Tinwald Church

Nestling in the side of Tinwald Hill and visible from the A701 road, Tinwald Church is a plain, but attractive church built in 1769 on the foundations of an earlier one. Its shape, size, site and siting are identical with the standard plan of a mediaeval parish church.

The history of Photo of Tinwald ChurchTinwald

Both before and after the Reformation, the Barony and Rectory of Tinwald belonged to the Maxwell family, who appointed the vicars and later the ministers.

At the Reformation the priest in charge continued as vicar, exhorter and reader under the new establishment. The Maxwell Earls of Nithsdale saw to it that no Presbyterian enthusiasts intruded into their domains. Tinwald was served by a series of curates or indulged ministers till the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688. In that year “the minister, when entering his pulpit was assailed by women who tore his coat and shirt off and would have done the same with his breeches, had he not pleaded with them from their modesty….’

After this incident there was a continuing vacancy in Tinwald and Trailflat till 1697 when the Presbytery of Dumfries called a young man from Kelso to the charge. But Mr. Alexander Robeson was “so unwilling to submit to ordination that he endeavoured to escape and was only brought back by the restraint and remonstrance of some of his senior brethren”. But he need not have bothered. He outlived them all, seeing the Maxwells out and the Douglases in. He became a notable “moderate” and died ‘FATHER’ of the Church in 1761, in the 86th year of his age and the 65th of his Ministry.

By this time the omnipotent Duke of Queensberry had become the patron of the parish. He appointed the Minister of Dalton to the united charge of Tinwald and Trailflat. The year after his arrival he had a new church built on the old foundations, described by a successor as “a long narrow rectangular house, without either aisle or gallery, where all the seats are free”. So it is today.

The history of Trailflat

This parish was given to the monks of Kelso Abbey by Walter de Carno, Lord of the Manor, in the twelfth century. Its possession was confirmed to them in the thirteen century by King William, the Lion, the Bishop of Glasgow and Sir Thomas Carno. There could be no dubiety as to who owned Trailflat.

The Tironensian monks had been brought from France to Selkirk by King Alexander I. They were moved to Kelso by King David I, so as to be near his new town of Roxburgh. They drew the revenues of Trailflat, provided a chaplain and built a church. After the Reformation the Earl of Roxburgh stood in their shoes. He and his royal master, King James VI, did their best for Trailflat, sending several likely lads as ministers and providing the congregation with a new church building for reformed worship.

King Charles I transferred inter alia the Raill endowment of Trailflat to his new Bishopric of Galloway, The first and last covenanted presbyterian minister came to Trailflat in 1642. He stuck it for three years and then was transferred to Kirkmahoe which he found a much less stoney vineyard and where he succeeded in building up a strong covenanting congregation.

No minister could be found willing to take on Trailflat, so after a continuing vacancy of five years it was united with Tinwald, where at that time there was also an unfilled vacancy.

The Union of 1650 need not have meant the end of Trailflat. At the end of the 18th Century the church was described as “an excellent building, the roof whereof is famed for its curious structure”. Officially the united parish was known as Tinwald and Trailflat till 1929 when nearly half of the old Trailflat parish was transferred to Lochmaben.

Only the superb seventeenth century silver cups, still used for the sacrament in Tinwald Kirk, serve to remind parishioners of former glories.


(These two parishes were united in 1650, The Church of Trailflat originally belonged to the Abbey of Kelso.)

1567. AMDREW RENTON, vicar and exhorter. Nov 1567 to 1591,

1615. ALEXANDER THOMSON, son of Adam Thomson, apothecary in right of whom he entered burgess and guild-brother of Edinburgh, 11th July 1615, at which time he was Minister here: M.A. (Edinburgh, 28th May 1604); died 25th Feb. 1624. He married Margaret Kerr, who survived him, and had issue — Adam, saddler, his heir, burgess of Edinburgh in right or his father, 17th Bug. 1636; John,; Edward; Alaxander; Robert; Sarah,

1632. JOHN MAXWELL, presented by Robert, Earl of Nithsdale, sometime before 3Oth Nov, 1632,

1635. HERBERT FAREIS (FERRIES), M.A. (Edinburgh, 14th Julg 1621; presented by Robert, Earl or Nithsdale; admitted 1st Sept, 1635; still Minister 25th Sept, 1638.

