SCOONS and TODSHAWHILL
One of the most frequent statements which appears on a variety of family history websites is that generations of Scoons farmed at Todshawhill farm for over 250 years before emigrating to the United States (or Canada, Australia, or New Zealand depending on the site). In fact, this is something of a simplification, not helped by some parts of an article in the proceedings of the Hawick Archaeological Society being picked up and going through a number of iterations with small changes. In fact, the initial concentration of Scoons in the area was to the south of Todshawhill at Branxholmtown farm where Scoons appear to be settled by the seventeenth century when the currently available records start to appear. See here for a diagrammatic representation of the farms involved.
There are various problems in determining the detail of the families in the area of which the worst are the clearance of the two main cemeteries in Hawick that would have held the gravestones for the Scoons who lived and died in the area for most of the 250 years; and the limited information available from the parish records for much of that period. Sterling work was done, again published by the Hawick Archaeological Society, before the clearance of the cemeteries, but only a handful of Scoon MIs appear in those records (see here) and the recent issue of OPR deaths has added relatively little to these, and, indeed, has pointed to possible discrepancies. The available OPRs provide good information at certain times but are complicated by the parish boundary which leaves Branxholmtown in Hawick, but Todshawhill in the Roxburgh section of Roberton parish which is shared with Selkirk. This latter anomaly means that some websites (e.g. Scotlands People) show Roberton parish in Roxburgh and others (e.g. FamilySearch) show it in Selkirk. However, the feature which has caused researchers most difficulty is extent to which registers omitted the mother's name (particularly Roberton covering Todshawhill) or the families' locations (particularly Hawick covering Branxholmtown). The Hawick registers are covered at births, marriages and burials. The events from Todshawhill in the Roberton OPRs are here.
All the farms concerned were part of the Teviotdale section of the Buccleuch estate and were looked after by a local Factor. The relevant estate records still exist and are held at New Register House in Edinburgh. They are not online but can be consulted in person. I have spent some time going through a portion of these, particularly the rental records, and they do give some useful information about the Scoons, albeit almost entirely referring only to the the tenant, usually the head of the household. I hope in the future to publish more detail from the records but this awaits approval from the estate. In the meantime, the following list shows Scoons as tenants in the area.
Branxholmtown (shared with others, Scoon element
one or two fifths)
1671 P(r)att Scoone
1675 Patrick Scoone and Robert Scoone his father
1677 Patrick and John Scoones
1691 John and Patrick Scoone
1693 John and Patrick Scoon
1696 John and Patrick Scoon
1697 John and Patrick Scoon
1705 Margt Riddell
1707 Margaret Riddell
1713/4 Margt Riddell & her son*
1714/5 Margt Riddell & her son*
1716/7 Robert Scoon* & Margt Riddell
1718/9 Robert Scoon & Margt Riddell
1719 Walter Scoon in place of Margaret Riddell
1725 Robert and Walter Scoon
1735 Robert and Walter Scoons
1749 Robert and John Scoon
1752 Robert and John Scoons
1756 Robert and John Scoon
1764 John and John Scoon
1792 Robert Scoon
1799 Robert Scoon
1802 Robert Scoon
1812 Robert Scoon
1835 John Scoon's heir
1836 Robert, John Scoon's heir
This data helps to build up a basic family structure but there are still many possibilities as to how the tree(s) fit(s) together not helped by the ambiguities in the OPR data, the loss of the original cemetery data and conflicts between those in the available transcripts. My current view of how the two lines at Todshawhill probably developed is on this chart and I have tried to show the most likely descendancy in the Scoon Index.
The picture that I get from all the data is that the Scoons had to work hard to make a basic living on a small share of Branxholmtown and would have been delighted at the opportunity to take on the tenancy of Todshawhill in 1748/9, shared between two Scoon cousins. At best though it was an economically marginal farm, often in arrears of rent . By the the time the last tenant, Robert, took it over in 1835, the comparison with the success being achieved by his cousins who had emigrated to the United States and Canada must have been telling. After Robert Scoon gave it up in 1845 or so before emigrating with his family in 1853, a review of the viability of the farm led to the Factor recommending to the Duke that it be merged with the adjacent farm at Chapelhill.
v1.1 3 August 2011