Broughton In 1617 Broughton was set as the first stage of the journey of the household of James VI for his return to England from Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. Over 80 horses were being used and the Privy Council ordered that ... "horses provided with all necessities should be brought to the Palace about brek of day ... for lifting his Majesties carriage and carrying the same to Broughton in Tuedail"

Had any of the people of Broughton failed to supply horses for the Royal Carriages when called upon, they would have been liable to a penalty of £20 for each horse and imprisonment for a year and a day.

The owners of Broughton can be traced back to the 12th century, but none is particularly noteworthy until the 18th century - when we have two worth telling you about.

The first, in order of time, was John (Mr 'Evidence') Murray of Broughton who survived the purges after the '45 rebellion by turning King's evidence. But for that, he would probably have had a place in the hearts of Jacobites, both then and since, because of his unsparing efforts on behalf of his Prince.

The Murray family had obtained Broughton and its lands in the early 17th century. John Murray, born in the year of the first Jacobite rebellion, travelled on the Continent to complete his education - as many wealthy young men did at that time. In the circles in which he moved he came into touch with the 'King over the Water' and Murray eventually became the link between the Scottish Jacobites and their King in Rome.

In 1744 Murray reported that the leading Jacobites in Scotland thought the time not right for his coming and tried to discourage the Prince from setting forth for Scotland until he had a commitment of support from the French.

However, against this advice Prince Charlie set out the following year. When word reached John Murray of his arrival, he travelled north to meet his Prince who appointed him his Secretary. Murray gave unstinting support throughout the rebellion. After Culloden he tried to secure fresh forces for the campaign, but the Prince had already left the mainland and the clans had dispersed.

Support from the French in the form of gold and arms arrived, but too late. Murray was obliged to bury most of the gold before travelling south to charter a vessel to take him and Cameron of Lochiel to the Continent. Unfortunately, he diverted to Broughton and, exhausted, rested briefly at his sister's house at Polmwood, because his own was being watched. However, within a few hours the dragoons were at the gates of Polmwood and Murray was transported to the Tower of London.

From the time of the invasion of the Normans in the 11th century young men of England (the younger sons without an inheritance) had ventured north to Scotland to make their fortune - warfare provided that opportunity. However, in the 18th century the fortune to be made out of conflict fell not to the warrior, but to the lawyer. One such was Robert MacQueen, son of a lawyer and grandson of a gardener.

MacQueen had no great wealth behind him but he had a considerable income from cases involving the forfeiture of lands and property which had belonged to the defeated supporters of the rebellion

The estates of the Murrays had been sold in 1764 on the order of the Court of Session in Edinburgh. In 1780 they were bought by MacQueen who became, in that single year, Lord Braxfield and, as the owner of these lands and properties, the Laird of Broughton. MacQueen had become a Law Lord and was, in fiction, to acquire yet another name: under the pen of Robert Louis Stevenson, he was the hanging judge, Weir of Hermiston.

In real life Lord Braxfield was "a terror of the Bench" and every bit the hanging judge described in that story. Among the quotations ascribed to him are the words: "Come awa, Maister Horner and help me to hang some of the damned scoondrels" - these to a juror who had arrived late in Braxfield's court. He is also reputed to have said to a sheep stealer, who had ably defended himself in his court: "ay, ay, ye're a gey clever chiel, but you'll be nane the waur o' a hangin' "


Just a final word before leaving this village; Broughton House, which had belonged to the Murrays, burnt down in 1775 and from the ruins a farmhouse was built a little down the hill. Then in 1937 a new building was designed in the style of a Scottish fortified house of the 16th century. The architect was a young man, later to become world famous as Sir Basil Spence (possibly best known for his prize winning design of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1951).

This house, called Broughton Place, now looks very much at home in its fine hillside setting above Broughton. You approach it through an avenue of trees, some of which date from the 18th century, as does a well opposite the house, known locally as 'Prince Charlie's Well'


Douglas Gregor