1656. JOHN BROWN, M.A.; called Nov. 7th. 1685; admitted 18th March 1656; inst, to Linton in Teviotdale 6th Sept, 1664.

1665. WILLIAM HUME, M.A.; minister about 1665; translated to Jedburgh 5th Aug. 1674.

1681. JAMES LITTLE, M.A. (Edinburgh 1665); passed trials before Presbytery or Peebles, and certified for license 14th April 1670; minister in 1681; outed at the Revolution, He married 25th April 1681, Margaret Logan, Edinburgh, who had been married twice previously; she died in 1683.

1697. ALEXANDER ROBESON (ROBISON), a native of Roxburghshire; licensed by Presbytery of Kelso, 20th May 1696; ordained (so much against his will that he endeavoured to escape, and returned only on the remonstrance of some of his senior brethren) 16th March 1697. He died FATHER OF THE CHURCH, 5th May 1761, in his 86th year. He married, 23d Nov, 1699, Jean Graham, who died 23rd Jan. 1762, aged 86, and had issue Alexander; Janet; (married Wm Carlyle, Minister of Cummertrees); Margaret (married George Bell of Conheath, Provost of Dumfries); Jean (married Robert Wight, Minister of St Michael’s, Dumfries; Violet; Mary; Helen. Publications: ‘(The Oath of Abjuration No Ground or Seperation’ (Rae Press) (Kirkbride, 1713); ‘Mene Tekel, or, Seperation Weighed in the Balance of the Sanctuary and Found Wanting’ (Rae Press) (Dumfries, 1717). (Tombst.; Wodrow’s Corresp.; Carlyle’s Autobiography.; The Scots Mag., xlviii; Rae’s History of the Rebellion; Book of Caerlaverock, i., 419),

1762 JOHN MARSHALL, born 1714, son of Archiblad M., minister of Kirkcolm; educ, at Univ. of Glasgow; licensed by Presbytery of Lochmaben 3rd April 1744; ordained to Dalton 10th May 1753; presented by George III. 19th June 1761; translated and admitted 18th March 1762; died 21st Feb, 1776. He married 7th March 1757, Henrietta Carruthers, who died on 29th May 1765, and had issue—Matthew, born 30th Dec, 1757; Penelope, born 9th April 1759 (married Alexander Scot, D.D., Minister or St Michael’s Dumfries); Robert, born 30th May 1761; Margaret, born 28th March 1769; William, born 18th March, and died 23rd May 1765, (Tombstone),

1777 JOHN WILLIAMSON, probably son of Alexander W., Barony Parish, Glasgow; educated at University of Glasgow; preacher at Wanlockhead; presented by Charles, Duke of Queensberry and Dover, 8th June, 1776; ordained 27th March 1777; died 18th Oct. 1783, aged 32. He married 29th Dec. 1774, Janet Williamson, who died 16th Oct. 1828, and had issue— David, born 25th September 1775; Veitch, born 12th Sept. 1776; Cecilia, born 13th April 1778; John, Surgeon at St James, Jamaica, born 23rd April 1780; Marion, born 2nd December 1781. (Tombstone).

1784. JAMES LAWRIE, licensed by Presbytery of Penpont, 5th Aug. 1778; presented by George III. in February, and ordained 2nd September 1784; died 26th March 1799, in his 47th year. He married 4th April 1785, Rachel (died 1st June 1826), daughter of Adam Carlyle of Limekilns, and had issue— Adam, born 21st Jan. 1786; Rachel Douglas, born 4th June 1787 (married —- Wilkin, farmer, Tinwald Shaws); William James, born 30th Sept. 1788; Philadelphia Ann, born 21st May, and died 1st June 1790; Thomas, born 27th April 1793; James, born 20th May 1796. Publication — Account of the Parish (Sinclair’s Statistical Account., i.), (Lockerby’s ‘Life of J. Brown’).

1800, GEORGE GREIG (Primus), born 1764, son or George Greig., tenant of Rameldrie Mill, Kettle, Fife, and Janet Key; educated at Univ. of St Andrews; licensed by Presbytery of Annan; presented by William, Duke of Queensberry, September 1799; ordained 25th April 1800; died 15th Feb. 1842. He married 21st Oct, 1793, Susannah Blackadder, Hoddam, who died 19th March 1840, and had issue—- George, his successor; Janet, born 12th May 1805, died 9th Jan, 1821; Susannah, born Ist Dec. 1807 (married Richard Lyon Cruikshank of Broomhill, Lochmaben); and three others who died in infancy.

