top of page

The Jasper Brown Boundary Stones Project


This project was prompted by the Heritage Society obtaining a copy of a notebook compiled by Jasper Brown, Rutherglen's Town Officer in the 1920s. This book contains notes taken by him at the 'redding' of the Royalty Boundary in 1923 and 1926 when the town's boundary, or march stones were inspected. The notebook is part of South Lanarkshire Museum collections. 

The Heritage Society has been researching Rutherglen's boundary stones for some years, initially with the assistance of West of Scotland Archeology Service. You can read about that here

Obtaining a copy of Mr. Brown's notebook gave us the opportunity to increase our knowledge of the stones and the people who put them there as well as providing a fascinating picture of the landscape around Rutherglen as it was almost 100 years ago.

JB stones book extract.jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

Left, an extract from Jasper Brown's Boundary Stones notebook.   

Right, Jasper Brown as pictured in Rutherglen Lore.

© 2021 by Rutherglen Heritage Society. 

Jasper Brown photo Rutheglen Lore
William Forrest 1816 map.jpg

Rutherglen is one of the oldest Royal Burghs in Scotland with a Charter granted by King David the First  in 1126.  That Charter gave the Burgh important trading rights to hold fairs and markets as well as providing land held in ownership by the Burgh for the use and support of its inhabitants. 


In times when there was no standing army, the quid pro quo was that in return for these privileges the Burgh and its citizens were expected to be loyal to the king and turn out as militia if and when required. Such an arrangement was worth securing for any ambitious town and depended on a precise definition of the exact boundaries of the Burgh.

From these circumstances derived one of Rutherglen’s most ancient traditions; the Redding of the Marches, when local dignitaries would inspect the march stones that were placed to mark the boundary of the Royal Burgh. 

Above, extract from William Forrest's 1816 map of the County of Lanark showing the Parish of Rutherglen in red and the extent of the Royalty boundary.   Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Rutherglen is one of the oldest Royal Burghs in Scotland, being accorded this status in 1126.

The land within the burgh was common ground and its boundary had to be identified against encroachment by adjacent landowners.

Nowadays we have accurate maps to mark boundaries but prior to the first Ordnance Survey in the 1850s there were no accurate maps available.

The town marked out its boundary with marker stones and a group of townspeople would carry out a survey at regular periods to check and witness that these boundary stones remained in their correct location.

Jasper Brown's notebook is an invaluable source of information, adding greatly to our knowledge and appreciation of the boundary stones which are important remnants of the town's heritage. The identities of  most of the burgesses who provided the weather-worn stones recorded by Mr. Brown nearly a century ago, were lost in the mists of time even then.


The notebook does however, reveal the identities of a few of the burgesses who provided the stones, and we explore something of their lives; where they worked, where they lived and in some cases, reveal what they looked like.

Further information is contained in the sections below. Click on the underlined heading to jump straight to that section.

The Origins of Common Lands and Boundary Stones in Scotland

An examination of the reasons why boundary stones were put where they are by exploring the ancient origins of boundaries.

Jasper Brown and the Notebook

The small black notebook written by Jasper Brown contains the locations of boundary stones recorded at two reddings of the marches in the 1920s. Here, we find out something about the life of Mr. Brown, and analyse the details of his notebook.


The National Library of Scotland archives contain a variety of historical maps showing the extent of Rutherglen's Royalty Boundary and the location of the boundary stones. Some of those maps are reproduced here. Also included is an interactive Google Map of Rutherglen on which we have plotted the locations of boundary stones. 

The Burgesses

These were the men responsible for placing boundary stones around the border of the Royal Burgh. This section considers what it meant to be a burgess and finds out how they were appointed. We also look at the lives of some of these men and feature photographs of them and their boundary stones.

Locations in the Notebook

It's almost 100 years since the Jasper Brown notebook was written. The topography of Rutherglen has changed significantly since that time. The notebook is a snapshot of how parts of the town looked in the inter-war years. Here are a few examples which compare the places described in the notebook with what is there today.


Terminus was the Roman god responsible for protecting boundaries. Depictions of this ancient deity are considered have influenced the appearance of some of Rutherglen's boundary stones. We take a brief look here at where this theory came from and feature some images of Terminus.

The Last Redding, 1968

Those taking part in the Redding of the Marches of Tuesday 4th. June 1968  would be unaware that it was to be the final such event organised by Rutherglen Burgh Council. This section contains the programme of events for the day which would have been provided to those taking part in this historic event.

Boundary Stones Elsewhere

The practice of placing stones to mark burgh boundaries was not confined to Rutherglen. Here, we visit other locations where this tradition was observed and which is still commemorated to this day.

The Origins of Common Land and Boundary Stones in Scotland    

One of Rutherglen’s oldest traditions is the marking and maintenance of its boundaries by means of Boundary or March Stones.  W Ross Shearer, in Rutherglen Lore, explains that in pre-historical times when land was first cleared for habitation and agricultural purposes the area cleared was known as a Mark, or Merk in Scots, the common land and the people who regulated affairs within the Merk were known as the Merk Moot, a sort of early form of committee or council.

“Common good land dates to the 12th century, and derives from the grant of land by the Crown to newly established Royal Burghs. These grants became known by the purpose for which they were intended – the common good – and were used for recreation and domestic purposes such as grazing cattle. Case-law has determined that any land owned by the burghs which was not acquired under statutory powers, or held under special trust, is common good land. The exact extent of common good land in Scotland is presently unknown, although local authorities have recently undertaken the compilation of registers of their common good land. We do know, however, that common good land can include parks, woods, fishing rights, mussel beds, the foreshore, and also buildings like town halls, museums and churches;[9] this broad range of land classified as common good, alongside the close connection of the land to the community in which it is situated, highlights the significance of this property.”  

