Scott, Walter (1550?-1629?) (DNB00)

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SCOTT, WALTER (1550?–1629?), of Harden, freebooter, born about 1550, was descended from a branch of the Scotts of Buccleuch, known as the Scotts of Sinton. His father, William Scott, was first described as ‘in Todrig,’ a place near Sinton in Selkirkshire, but afterwards as ‘in Harden,’ an estate which he acquired about 1550, or later, from Alexander, lord Home (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. viii. p. 144; cf. Registrum Magni Sigilli, vol. vii. No. 2114). Walter succeeded his father in 1563. In 1580 his lands at Hoscote were raided by the Elliots, a rival border clan then allied with England. In June 1592 he assisted Francis Stewart, earl of Bothwell, in his attack upon Falkland Palace [see Hepburn, Francis Stewart, fifth Earl of Bothwell; and, with his brother William and other Scotts, helped Bothwell in the winter of 1592–3 to plunder the lands of Drummelzier and Dreva on Tweedside; they carried off four thousand sheep, two hundred cattle, forty horses, and goods to the value of 2,000l. He also, with five hundred men, Scotts and Armstrongs, joined Sir Walter, first lord Scott of Buccleuch, in his famous rescue of William Armstrong of Kinmont [q. v.], ‘Kinmont Willie,’ from Carlisle Castle in 1596 (Calendar of Border Papers, ii. 120–2), and complaints of freebooting were made against him about the same time by the English wardens. In October 1602 he joined with other border leaders in a bond to keep good rule. In December 1605 he was threatened with outlawry for hunting and riding in Cheviot and Redesdale, spoiling the king's game and woods; while in 1611 he and his sons, Walter, Francis, and Hew, were bound in large sums to keep the peace with some of his neighbours.

‘Wat of Harden’ is said to have died in 1629; he was alive in April of that year (The Scotts of Buccleuch, i. 256). His residence is now one of the seats of his descendant, Lord Polwarth (Carre, Border Memories).

He married, first, about 21 March 1576, Mary, daughter of John Scott of Dryhope in Yarrow. The original contract is preserved in Lord Polwarth's charter chest (The Scotts of Buccleuch, vol. i. p. lxx); an incorrect account of it is given by Sir Walter Scott in his ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border’ (i. 157, ed. 1812). By his first wife Walter had, with five daughters, four sons: Sir William, who succeeded to Harden; Walter; Francis, ancestor of the Scotts of Sinton; and Hew, ancestor of the Scotts of Gala. He married, secondly, in 1598, Margaret Edgar of Wedderlie, and had issue one daughter. Sir William Scott the younger, of Harden, who married Agnes Murray of Elibank, is the hero of the apocryphal traditional story of ‘Muckle-mouthed Meg.’ The second son, Walter, was fatally wounded in October 1616 in a quarrel about rights of fishing in the river Ettrick. A tradition connected with the incident, graphically told by Sir Walter Scott in his notes to the ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,’ is proved false by authentic record (Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, x. 667, xi. 20, 98–101).

[Many traditions of Walter Scott appear in a connected form in Border Memories, by Walter Riddell Carre, 1876, pp. 73–9; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vols. i.–xii.]

J. A-n.