1830 GEORGE GREIG (Secundus), son of preceding; presented by William IV.; ordained as Assistant and Successor on 5th August 1830; translated to Kirkpatrick-Durham 3rd November 1843.

1843, JOSEPH CURRIE LORRAINE, M.A.; ordained 21st Dec. 1843; translated to Caerlaverock 17th September 1846.

1847. JAMES VALLANCE, born Renfrew, 1808, eldest son of James Valiance; educ. at Univ. or Glasgow; ordained 1st. Minister of the Relief Church, Leven, Fife, 19th Feb, 1834. Joined the Church of Scotland 11th June 1845; admitted to this Perish 14th Jan. 1847; died 6th Feb, 1889. He married 11th Feb. 1835, Margaret (died 25th July 1881), daughter of James McWalter, linen merchant, Paisley, and had issue— James, died 1st Jan. 1860; Alexander McWalter, died 4th July 1868; Georgina Pinkerton; Janet McWalter; Margaret Rebecca Maxwell; Grace Blackwood, born 12th Jan. 1851; Thomas Dryburgh, born 11th May 1852, died at Buenos Aires 5th Feb, 1874; Anne McCombe (married James Hardie, Cleuston, Kilkenny), died 14th Oct. 1893.

1889. GEORGE SCOTT KERR, born into a farming family at Westmains, Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, 28th March 1862, son of Hugh Kerr and Janet Scott; educated at Univs. of Glasgow and Heidelberg; M.A. (1883), B.D. (1886); licensed by Presbytery of Irvine 8th June 1886; ordained 19th July 1889. Appointed Moderator in 1897. On 26th July 1900, married Lucy, daughter of James Hogg Edmonston, Riddingwood, Kirkmahoe, and had two children, Margaret and Hugh George Scott-Kerr. Margaret died from tuberculosis, and George Scott Kerr, having nursed his daughter, also contracted the illness and died on 22 January 1937.

[biographical details of the succeeding Ministers not yet completed, but these were Revs. Buchanan; S Young; Clarke; FI MacDonald; 1985 J Leishman; 2000 Louis Bezuidenhout.]

Pew Renters

At one time an acknowledged way of financing the church was by way of pew renting. This has long gone, but there are still a few of the old tickets at the end of the pews to show who rented in days gone past; those remaining in Tinwald Church are:

Pew No.

6 ? Lawnridding

7-10 replaced

11. J.I. Jardine

Tinwald Village

12. do.

13. replaced

14. do.

15. D.I. Jardine

Tinwald Village

All replaced until:

28. ??


30. A.A. Douglas


31. A.A. Douglas


32. A.C. Douglas


33. A.C. Douglas

Amisfield Village

There was also one pew renter from Trailflat but the name is unreadable.


The Charteris dynasty arrived in England with William the Conqueror in 1066. Robert Charteris, a Norman baron, was invited by David 1 of Scotland to come to Scotland to help him suppress the English on his border. The lands of Amisfield were granted to the Charteris family in 1166. We have been here ever since, and my son John Nicholas Charteris is the 21st Charteris of Amisfield.

The family last parted company with Amisfield Tower in 1904, and we now live in the dower house built by Charles Charteris of Amisfield for his mother in 1788, and so, for nearly nine centuries, the Charteris family, in an unbroken line, will have worshipped in the parish of Tinwald , and helped govern the County of Dumfriesshire.

Over the centuries, members of the family have been High Chancellors of Scotland, Wardens of the Western Marches and been members of the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments. Some have been Churchmen and Teachers. The most famous of these is Professor Archibald Charteris, who was born in 1835, and 34 years later was elected Moderator of the Church of Scotland. He was a great believer in universal education, and he devoted his ministry to the pastoral care of the young, and the harnessing of the spiritual and practical energies of women through his new Church of Scotland Women`s Guild.

Over the centuries the Charteris family have been buried in Tinwald Church – their memorials are in the Churchyard, the family burial enclosure and in the stained glass windows in the nave. My grandfather, Brigadier General John Charteris CMG DSO, was General Haig`s Chief-of-Staff for the first three years of the Great War 1914-1918, and was later elected as the M.P. for Dumfriesshire. His memorial window is on the south side of the Church. If you look carefully you can discover his interests – India, sheep and cattle, and the House of Commons. He introduced the Humane Killing Act for animals which is still in force today. The window on the north side is a memorial to his son, Euan Charteris MC who joined the KOSB and was killed after a parachute operation in Tunisia.