University of Glasgow School of Law Blog 

It was the duty of the Merk Moot to periodically inspect the boundaries of the Merk to prevent encroachments by neighbouring communities or landowners, as well as to regulate the activities within the Merk.  These boundaries were marked by visible objects, such as stones, and it was the responsibility of the Merk Moot to see that these were not removed from their original positions.  Hence the terms ‘landmarks’. 

When the various interests represented within the Merk became sufficiently organised they had the right to send representatives to parliament.  In time this became consolidated by the issue of charters by the early Scottish kings decreeing specific areas as Royal Burghs. Rutherglen was, arguably, the first Scottish Royal Burgh being given its Charter in 1126 by King David I. 


The Charter gave the Burgh a grant of land from the Crown and certain rights and privileges including trading rights. The common land in the context of Scottish burghs such as Rutherglen was land held in the ownership of the burgh for the use and support of the inhabitants for the common good.  This gave inhabitants the right to use this land for purposes such as grazing cattle, cutting peat, gathering wood and heather, fishing rights, washing and drying clothes.

“As late as 1800 there were great common properties extant; many burghs, towns and villages owned lands and mosses; Forres engaged in municipal timber-growing; Fortrose owned claypits; Glasgow owned quarries and coalfields; Hamilton owned a coal pit; Irvine had mills, farms and a loom shop.”

Johnston, T. 1920  The History of the Working Classes in Scotland.  Forward Publishing Co.  Glasgow.  

The maintenance of the boundaries of Burghs was clearly very important in the protection of trade and civic amenities and, in order to ensure these lands were not infringed, there was established the tradition of Redding the Marches (Riding the Merkstanes) or Common Ridings.

“Until the Burgh Reform Act of 1833 the landowners and the commercial bourgeois class controlled all burghal administration of the common lands, and controlled it in such a way that vast areas of common lands were quietly appropriated, trust funds wholly disappeared, and to such a length did the plunder and the corruption develop, that some ancient burghs with valuable patrimonies went bankrupt, some disappeared altogether from the map of Scotland, some had their charters confiscated, and those which survived to the middle of the nineteenth century were left mere miserable starved caricatures of their former greatness, their Common Good funds gone, their lands fenced in private ownership, and their treasurers faced often with crushing debts.”

Wightman, A,  Callander, R.F. and Boyd, G. 2003  Common Land in Scotland: A Brief Overview. SMI Distribution, Stevenage.

These events became important occasions in the annual social calendar of many towns, particularly, though not exclusively, in the South of Scotland.  Known as the Common Ridings they are a tradition that is firmly established in the Scottish Borders where they remain a highlight of town life  in, for example, Hawick, Selkirk and Langholm.

“Burghs across Scotland once rode their marches as a matter of course.  In the sixteenth century, ridings took place in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Stirling and Dundee, and also in smaller towns such as Haddington, Rutherglen, Arbroath and Inverness.  Generally, these ridings survived until the eighteenth century when they gradually petered out.  Today, only a few towns outside of the Borders continue to hold ridings.  Linlithgow Marches Day has taken place annually since at least 1541 although, like many other ridings, it was interrupted in the twentieth century for the two world wars and the General Strike in 1926.  Musselburgh Riding of the Marches was first recorded in 1682, since when it has taken place approximately xxx .  Similarly, Lanark’s Lanimer Day (or Landmark Day) was first recorded in 1570 and has an almost unbroken history to the present.”

Bogle, T.R. 2004  Scotland’s Common Ridings.  Tempus Publishing. Stroud.

The Redding of the Marches had a strong social function encouraging a sense of community and also a feeling of security in times that were uncertain and dangerous.  The ceremonies themselves were often accompanied by beating drums and a real sense of occasion, and once the procession was completed there would be plenty of opportunity for revelry.   Indeed, in some towns the Redding would be organised to coincide with a fair day such as Lanimer Day in Lanark and Landimer Day in Rutherglen .  


As has been said, the Redding of the Marches dates back into the mists of time and was a strong tradition sustained in many Scottish towns until the eighteenth century, when, possibly due to the impact of the Commonty Act of 1695 in Scotland, and in England the Enclosure Act of 1801, the idea of a strong community-owned resource such as Commons began to lose ground to the modern idea of individual property ownership.

There was a series of Commonty Acts, with the principal Act in 1695, which provided the legislation to divide and appropriate all common lands in the parishes outside the Highland area, and not belonging to either the Royal Burghs or to the Crown. It is estimated that about half the land area of Scotland had still been common land in 1500, nearly all of it commonties. However, in 1695, when the Scots Parliament passed the law for the division of the commonties it provided a simple, quick and cheap process in comparison, for example, to the Acts of Enclosure required in England to take over common land, and by the early 19th century, virtually all this common land in Scotland had been divided out into the private property of neighbouring land owners.

Callander, RF. 1987. A Pattern of Landownership in Scotland. Haughend Publications, Finzean

The Origins of Common Land and Boundary Stones in Scotland
Jasper Brown....

Jasper Brown was Town Officer for Rutherglen from the end of the Great War through the 1920s. 

The eldest of two brothers and two sisters, he was born in 1855 at 37 Chapel Street, Rutherglen to parents William Brown, a power loom tenter *, and Elizabeth Beattie. The family lived for a while in Pollokshields. 

