The freebooter ventures both life and limb
Good wife, and bairn, and every other thing;
He must do so, or else must starve and die,
For all his livelihood comes of the enemie
The almost constant warring between England and Scotland changed the lives of the families living immediately north and south of the Border. Owing to their geographical position they were frequently harassed by passing armies who, at the very least, would require provisioning, often without payment, but were usually hell bent on destroying everything before them and causing as much damage and misery as they could.
Crops were destroyed, homesteads burnt and the people murdered or dispersed.
Those living in places known as Liddesdale, Redesdale and Tynedale were the most affected as, for reasons of geography, the invaders regularly used these routes. It is no coincidence that these people, having their crops regularly destroyed and their livestock stolen, looked for other means of sustaining themselves and their families.
They took to reiving.
Reiving, raiding for cattle and sheep, and whatever else which could be transported, was the only way to survive and it became an established way of life, a profession, which was regarded with no discredit amongst the Borderers.
The reivers gave the words blackmail and bereaved to the English language.
My mother’s maiden name was Armstrong and that clan had the reputation of being one of the most war-like clans in the Scottish low lands. They were also Reivers and if your name or one of your family names is on This List..you may be descended from a Reiver family.
With thanks to this marvellous site for most of this information.