Wedderlie was originally owned by the Polwarth family in the 13th century but passed to the Edgars in 1327 and remained with them for over 400 years. There was probably an earlier castle on the site of the existing house, part of which has been incorporated into the tower house.
Sir Richard Edgar, the first of Wedderlie, was a notable person and held an important position at the court of King Robert the Bruce (1274-1329). He was one of the witnesses to this king’s second marriage. He himself married the eldest daughter and co-heiress of Robert de Ros, Lord of Sanquhar. One of his sons was placed at the head of Clan McGowan in Nithsdale.
King Robert Bruce awarded the Wedderlie Estate to Sir Richard Edgar in 1327. Sir Richard Edgar was very close to Robert Bruce; it is said that he was present when Robert Bruce slew the Red Comyn (Lord of Badenoch) at the alter stone of the Greyfriars at Dumfries in 1306.
The Edgar clan motto “Maun Do It” is said to come from Sir Richards encouragement to slay the Red Comyn. Sir Richard became quite close to the king after this and was a witness at his second marriage.
Sir Richard’s eldest son settled in Nithsdale, Wedderlie was then given to his younger son, Robert, who bequeathed it in time to his son John, from who it continued from one Edgar to another until 1733.
The 16th century was the age of the European Reformation: a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics which divided Western Europe for over 150 years, and continues to do so until this day. Religion was important to Scots in the 16th century. Socially, the Church was crucial to everyday life. It was responsible for education, health, welfare and discipline. It was also very important on an individual level. The Church was the vehicle for expressing inner spirituality and changes to its forms of worship could endanger your chances of salvation. In other words, your future in either Heaven or Hell was at stake.
At one time, there was an ancient chapel attached to the house, where, before the reformation, Edgards were buried. Long after this time, a cache of coins and treasure was found in the ruinous vault of the old chapel. There is a theory that says this treasure was buried by monks during the reformation, others that it was concealed by the Edgar family during the religious wars of the 17th century.
It seems the Edgars flourished in the 17th century, when they built both parts of the present house. In 1640 Edward Edgar was Member of Parliament for Edinburgh, while in 1684 John Edgar sat for Berwickshire and between 1696-1707 Alexander Edgar represented Haddington.
Before the Reformation, Edgars were buried at their own chapel at Wedderlie; from the Reformation to 1649 at Bassindean and subsequently in Westruther.
The House of Wedderlie remained as the Edgar central seat until it was sold in 1733 to Lord Blantyre. They ‘fell on hard times’ and were forced to leave Wedderlie, defacing the family crest as they left in darkness. A story is told of the Edgar’s departure from their ancient inheritance; “the auld Laird and leddy drove out in their carriage and four houses at midday: but the young laird was broken-hearted at the thoct o’ leaving the auld place, and he waited till the dark-ening; for he said the sun should na shine when he left his hame” and “it was a dark nicht when the last Edgar rode out of Wedderlie”.
The estate remained in the hands of the Blantyres of Lennoxlove and their descendants, the Bairds, until 1942, when it was sold to Capt. Thomas Elliot, O.B.E. Thereafter is was the home of his widow Mrs E. L. S. Elliot. Although ruined by the later part of the 19th century, it has since been extensively restored to its present condition. Final finishing works have now been undertaken by the current owners Jamie and Connie Raine-Fraser who purchased the house in 2019. For the first time in the house’s history, it will be available for rental as a truly unique setting for truly unique weddings and events.
The arms of the family of Edgar, which are carved in stone in Wedderlie, are a lion rampant quartering three water bougets for Ros of Sanquhar, supported by two greyhounds and for crest a dexter mailed hand holding a blooded dagger point downwards; motto; “Maun do it” – thought to be the Scottish equivalent to “Noblesse oblige”.
(*Noblesse oblige is a French expression used in English. It translates as “nobility obliges” and denotes the concept that nobility extends beyond mere entitlements and requires the person who holds such a status to fulfill social responsibility.) The Edgar crest also has a second phrase, on a compartment below, which states “Salutem disponit Deus” (God dispenses salvation).