He married Jane Hemphill in 1881, raising a family of three with her at Westfield Place then lived for many years at 66 Main Street where he died in 1942 aged 87. He is buried in Rutherglen cemetery in a family grave.

The minutes of Rutherglen Council meetings tell us that Mr. Brown was appointed Hall Keeper in 1918 with his duties expanded that year when it was 'resolved that Mr. Brown act as Council Officer, attend to lighting and heating of the buildings, do all necessary brushing, dusting and cleaning..

The records also show that from November 1918 to November 1925 he was listed as Keeper of Halls and Town Officer.

Jasper Brown 1906.jpg

Above, Jasper Brown from a group photograph taken at the inauguration of the Ruglonians Society on 24th. April 1906.

Postcard80038 border0001 red.jpg

Above, Jasper Brown, third from the left, leading a procession of Provost James Kirkwood and the Burgh Council along Queen Street to the Old Parish Church on Sunday, 26th. June 1926 as part of celebrations marking the 800th. anniversary of the town being granted Royal Burgh status.

Image credit: From Rutherglen in Old Picture Postcards, Alastair R. Gordon, European Library-Zaltbommel, Netherlands.

Mr. Brown was a founding member and first Secretary of the Ruglonians Society and was admitted as a burgess of Rutherglen on 8th. November 1929.

On 29th. April that year, this appeared in an article in the Rutherglen Reformer: 'Mr. Jasper Brown is in a list of those present on a redding of the boundary stones. Jasper proved himself an efficient book-keeper and assailed all obstacles in the path of the “redders” with an energy that belied his 70 odd years……'

* A tenter placed woven cloth on hooks to stretch it so preventing shrinkage during further processing.

...and the Notebook

One of Mr. Brown's duties as Town Officer was to lead the redding of the marches. By tradition, the company of redders included the current Provost, the Ex Provost, the Dean of Guild, a number of councillors, the Treasurer, Burgh Chamberlain, Burgh Engineer and other town officials. At that time, a redding of the marches was held every three years, normally a short time after the election of a new Provost.

1923 Redding persons.jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

On the left is a list of those taking part in the redding carried out on Thursday 12th. April 1923. The list appears in the notebook kept by Jasper Brown as a record of the event. 

W. Ross Shearer, the town librarian, was among those present that day. In Rutherglen Lore, published the previous year, he described a redding which he had attended in 1894: 

The company met at the Town Hall at 9.15 A.M., where the
Auditor's Clerk, with Record Book, and the other officials
and assistants, with spades and ladders, were already in
attendance. The whole company then moved off towards
the Clyde, where the first inspection took place at stone
marked No. 1. From thence the party began its arduous
task of marching some fifteen or sixteen miles through
plantations, haughs, fields, and over dykes, stiles, hedges,
burns, hills, and valleys round the Royalty boundary of
the Burgh, noting the condition and date of each stone,
and recording the missing ones. The route is seldom varied by the Clerk, who acts as guide...

The 1923 redding would proceed much as it did in the  earlier event recounted by Shearer, part of a tradition, he suggests, stretching as far back as the 12th. century to the foundation of the Burgh itself.

Mr. Brown undertook the duties of Auditor's Clerk as described by Shearer. The remainder of the notebook is a list of the boundary stones visited that day, with Mr. Brown recording their location and condition.


The practice of numbering the stones, as in the notebook, seems to have begun in 1903. This is from a Rutherglen Reformer article reporting on the redding of the marches in April that year:

Referring, however, to many of the stones it will be difficult for an ordinary reader to localise them. What we would suggest to the authorities would be to number them and to keep a corresponding number on the record. Were such a system adopted, it would be a much easier task of identifying the proper boundary lines. The work would very soon repay itself and would enable the officials at any time to correctly reset or replace old stones.

The following week, the Reformer carried an article in which boundary stones are numbered and described. Those numbers and descriptions tie up with the ones in Mr. Brown's notebook, so it would appear that their suggestion to number the stones was adopted by the Council.


The notes in the book were written at a time when the features of the land, natural and manmade, tended to be more permanent than today.


Towns and their immediate surroundings were comparatively settled landscapes, before de-industrialisation and large-scale housing development notably in the post-war years changed the geography significantly, sometimes beyond recognition, certainly for industrial centres like Rutherglen.

Extreme weather events also posed a threat to some boundary stones, including the many placed along the courses of the burns which marked out the Royalty boundary. The Reformer, reporting on the 1903 redding, refers to this:

A large number of the stones were found in the streams which divide the lands, washed away, no doubt, by the recent floods. These will be re-set or replaced as necessary.

Mr. Brown’s notebook covers two reddings: those of 1923 and 1926. The pages below are from the 1926 redding. 

SAM_1886 reduced.JPG

© South Lanarkshire Council

The pencil notes were added at a much later inspection in 1968 and reveal the large number of stones missing since the 1920s, lost due to housing and other development in the intervening years. The 1968 writer has renumbered the stones to reflect this.

When burgh officials like Mr. Brown set off to inspect the stones in the years before World War II, they did so in the expectation that the landscape would be pretty much as it was at the last inspection, enabling them to find each stone without much difficulty, guided by the instructions in the book, like these for Stone No. 114:

Stone 114 crop.JPG

© South Lanarkshire Council

The description of stone 114’s location may not seem very helpful on its own, but the burgh official would have been following all the previous instructions starting from stone no. 1 and arriving at stone 114, with each description leading on to the next, as in the instruction for stone 115:

Stone 115 crop.JPG

© South Lanarkshire Council

The problem for us using Brown’s notebook today as a guide to finding the locations of stones is that many of the features noted in the descriptions have changed, or indeed vanished in the intervening 90 years, like the lime (or linden) tree noted at stone 114. In addition, as noted earlier, many of the stones listed in the notebook have now gone.

