The 1715 Jacobite revolt is famous in Northumberland because of the attempt by Roman Catholic landowners there to raise an army in support of the Stuart claimant. Just over the border, here in Yetholm, the reaction was different. Sir William Bennet, the baron of Kirk Yetholm, was from a solidly Presbyterian background. His grandfather was a minister and his father suffered ‘many hardships for conscience sake’. Bennet was an enthusiastic supporter of the 1688 Revolution and of the union of parliaments. In 1715 he clearly turned up in Yetholm and persuaded his tenants to sign a petition pledging to 'stand by and assist one another in defence of our Lawful Sovereign King George' - though whether they were really any more inclined to get involved than the tenantry in Northumberland is any ones guess. Bennet signs first and there then follow over one hundred signatures, probably all of the heads-of-household in both Kirk and Town Yetholm. Most people make a stab at signing - a remarkable testimony to literacy - though as can be seen above the quality of signatures varies from the elaborate signature of'Wm. Simpsone' to the messy scrawl of Cuthbert (??) Burn. The Burn family of the Bowmont Valley provided many reivers in the sixteenth century and there are several Burns in this petition, but by the nineteenth century they seem to have disappeared from local records.
The list of names includes an 'Adam Fiall' (see below) - a person who also turns up in the hearth tax accounts for Town Yetholm in the early 1690s. It's tempting to see this as an early record of a gipsy, but gipsies seem to have been confined to Kirk Yetholm and, in any case, 'Fall' is not an exclusively gipsy name. More on that subject in a later post ...