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over eden  

The river Eden and trees following the footpath from Kelso Road to Ednam Village

Who are and were the people of Ednam

The Reverend Burleigh in his book tells us that "The people (of Ednam) are typical border people, just like those in any of the other towns". They are a cautious people, prone to under statement.In Ednam the church and the school played a large part in their lives. The first schoolmaster was a Robert Brown in 1620 though there was probably a school here soon after the Reformation. From 1620 on there was always a schoolmaster here, but as in all professions today there were good and bad schoolmasters. Yet Ednam has an impressive record for nurturing talent and have produced some famous people. It is remarkable that for such a small village ( and it was never a large place) Ednam has proved capable of providing good education. It is striking that so many of the people from Ednam were poets.

James Thomson Born in Ednam Manse in 1700 to an Ednam family as his grandfather had been gardener to the Laird (probably the 15th of the Edmondstoune lairds). His family moved from Ednam to Southdean when James was still a baby and lived there for 15 years until the death of his father. James as a young boy,probably attended Jedburgh Grammar since Southdean is only 8 miles from Jedburgh. He then went on to Edinburgh University and as his father had died his mother had to put him through university on her own. He started off studying Divinity but while there changed his mind and decided to follow a career in literature. Even though this was a much less secure career move his mother supported him. He had always been interested in poetry and wrote his own. Influenced by the works of one of his tutors he wrote "Winter" in 1725.

  Ednam Village
Ednam Village  

This was the first of his work called "The Seasons" and he completed the other three in 1730. He is also remebered for his composition of "Rule Britannia". In his memory a column has been erected on a hill above Ednam and is visible on the sky line from the village and from the Kelso Road. Now, in 2008, there are plans afoot to provide a footpath from the Kelso/Ednam road up to the monument as the present access road is difficult.

William Wright Born in Ednam in 1782 - 8th of 13 children of an "orra-man" (an odd job man) Theirs was a poor family and William was a cripple. He left Ednam on only three occasions in his life. His father died when he was 19 and his mother looked after him until she died when he was 30. He must have been a lonely, solitary man as he had to depend on others to move him about. When the weather was warm enough someone would take him into the churchyard where he was happy to sit until evening and it was here that he wrote his poetry.

The winters must have been very trying for him as he was then confined to his house and he had very few friends. However he had three good friends , the Laird, Sam Robertson the brewer, and Ms Anna Waldie who took care to see that he was looked after. It was she who persuaded him to have his rhymes sent to the printer and they were published in 1819.

Some of his verses are:
To a Robin Redbreas
To a Thrush
To a Wild Flower
and To The Best Of All Friends Ms Anna Waldie.

  Ednam Village
west mains  

The Brewery Cottage, as it is today, and now known as West Mains House

Further research has revealed more about Henry Francis and his family. The Lyte family originated from Somerset where Lytes Cary Manor was the family ancestral home from 13th to the 18th century. Henry Francis' father Thomas lyte, was the youngest of a large family of which only five children survived. Lytes Cary Manor had to be sold because of debts and Thomas Lyte bought a commission in the army but because he was not receiving promotion quickly he sold his commission and, at this point 1790, decided to go to Scotland. Before sailing he met, at a party in London, the young Anna Maria Oliver, whom he had met once before. He persuaded her to sail with him and a servant to Scotland They made their home in Berwick-upon tweed and it was there that their first son, Thomas, was born in 1792.

They then lived in Tilmouth until the owner of that property required it and it was then that they rented "The Cottage" belonging to the Ednam brewer, Mr Robertson in Ednam. Henry Francis was born there on 1st June 1793. His Baptism took place in Ednam Church on June 13th of the same year and is recorded in the Parish records. The third child, George, was also born in Edman in March 1795 and baptised in the village church. In the late 1790s Captain Lyte was working again and posted to Ireland. His family ended the lease of the house in Ednam around 1800 and joined him in Ireland. Henry Francis was educated in Enniskillen and Trinity College

All Saints Church Founded 1815

Henry Francis Lyte became the vicar of this church in 1823 and left a deep personal impression on the town. He lived at Berry Head House, now a hotel, and it was there, from his house overlooking Torbay, when he was very ill that he wrote that very beautiful hymn "Abide with me...." The church is now a memorial to him.