The underlined dates tell us the year the stones were put in place. These dates appeared on the stones themselves, along with the letter 'R' for Rutherglen, and sometimes the initials, or occasionally the full name of the burgess who provided the stone.


The notes in the book are carefully written in fountain pen ink. It seems unlikely that they were written ‘in the field’; a tricky task given the distinct possibility of encountering bad weather during a redding. It’s more likely that they were transcribed in the comfort of an office, perhaps from rough notes made at the time of the stone inspections.

The Jasper Brown Notebook

The National Library of Scotland archives contain a variety of historical maps showing the extent of Rutherglen's Royalty Boundary and the location of the boundary stones. Some of those maps are shown below. 


Extract from John Thomson's 1822 Atlas of Scotland showing the extent of Rutherglen's Royalty Boundary.


John Thomson Lanarkshire 1822.jpg

1895 Ordnance Survey map showing the extent of the Royalty Boundary highlighted in red.

Rutherglen 1895 Royalty Boundary Red.jpg

Closer view of the 1895 Ordnance Survey map showing the Royalty Boundary at its south eastern extremity, highlighted in yellow, looping around Burnside Farm and the neighbouring farm at Springhall House, then heading west to Burnside Loch. Boundary stones are indicated along its course.

Burnside stones 1895 map.jpg

Burnside Farm was at the eastern end of what is now Thorn Drive/Beech Avenue. Some of the old farm buildings are still there. The semi circle now formed by Cruachan Road and Slenavon Avenue is where Springhall House once stood. Burnside Loch was where the playing fields are behind the houses in Bradda Avenue.

Right, Springhall House c. 1914. A number of Belgian refugees were housed there during World War I

Image credit:

Springhall Ho Scotlands war.jpg

A boundary stone dated 1574, thought to be the oldest, was located on the north side of the loch.

The above maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Boundary Stones on Google Maps

We have plotted the location of boundary stones as shown on the 1895 Ordnance Survey map, on to the Google Maps view of Rutherglen. Click on the 'View larger map'      icon on the top right of the Google map below. You can then zoom in and out of the map and change between Satellite and Map views to see the location of the stones. By clicking on some of the markers, you can view information and photographs of those stones. 


view larger map icon.jpg
Google map
The Burgesses
The Burgesses

The Scottish Archive Network tells us this about burgesses:

Burgesses were merchants or craftsmen who owned property in burghs and were allowed to trade in burghs free of charge. They could obtain these rights by inheritance, by marriage, by purchase, or by the gift of a burgh. Burghs were essentially urban settlements which enjoyed trading privileges from medieval times until 1832, and which regulated their own affairs to a greater or lesser extent until the abolition of Scottish burghs in 1975. By 1707 three types of burgh existed: royal burghs, burghs of regality and burghs of barony. 

Lore Oldest Stone 0001.jpg

Above, photograph from Rutherglen Lore featuring burgh officials and others during a redding of the marches in 1894. The group, which includes a number of burgesses, is gathered around the oldest known stone dated 1574.

From Rutherglen Lore by W. Ross Shearer, 1922

According to the Minutes of Council, the
Redding at which the above group was taken took place
on Tuesday, 17th April, 1894, when, according to ancient
custom, Dean of Guild Love, Sub-Dean of Guild Morrow,
and other members of the Court, with Provost Lewis
Mitchell, Bailie Alex. Edmiston, Bailie Joseph Shaughnessy,
Treasurer James Kirkwood, George Gray, Sen. and
Jun., Town Clerks, Ex-Provost Lang, Councillors John
Givens, Jas. D. Ramsay, David Robertson, Alex. Bennett,
Jas. T. Macdonald, Adam K. Rodger, Walter Smart,
William Brown, Donald Campbell, Ex-Bailie Arch. Baird,

W R Shearer Scotlands War RR.jpg

with Robert S. Murray, Chamberlain, Samuel M'Bride,Master of Works, Allan S. Edmiston, Inspector of Poor, Archd. and Robert Gilchrist, Registrars, together with Donald Fraser, Hugh Muir, James Wilson, John Reid, Arch. Yuill, Thos. Bain, Arch. Craig, and the present writer, [Shearer himself] made a circuit of the Royalty boundary.

Traditionally, men were 'entered and admitted Burgesses and Freemen of the Burgh of Rutherglen' in the years between Michaelmas dates (29th. September - 29th. September) e.g. 1858-1859. All the burgesses were men. Post Office directories covering the Glasgow area in the 19th. century include numerous women business owners, but none feature in the lists of burgesses in Rutherglen.

The council records for Rutherglen covering the early 1800s show the burgesses admitted being predominantly weavers. There are also quite a few colliers, reflecting the main industries in the town at that time. Other occupations listed include: mason, wright, calico printer, hosier, (a person who makes or sells stockings and socks) cotton spinner, brick maker, labourer and carter. Later in the century, increasing industrialisation saw cottage occupations like weaving being moved from private dwellings into factories.


From the mid 19th. century, we see manual workers being gradually replaced as burgesses by men with occupations such as: shopkeeper, victualler, merchant, manager, farmer, tea agent, inspector of police, dentist, surgeon, wine merchant, tailor, banker, writer, solicitor and builder. This trend away from craftsmen and manual workers towards men having a trade or profession becomes increasingly evident in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. 


