Saturday, December 24, 2011

My mother's birthplace July 1918

Click on the title for it. I have a collection of postcards from my grandfather in the army in Germany to her as a baby at this address. I believe my great grandfather was a labourer on the Ewart Park estate with the females of the family in service. There name was Lillico, an unusual one but commoner in Northumberland for it is a corruption of Linlithgow.

Mother married a local Graham. I have just found the name is notorious.

'I was drinking tea and idly watching Alistair Moffat's The Reivers and The Making of The Borders on ITV. This particular episode was all about the Reiving Graham Family and what became of them...(I bet you can guess the punchline by now but I certainly hadn't). The fate of the lawless Graham/Grahem family involved them being expelled to Ireland. How did they respond? They simply changed their name and got back over here. They had changed their surname to Meharg and so they quietly slipped back into England hoodwinking the authorities yet again. Of course, when I heard this, I nearly choked on my cup of char. The Reiver descendant's name which had so flummoxed me was - Grahem Meharg (a veritable palindrome). The answer to the riddle had been staring me in the face all along!

Fast forward to this month - September 2010..with Mr.H. loving the history of this area as much as I do. . .

We had some Scottish guests staying with us who had not heard of the Border Reivers. This is understandable as they came from a coastal part of Scotland far from the Border area. (The Reivers are not widely known outside this region although many Americans, who are researching their family history, come over to learn more about their ancestors and know a lot about them.)

When Mr. H. got onto the subject of the Reiving Grahams/Grahems' name change the Scottish lady spluttered into her tea too when she heard the story! It turns out that they know some Mehargs as well. Those Mehargs, it seems, may well be unaware of their Border roots as they think their name was McHarg or something similar given that it is so unusual. The Scottish lady's husband who was also present, plies his trade in linguistics and dialects so he too was extremely taken by all of this. "A palindromic riddle solved" as Mr.H. so aptly put it.

So there you have it. Here is a short history of the Grahams/Grahems (for a lengthier version the BBC has done a sterling job here) - I've quoted an extract from this brilliant website - The Debatable Lands Beyond The Wall:

"A couple of tales exist relating to where the Graham clan came from. One states they were descendents of a man called Graeme, who in Roman times helped to breach the Antonine Wall which ran between the Rivers Clyde and Forth. However it is more likely that they were of Norman French origin and initially settled in Grantham in Lincolnshire from which they took their name. Their original name is likely to have been De Grantham, which over the years changed to De Graham and finally shortened to Graham.

It is known that the clan moved to Scotland in 12th Century where a William de Graham is recorded in 1127. The Grahams were accepted as Scottish citizens after one of the clan married into the native Scottish family of Strathearn. Whilst spread throughout areas of both Scotland and England, The Graham clan were mainly associated with Dumfriesshire and Cumberland.

The Grahams are one of the most notorious of the Reiver families and often raided the lands of their arch enemies the Robsons of North Tynedale.in Northumberland. By 1552 legend states that the Graham clan was at least 500 strong occupying 13 Pele towers.

Following the Union of England and Scotland in 17th Century, some of the most ruthless Grahams were sent to Ireland with other tribesmen including Kerrs, Armstrongs and Eliots and forbidden to return." ' - http://www.hadrianastreasures.com/2010/09/reivers-riddle-resolved.html

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