Descendants of John Borthwick and Elizabeth Dinwoodie, Scotland 1781






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A beautiful old map of Biggar in the 1860s.
Coyright: George Russell 2001
(Click on this map to see a larger image)




of Scotland, Australia, New Zealand & Philadelphia USA

(Descendants of John BORTHWICK and Elizabeth DINWOODIE, who married in Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland on 11 May 1781)


Marriage of John & Elizabeth / The Dinwoodie Family / Descendants of John & Elizabeth / The Biggar Graves / Borthwick Spouses /Other Borthwicks in Scotland, Australia, New Zealand & Philadelphia USA / References

WELCOME! My hope is that this site will be of special interest to my own large BORTHWICK family & will help other BORTHWICK researchers. As well, of course, I'd love to discover the answers to some of my questions, or to find descendants of John Borthwick & Elizabeth Dinwoodie in other parts of the world.

email me if you think you have a connection to my family or if you'd like a look-up in my records. Please also let me know of any corrections, new information or links that you think should be included in these pages. All information & suggestions will be welcomed.

Already many descendants of John Borthwick & Elizabeth Dinwoodie, as well as generous genealogists with no connection to our family, have contributed to this site. Photos, research, background information & resources have been willingly shared & are included here with thanks.

Ann Carson
Sydney, Australia

Marriage of John & Elizabeth

John BORTHWICK & Elizabeth DINWOODIE were married in Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Scotland on 11 May 1781. An alternative date in various records is 7 May. Perhaps this was the date that the banns were published? I have not yet seen the OPR film but one family member who visited Edinburgh in 1999 recorded the entry as follows:

"John Borthwick Gentleman's servant and Elizabeth Donwiddow same parish daughter of the deceased John Dinwiddew last farmer of Dumfries shire 7 May 1781"

So, in May 1781 John was a "Gentleman's servant" in Edinburgh. Who was that gentleman? And when did John & Elizabeth leave Edinburgh? From the information below regarding each of their children it can be seen that baptisms took place at Moffat (1782), Tweedsmuir (1785 & 1787), Drumelzier (1789 & 1791) & Moffat again (1797 & 1798). Where was the family living at those times?

In 1782, when William Murray Borthwick was baptised at Moffat his father was described as being "at Selcoth". (For some photos of Selcoth today click here.)

In 1797, when Alexander Borthwick was baptised at Moffat, his father John was described as "in Penucleigh" (or a similar place - the writing in the OPR is very difficult to read).

By the time he died at Biggar, Lanarkshire in 1835 John was a farmer of Langlees or Longlees. (It is apparently written as "Longlees" on his headstone, & also in the 1851 census for Biggar, but as "Langlees" in an 1820 document published by John's son, William Murray Borthwick. Even today - 165 years later - Langlees Farm & Langlees House are about 1 km to the west of Biggar.) Was John the owner of Langlees in 1835? A tenant? A labourer? There is some evidence that he was a tenant (see the extract from Biggar and the House of Fleming on the Borthwicks in Biggar page).



A Scottish researcher has advised that the farms of Langlees & Knock were part of the estate of the Earls of Wigtoun, Lords Fleming of Biggar & Cumbernauld. It passed from them by marriage to the Elphinstone family who disentailed the estate in 1830. The purchaser was Lord Murray, a Senator of the College of Justice (one of the high courts of Scotland). According to the researcher Lord Murray's tenant in Langlees was a James McGhie, who was succeeded by John Borthwick. However, this information does not sit well with the fact that John Borthwick was recorded at "Langlees by Biggar" in 1820, when he was trustee for his son William Murray Borthwick.

In the 1800s at least two Australian descendants named their homes "Langleas", suggesting that this place had had some significance in the Borthwick family.

Church records reveal that John BROWN Jnr, Farmer of Langlees, and his wife Marian VAYSIE, who had been married in Biggar in 1838, had children baptised at Biggar in 1839, 1845, 1846, 1850. So it seems that John Brown succeeded John Borthwick as tenant of Langlees.

The view from Langlees farm, August 2000
Dugald Mitchell
(Click here for a photo album of Biggar and Langlees)

It is worth noting here that John Archibald Murray, Lord Murray (1779-1859) was a whig lawyer, who was MP for the Leith District of Burghs from 1832-1839. He was Lord Advocate from 1834-1839, when he was knighted and appointed as one of the judges of the Court of Session, taking the title Lord Murray. He was a contemporary of Lord Cockburn and they both appear later in this story. J A Murray must have owned Langlees at the time the Borthwick family lived there. But as this was well after William Murray Borthwick was born, it is unlikely that it accounts for his middle name.

