Kelso's Places

Kelso Archives

The Written Records of Smith & Robson

The Kelso Archive Collection is made up of the written records of Smith & Robson, a firm of solicitors practising in Kelso during the 18th and 19th centuries. A unique collection of papers, the Kelso Archive Collection provides an insight into life in Kelso in the eighteenth century.

Kelso Library, Bowmont Street

The Kelso Archive Collection

The collection consists of 34 boxes of printed items, legal documents, farm accounts, inventories and manuscripts reflecting an important period in the history of the town. These papers relate to various aspects, including local politics, estates, tolls and businesses and other items relating to Kelso and its environs.

The Kelso Archive Collection has been described as one of the most complete records of life and business in a Scottish Burgh in the Eighteenth century. In 2002, a fundraising partnership between the local community, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Borders Council, Kelso Common Good Fund and the National Fund for Acquisitions saved the collection from being sold to Yale University. The partnership raised over £60,000.

Most of the collection is stored at the Heritage Hub in Hawick in appropriate atmospheric conditions. However, a specially constructed cabinet in Kelso Library holds a small fraction of the wealth of information which exists in this collection. The material in the cabinet is changed on a regular basis to allow as much as possible to be viewed by local and visitors.

In association with Kelso Community Council and in particular Margaret Riddell, Kelso Provost, a permanent board has been created in Kelso Library to tell the story of how the Archive was saved for the Scottish Borders and in particular the people of Kelso.

From the Archives

Election Agent Instructions
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Election Expenses... 1895

These instructions were handed out to Election Agents following the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act of 1883. This Act criminalised attempts to bribe voters and standardised election expenses.

Election Poster
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Warning to Electors! 1897

This election poster printed in Duns by the local Liberal Society clearly shows how important it was to ensure that the few people that were allowed to vote did so!
17 May 1897

Voting Leaflet
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"Make no other Mark" 1892

A voting leaflet produced for the 1892 Berwickshire election, the instructions on the back leave no doubt as to in which box voters should be be making their mark!
Summer 1892

Police Officer Instructions
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Police Officer Instructions 1840

Regulations introduced in 1840 meant that policemen receive a fixed salary, previous to this in the early part of the 19th centry police in Roxburghshire were paid per task, for example in processing a criminal a separate payment would be made for capture, for searching premises etc. A tidy sum could be accrued!

Peace Officer Instructions
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Peace Officer Instructions 1803

This booklet was handed out to 'Peace Officers' who were a sort of Napoleonic era civil defence force. It would have been the role of these men to ensure good public order in times of peace.

Auction Catalogue
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Auction Catalogue 1828

This auction catalogue was given to buyers attending the sale of some of Sir Alexander Don's household possessions follwing his death in 1826. The auction took place in 1828.