Mission Statement:

The mission of the Border Reiver Heritage Society is to promote and encourage descendants of known Border Reiver families around the world, to be educated in the history and heritage of the Border Reivers of England and Scotland. 

To do this the Border Reiver Heritage Society we have started out as an Limited Liability Company for the first 5 years but the hope is to become a not for profit entity when we gain more support.  

Encouraging Reiver Festivals where ever members are active and located from either in the Borders now or living in other countries.   The Reiver Festivals will include Reiver songs & folklore, period dress, Reiving abilities display, foods, Surname/Clan booths and when at all possible speakers from the Border area. As well as maintaining this website as a resource for history on the surnames and clans, current events inside and outside the Borders, places of interest to each surname and a research resource with databases with in the Borders. Promoting travel to the Borders for their Riding of the Marches Festivals which occur through out the spring and summer. 

The Border Reiver Heritage Society will also make available lists of books for sale to Reiver descendants from a variety of authors on the subject and history of the Reivers.

The Border Reiver Heritage Society will also promote travel to the Border area for tours to be set up each year of the ancestral grounds of the Border Reivers as well as organizing surname or DNA groups to the Border area for tours and educational trips.  Finding discounts or working out discounts for venues to members who wish to travel within the Border area.   The Border Reiver Heritage Society will seek the best accommodations within the Border area when at all possible for members.

About the Reivers

The period from about 1296 to 1630 was characterized by Anglo-Scottish Border Wars. People in who lived along either border were involved in battles involving both armies on the attack, sometimes raiding their livestock, fields, and stored goods as well as raping and torturing people and burning their villages. To say that life was would trivialize it. Besides this violence from outside, reivers stole from one another and built alliances to keep themselves protected. Thus loyalty meant everything.  They raided and pillaged by night using their Galloway Ponies adeptly while victims had six days of “hot trods” during which to try and recover their property and/or livestock. The word ‘bereaved’ comes from the idea that a reiver has reived a friend or relative. And, since the term mail referred to money, greenmail was a word for rent and blackmail a word for extortion (though it did not yet mean threatening to release harmful information about something wrong you had done).

The bigger and stronger clans built tower houses or pele towers for fortification, while weaker and smaller clans became adept at building huts to last them a short while before having to suddenly move along. They knew the terrain of the Borders intimately. Their allegiance was to their clan and not to either the Scottish or English governments.  Their official governance was by the Warden of their “March,” there being West, Middle, and East Marches in Scotland as well as West, Middle, and East marches in England. These Wardens were sometimes as corrupt as any of the Border Reivers.

Clan feuds were viscous affairs lasting many hundred years in some cases. Strong alliances protected kith and kin. Their legendary lawlessness led to a most colorful curse by the Archbishop of Glasgow in 1525, still recorded on a large stone at Carlisle.

To end this lifestyle would require a mammoth coordinated war effort or a major change, which came about when King James VI of Scotland became, also, King James I of England. Having no further need of the soldiers in his Middle Shires, he conspired with some of the Wardens to hang many prominent clan leaders. Gradually, many went or were chased away to  take part in the plantation of Northern Ireland or to establish new lives in the North American colonies, giving up their beloved homeland in the Borders.

Their descendants are spread far and wide across the Earth.  They often celebrate Highland Scottish heritage at festivals. But the Border Reiver Heritage Society wants to help them remember and preserve the Border history. It encourages them to go back to the Borders to appreciate the unique culture that of the Reivers. The Common Riding festivals, centuries old ballads, and the mossy terrain around these ancestral grounds take descendants back to their ancestors’ lives. It helps them connect, however briefly, with a something that is in their DNA. Many discover a longing for the Borders region that they never even knew existed.

The Border Reiver Heritage Society is run for and by us, the descendants, so we never forget how these rugged these people were. Getting in touch with our legacy can make us somehow more whole. Please support us.

Carol Beattie Selbiger, PG – Founder.


Join Our Border Reiver Heritage Society!

Become a member of the Border Reiver Heritage Society and we’ll send you links to events, touring information, and other heritage information along with our newsletter.