Langlees House, Biggar. Built around 1900.

The Ancestry of John Borthwick

In the 1950s and 1960s members of my family in Australia began searching for their ancestors in Scotland. Assistance was sought from the Scots Ancestry Research, many letters were written, visits were made to Scotland and a family tree was compiled.

I suspect, however that this tree is not correct. The first glitch I came across when working back was that my great-great-great-great grandfather John Borthwick, if his age on his headstone is correct, must have been born when his father was only 15 years old, and 7 years before his parents were married. This seems unlikely but I'm willing to be convinced!. At various times I've made some efforts to try to get back beyond John. This has not been easy as I've not found his birth, or any other documents that might lead to his parents. No wills, no deeds, no family bibles, no letters or documents.

The supposed ancestry of John Borthwick is set out on another page of this site. Until further evidence is obtained it should be treated with caution!


The Dinwoodie Family

Elizabeth is said to have been a member of the famous DINWOODIE/DINWIDDIE family of Dumfries & Glasgow. Her father, according to her marriage record (or banns), was John Dinwoodie, a farmer in Dumfriesshire. In light of her age when she died I believe she was the Elizabeth DINWOODIE, daughter of John, baptised in the Parish Church at Kirkpatrick Juxta, Dumfriesshire on 3 February 1754. I suspect that her mother was Jean GILLESPIE. Some details of the family of John Dinwoodie & Jean Gillespie, who were married in Moffat in 1747, have been placed on a Dinwoodie/Dinwiddie page, available by following this link but still under construction.


First Generation Descendants

John & Elizabeth Borthwick had at least seven, & probably nine, children. Further information on each of these children & their descendants can be found by following the underlined links below.

1. William Murray Borthwick. The first of the Australian Borthwicks. He was born on 13 May 1782, probably at Selcoth, near Moffat, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, & baptised on 19 May 1782 in Moffat. The origin of his middle name "Murray", has not yet been discovered. In 1808 he married Helen (Ellen) PATERSON, of Symington, Lanarkshire. William Murray Borthwick (WMB) became a printer & publisher in Scotland, publishing The Clydesdale Journal and laterThe Glasgow Sentinel. In 1822 he was involved in an amazing series of events which led to the duel in which Sir Alexander Boswell, son of James Boswell, died. This is said to have been the last duel in Scotland. WMB was goaled but released before any trial & appealed to the House of Commons to censure the actions of those who had commenced the prosecutions. In 1833 he & Helen & their six children sailed to Australia, where they now have over 1000 descendants!

2. and 3. Jean Borthwick. The first Jean probably died as an infant. She had been baptised on 23 May 1785 in Tweedsmuir, Peebles, Scotland.

A second Jean Borthwick was baptised on 13 July 1787 in Tweedsmuir & survived to adulthood. The Tweedsmuir OPR is as follows:

Baptisms 1787. July 13. Baptized Jean lawfull daughter of John Borthwick Shepherd in Riggs and Elisabeth Dinwiddie his spouse. Witnesses John Rennvick [?] Shepherd in Glenbreck and Alexander Borthwick Shepherd in Over-Minzion.

(This certainly looks like "Minzion" in the OPR but was apparently spelt "Menzion". For some photos of Over-Menzion click here. And for a page on the family of Alexander Borthwick, shepherd in Over-Menzion, who surely must be a brother or cousin of our John Borthwick, click here.)

Jean, who is known as Jennie to her descendants, married Walter Stephen, an Irishman, in Glasgow in 1813 & had eight children, only three of whom lived to adulthood. In 1819 the family set out for St John, New Brunswick, Canada in the ship "Augusta". After spending some time there they moved to Pennsylvania in the USA, closer to Jean's brother Robert. Jean died in the USA in 1867. For a page on the life and family of Jennie Borthwick click here.

4. Elizabeth (Betty) Borthwick. Born in Stobo, Peebles and baptised on 29 November 1789 in Drumelzier, Peebles, Scotland.

Drumelzier OPR 1789. Elizabeth Borthwick. Born the 20th Novr Baptized 29th, Elizabeth Borthwick, DL to John Borthwick and his spouse Elizabeth Dalwoodie in wester Dawick.