New legislation introduced, including the Burgh Reform Act of 1833 which changed some of the benefits enjoyed by Royal Burghs, may have had a bearing on this change. The political privileges enjoyed by the burgesses were removed by the 1833 Act and their ancient exclusive trading rights were abolished in 1846. Thereafter admission as a burgess became associated with social status and with charitable rather than commercial objectives.

Burgesses 17920001.jpg

Above, list of Rutherglen burgesses appointed between Michaelmas 1798 - 1802 taken from Council minutes. 

Last Weaver Harry Black Lore.jpg

It is interesting to speculate that the reduction in the number of weavers, for example, being made burgesses may have been a result of them being moved from their houses and coralled into factories to ply their trades. They were then no longer seen as being at the centre of the working community, their jobs increasingly mechanised and perhaps viewed as less skilled.

While at the beginning of the 19th century, a weaver may have be made a burgess, by the end of that century, the owner of a shop selling a weaver's produce would be more likely to receive that honour.

Above, Harry Black, the last Rutherglen weaver, outside his loom shop in Mill Street. Picture from Rutherglen Lore.

The council records show many instances of men becoming burgesses due to being sons or sons-in-law of previous burgesses, as in these two admissions:




Among the list of manual workers, tradesmen and professionals, we find some prominent men being admitted as burgesses:
















With the outbreak of war in South Africa, the British army required more fighting and support soldiers. Men who enrolled for the war were admitted as burgesses, as in the case of this man:




Football historians will know that 3rd. Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers gave rise to Third Lanark FC, properly known as Third Lanark Athletic Club.

Many burgesses while having their place of business in Rutherglen, lived outside the boundary of the Royal Burgh, like Mr. Donaldson:



and from further afield:



Perhaps not surprisingly, we find this entry:





Then we find Mr. Pollock, the enigmatic mason:


1805: Adamson, John, weaver, Rutherglen, eldest son of William Adamson, weaver there.

1824: Dickson, John, Coal Agent, having married the eldest daughter of the said William Wallace (deceased) late weaver in Rutherglen. 

1806:  Rt. Hon. Lord Archibald Hamilton, MP for Lanarkshire.


1806: John Clerk, Esq., His Majesty's Solicitor General for Scotland.

1866: Thomas B. Seath, shipbuilder, Rutherglen shipyard.

1905: Lord Overtoun, senior partner, Whites Chemical Company.

1912: Sir James Fleming, Chairman, Glasgow School of Art.

1927: James Somerville, MB, ChB. medical doctor, prominent in the field of dermatology.

1912: Donaldson, Nathaniel M, 19 Blythswood Drive, Glasgow.

1926: Fleming, Douglas Hamilton, barber, "Tererran", Stirling.

1823: Pollock, John, mason, a stranger.

1929: Brown, Jasper, Burgh Officer, 66 Main Street.

Burgess tickets were sometimes granted to outsiders or 'strangers' who had performed some service for the burgh. 

James Smith, 3rd. Lanarksire Rifle Volunteers, burgess ticket granted for service in the South African war - 29th. January 1903.

The term 'Farhand' appears in the records, occurring only in one year: 

1825: Clark, William, smith, Farhand.

1825: Faulds, Andw. Senr., weaver, Farhand.

1825: Jack, John, tailor, Farhand

1825: Mack, John, smith, Farhand

1825: McIntyre, Duncan, wright, Farhand.

This relates to the classification of burgesses. A member of a trade incorporation like the Masons & Wrights, would be regarded as at "near hand", while a stranger was described as being at "far hand".

There are present day burgesses, including those who received their tickets through membership of the Incorporation of Tailors of Rutherglen. The Tailors explain as follows:

'Near hand means the son or son in law of a member of the particular craft. Far hand means someone entering that craft without his father or father in law being a member.'

text divider small.jpg

Here are brief biographies of some of the burgesses whose boundary stones are recorded by Jasper Brown, along with photos of them and their boundary stones, where available, and the relative extracts from the notebook.

Note the 'head on a square body' design of some of the stones. Read about this in the section on Terminus elsewhere in this article. 

Archibald Baird 1885

Born c. 1843. Variously, a dairyman, a baillie, a councillor, Burgh Treasurer, a portioner (in Scots law, someone holding part of a deceased person's estate, or a small laird). Married to Janet Baird. He lived at 34 Glasgow Road and at Canada Cottage. It is possible that this was 'Bauldy' Baird.* A weaver, also named Archibald Baird, was admitted 1801-1802.


© South Lanarkshire Council

Baird stone pic.jpg

* See the feature on Bauldy Baird elsewhere in this website.

Robert Cross 1885

Grocer and provision merchant who owned a shop at 96 Main Street. He also owned properties at 86 Main Street and 1 Regent Street. Mr. Cross was admitted as a burgess 1883-1884. Born in Hamilton in 1852, he emigrated to Canada in 1909. The 1911 Census of Canada finds him in Vancouver, British Columbia, widowed, aged 59. He died in 1911 and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver.

R Cross stone .jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

pin 9287.jpg
Alexander Edmiston 1897

Wright/joiner. Born c. 1852. Provost 1896, admitted as burgess 1888-89, founder member Ruglonians Society 1906. Member of the Rutherglen Tailors (Deacon 1897-1903). Married to Margaret Stevenson. Lived at 46 Overtoun Drive. Died 1933. His son 2nd. Lt. Allan Edmiston died 1918 from effects of gas poisoning while serving in France with the Cameronians in WWI. Another Alexander Edmiston, a hewer/miner was admitted as a burgess 1861-62. 

