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Origins of the Clan

The origins of the name “Borthwick” are territorial. The name seems likely to have been assumed from Borthwick Water in Roxburghshire.

It is traditionally held that the first of the noble house was Andreas, who accompanied the Saxon Edgar Ætheling and his sister, Saint Margaret of Scotland, to Scotland in 1067.



15th Century

Around 1410 Sir William Borthwick obtained a charter confirming his possession of the lands around Borthwick and it was during the 15th Century that the family gained great wealth and influence, becoming Lords of the Parliament of Scotland.

The First Lord Borthwick was one of the nobles sent to England as substitute hostages for the ransom of James I of Scotland in 1425. He was responsible for the construction of what is now one of the most impressive fortified dwellings in Scotland.



16th Century

The Battle of Flodden Field, During the Anglo-Scottish Wars the Borthwicks fought on the side of King James IV of Scotland at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513 and suffered badly in the defeat. William, Lord Borthwick, succeeded his father who fell during the battle and was honoured by being given command of Stirling Castle and charged with the safety of the infant James V of Scotland.

John, Lord Borthwick was an opponent of the Reformation of the Church of Scotland and a supporter of Mary of Guise. His adherence to the church, however, did not mean he was in favour with the church hierarchy and in 1547 he was excommunicated for contempt of the Ecclesiastical Court of the See of St Andrews. An officer of the court, William Langlands, was dispatched to deliver the letters of excommunication to the curate of Borthwick. Langlands was seized by Borthwick’s men and thrown in the mill dam north of the castle. Later they made him eat the letters, having first soaked them in wine. He was sent back with the warning that any other letters would ‘a gang the same gait’.

John’s son, William, was a close friend and confidant of Mary I of Scotland. Mary took refuge with her husband, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, but was forced to flee when a force under James Stewart, Earl of Moray approached. She is said to have escaped dressed as a page

In 1573, David Borthwick of Lochhill became the king’s advocate, and may have been the first to bear the title Lord Advocate, though not the position.



The Civil War

During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the English Civil War the Borthwicks sided with the Royalists and were besieged following the Battle of Dunbar (1650). Oliver Cromwell offered Lord Borthwick honourable terms for surrender, which he accepted, thereby saving the castle from almost certain destruction. Lord Borthwick was allowed to leave with his family and goods. Thereafter the direct line failed and the title became dormant.



18th Century

In 1762 Henry Borthwick of Neathorn was recognised as male heir first Lord by the House of Lords. He assumed the title but died without heirs ten years later. During the 18th Century and 19th Century various branches of the family disputed the line of succession until in 1986, Major John Borthwick of Crookston was recognised by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms as Borthwick of that Ilk, chief of the name and arms of Borthwick. He also became the 23rd Lord Borthwick in the Peerage of Scotland. His son John Hugh Borthwick became the 24th Lord Borthwick three months prior to his death.



Clan Castle

The seat of Clan Borthwick has always been at Borthwick Castle.



Clan Chief

Since 1996, John Hugh Borthwick of that Ilk, 24th Lord Borthwick.



Clan Profile

Crest: A moor’s head couped Proper wreathed Argent and Sable.

Motto: Qui conducit (”He Who Leads”).

Tartan: See an example of the Tartan here:



Clan Borthwick Septs
















Clan Borthwick Today

Approximate numbers in various countries: Unknown

Prominent members: Unknown

Ancestral lands: Borthwick Castle, Middleton remains in the hands on the family today. It is now operated as a hotel.

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