My father, Lt Col John Douglas Charteris, was an elder of Tinwald Kirk, and Treasurer for many years. He is buried in the family enclosure. It was he who left Cullivait House to me.

We are immensely proud of this long association with Amisfield and Tinwald, our farms in the parish, and with the Kirk. I hope that my family will continue this long tradition of service to our community.

Lt. Col. John A. Charteris MBE MC

Mundell family

Sir Henry Mandeville (sic) Lord of the Place of Tinwald, died some time about 1450, leaving four daughters, of whom the eldest married Edward Maxwell. A dispute arose over the division of the inheritance which terminated on 8 May, 1455 when Margaret was “seised” in the fourth part of Tinwald, the sheriff’s sergeant, David Halliday, giving her earth and stone at “the chief messuage2 the Mote beside the church of Tinwald”. “Thomas Graeme of Thornyhuk, who had been her forespeake (advocate) was there, and Roger Kirkpatrick of Dargarvel, Robert Munduel and Andrew Charteris.”

Presently, we have no details of how the Reformation took Tinwald, and the next important reference to the Mundells of Tinwald is in the dying testimony of James Mundel in Runnerhead in the parish of Tinwald in which he wrote “I being now frail and aged, and not knowing how soon my friendly Lord and Master may call me out of time into eternity, have seen, heard, and experienced strange things……” He goes on to recount that he had heard Richard Cameron and James Renwick. “Yet what trouble I had from within and persecution from without; from enemies, and from natural enemies, my own relations”

It seems James Mundell was active in the cause because it is related, in February 1692, by Sir Robert Hamilton of Kirkton (an incompetent covenanting leader) that “our friends in Tinwald, being informed of two curates residding in Drumfries, about the number of thirty of them armed and went into the toun and, finding them at their service, with the Service Book in their hands, they took them out of the toun, and frighting them with certain death; but they engageing never to exercise their office again in the three kingdoms let them pass their way. The next day these Tinwald men came in to the toun again in the same manner and publickly burnt the Service Book, and discharged the pretended provost and magistrates under their highest peril not to suffer any such locusts to enter their city again. All this was done without the least resistance or disturbance, tho’ a very indulged and malignant city.

James Mundell was arrested at some time and spent a short spell in prison in Edinburgh. It seemed that not everyone was happy with the events for one wrote “I am a poor distressed creature…..Half a Reformation is good enough for many of us….Oh! that I might live and die in Tinwald.” But troublous times they were and a “curate” was outed at the Revolution of 1688 and there was no minister in the parish until 1697 when Alexander Robeson was ordained there so much against his inclination, that at first he tried to escape. No wonder, as a previous “call” was told by members of what was named the “Tinwald Society” that “no perjured curate or curate’s underling (such as you) or indulged Erastian shall come into this parish.” There is much more of the Mundells, who were mentioned in connection with Hartbush, Dalruskine (sic), in Shawes and Tinwald Mill as well as at Runnerfoot. The next we hear of the family is of that branch whose fame was as schoolmasters in Thornhill and Edinburgh.

For more information on the Mundells the following website can be recommended:


Tinwald Church Building

The church was built in 1769 on the foundations of an earlier one. Its shape, size, site and siting are identical with the standard plan of a mediaeval Scottish parish church. It is a long, narrow, rectangular, gabled building of the local red sandstone, with a porch at the east end and a vestry in at the north-west corner. The porch and vestry were added on later. Recently an extension is built to the church incorporating the vestry to provide a session room, kitchen and toilet. Above the west gable is a fine large bird-cage bellcote with a 17th century Dutch bell and exterior bell rope.

There are four double lancet windows in the south wall and three in the north wall, the fourth having been blocked by the vestry building. There is a single longer lancet in the west gable. This forms the visual focal point in the church. It is of good 20th century glass depicting Our Lord carrying his cross. This window is by Gordon Webster, Glasgow and is in memory of the Rev. George Scott-Kerr, MA, BD, Minister of the Parish 1889-1937.

The deeply embrasured windows were filled with Cathedral glass during the period when such adornment was in vogue. This has been replaced in two pairs of lancets, facing each other midway along the long walls, with fine stained glass by Gordon Webster of Glasgow. Both are in memory or the Charteris Family.

