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St. Boswells Scotland

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Information on the village of St. Boswells in Scotland.

The Green

Originally the Green was a much greater stretch of grass than it is today for it ran from where the bus station now stands to Greenend. It was open country then, with grazing free for all. Gradually, over time, parts were enclosed, and by 1823 the boundaries were much as they are today.

The total acreage was 63 acres 9 poles, of which 25 acres belonged to the Duke of Buccleuch. The remainder was shared by land owners and farmers, except for that part on either side of the road between the Smiddy and the Old Library. These 3 and a bit acres were, and still are, known as the Common Green, and were divided into 31 shares owned by 12 people.

The Green in front of the West Croft was arable land, with that on the Smiddy side grazing ground. Up until 1865, and again later, after 1874, the Green was let as one piece at an Annual Auction. From 1877, Buccleuch Estates offered to take the ground on a 30 year lease, which was accepted.

In 1911, part of the Green was rented by the Council to become a children's playground, two of the owners having given up their shares to help the project come to fruition.

Birly Court
The auctioning of the Green was conducted by the Birly Court on March 12th every year, when the rent from the previous year was distributed amongst the share holders (portioners), and two Birly men were selected for the following year. The court, which met in Lessudden school consisted of heritors, tenant farmers and portioners.

Birlymen disappear from the records just prior to the 30 year lease coming into force. These men would appear to have been elected as keepers of the "byrlaw", which were laws which were specific to the local area, and similar in some ways to what we now call "byelaws", which can apply to parks and public spaces and be enforced by local councils. In St Boswells one often came from the east end of the village and the other from the west.

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