Among the many works he had published are;
1826 Tales in Verse
1833 Poems Chiefly Religious 1834 The Spirit of the Psalms
1847 Abide with me

The last of these was published in September 1847 and because of failing health Henry went abroad to Nice in France where he died on 20th November that same year. He was buried in Nice.

grave in nice  

Grave in Nice

After his death his daughter Anna Maria Maxwell Lyte (then Mrs Hogg) had some works published and which she called "The Remains of the Reverend H. F. Lyte". Ednam honoured him with a plaque on the parapet of the bridge from Kelso into the village. However folllowing a road accident on the bridge in 2005 the old plaque which was very worn was removed. A new plaque, as part of the celebrations for 900th anniversary (October 2005) of the parish has been erected inside the Church grounds, just opposite the Garden of Remembrance

Plaque formerely on the bridge in Ednam

  Ednam Village
new plague  

New Plaque within the grounds of Ednam Kirk

His poems can be read on the website Here

Read more about the life of Henry Francis Lyte Here

An excellent biography of Henry Francis Lyte gives more details of his remarkable life. The Title is: Henry Francis Lyte Brixham's Priest and Poet by Basil G. Skinner and publised in 1974

John Gibson Smith

John Gibson Smith, though not a native of Ednam, (he was born in Biggar in 1816) came to Ednam as its schoolmaster in 1834 where he quickly earned the respect of the children and their parents. He was an excellent teacher and, as his predecessor had been a failure, the community welcomed this strict but popular newcomer. His reputation was such that some 20 to 30 children chose to travel from Kelso daily to attend his school.............. Continue

Ednam Village  

Andrew Brotherton

Andrew Brotherton was born in 1834 in Eccles Shiel and moved to Ednam very shortly after his birth. He always considered himself an Ednam man. He started school in the village while John Gibson Smith was the schoolmaster. Andrew Brotherton was highly intelligent with great potential but was not ambitious. His father was not a skilled man and did not recognise the opportunities which lay ahead for his son. Andrew was a gifted pupil and loved nature. Although he did not write verse his love of nature was in a way a form of poetry. He worked in the village as a gardener so that he would have time for his hobbies of nature study and bird stuffing. He was an expert botanist and his extensive knowledge was recognised by other experts in science.

Friends also recognised his talents and helped him to obtain a shop in Kelso where he could carry on his bird stuffing. Professor Williams offered him a post lecturing to students on botany as related to Veteninary Science. Professor Dickson offered him a post as Keeper of the Herbarium in Edinburgh. Both posts he declined. He did, however, became Curator of Museums at Berwick. Kelso and Floors and corresponded with many leading scientists. He wrote many articles with one of particular significance in overcoming the disease destroying salmon in the area at that time. Another of his publications is "Notes on Rare and Uncommon Wild plants found near Kelso"

Mentioned Here

Captain James Cook

Another famous person with paternal links to Ednam is Captain James Cook the famous explorer.Ednam records show that a John Cooke paid a Hearth Tax in Ednam in 1691 and that 2 years later a John Cook married a Jean Duncan in Ednam Church. 70 years later their grandson James Cook, who was born in 1728 in Cleveland, Yorkshire, landed in what was to become New South Wales, Australia. The 20th century has produced a famous banker. Sir William Purves was born in 1931, educated in Ednam where his mother Mrs Ida Purves was schoolmistress of Ednam Primary School form 1040 - 1963. Sir William Purves has retired and now lives in London.

  Ednam Village
Ednam Village  

Present Day

Kelso Civic Week officially started in 1937 by John Scott, baker and Provost of the town so that Kelso could have a Common Riding similar to the other Border towns. Since then, apart from the War years, a worthy Laddie has been selected with his Right and Left Hand Men (the Laddies from the previous two years) to lead his mounted followers in the ride-outs into the surrounding countryside and to the local villages.


During a normal year, the Laddie and his followers ride to Heiton, Stichill, Hume and Ednam, Floors, Morebattle and to Yetholm where they meet the Yetholm Principals, the Bara Gadgie and the Bara Manashee. In addition, there are sporting events for all ages, a Fancy Dress Parade, an Exhibition of Paintings, and the Civic Week Ball. A wreath is laid at the War Memorial at the start of the week, and the colours are bussed by four young ladies on the Wednesday.

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