Routledge (surname)

Routledge and the House of Douglas

AD 1400. The surname Routledge first appears in historical records associated with the powerful Douglas family, overlords of much of the county of Roxburghshire [Scottish Borders, since 1996] in the southeast region of Scotland, adjacent to the English counties of Northumbria and Cumbria. Beginning in the 15th century, Routledge families are documented living in Hawick and Cavers, communities located alongside the River Teviot, often referred to as Teviotdale. Two main Douglas factions influenced Scottish politics and social life of the day: the so-called "Black" Douglases headed by the Earls of Douglas and the "Red" Douglases headed by the Earls of Angus. According to documents so far uncovered, Routledges were aligned with the "Black" Douglases at this time.

Just as the place-name "Roxburgh" appears in historic records with numerous spellings [1][2] – anything from "Rokysburgh" to "Rocheburch," likewise the same peculiarities apply to most surnames, and Routledge is no exception. Many more imaginative forms occur other than the commonly accepted alternative of "Rutledge," for example: Rootlige, Rutlage, Routlage, Routleche, Rutliche, Routleidge, Rouchligis, Rudlege, Rowledge, Routelych, Rudledge, Rutley, Ratlish, Rookledge, Rowtledge, Routleach, Rouchelug, Rotheluge, Rotheloige, to name only a few.

AD 1429. James Routlech of Cavers resigned his rights to the lands of Crouk to James and/or Martin Douglas.

"Instrument of Resignation whereby William Routlech, son of the deceased John Routlech, overgave, quitclaimed, and resigned for him and his heirs and assignees, all right and claim, property and possession which he had or might have in and to the half of the lands of Crouk, in the parish of Caveris [Cavers]; which lands the said William had 'the kyndness'* of from James Routlech; in the hands of an honourable man, James Douglas of Caveris in name and behalf of Martin Douglas, without any revocation or gainsaying for him and his heirs and assignees. Done in the Parish Church of Caveris in presence of Thomas Rutherfurd, Sir James Zung [Young?], canon, John Scot in Orchart, elder and younger, and Thomas Runseman, 15th January 1429-30." [3]

AD 1433. William of Douglas, Lord of Drumlanrig Granted a Feu [a feudal tenure of land where the vassal returned money or grain instead of military service] Charter to Symon de Routluge. (translated from Latin by Scottish historian Diane Baptie )

"1433, August 22. "Be it evidently known by these presents I William of Douglas, Lord of Dumlangryge and of Hawik have resigned my lease in feuferme as well as by this present resigns the lease and feu to Symon of Routluge burgess [free citizen] of Hawik of all and whole my lands of Byrkwode [Birkwood] commonly called the oxgang of land lying between the water of Slyttryk [Slitrig] and the lands of Quhitlaw [Whitelaw] and also all and whole my lands of Burnflat extending on the east part just as far as where the Smaleburn [Smallburn] falls down to the water of Slyttryk and all the way to the pastures of Hawik on the east part having and holding the said lands with the pertinents by the said Symon and his heirs and assignees from me and my heirs forever with all rights, ancient and devised with all and sundry liberties, customs and easements and just pertinents whatsoever that may pertain to the said lands and which shall happen to belong to them in the future, freely, quietly as well as in peace, completely without dissimulation, revocation or question whatsoever Rendering therfor annually by the said Symon his heirs and assignees to me and my heirs twenty shillings usual money of Scotland at two terms in the year Pentecost and St Agatha in winter by equal portions, the time of his entry to be at the feast of St Agatha in winter after this present date on condition that neither I the said William and my heirs nor anyone in our name on the said lands and its pertinents nor in any part of the said lands can justly claim possession or exact in any way whether by sale or some other recent form of exclusion these presents I wish and grant to the said Symon to take and have from my woods in the Barony of Hawik for necessary building and repairs to the said place throughout his lifetime free from fraud or guile I wish and grant daily support if and when there are common feuds and for all ways through the said lands lying to the west of Hawik as well as all other surrounding lands to be peaceably guarded without fraud or guile, which assedation and admission to the feu in form above written with all conditions underwritten I the said William and my heirs warrant, acquit and for ever defend against all mortals In witness my seal is appended at Hawik the octave of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary one thousand four hundred and thirty three and these witnesses Archibald of Douglas, Sheriff of Roxburgh, Lord of Cavers and George of Douglas with many others Tag, seal gone."[5]

Demise of the Earls of Douglas -- Rise of the Scotts of Buccleuch

AD 1440. In the mid-1400s, jealousy and treachery ran rife among Scotland's great landowners, with earls and barons across the land scheming for control of the young King James II (1437-1460). The "black" Douglases, in particular, were seen to be growing too powerful and, in 1440, sixteen-year-old William, the 6th Earl of Douglas and third Duke of Touraine (France), was lured to Edinburgh Castle on some sham pretext only to be seized, tried, and beheaded along with his younger brother David.

