Every now and then I get the urge to check out the family history. Due to what turns out to be an awful lot of scandal, I never really learned much about the family from my grandparents. I know that on my Dad’s side of the family, there was at least one horse-thief in the 1880’s, a great great grandfather who used to run off with the gypsies and came back one time with a wife and my great grandfather, and that I had a great-uncle who died in France during World War I. On my Mum’s side, I had a great aunt who sang on the stage under the name of “Hester Diago” (born Ettie Olroyd) and who partnered with Dame Clara Butt (a favourite of King Edward VII), the rest being farming and mining stock.
Going much, much further back, it seems like some of my more… “colourful” traits were bred in right from the start…
From Burkes Commoners
‘With the settlement of this people on the borders of the two kingdoms, began the harassing and petty warfare which may be said to have continued until long after the Union; and tradition affirms that ‘a haligdaeg’ (a holy day) became the warcry or slogan of the chief and people of Annandale, whenever they made a ‘raide’ or foray upon the Saxon border – for they accounted every day HOLY that was spent in ravaging the enemy’s country.’
The Clan were such thieving gits that when provisions became scarce they made a “holy day”, gathering before the raid in a spot still called Halliday Hill today.
Still, they weren’t just a rowdy gang of reavers. They were smart too, making use of a local land formation called “The Devil’s Beef-Tub” to corral and hide stolen cattle. Still, they seemed to enjoy a punch-up, and their willingness to smite their enemies made them valuable recruits in war.
Again, from Burkes Commoners
‘The Border Celts were a warlike, though at all times an undisciplined people, and subdued and heart-broken in their own territory, it may naturally be supposed they sought for adventure on some other shore. The Norman yoke must have been felt most acutely – and certain it is, that almost every man able to bear arms within the Stewartry (as it was now called) of Annandale, joined the standard of the Earl of Huntingdon, and accompanied the lion-hearted RICHARD to the Holy Land. (AD 1190-94).’
From The Scottish Nation
‘In the time of the Crusades, of the five thousand men sent by William the Lion, under his brother the Earl of Huntingdon, to the assistance of Richard the Lionheart in Palestine, one thousand were from Annandale, nearly all of them Hallidays’
Apparently, about the only thing the Halliday Clan enjoyed more than fighting or terrifying their neighbours was breeding, leading to the following verse on the wide distribution of the bloodline;
“Frae Annan-fit to Errickstane
Man and horse lang syne hae gane,
Neth greenwood gay; and a’ the way
Upon the lands of Halliday.”
In 1297, Thomas Halliday of Annandale built Halliday Tower at Corehead, within sight of the Devil’s Beef-Tub. Thomas was the brother in law of William Wallace (yes, the “Braveheart” dude), and it’s probably because the Clan stood by Wallace that they never became the landed lords of Annandale. The Clan were recorded to be among the first of those “Scots wha hae wi Wallace bled”, and remained loyal to Wallace up to the time of his death in the Tower of London. Afterwards, Wallace’s followers were politically isolated, denied lands and titles, and forbidden to worship in church. Still, I doubt it mattered to them – they’d done the right thing, even if it hadn’t worked out.
I’m fine with that.