The Draffans of Kelso, Lesmahagow, Douglas, Draffan Castle and Tillietudlum.


Origin of the Draffan Family

The earliest Draffan known to have lived in Scotland was James De Raffe, who acted as a chartulary witness at the Tironesian Abbey of Kelso between 1168 and 1189. During these years, he witnessed at least three Charters, signing his name in a variety of ways including Draffan, Draphan, Draffen, and Draffin.

We can only conjecture as to how and when the Draffans acquired their lands around Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire. King David I, who ruled Scotland from 1124 to 1153 played a big hand in the Normanization of Scotland.       David brought in many of his Norman friends from England, and gave them land, rank, and privilege. James De Raffe may well have been among this noble company.   The Abbey of Kelso was founded by David in 1128, and the Tironesian Order of Monks also owned land at Lesmahagow where they founded a monastic settlement around the same time. The foundations of their Priory, St. Machutus can still be seen in the Village.

More detailed history on the lands of Draffan can be found on the Lesmahagow pages.

Draffan Castle
Draffans must have been well established in Lesmahagow and nearby soon afterwards, since it is thought that there was an earlier fortification known as Draffan Castle where Craignethan Castle stands today. The late author and Scottish historian, Nigel Tranter, wrote that, "The Hamiltons had gained the Draffan Lands on the fall of the Earls of Douglas, in 1455.     Presumably there were Draffans of that Ilk at one time; but the Douglases seem to have superseded them.     They may well have been vassals of that great Earldom."   Sir Nigel Tranter writes of Draffane Castle in his book, 'Wallace'.    But then, that may have been a little padding to his story.

The name of Draffan Castle lived on long after the Hamiltons rebuilt it c.1530. Robert Birrell in his book of Scottish Diaries and Memoirs, notes under a heading 'Fire and Sword',....'The 17 of Januarii, the castel of Draphane randred for laick of victualls, by Johnstoun of Westerhall, being capitane thereof, quho randred it to ye Hamiltouns.'

Sir Walter Scott gave Draffan Castle a third name in his book, "Old Mortality". In this story about the Covenanters, Scott calls it 'Tillietudlum Castle', of which Nigel Tranter remarked, 'a ridiculous thing to do - but he was a great one for changing names in his writings.'    When a Railway Company built a Station, not far from the Castle, they chose to name it 'Tillietudlum', despite the fact that the nearest Village was then, and still is today, called 'Draffan'.    This came about because the people who had read 'Old Mortality' really believed that there was a place called Tillietudlum.     So the Railway Company obliged, and soon afterwards a village built up around the Station and was given the same name.     The Station has gone, but Tillietudlum village is still there.


The Battle of Bothwell Brig was fought on Sunday, 22nd June, 1679, and the story of what happened that day, and the events that led to it, can be gleaned from Scott's novel, 'Old Mortality'.     In Brief, a contingent of four or five thousand Covenanters encountered a force of Royalists under Monmouth.     They defended the Bridge successfully for a time, only to retire eventually in confusion.     Four hundred of the covenanters were killed and twelve hundred were taken prisoner and were brought to Edinburgh, where many were executed.    The rest were offered a pardon on the condition that they signed a bond promising never to take up arms against the English Crown again.     Some two hundred who refused to do so, were embarked on a ship bound for the West Indies Plantations.     All were lost when the vessel went down in a storm off the Orkneys.

Among those who signed the bond, was a certain George Draphan.     Had he not done so, it could well have turned out that these pages would have had to wait for some other author.     Another Draffan on the losing side, fled to Northern Ireland.

St.Bride's Kirk, Douglas

Some distance to the south of Lesmahagow, lies the small town of Douglas.    A few Draffans had found their way to this Parish as early as 1650. Yet they maintained their links with Lesmahagow, well into the 20th Century.     St.Bride's Kirk should be on the itinerary of every visitor to the Lowlands, for it is full of history, as well as being the last resting place for many a Draffan.     It was here that the Good Lord James captured his home castle of Douglas from the English on Palm Sunday, 1307. Troops of the Garrison had marched down and into the Chapel, when the Douglas attacked.    A Scot named 'Doughty' Dickson managed to hold the door open, until Douglas and his men got there, only to lose his life to an English blade.     The Douglas took the day, after a battle inside the Kirk, and the resulting heap of dead men and horses became known as the 'Douglas Larder'.

Much of the West end of the Chapel is in ruins, but the Choir has been restored, and contains the tomb of the Good Lord James himself.     His heart is preserved separately in a glass case.   The Cameronian Regiment was raised at St.Bride's in 1689, and disbanded there in 1968.

On the other side of the graveyard, where lie George Draffan, Martha Tassie, John Tassie, and Marion Greenshields, is the Sun Inn.   Claverhouse's Dragoons were quartered here overnight after the Battle of Aird Moss, and they had the head and hands of Richard Cameron in a bag.     In the main street of Douglas there is a memorial to James Gavin, a covenanting tailor, who had his ears cut off with his own shears, before being banished to Barbados.     Sir Walter Scott borrowed the name of 'Castle Dangerous' for one of his novels. The real Castle, built by the Guid Sir James, has long since been in ruins, but the remains are there to be seen.

St_Brides Douglas...
Draffan graves

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Created on ... January 13, 2001
Updated on ... May 4, 2006