Stone 9 Edmiston.jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

Alex Edmiston 1906.jpg

Alexander Edmiston from a 1906 group photo of Ruglonians Society members.

John Francis Givens 1885

Born in Airdrie 1850. Came to Rutherglen in 1873. Wine & spirit merchant. Owned the Glencairn Bar at No. 7 Main Street. Admitted as burgess 1886-87. He became a Burgh Councillor, holding the position of Dean of Guild and later Treasurer. Member of  Rutherglen Burgh School Board. In late 1890s, appointed Treasurer of Glencairn FC, later Honorary President. Married Helen Welsh. Lived at 26 Westmuir Place, then Avonvale, Corselet. Died in 1904 aged only 54.

Givens mallsmyre Burn stone.jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

Mr. Givens' stone was one of several placed along the course of the Malls Mire burn at Polmadie, reported as 'missing' as far back as 1968. 


John Givens

There is a pencilled 'PS' to the 1923 note about Mr. Given's stone: "Another stone with Givens. Stone beside above lettered J. F. Givens dated 1888. 1 stone here buried." Why did Mr. Givens apparently have two stones? The 1888 stone seems more correct as this is dated subsequent to his admission as a burgess in 1886-87.

Robert Lang 1885

Born c. 1839. Variously, a tailor, clothier, baillie, councillor, cottier (farmer, small land lot), Councillor Crosshill ward, Provost of Rutherglen 1890-93. Shop 145 Main Street, house 34 Glasgow Road. Lived also at 'Mossgiel', Greenhill Road. Married to Ellen Lang. Admitted as a burgess 1873-1874.

Robert Lang.jpg
JB stones book extract 4.jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

Robert Lang stone .jpg

Mr. Lang was also a founding member of the Ruglonians Society. The picture of him shown above is from a group photo of all the members taken at the Society's inauguration in 1906.

Robert McKenzie 1897

Publisher and printer of the Rutherglen Reformer at 176 Main Street. He had a house at 11 Greenbank Street. Admitted as a burgess in 1891-1892. Another burgess of the same name with the occupation 'mason' was admitted in 1801-1802. This stone also bears the earlier date of 1685. It is quite likely that some of the earliest stones may have been updated/replaced by some from the 19th but not recorded in the same way.

R McKenzie stone 1897 notebook.jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

R McKenzie stone 1897.jpg
The Incorporation of Tailors of Rutherglen 1953

Although this stone was placed three decades after the period covered by Jasper Brown's notebook, it is worthy of inclusion as it is the last boundary stone to have been laid. It is also the only stone provided by an organisation rather than an individual.


Located on the Bourtree Burn, it was laid by the Incorporation of Tailors of Rutherglen in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II that year.


The Tailors actually laid two identical stones side-by-side. The reason why this was done is not known. *

Tailors stone.JPG

The Incorporation of Tailors can trace its origins back to at least the 1650s. In Rutherglen Lore, we are told that historically there were four incorporated trades in the town: the Weavers, the Hammermen, the Masons & Wrights and the Tailors.

* A Rutherglen Reformer article at the time states that these two new stones were presented and placed by Deacon Andrew Fleming of the Incorporation of Tailors during a Redding of the Marches in April of that year, apparently the first for 15 years. Made of Northumberland Blaxton stone, they were accepted by Rutherglen's Dean of Guild John Moore who 'gave the assurance that the stones would be preserved for all time.'

James Jackson, Burgess, 1802David Jackson
00:00 / 00:21

David Jackson talks about his ancestor James Jackson, who was made a burgess in 1802.

Burgesses 1801-1802 blank1 crop high.jpg

Left, extract from council minutes showing James Jackson's admission as a burgess, Michaelmas 1801-1802.

Locations in the Notebook 

It is almost 100 years since the Jasper Brown notebook was written. The topography of Rutherglen has changed significantly during that time. As well as noting the locations of boundary stones, the notebook also serves as a snapshot of how parts of the town looked in the 1920s.

Factories, old country houses and colliery buildings, all long since disappeared, were among features which Brown used as reference points to describe the location of boundary stones. Here are a few examples comparing locations mentioned in the notebook with what is there today. 

Hangingshaw Bridge

According to some sources, the Hangingshaw was a place where people were executed, although the actual origin of the name may be less macabre. The ings part of the name can mean a marsh or meadow in Old Norse. In Scots, a shaw is a wood or thicket.


There are other 'Hangingshaw' locations in the south of Scotland; one north of Lockerbie and another near Selkirk. Locally, Hangingshaw was at the point where Prostpecthill Road (known traditionally as the Hangingshaw Road) crossed Aitkenhead Road.


Hangingshaw Bridge was where the road crossed the Malls Mire Burn which formed part of the western boundary of the Royal Burgh.

Hang bridge 1895 OS.jpg

Above, 1895 Ordnance Survey map showing the location of the Hangingshaw Bridge. Boundary stones are indicated as 'B.S.' on the map.

Haningshaw book ex.jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

Haningshaw book ex 2.jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

Above and left, entries in Brown's notebook regarding stones from 1709 and 1876 at Hangingshaw Bridge.

Reference to current maps show us that Hangingshaw Bridge was near the entrance to the car park at ASDA Toryglen on Prospecthill Road.

Hang bridge 1895 OS geo.jpg

Above, the same map georeferenced to show the location of the bridge today.

Maps reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Wellshot Colliery

Wellshot Colliery was in Dukes Road, its surface buildings just on the Cambuslang side of the boundary.

