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The Great Historic Families of Scotland 

Search for all reference to Thomson

page 146

THE Ruthvens derive their descent from a Norwegian baron named Thor, who, in the reign of King Edgar, founded the Church of Edinham, or Ednam, on the banks of the Tweed, the birthplace, five centuries later, of  Thomson, the poet of the 'Seasons.' The charter which Thor granted to this religious establishment is a model for its brevity and clearness, and may serve to illustrate the process by which the waste places of the country were peopled and the inhabitants civilised. 'To the sons of Holy Mother Church,' ran this interesting document, 'Thor the Long, greeting in the Lord: be it known that Aedgar my lord, King of Scots, gave to me Aednaham, a desert; that, with his help and my own money I peopled it, and have built a church in honour of St. Cuthbert, which church, with a ploughgate of land, I have given to God and to St. Cuthbert and his monks to be possessed by them for ever.'
page 126

Lord Cardross was present at his father's death, and figured prominently at his obsequies, which were performed with great solemnity, and elaborate ceremony. Lady Huntingdon's party took a great interest in the well-being of the young Earl, and Fletcher, Henry Venn, and the eccentric Berridge were at once appointed his chaplains. The name of John Wesley was subsequently added to the list, much to his own satisfaction. In 1771, Lord Buchan took up his residence on his Linlithgowshire estate, and set himself to effect, by precept and example, much-needed improvements in husbandry. He also made vigorous efforts to induce his brother nobles to act an independent part in the election of their sixteen representatives in Parliament, and to discontinue the degrading practice of voting for the list sent down by the Government of the day, and he succeeded ultimately, almost single-handed, in putting it down. He was the founder of the Society of Antiquaries in Edinburgh, in 1780, and contributed a number of papers to the first volume of their Transactions. He was able, in 1786, to buy back the small estate of Dryburgh, which had of old belonged to his ancestors, with the ruined abbey and mansion-house, where he took up his residence for half a century, and performed many curious and eccentric feats. He had a restless propensity for getting up public fêtes, one of which was an annual festival in commemoration of Thomson, the author of 'The Seasons,' at Ednam, the poet's native place. He erected, in his [p.126] grounds at Dryburgh, an Ionic temple, with a statue of Apollo in the interior, and a bust of the bard surmounting the dome. Burns wrote a poetical address for its inauguration. He also raised a colossal statue of Sir William Wallace, on the summit of a steep and thickly planted bank above the river Tweed. It was installed with great ceremony. A huge curtain was drawn before the statue, which dropped at the discharge of a cannon, and then the Knight of Ellerslie was discovered with a large German tobacco-pipe in his mouth, which some wicked wag had placed there—to the unspeakable consternation of the peer, and amusement of the company. Sir Walter Scott used to say that when a revolution should take place, his first act would be to procure a cannon, and batter down this monstrosity.





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