AD 1452. Once again an Earl of Douglas came to a brutal end when William, the 8th Earl of Douglas (1425-1452), was invited to Stirling Castle for a friendly dinner with King James. After dinner, the king demanded that William end certain alliances with nobles deemed to be a threat. William refused. Furious, the king grabbed a dagger and stabbed his stubborn vassal to death.

"'Then this shall [end it],' said the king, and he twice stabbed his guest. Sir Patrick safe neighbour if the Douglas were at disadvantage, came up and felled him with a pole-axe. His body was cast from the chamber window into the court below."[6]

AD 1455. Outrage over the killing of the 6th and 8th Earls of Douglas spawned open rebellion among Douglas followers. At this turn of events, as a Teviotdale family on the rise, the Scotts of Buccleuch seized an opportunity to advance their own interests. Assembling an opposing troop of borderers, Sir Walter Scott, his son David, and related Scotts of Kirkurd joined George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus who was chief of the so-called Red line of Douglases and who had his own reasons for supporting the king against his Black-Douglas cousins. A desperate melee ensued at the Battle of Arkinholm (now Langholm on the River Esk) on May 1, 1455, resulting in a rout for James Douglas, 9th Earl of Douglas. In June 1455, he and his heirs were declared forfeited, and the king's supporters, including Angus and Scott, acquired most of their lands in Roxburgh and Selkirk.[7] Evidence of exactly how the Routledges fit into these events has yet to be found, but we may surmise that they rode with the Black Douglas faction as their feudal lords.

Routledge and the Branxholm Estate

AD 1446. Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch had made a deal significant to his rise in power about 10 years prior to the stand-off at the Battle of Arkinholm. In 1446 he held half of Branxholm, a Teviotdale estate located about 3 miles southwest of Hawick Roxburgh. Sir Walter extended his ownership to much of the other half of Branxholm through a land exchange with Thomas Inglis. Scott gave over his lands of Murthoustoun [Murthockston] and Hertwod, in the barony of Bothwell Lanarkshire and received from Inglis the lands at Todschawhil, Tdschawhauch, Goldylandis, Quhitlaw [Whitelaw}], and Quhiteryg, with a fourth part of the lands of Overharwode in the barony of Hawick in the Shire of Roxburgh.

One other party had an interest in the Branxholm estate at this time. One Symonis de Routluge held a portion called "Cusingisland" through his wife Margaret Cusing or Cusyne, and Scott wanted that piece of land to consolidate his position as a major landholder in Teviotdale.[8]

AD 1447. Symonis de Routluge, spouse of Mergareta Cusing, consented to the sale of her heritable portion of the Branxholm estate to Sir Walter Scott. Curiously, this charter makes no mention of the purchase amount.

Charter Translated from Latin by US Translation Company (2013)

"Charter by Margaret Cusyng to Walter Scot of Buccleuch, Knight, of Cusingisland in Brankishame, 19 April 1447 [in Latin]. To all who will see and read this charter, Mergreta Cusyng, wife of Symon Routluge, sends greetings in the eternal Lord: Having myself provided with a particular permission by my said husband Symon and with the consent and assent of the same Symon and of Robert Scot my son and heir … charter of sale transferred and this present document confirmed this to the noble and powerful man lord Walter Scot of le Buccluth, squire, the whole and complete of my tenancy of the land commonly called le Cusingisland with appurtenances laying in the village and land of Brankishame from its north part, lying in the barony of Hawic within the shire of Roxburgh, for a certain sum of money to me and to the said Robert my son upon payment in full … Tenedam [illegible] … the said tenancy of land with appurtenances to the aforesaid lord Walter, his heirs and assignees from me and my heirs and assignees of my overlord in the fiefdom and inheritance thenceforward to rule and to have profit…[illegible] it is done that annually the said lord Walter, his heirs or assignees provide service owed and all such other customary dues …or temporal service which the said tenandry of the land with appurtenances can legitimately provide to my overlord of the said tenancy … And I, verily called Mergreta and my heirs the entire aforesaid tenancy … to aforesaid lord Walter, his heirs and assignees … we will warrant against all mortals… In testimony in this matter for those present I attach my seal with the seals of the said Symon and Robert as a sign of their consent and assent. In Edinburgh, 19th day of the month of April, year of the Lord one thousand four hundred forty seven, having witnesses Alexander de Chesholme of the same place, Andrea Ker of Awtanburne, Jacob Langland of the same place, Willelm Turnbull of Qwhithop, and Johann of Saint Michal junior, with many others." [9]