Help Support The Border Reiver Heritage Society:

Please help support the Border Reiver Heritage Society with the purchase of our T-shirts through Teespring.

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List of Clans/ Families visit the Surname tab at the top to see history information

(Light Blue Indicates Clans Who Have Submitted A History)

Anderson * Archibold  * Armstrong  * Aynsley * Beattie/Bettisoun * Bell*  Blackadder * Brewis * Bromfield  * Burns  * Carlisle  * Carlton/ Charlton * Carnaby *  Carr/Kerr  * Carruthers  * Cessford * Chrichton * Clennell * Cockburn*  Collingwood  * Corbett * Coxson *  Cranston * Craw/Crawford  * Crisp * Crozier * Curwen  * Cuthbert * Dacre  * Dalgliesh *  Davison/Davidson * Delaval *  Dickson/Dixon * Dodd  *  Douglas  * Dunne  * Edgar * Ellerker *  Elliot * Errington *  Fenwick *  Fluke * Forster/Foster  * Fraser/Frissell *  Gilchrist  * Glendenning  * Gordon * Graham  * Gray  * Hall  * Halliday  * Harden  * Hedley  * Henderson * Heron  * Hetherington  * Hodgson  * Horsley *  Hume/Home * Hunter/Huntley * Irvine/Irving  * Jamieson * Jardine * Johnstone *  Kirkpatrick/Kilpatrick  * Laidlaw * Latimer  * Little * Lowther  * Maxwell  * Medford  * Milburn  * Mitford *  Moffat * Mow *  Musgrave  * Nicholson  * Nickson/Nixon  * Noble  * Ogle  * Oliver  * Ord * Percy * Pile *  Potts  * Pringle  * Radcliffe  * Redhead * Redpath *  Reed/ Reid  * Richardson *  Ridley * Robson  * Rome *  Routledge  * Rowell  * Rutherford  * Salkeld  * Sawfeld *  Scott  * Selby  * Shaftoe  * Simpson  * Snowden *  Stamper  * Stapleton  *  Stokoe  * Storey  * Strowther * Swinhoe *  Swinton *  Tailor/Taylor  * Tait/ Tate  * Telfer * Thompson/ Thomson  * Trotter  * Turnbull  * Turner  * Vardy *  Wake  *   Wallace * Wanless * Watson  * Widdrington * Wigham *  Wilkinson  * Wilson  * Witherington  * Yarrow  * Young  *

Descendants of the Border Reivers!

We Need Writers!

The Border Reiver Heritage Society needs dedicated descendants to help write your Clans history for us to showcase on the website. If you know about your Clan’s history and are proud of it then please step forward and write your part for all to hear. Due to copyright laws I do not wish to infringe upon what each Clan Society has put on the internet, so I need each Clan to have members who have either written in the past, to allow us to post their writing or to have members write for the first time their Clan story.  Writers will get full acknowledgement on the article that is posted. The Border Reiver Heritage Society is for the descendants and by the descendants so help us write our stories. Each Clans story will be accessible on this webpage, but if we don’t get anything written for a Clan it will be listed but have nothing to say for it and that just should not be the case. Help to honour our heritage and join me in writing each Clans story.  Follow us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/BorderReiverGenealogy/ For more interesting Border Reiver information, please visit Tom Moss’s blog articles

The image of the Smailholm Tower above is given in use by Borders Aerial Photography and expressed consent of Mark Field.  The Border Reiver Heritage Society, LLC an international organization and is funded solely by donations from the descendants of the Riding Clans around the world.

Privacy: The Border Reiver Heritage Society respects the privacy of each visitor to the Border Reiver Heritage Society website. Any personal information provided by a visitor will be used solely by the Border Reiver Heritage Society for internal purposes and, where appropriate, to contact individuals directly. Personal information will be shared only with those third-party service providers who perform functions on our behalf, including processing credit card payments, providing customer service, removing repetitive information from customer lists, analyzing data, and providing marketing assistance. For review or correction of your personal information, or to request that your donation not be listed on the Border Reiver Heritage Society website, email Carol Beattie Selbiger at scottish.tothecore@gmail.com. © 2024 Border Reiver Heritage Society | Headquarters –  Acworth, Georgia