Female Border Reivers - any evidence?

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Phoenix Rising
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Female Border Reivers - any evidence?

Post by Phoenix Rising »

As part of my ongoing research into the Reivers and their times I'm looking into the structure of the families themselves (relationships to each other, family hierarchy etc), and from this a question has arisen.

Although the 'business' of Reiving was obviously predominately a male occupation (the men being at the time the heads of the households and general breadwinners!) but at any time were there ever female reivers at all? And if so, is there any evidence of them?

Obviously any woman who undertook such a thing would be both breaking the social rules of the time (although since when did Reivers ever let rules get in the way of things?) and also be putting themselves at great risk, but I have seen a reference to scottish women either participating in a raid (or raids), but I can't recall where I saw it!

Thoughts, anyone?

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Tomsk
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Re: Female Border Reivers - any evidence?

Post by Tomsk »

To be honest I can't think of any.I wouldn't of thought any would of actively took part in a large raid,though maybe helped with stealing a horse or two.Of course they would of helped defend a bastell or a pele that was being raided.
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Botwot
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Re: Female Border Reivers - any evidence?

Post by Botwot »

No references to any such in the "official" records such as the Calendar of Border Papers or the Acts of the Privy Council or the relevant State Papers for Scotland and no references that I can find in the standard historical references or personal memoirs / family papers to which I have access

My friends at Tullie House and the Border History Museum have drawn a similar blank in their records, with the usual caveat about lack of evidence not constituting proof of anything.

Based on about 20 odd years of being involved in and around the subject I'd have to say that no evidence has ever been tabled for the existence of female reivers in the sense of active riding/raiding or feud. I would completely second Tomsk's comment about women being involved in the active defence of houses/bastles/peles however, at least to the extent of what defence is mentioned.

In the absence of new evidence, I'd have to consider it a dead end.

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Phoenix Rising
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Re: Female Border Reivers - any evidence?

Post by Phoenix Rising »

Thanks Botwot - apologies for the delay in replying but I was away and then ended up with the flu! Happy New Year to you and I'll no doubt see you about - probably at Hawick in March - lets hope the weather is forthcoming in its warmth!

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