The colliery's leasing area extended from Wellshot House in the east, towards Burnside and Fishescoates in the west, and Hawthorn Walk/Brownside Road to the south. In the early 1800s, the coal at Wellshot was being wrought by James Fairie of Farme. Records in 1851 tell us that “In 1790 about 62 men, young and old, were employed in these collieries; at present, 100 are employed. An ordinary collier can easily dig 40 cwts, for which he then received 2s 6d per day, and if he wrought hard, 13s per week.”


Wellshot Colliery was abandoned in 1907.

Like colliers everywhere, the miners at Wellshot colliery worked with the constant risk of injury or death:

Mine Inspectors Report, 18th January 1887: “Maitland Kelly, 13, of Rutherglen was killed by a roof fall at the coal face.”

Cambuslang Advertiser 3rd. December 1898: “Last Friday afternoon, Thomas Kane, 19, miner, residing with his parents at Buchanan Square, Cambuslang, met his death in one of the coal seams at Wellshot Colliery..when a fall of coal from the face came down upon him.”

Source: A History of Coal Mining in Rutherglen & Cambuslang

Colin Findlay, Bob McDonald and Joe Cunningham

Wellshot Brewery

Located near the border with Cambuslang, the brewery was established in 1871 by Hugh Tennent, grandson of Hugh Tennent of Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow, now Tennent Caledonian. Hugh Tennent (the grandson) was born in Tasmania in 1842. The 1881census finds him living in Wellshot House, Rutherglen. He was still a single man at that time, employing 30 men and 7 boys at the brewery.

When Hugh Tennent died in 1919, it was revealed that he had two families. He had 11 children by his wife Rebecca Whaley, and another 4 children with a woman called Ellen Clarke. The court case to resolve Mr. Tennent's complicated estate was only concluded in 1955.



From Rutherglen Lore by W. Ross Shearer, 1922

It is satisfactory to learn that Bullions Law Glen, through which the [Eastfield] burn flows, and along which
the Royalty march stones are laid, will be preserved from
encroachment. It is one of the prettiest spots in all
Rutherglen, and its contiguity greatly enhances this new
residential district.


Down west, in the hollow, Wellshot Brewery, which has

a conduit led into it from the burn will, notwithstanding

the "dry" circle prescribed under the new Licensing

Act, doubtless carry on as before, since the restrictions

affect not the making but only the sale of ales and spirits.

W R Shearer Scotlands War RR.jpg
Wellshot Brewery County Inn anon0001 fra

Above, photograph of men employed at Wellshot Brewery displaying (and sampling) their product.

Anonymous photographer.

Wellshot OS map.jpg

Above, 1895 Ordnance Survey map showing the location of Wellshot Colliery and Wellshot Brewery.

Brown Wellshot .jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

Brown Wellshot brewery 02.jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

Above and left, entries in Brown's notebook regarding stones from 1673, 1738 and 1876 at Wellshot pit and Wellshot brewery. The 'stalk'  at the brewery is the Scots word for a chimney stack.

Wellshot Colliery was on Dukes Road at what is now Cathkin Place, and Wellshot Brewery was on what is now the north side of Glenside Drive where the outdoor pitches are at Eastfield Leisure Centre, just south of the County Inn.

Wellshot OS map geo frame.jpg

Above, the georeferenced map shows the colliery on Dukes Road at what is now Cathkin Place, and the brewery on the north side of Glenside Drive where the outdoor pitches are at Eastfield Leisure Centre.

Dukes Rd red.jpg

Above, Cathkin Place in Dukes Road, where Wellshot Colliery, No. 1 pit was located.

Image Credit: Colin Findlay, 2017.

Maps reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Rutherglen Rope Works

The Rutherglen Rope Works of John Todd & Sons Ltd. occupied a site on the west side of Farmeloan Road, across from the colliers' houses known as New Farme Rows. A number of boundary stones were situated within the works. The ropeworks operated there from the 1870s up until the 1960s. W. Ross Shearer writes about Todd's and another local rope works, in Rutherglen Lore

From Rutherglen Lore by W. Ross Shearer, 1922

Rutherglen Rope Works, John Todd & Sons, Ltd., and Eastfield Ropery, John Wilson & Sons, Ltd., are the largest of their kind in the country, and employ a great many workpeople. Twines and ropes of various qualities and thicknesses are made from jute, cotton, hemp, etc. Box-cords (all qualities), gaskin for packing purposes, and coarse gaskin for drain-pipe joints are also produced. Both firms have an extensive home trade, but large consignments of goods are exported abroad.

W R Shearer Scotlands War RR.jpg
Ropeworks 1895.jpg

Above, 1895 Ordnance Survey map showing the location of Rutherglen Rope Works. 

The long building shown on the map running westward from the main works was the ropewalk. This was a long covered pathway where long strands of material were laid before being twisted into rope. Due to the length of some ropewalks, workers used bicycles to get from one end to the other. The length of the ropewalk was measured in fathoms, presumably reflecting the intended use of the finished product on ships.

Shearer mentions a flood in 1903 which must have significantly disrupted production at the ropeworks:

From Rutherglen Lore by W. Ross Shearer, 1922

Most of these buildings [at Farme Cross] are of recent construction, for as late as 1903, when a break occurred in the Clyde's banks at Cunnigar, the whole area from Alleysbank to Cunigar became inundated—the water all but covering Todd's ropewalk and reaching half-way up the office door of Clydesdale Tube Works, where its height, as marked by the manager, Mr. Tannahill, may still be seen.

W R Shearer Scotlands War RR.jpg
Brown ropeworks 01.jpg
Brown ropeworks 02.jpg

© South Lanarkshire Council

Above and left, entries in Brown's notebook regarding boundary stones in and around Todd's Rope Works.

