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Clan Borthwick is a Scottish chiefly family

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The name Borthwick is of territorial origin. It is a traditional origin that the progenitor of Clan Borthwick was Andreas, who accompanied the Saxon Edgar the Ætheling and his sister, Margaret, who was later queen and saint, to Scotland in 1067. However recent research has suggested that the Borthwicks may have come to Scotland with Julius Caesar's roman legions.<ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, Harper Collins 1994, pp 74, 75 </ref>Thomas de Borthwic is recorded in 1368, his son William obtained lands in Midlothian and built Borthwick Castle, which is visible from the A68. <ref>David Dorward, Scottish Surnames (Harper Collins , 1995, reprint 2000, 23</ref> The surname spread to Edinburgh and beyond and records in Aberdeen record William Borthwyk as a ballie and Patrick Borthwick as burgess at the end of the 14th century. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 23</ref>

Fifteenth Century

Sir William Borthwick held substantial lands in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders and obtained a charter confirming the lands of Borthwick in about 1410. It is after these lands that the family was named. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref> He was ambassador to Rome in 1425 and was created first Lord Borthwick in 1450. The first Lord Borthwick died before 1458 and is commemorated in a tomb in the old Borthwick church.<ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, Harper Collins 1994, pp 74, 75 </ref> During this period the Borthwick Castle was constructed. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref>The Borthwicks fought with James the IV at the Battle of Flodden. After the death of the incumbent in battle William, Lord Borthwick was given command of Stirling Castle and the infant James V. His son, John, Lord Borthwick opposed the Scottish Reformation and was a keen supporter of Mary of Guise. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref>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. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref>

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'. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref>

John's son, William, was a close friend and confidant of Mary, Queen of Scots. 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. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref> In 1573, David Borthwick of Lochhill became the king's advocate or principal legal adviser. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref> However not all Borthwicks were nobles. Robert Borthwick was the Master Gunner to James IV of Scotland in 1509 and is said to have cast seven great cannons which were called the Seven Sisters. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref> The Borthwicks traditionally claim to be hereditary falconers to the Scots Monarchs, although no surviving charters prove this. However references to this role prior to 1603 survive. <ref></ref>

Later history

During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms the Borthwicks supported the royalist cause and their castle was besieged after the Battle of Dunbar (1650).The fortress was spared destrction when Oliver Cromwell offered Lord Borthwick terms of surrender which he accepted. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref>During this period the direct line failed and the title 'Lord Borthwick' became dormant. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref>Henry Borthwick of Neathorn was recognised as male heir by the House of Lords in 1762 and assumed the title, but died ten years later without children. Various branches of the family then disputed the right of succession during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref> A notable family member in the later seventeenth century was the surgeon William Borthwick of Pilmuir (1641-1689). <ref></ref>

Twentieth Century

Major John Borthwick

In 1986 major John Borthwick of Crookston was recognised by the Lord Lyon as chief of Clan Borthwick and became the 23rd Lord Borthwick in the Peerage of Scotland. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 74, 75 </ref> Borthwick had for many years made efforts to claim the title, but providing proof of his claim was difficult. Clues were eventually found in the family archives, which led to crucial evidence in the Vatican libraries. A 1446 letter charter and a 1459 charter which had cast doubt on his ancestor's lineage were proved to be forgeries. <ref></ref>Borthwick then took his seat in the House of Lords, before hereditary peers were abolished in 1999. His interest in family history led to the formation of a Clan Borthwick Association, and in 1976 he was chairman of the monitoring committee of Scottish Tartans. He was an international delegate for the committee of the Baronage of Scotland. <ref></ref> Borthwick's interest in military and ceremonial matters had an international bent, as he was Grand Baili of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem. He was Grand Baili for over thirty years, and in recognition of his work for the order, the Grand Master personally conferred on him the Knight's Grand Cross of Merit, a decoration held by only a few members <ref></ref> He was a patron of the Fife, Lothians and Borders branch of the Normandy Veterans Association.<ref></ref>


The current holder of the title is John Hugh Borthwick, 24th Lord Borthwick (b.1940) - pictured above with close family members in 2009. An active clan chief, he supports the Clan Borthwick Association. The website functions to 'forge links with Borthwicks worldwide' and ensure that 'all Borthwicks enjoy the rich heritage of the family' as well as 'the promotion of a spirit of kin and fellowship'. <ref> </ref> A Clan Gathering is planned for 2015 which will include lunch at Borthwick Castle and a tour of other historical sites. <ref></ref>