The earlier one (1946) in the North wall with two standing figures is based on the theme of the 9th and 10th verses of the 139th Psalm. “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall his hand lead me…”. These words appear on the scroll at the base of the figures. It is a two-light window erected in the memory of the late Lt. EBC Charteris, MC, 2nd Parachute Battalion, (king’s Own Scottish Borders) Gifted by his father, the late Brig. Gen. J Charteris.

In the right hand light is the figure of a young man, holding a spear in his left hand, and stretching out his right hand towards the Presence of the Lord, typified by the grave Angel in the left hand light. From the top of the spear flows a banner bearing a red cross, suggesting the sign of the British First Army, (Lt. Charteris was killed in Tunisia.) The jagged rocks above him suggest the rugged heights of Tunisia, while the rainbow which caps them is a token of the promise of victory which crowns endeavour. Above, treated in pale, cool tones, is Pegasus, symbol of the Airborne Division, while lower down, behind the figure, conventualised waves suggest the “uttermost parts of the sea”. In the apex appears the Charteris crest, with the motto “non gladio sed gratia”.

In the left hand light the angel looks towards the youth, and points upwards with his right hand. Behind re again seen the craggy mountains, while lower down, on the left, a river suggests the river Medjerda which played so important a part in the Tunisian campaign, To the right of the angel cactus leaves recall the arid type of country, and above appears the badge of the King’s Own Scottish Borders. In the apex is the Burning Bush, symbol of the Church of Scotland of which Lieut. Charteris was a member.

In the base are pale toned medallions bearing the words of the inscription: “To the Glory of God, and in the proud memory of Lieut. Euan BC Charteris, MC, 9th Batt. KOSB and 2nd Parachute Batt.. Born 10th March 1920 – Killed in action Tunisia 3rd December 1942.”

The treatment of the window has been dictated by its Northern asopect; the subject panels are of rich, briliant hues, set on a background of shimering, heavy Norman slab glass which, whilst retaining the maximum amount of light, forms a perfect setting for the main panels.

The later one (1955) with four standing figures depicts the scenes from Pilgrim’s Progress when Christian gave up his sword before crossing the last river “I give my sword to him who shall succeed me”, and his entree into the Celestial City “all the trumpets sounding as he went over to the other side”. Both windows incorporate the Charteris arms and their motto: “Non gladio sed gratia”. The one to General John Charteris, CMG, MP contains little groups of sheep and cattle commemorating the fact that it was he who piloted the first “Humane Slaughter of Animals Act” through the British House of Commons.

In 1978 a fourth stained glass window was installed in the east window by Gordon Webster, in memory of Ian M Johnstone of Glenae, for many years Elder and Treasurer. This depicts the seated figure of Christ crowned in glory with His right hand upraised, and holding an orb in his left hand. The symbolism is from the vision of St. John in the Book of Revelation. Behind is the Cross, coming from the golden throne, and above are the seven candles. On either side of the Christ are the Alpha and Omega… The beginning and the end. Christ is seen seated on a rainbow, with the sea of glass at his feet, and the Book with the Seven Seals below. In the right hand corner is the winged spur, the Johnstone Crest.

The interior with fine hammer-beam roof has the matching pews arranged on either side to form a central aisle. This leads from the porch along the length of the church to the chancel area which is furnished in oak, with octagonal tub pulpit, pedestal font, communion table and Minister’s and elders’ chairs.

The graveyard around the church has 17th – 19th century monuments, including a funeral monument to Reverend Alexander Robeson built into the west gable, and the enclosed burial ground of the Charteris family of Amisfield midway along the north wall of the church.

There is also a monument to the Tinwald covenanter John Corbet. The following inscription appears on the monument:

“Endured persecution and bonds for adherence to covenanted reformation in Scotland. Taken by Claverhouses troops and banished by wicked Council of Scotland by a party of Claverhouses Troops in 1684, to East Jersey 1686. Returned in 1687, died March 17th 1706 aged 63”.

The monument was erected in 1844 “by voluntary contributions of a number of grateful admirers of the faith and constancy of honoured confessors and martyrs of Reformed Scottish Presbyterian Church“.

According to other sources, he was a prisoner in Dunnottar and Canongate, banished to plantations at Burntisland on the 20th of May 1685, transferred from Leith by George Scott of Pitlochrie to East New Jersey, August 1685.

The graveyard around the church has 17th – 19th century monuments, including a funeral monument to Reverend Alexander Robeson built into the west gable, and the enclosed burial ground of the Charteris family of Amisfield midway along the north wall of the church. There is also a monument to the Tinwald martyr John Corbet.