Unthank Farm

Valley of the Ewes

Unthank Farm lies in the midst of the coppice of trees in the centre of this picture 
which was taken by Allan McVittie in October 1999 from the side of the A7 road 
which runs between Langholm and Hawick.

In the trees to the left there is a small and sadly very neglected Cemetery where Robert McVittie forebear of many who are currently involved in compiling our Family Tree lies buried with both his wives, Janet Jackson and Jean Armstrong.

The inscription on his gravestone reads:

'In memory of ROBERT McVITTIE who died at Fidleton 8 August 1873 aged 82 years and his wife JANE JACKSON who died at Fidleton January 1838 aged 48 years and son JAMES who died 18 November 18...5 aged 26 years and also MARGARET daughter of ROBERT McVITY and JANET ARMSTRONG who died 20 March 1865 aged 13 years and the said JANET ARMSTRONG  his second wife who died at Priesthaugh Cottage on 19 February 1897 aged 75 years'

Alongside Robert's gravestone lie his son Walter and his family,

'ROBERT McVITTIE son of WALTER McVITTIE and MARGARET MURRAY  who died at Fiddleton 17 July 1899 aged 25 years also the above WALTER McVITTIE who died at Esk Place , Langholm 26 January 1924 and also MARGARET MURRAY  who died at Effgill on 15 May 1930 aged 75 years.'

The cemetery includes many other memorials for Aitchisons , who used to farm Unthank, Elliots, Byers, Murrays - of which more later - Laidlaws, Jacksons and Beatties. Walter's marriage to Margaret Murray of Unthank forges the link with the 32nd President of the US - read on.....




The following extract is taken from " By Yarrow's Stream " by Alex Cameron.

"In the Kirk of the Forest*, which is up the Kirk Wynd in Selkirk, a plaque on the wall beside the inner iron gate reads thus:

In the MURRAY AISLE of the present building lie the maternal ancestors of FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, 32nd President of the U.S.A."

* This was where William Wallace was crowned Protector of Scotland.

"The Murray who concerns this saga is James Murray, born on the farm Unthank in the valley of the Ewes, a tributary of the Esk. He was the eldest of five, two boys and three girls. In 1728 at the age of 51, his father died, leaving his widow (daughter of the Laird of Chesters) and his family ill-provided for. Early in life James had to make his own way in the world. At nineteen he was apprenticed to William Dunbar, a Scottish merchant engaged in the West Indian trade, operating from London. After two years James came in for his share of his father's estate and , with 1000 in his hip pocket, he took off for the New World, embarking in 1735 for Charleston, South Carolina. His business life and career were a great success, the full story of which can be read in a book called Letters of James Murray, Loyalist by Susan E Lesley , a relation of his.

Owning a plantation in North Carolina was all very fine but he needed a wife, so in 1744 James returned to the Borders and married his cousin Barbara Bennett, a childhood sweetheart, and eventually set up together in America. Life was good for a while, but the outbreak of the War of Independence found James in Boston, unhappy about the situation. Eventually he sailed with other Loyalists to Halifax in Nova Scotia, where he died in 1781.

Two daughters were born to James Murray and his wife Barbara, both of whom married supporters of the revolutionary cause and remained in the United States. In 1785 the younger Elizabeth, married Edward Hutchison Robbins, who became Governor of Massachusetts. Their third daughter, Anne Jean Robbins, married Joseph Lyman of Northfield, Massachusetts, a lawyer who later became a judge. A generation later their daughter, Catherine Robbins Lyman, married Warren Delano, a wealthy New Yorker and - hold it now- one of their children was Sara Delano, who by marriage to James Roosevelt, became the mother of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, author of the New Deal, signatory at the Yalta Conference, illustrious leader of America in the last war"