The Town Mouse

Reading by candlelight, sketch by Wendy Harty 2020

The Taill of the Uponlandis Mous and the Burges Mous, written by a Scot, around 1480, tells of fog and farne, and the fable was made. Today it’s call The Town Mouse and the City Mouse, part of Aesop’s Fairy Tales. It was an unusual tale for the times, as it blended the two protagonists with animal and human characteristics that satirized the new social classes in the rising burgess towns.

My 13th great grandfather, Sir/Lord Robert Richardson (Burgess of Jedburgh) was born during the reign of King James IV 1473-1513. According to the Scottish historian, George Crawfurd, he was descended of a stock of ancient and opulent burgesses of Edinburgh. Perhaps? George said the grandfather arrived in Scotland in 1424 in the reign of James I.

Robert Richardson (Burgess of Jedburgh) Sir/Lord

Robert Richardson became a Burgess.


were merchants or craftsmen who owned property in burghs and were allowed to trade in the area free of charge. They could obtain these rights by inheritance, by marriage, by purchase, or by the gift of a burgh. It replaced the feudal system, some were ancient towns, other were new creations, often in the shadow of a castle. A royal burgh, granted by the crown, and chartered by the monarch, was represented in the Scottish parliament, and could appoint to the courts magistrates with powers in civil and criminal justice. Burghs of barony were granted to lords, who held large estates and had similar civil powers. Today there are no burghs in Scotland, replaced with the word counties.

Robert Richardson (Burgess of Jedburgh) Sir/Lord was born in

1490 Edinburgh, Midlothian, Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom

Married on February 28, 1513, to 13th great grandmother, Euphemia Skene 1490-1550.

47 miles from Jedburgh to Edinburgh, Scotland

DEATH  1556 • Edinburgh, Midlothian, Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom. Jedburgh is a border town, 10 miles from the border with England. An abbey was built there in 1147, housing Augustinian monks from France.

Jedburgh Abbey in ruins

The Jedburgh castle was also built in 1147, and was a royal residence for the Scottish Kings and Queens. It was ceded to England. Then, In 1307, the Douglass’s fighting for King Robert Bruce, took back Jedburgh. The title given to Sir Robert Richardson of Burgess was a British title, meaning freeman and meant an official of a municipality or representative in the House of Commons. Jedburgh, with its proximity to England made it subject to raids and skirmishes but also was a trade town, supporting horse, cattle, corn and butcher markets. The Scottish name for the town is part of the expression “Jeddart justice” in which a man was hanged first and tried afterwards! The fertile soils of Jedburgh makes it ideal to grew Jethart pears.

Here in Scotland, the ancestors are traced back to James I and James II, Kings of Scotland. James I was assassinated, and James II took the throne at age 6. James II was killed at the siege of Roxburgh Castle. James III took the throne as a child and was governed by regents. He pursued friendship with England, which was unpopular with the Scottish. He died at the Battle of Flodden, where his invading Scottish army resulted in victory of the English. James IV was fifteen and was a successful Stewart monarch. James IV married Margaret Tudor 1489-1541, eldest daughter of King Henry VII of England. James IV built Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland, brought the printing press to Scotland and the University of Aberdeen; he passed the education act in the Parliament of Scotland in 1496 and introduced compulsory schooling. Thus, my Scottish relatives would be very well educated! James V married Mary Tudor and Scotland was Roman Catholic. With James Stewart’s marriage to Mary Tudor, England and Scotland were finally united, The Union of the Crowns, 1603. It is into this historical backdrop of religious and political drama, the Richardson’s were born in Scotland.

Perhaps Sir Robert Richardson should have been a country mouse! “Better beans and bacon, cheese and bread in peace than cakes and ale in fear.” ends the Aesop’s Tale. To be continued in the next generation, with his son Robert Richardson (Lord Treasurer).

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