the Bronze Age. It lies close to the old invasion route from England into Scotland. Cockburnspath was initially known as Kolbrand’s Path.
Sir Adam de Hepburn (d. before 1371), in the reign of David II, had a charter of the lands of Traprain, and Southalls and Northalls (united as Hailes) in Haddingtonshire, as well as the lands of Mersingtoun, Cockburnspath, and Rollanstoun in Berwickshire.
The lands of Cockburnspath must have at some point reverted to the Crown as they were part of the dowry given by James IV of Scotland to Margaret Tudor (daughter of Henry VII of England) on their marriage in 1503. This was known as the Marriage of the Thistle and the Rose, representing the Scottish and English national symbols. The 16th century market cross in the heart of the village has carved emblems of a thistle on two of its faces and a rose on the other two.
The marriage cemented the signing of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace between Scotland and England in 1502; the peace was short-lived and James was killed at the Battle of Flodden, just across the border in Northumberland, in 1513. This dynastic marriage did, however, lead to the Union of the Crowns in 1603 when James VI of Scotland also became James I of England, on the death of Elizabeth I of England.
In the 19th century Cockburnspath was a favourite summer haunt of many Scottish artists who painted the village, farm workers and the surrounding scenery.
The village's picturesque scenery captivated both James Guthrie and Edward Arthur Walton who shared a house there in 1883.
Dunglass, just to the west of the town, was the home of the geologist Sir James Hall who, in the Spring of 1788, joined John Playfair and James Hutton in a boat trip from Dunglass Burn east along the coast looking for evidence to support Hutton's theory that rock formations were laid down in an unending cycle over immense periods of time. They found examples of Hutton's Unconformity at several places, particularly an outcrop at Siccar Point sketched by Sir James Hall. As Playfair later recalled, "The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far back into the abyss of time". Hutton's work influenced later geologists, particularly Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin.
The parish church has an unusual round tower. There is also the mediaeval Dunglass Collegiate Church at the border with East Lothian, maintained by Historic Scotland and open to the public.
Nearby Fast Castle was a fictional setting for Walter Scott's novel The Bride of Lammermuir, which in turn inspired Donizetti's opera Lucia di Lammermuir. The Lammermuir Hills form the area of high moorland running west from the village on which the Border abbeys had their sheep farms, or walks, in the Middle Ages.
Sources for Old Parish Registers Records, Vital Records and Censuses
- Scotland's People This is a pay website providing vital statistics and census data for all of Scotland with original images. There is a description at Scotland under Genealogical Resources.
Notes for Berwickshire
- GENUKI has a list of references for Berwickshire. Some of these may be superseded by more modern material.
- The Borders Family History Society provides a page of facts and publications for each of the parishes in its area. They have a lot of material. On each parish page is a map of the local area taken from either the Ordnance Survey Quarter-inch to the mile, Scotland, 1921-1923 series or the Ordnance Survey One-inch to the mile, Popular edition, Scotland, 1920-1930 series. These maps are not visible immediately upon opening a page, but worthwhile scrolling down to find.
- There are no records for Berwickshire in the FreeCen Project.
- The Cockburnspath Parish Registers for the Church of Scotland provide information on baptisms (1642-1700 and 1705-1854), marriages (1642-1699 and 1709-1854), no burials recorded. See the FamilySearch Wiki article on Cockburnspath for other church denominations.
Further Sources of Reference
Please note and respect the copyright warnings on these websites.
- GENUKI article on Cockburnspath. These articles often include a bibliography.
- Scottish Places article on the parish of Cockburnspath. The tabs of the right provide more information, and a map of the parish within its surrounding area, with small settlements highlighted and linked to more information.
- The FamilySearch Wiki article on Cockburnspath provides direct reference to FamilySearch holdings on many topics with respect to the parish.
- The National Library of Scotland have a website devoted to maps from the 1600s right up to the present. Comparisons of modern-day and old maps of the same place can be made. From the home page click on "Find by place" and then follow the instructions on the next page. Once you are viewing the place you want, use the slider <----> at the top of the map to compare the layout of roads and the place names of smaller areas, perhaps even farms, with the landscape today. The website takes some getting used to. The One-inch 2nd edition, Scotland, 1898-1904 OS is a series of maps with the parishes delineated. Each of these maps cover an area of 18 x 24 miles and will zoom to comfortable reading size with a couple of mouse clicks on the map itself. Unfortunately, they are not geo-referenced, and it is necessary to go to the OS One Inch 1885-1900 series to locate places by latitude and longitude.
- The Statistical Accounts for Scotland In the 1790s and again in the 1830s, the ministers of the all the parishes of the Church of Scotland were asked to provide a description of their parish to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The original account request included 160 questions to be answered. These accounts are available in print in 20 volumes and are also online where it is freely available to browse. The browsing portal is below the viewing area of most computer screens. Scroll down to "For non-subscribers" and click on "Browse scanned pages". This brings you to another page on which one can enter the name of the parish in which you are interested.
- Excerpts from The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885 are provided by Scottish Places. Selections from Groome and other gazetteers from the 19th century are also found on GENUKI.