Elizabeth married George LILLIE, also spelt LILLY or LILLEY, (c.1804 - 19 April 1871). They had at least one daughter, Jane (Jeannie), who died young. Elizabeth Lillie, nee Borthwick, died on 8 August 1872, probably in Currie, Midlothian while living or staying with her niece Jessie BROWN. There are inscriptions to Elizabeth Borthwick & George Lillie on the family headstone in St Mary's Churchyard at Biggar.

5. John Borthwick. John was baptised on 6 November 1791 in Drumelzier, Peebles, Scotland. The OPR is as follows:

Drumelzier Church, 6th Novr 1791 John Borthwick and his Spouse Betty Dalwoody in wester Dawick had a son Baptized by the Revd Mr Welsh named John.

John became a portrait painter, in Edinburgh in 1822, then by the 1840s in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. In 1846 he was living in Glasgow. John's wife was Isabella CHISHOLM & they were married on 26 April 1822 in St Cuthberts, Edinburgh, but am not certain of this. They had two children Mary (May) Chisholm Borthwick & John Robert Borthwick. John Junior died, probably in Liverpool, between 1833 and 1843. John Senior and May, who was a daguerreotypiste, a very early photographer, lived together in Glasgow but I've lost them after 1849. (John wrote a letter to Australia in 1843 which has provided many clues to the family.)

6. Alexander Borthwick. Born on 6 August 1797 & baptised in Moffat, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. In 1820 he was a farmer living with his father at "Langlees by Biggar". He married Mary McNIGHT (or CRAIG). I believe she was the daughter of Alexander McNight & Mary Craig, baptised 29 August 1802 in Moffat. Alexander & Mary had at least eight children but Alexander died about 1841 in Glasgow. His wife Mary & family must have struggled until she sailed to Australia with youngest son, George Lillie BORTHWICK, on the "Shalimar" arriving in Melbourne, Victoria in November 1857. They came to join an older son, Alexander, who had arrived in Australia in 1852 & had become a very successful pioneer of paint manufacturing in Melbourne.

7. Robert Borthwick. Robert was born in 1798 in Moffat, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. In 1819 he sailed to America, possibly the first of the family to leave Scotland. He became a US citizen in 1823 & in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was a cabinetmaker & upholsterer. He married Sophia ???? (unknown surname), said to be a descendant of the LIVINGSTONs of Livingston Manor on the Hudson. With help from researchers in the USA I've found that Robert & Sophia had at least five children. One son, John Livingston Dinwiddie Borthwick, became a Chief Engineer with the US Navy.

8. and 9. Two possible daughters of John & Elizabeth BORTHWICK are Theressia BORTHWICK, who died about 1841, & Agnes BORTHWICK. Both are referred to in the 1843 letter, although they could be relatives rather than sisters of John. Nothing further is known of them. Their births are not recorded on the Scottish OPRs.


The Biggar Graves

John Borthwick died on 19 April 1835, aged 85 years. Elizabeth Dinwoodie died on 26 June 1840, aged 87. They are both buried in St Mary's Churchyard at Biggar.

 The Headstone at Biggar (Jane Kelly, January 2001)

Their headstone also bears a memorial inscription to their daughter Elizabeth & her husband George LILLIE. Click here to read the inscription on the Borthwick/Lillie headstone.

For the beginnings of a collection of other information about Borthwicks in Biggar click here. It is not yet known whether the different Borthwick families there were related but as Biggar was such a small village one might expect so.


Borthwick Spouses

The families of the Borthwick spouses, especially in Australia, have provided some wonderful stories & a richer perspective of the family. Click here to find more information about some of the Borthwick spouses & their families. I will continue to add information.

If you are connected to any of these families & have, or would like, more information please email me.


Other Borthwicks - Scotland, Australia, New Zealand & Philadelphia, USA

I've gathered information about many other Borthwicks in Australia (plus a separate page for Victoria), Scotland (Biggar, Glasgow, Edinburgh), New Zealand, Canada & Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, especially pre-1900. I've also placed a little of that information on these pages for my own family. I will add much more to the site so please visit again. If you'd like a look-up just contact me. As you might expect I have much more information on Australian Borthwicks than on those from elsewhere. Nevertheless it may be worthwhile contacting me if you have an enquiry about Borthwicks outside Australia pre 1900.


Some References:
Henry Cockburn, Lord Cockburn, Memorials of His Time, Edinburgh, 1856.
*Halsey, A History and Genealogy of the Family of Borthwick, Part 1, Borthwicks of Scotland, 1945, p.29.


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Copyright 2001, Ann Carson. All rights reserved.
Page: Borthwick Front Page.
This page last revised on: 21 August 2001

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