Routledge and the Birkwood and Burnflat Estates

AD 1448. Symon of Routlug served as "bailie" [municipal officer or magistrate] for Hawick and, since 1433, had held there the lands of Birkwood and Burnflat, which Sir Walter Scott now acquired in addition to the Branxholm lands formerly held by Margaret and Symon de Routlug. The costs, terms, and conditions of this transfer of property are not given, but accordingly with subsequent events in 1494, it is quite possible that the arrangement was not mutually amicable.

Translation from Latin by US Translation Company (2013): "Sasine [legal transfer of property] of Walter Scott of Buccleuch, in the lands of Birkwood and Burnflat. 1st February 1448.

In the name of the Lord amen: Using this public instrument be it known to all that in the year one thousand four hundred and forty eighth since the birth of the Lord, in the tenth cycle, on the first day of the month of February, in the pontificate of the most holy Father in Christ and our lord Nicholas the fourth by divine Providence, in my office as notary public and in the presence of the undersigned witnesses called here and specially invited the honorable man lord Walter Scot, squire, lord of Bukclouch having addressed an honest and distinguished man Symon de Routlug at the time the baillie from Hawic to convey from him the sasina of hereditary estate and property by the virtue of my office the whole land of Birkwood, which is commonly called ane oxgang of land and also the land of Burnflat as it lies extending to Smale Burn, which the aforementioned Symon and his heirs received from the fief of the honorable and magnificent overlord Willelm de Dowglas, lord of Hawic, to the aforementioned lord Walter, squire, by the virtue of my office, conveying the hereditary estate and property according to the terms contained in the charter. Of all and each of the above, the aforementioned lord Walter, squire, caused this instrument to be written by me, the notary public. This document was made here in the house in the land of Birkwood at the tenth hour of the morning or thereabout, there being present honorable and distinguished men Stephan Scot de Castelaw, Adam Scot, Ricard Scot and Johanne de Hawic, who were especially invited to the premises as witnesses. I, Mattheus of Romanox, presbyter of the Glasgow diocese, notary public by the imperial authority [etc. in the usual form.[10]

Whatever the reasons underlying the handing over of Birkwood, Burnflat, and Branxholm properties, Simon Routledge remained actively engaged in Hawick community and Douglas family affairs for the half century following the fall of the Black Douglasses in 1455 and the rise of the Angus or Red Douglasses in Roxburghshire and throughout Scotland.

AD 1453, October 13. Simon Routledge is one of two bailies [barony officer or town magistrate] to witness a legal document between John Turnbule of Cavillyng and Robert Wayte, burgess of Hawick before Sir Archibald Douglas of Caveris, knight, sheriff of Roxburgh.[11]

AD 1464. Simon of Routlagh, esquire, witnesses an "Instrument of seizin [possession], certifying that John of Anysle, laird of Dolfinstone, sheriff of Roxburgh, specially deputed in that part by letters patent of the King, gave seisin and heritable state to Archibald of Dowglas by interposition of earth, wood, and stone as use was, of all the lands of the regality of the barony of Caverys, together with the office of the sheriffship of Roxburgh. Done at the manor place of Caverys, present, James of Dowglas, James Scot, George of Dowglas, Simon of Routlagh esquires, and others. 6 February 1464-5.[12]

AD 1484. Symonem Rowtlugh is among a list of numerous distinguished witnesses. Retour [return] of James Douglas, as heir of his father, William Douglas of Drumlangrig, in the barony of Hawick. 19th October 1484.[13]

Routledge, Douglas, Scott -- Deadly Feud

AD 1494. The Scotts of Buccleuch had fared very well in the decades following the forfeited Earls of Douglas and their vassals. It is a reasonable assumption that certain Douglas and Routledge descendants burned with indignation over the loss of their lands to the upstart Scotts of Buccleuch. These were ruthless times when rival clans commonly settled disputes by punitive even murderous raids. Thus history records Simon Routlage and his son Matthew sallying forth to the Buccleuch manor-house evidently bent on revenge. Perhaps they went under orders from William Douglas or possibly only with his blessing, but either way the two families subsequently appeared jointly before the courts of the day.