© South Lanarkshire Council

Todd PO directory crop.jpg

Left, extract from the 1884-85 Glasgow Post Office Directory showing the entry for John Todd, owner of the rope works, including his home address in Cambuslang.

Ropeworks 1895 geo.jpg

Above, the georeferenced map shows the location of Rutherglen Rope Works. Today, the premises of Reface Scotland on Farmeloan Road are just north of where the ropeworks were. The rope walk ran through what is now Farmeloan Industrial Estate. 

Maps reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Click here for our interactive Google map where you can visit these locations 

Locations today


The Rev. David Ure in his History of Rutherglen & East Kilbride published in 1793, writes about 'the ancient custom' of riding the marches in Rutherglen on 'Laudemer' day, telling  us that: 


'These boundaries are distinguished by march-stones, set up at small distances from each other. In some places there are two rows, about seven feet distant. The stones are shaped at the top, somewhat resembling a man’s head, but the lower part is square. This peculiar form was originally intended to represent the god Terminus of whom there are so many rude images.'


1980s early - Sketch represent. of disco
Terminus Roman god of boundaries.jpg
Erma_dio_termine bw.jpg

Above, quotation from Ure's History regarding royalty boundaries and Terminus, the Roman god responsible for the protection of boundaries, along with a Roman coin and a 1st. century BC boundary marker from Umbria, Italy, both depicting Terminus.

There are still some boundary stones in place around Rutherglen dating from the 18th. and 19th. centuries, which resemble a head on a square body, perhaps reflecting the ancient Roman origin of that design.

1968 Redding
Boundary Stones Elsewhere
Boundary Stones Elsewhere

Rutherglen’s tradition of Redding the Marches is an example of a practice observed in burghs across Scotland since at least the 16th. century until the present day.  For a variety of reasons, these customs died out in many places and today are continued in only a few towns outside the Borders, where widely supported Common Ridings are held annually in Selkirk, Hawick, Langholm, Jedburgh and Galashiels.

Locations elsewhere where the tradition is still being practiced, and where inspection of boundary stones takes place, include Aberdeen, Linlithgow and Stirling.  


There are two sets of boundary stones: the inner and the outer. The
inner march stones mark the boundary of the crofts that ringed the
medieval Royal Burgh of Aberdeen. The outer march stones define a
much larger area known as the Freedom Lands. These lands went on to
become the right and responsibility of the medieval and later Royal
Burgh of Aberdeen. The name ‘march stones’ derives from the 16th.
century meaning of march as a boundary.

Source of text and image: Aberdeen City Council March Stones leaflet.

Aberdeen stone 28.jpg

Aberdeen march stone


One of Scotland’s most ancient Royal Burghs, the town's first charter was granted by King David I in the 1130s. A tradition dating back to the 16th. century is the annual Riding of the Marches which takes place on the first Tuesday after the second Thursday in June, involving the inspection of the extremities of the burgh’s one-time interests at Linlithgow Bridge and at the port of Blackness. Both locations were marked by Linlithgow Deacons Court with special march or boundary stones in 2013.

Source of text and image: Perambulation of Linlithgow's Marches booklet.

linlithgow stone.jpg

Linlithgow march stone


The Walking of the Marches in Stirling dates at least back to 1611 which is when the Burgh Records first mention the Marches in print. It is known from earlier Charters that the tradition of inspecting and protecting boundaries goes back as far as the 12th century and possibly earlier.

The Walking or Riding of Marches in Scotland is in simple terms an exercise, usually annually, when officials from the Council, The Incorporated Trades and the Guildry together go round their Boundaries or Marches to inspect them and see that they are intact and have not been encroached upon. The main inspectors of the Marches in Stirling are known

stirling 1955.jpg

as Birlawmen led by “The Captain of the Birlawmen” and used their picks and shovels to turn over a sod of grass to mark certain points in the boundary which were later replaced by march stones. These all disappeared in the 19th century.

Above, Walking the Marches in Stirling, 1955. Source of text and image: walkinghthemarchesstirling



South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture - Low Parks Museum, Hamilton, for permitting us to make a copy of the Jasper Brown notebook.The notebook is part of South Lanarkshire Museum collections.

Gill Owen, ex-Treasurer of our Society, who had the foresight to obtain lists of Rutherglen Burgesses dating back to 1790, and other valuable information from Council archives, long before this project was started.

Zen Boyd of Rutherglen Heritage Centre, for allowing us access to where we obtained much biographical information about the burgesses featured in this article, and for information about John Todd & Sons Ltd.

Crawford Smith, for his very timely donation of a rare photograph of the Inauguration of the Ruglonians Society in 1906, from which we were able to extract portrait images of several burgesses, and of Jasper Brown himself. 

Further reading:

Burgesses and Freemen. From the 'Family History at the Mitchell' website, showing information available at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.

click here

A History of Coal Mining in Rutherglen and Cambuslang by Colin Findlay, Bob McDonald and Joe Cunningham, which the authors hope will be circulated during 2021.

Scottish Post Office Directories. The National Library of Scotland's online collection of over 700 local directories listing businesses in Scotland between 1773 and 1911.

click here

Dictionaries of the Scots Language. Online resource for discovering the meaning of old Scots words, including some used in this article.

click here

Terminalia. The Free Dictionary's web page describing this ancient festival for the worship of Terminus, the Roman god of boundaries.

click here 

Scotland's Common Ridings by Kenneth R. Bogle, Tempus Publishing, 2004. Detailed account of Border Common Ridings traditions. 

click here

bottom of page