Sixteenth Century Pringles
In 1501 William Hoppringill took a “tack” or lease of Torwoodlee, near Galashiels in the Scottish Borders; he continued to hold this tack until the land was “feued” or sold to him in 1510 just after his son George had been included in the lease.
William had come from Smailholm, near Kelso, where his father and forebears had been squires to the Earls of Douglas from the 1350s, although we have records of Pringles (often spelt Hoppringill or, in this case, Obrinkel) in and around the Borders during the mid to late 1200s. Indeed, the list of properties that the various branches of the Pringles were owners of, or tenants of, over the centuries is staggering, ranging from Soutra in Midlothian to well beyond Kelso in the Scottish Borders.
William, the 1st Laird of Torwoodlee, was killed at the battle of Flodden on the 9th September 1513 along with the “Flowers of the Forest”, a reference to the extraordinary numbers of fathers and sons of landholders in the Ettrick Forest, the king’s hunting grounds in the Borders, who were slain along with others of lower ranks.
He was succeeded by George, his son and the 2nd Laird, who married Margaret Crichton and produced 10 children, and died in December 1568 when John Elliot of Capshaw, Robert Elliot (called “Martin’s Hob”) and Jock Armstrong (called the Laird’s Jock) along with some 300 of their men sacked the Tower at Torwoodlee and took the Goodman George Hoppringle away as ‘captive and prisoner and most cruelly and unmercifully murderist and slew him’. In the then distracted state of the kingdom, and with the weakness of the Government, it appears that there was no attempt at the time to punish them but in 1607 the survivors were called upon to answer for the crime and, having failed to appear, were outlawed.
Meanwhile, another William, the 3rd Laird, had passed by without much mention, dying in August 1577 and being succeeded by his son, George, the 4th Laird, who built another Tower at Torwoodlee in 1601 (see the Tower page), almost on the same site as the original; he was the instigator of the belated prosecution of the Elliots and Armstrongs and in 1624 accepted the office of Sheriff of Selkirkshire.