"The manor-house of Buccleuch...In the year 1494 it suffered considerable damage from a raid by Simon Routlage in the Trowis [a place near Hawick] and Matthew his son and their accomplices, who after removing the cattle, horses, and sheep, plundered the mansion and set it on fire."

"Reference is made to the mansion in a decree of the Lords of Council, dated 25th June 1494, which decerns two persons, both named William Douglas, to content and pay to Walter Scott of Buccleuch, grandson of umquhile [former] David Scott, for certain goods 'spuilzeit, distroyit, and taken by Simon Routlage in the Trowis, and Matthew Routlage, his son, and ther complicis, fra the said umquhile David and his tenentis, and as to the avale of the saidis goodis, and the dampnage and scaithis sustenit by the birnying of the place and manor of Bukcleuch,' alleged to extend to 1000 merks."

"Walter Scott of Buccleuch, as nevo (grandson) and heir of the deceased David Scott of Buccleuch, obtained, on 25 June 1494 a decreet by the Lords of Council in his favour, in reference to the theft and plunder of his grandfather's property by certain depredators on the Borders. Simon Routlage in the Trowis, and Mathew Routlage, his son, and their complices, had taken from and despoiled David Scott and his tenants of five horses and mares, forty kye and oxen, forty sheep, household plenishing to the value of 40 pounds, two chalders of victual, 30 salt martis, 80 stones of cheese and butter, and two oxen. The depredators were summoned to appear before the Justice Air of Jedburgh, and William of Douglas of Hornyshole became surety for the satisfaction of the injured party. As to the avail of the spoliation and damage sustained by the burning of the place and manor of Buccleuch, as contained in the summons, the Lords assigned to Walter Scott, the 11th day of October then next, to prove the avail of the goods, and the damage alleged to extend to 1000 merks, and that the party be warned to hear them sworn. (Acta Dominorum Concilii, p 338.)"[14]

Routledge and Liddesdale Roxburgh, Bewcastle Cumbria

AD 1480s. King James III of Scotland (1451-1488) struggled to maintain control of his rebellious nobility. His younger brother Alexander Duke of Albany and the exiled Earl of Douglas were in England conspiring with King Edward IV (1442-1483) who had to contend with rebellions of his own. The Wars of the Roses raged on between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions of the Plantaganet dynasty regardless of intermittent hostilities erupting among the turbulent inhabitants along both sides of the English/Scottish border.

During this time, Edward's brother, Richard (1452-1485) Duke of Gloucester and later King Richard III, had management of England's northern territories, including an appointment, in 1471, as Warden of the English West March. In this capacity he had governorship of the ancient fortress city of Carlisle, Cumbria, along with nearby royal estates at Bewcastle and Nicholforest. Additionally, Gloucester had permission to create a "buffer state" in Scotland, but first he would have to take control of Eskdale, Annandale, Wauchopedale, Clydesdale, and especially Liddesdale where many fierce border raiders held sway. After witnessing nearly two centuries of cross-border political intrigue and turmoil, the people living thereabouts had little loyalty for one king or the other. Borderers, including some Routledges, would pledge allegiance to whichever side might suit their current needs.

AD 1485. Liddesdale, and its formidable stronghold, Hermitage Castle, lies about 20 miles southeast of Hawick where records have thus far found Routledge families living. However, depositions taken later on, in 1538, indicate that Routledges also lived in Liddesdale during the mid to late 1400s, and two of them – Cuthbert and John Routlege – had been enticed to England by an offer to acquire land in Bewcastle. In 1538, English commissioners were in Bewcastle taking evidence in a legal proceeding against a local landowner, Lord Dacre, during which time the following comments were noted:

"Jas. Noble of Kirkbekmouthe, husbandman, aged 80, deposes...that 60 years 'bipast' when the Liddisdale men came into England and were sworn to King Richard at Carlisle...Sir Richard Ratcliff and three others, King Richard's commissioners, let all the lands of Bewcastle to Cuthbert and John Routlege, Robert Elwald and Gerard well the said castle as all the lands belonging to the same of long time lay wa[ste]. The said four men paid no rent to Lord Dacre or any other, but were 'to maintain the King's wars and to keep the borders'.".[15]

Routledge French Connections – "The Auld Alliance"

AD 1450 to 1500. Scotland and France formed a strong alliance against England during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). Early in the 15th century an elite company of Scots Guards (Garde Ecossaise) was engaged especially to protect and serve the King of France, and there is every reason to believe that Routledges, likely of more than one generation, served continuously as archers and men-at-arms over a period of at least fifty years. John, James, and George are listed in the payroll "Lists and Muster Rolls of Life-Guards" from 1454 through to 1502 with a variety of surname spellings, "Routeluge" (1497, Archiers de la Garde) being the closest, followed by "Rotheluge" (Archiers de la Garde, 1463-1502). That their country of origin was Scotland is certain and that they were Routledges is agreed by historians, with oddities in spelling being attributed to careless recording habits typical of that era.

"The spelling of the Scotch names is not to be too closely scrutinised, for they are written on the scrolls of the Clairambault MS sometimes in one way and sometimes in another...Rotheluge assumes several forms, some of them not a little odd-looking and barbarous." [16]

From about 1418 through the 16th century, these Scots acted as personal bodyguards to the Kings of France, serving as both foot and horse soldiers, on foot while at home in the palace, and mounted while abroad, riding immediately behind the king. A select crew of archers called 'Gardes de la Manche' were stationed nearest to the king and in constant attendance. According to Forbes-Leith, author of Scots Men-at-Arms And Life-Guards in France, all men named in the Muster Rolls were men of "rank and birth."

To be continued . . .

Routledge Contemporary Connections

Routledge is a Scottish surname which may refer to:

See also


  1. Jeffrey, Alexander (1857). The History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire. Edinburgh: Seton and Mackenzie. pp. Vol 2 p6.
  2. In the early charters it [Roxburgh Scotland] is spelled Rokesburg, Rokeburc, and in several records, Rokeburg, Rokesburg, Rocheburh, Rockeburh, Rogesburgh, Rogysburgh, Rokisburgh, Rokysburgh, Rokesburch, and Rocheburch.
  3. Seventh Report of the Royal Commission Historical Manuscripts, Part II, Appendix, page 728. (H M Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, 1879, digitized by Google)
  4. Robinson, Mairi. Concise Scots Dictionary, page 341. (Ediinburgh University Press, 1999. Digitized by Google)
  5. Fraser, William, ed. Papers of the Montague-Douglas-Scott Family, Dukes of Buccleuch. (National Archives of Scotland: GD224/890/4)
  6. Burton, John Hill (1867). History of Scotland. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons. p. Vol 3, 140.
  7. Fraser, William (1878). The Scotts of Buccleuch. Edinburgh: William Patterson. pp. Vol 1, 32–37.
  8. Fraser, William (1878). The Scotts of Buccleuch. Edinburgh: William Patterson. pp. Vol 1, 42–43.
  9. National Archives of Scotland, GD224/876, No.39 1447 April 19 3 tags, one seal remains. Documents Transcribed by Sir William Fraser for the Scotts of Buccleuch, Vol 2.
  10. Fraser, William (1878). The Scotts of Buccleuch. Edinburgh: William Patterson. pp. Vol 2, 43.
  11. Fraser, William, ed. Papers of the Montague-Douglas-Scott Family, Dukes of Buccleuch. (National Archives of Scotland: GD224/887/17)
  12. Fraser, William. Seventh Report of the Royal Commission Historical Manuscripts, Part II, Appendix, pages 728-30. (H M Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, London, 1879, digitized by Google.
  13. Fraser, William (1878). The Scotts of Buccleuch. Edinburgh: William Patterson. pp. Vol 2, 85.
  14. Fraser, William (1878). The Scotts of Buccleuch. Edinburgh: William Patterson. pp. Vol 1, pp liv, 10, 62.
  15. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 13 Part 2, Appendix: August–December 1538 (1893), pages 540-557. URL:
  16. Forbes-Leith, William. Scots Men-at-Arms And Life-Guards in France, Vol 2, page 209. (William Patterson, Edinburgh, 1882, digitized by
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