Tenants of Potholm Farm

This is a list of the tenants Potholm farm from 1790

Notes: W Keir was the Duke of Buccleuch's agent for Scotland and Joseph Taylor was a partner in Reid & Taylors Mill

Memorandum regarding the farm of Potholm dated 1914

the farm of Potholm extends to 1334.672 acres which 1082.493 acres in Langholm Parish and 252.579 acres are in Ewes parish

The farm was let for 31 years from 1866 to 1897 to Mr Joseph Taylor at a rent of £517, reduced in 1885 to £467.between 1868 and 1882 £2500 was spent on the farming buildings alone. In 1897 after Mr Taylor's death, the farmers let Mr John S. Paterson at a rent of £450. Mr Paterson gave up the farm in 1903 when it was led to Mr P. H. Holt at a rent of £415. In 1910 Mr Hoult gave up the farm when it was really to 14 years with brakes, the Mr John Armstrong, Fauldie, Canonbie, at a rent of £400. The Estate obtained, however, the use of three cottages at Staplegordon, and another cottage, so that in effect the rent was practically unaltered. Mr Holt took over 639 Cheviot ewes and gimmers and 144 Cheviot hoggs, total 783. He handed over to Mr Armstrong 714 ewes and gimmers and 177 hoggs, total 891. The valuations were 45/- amd 46/6 for ewes and 25/- and 31/6 for hoggs at the two dates respectively. At the time Mr Armstrong took the farm there were three other offers of £385, £380 and £360.

At an interview on third March, 1914, Mr Armstrong states he will be compelled to give formal notice that at the first break which occurs at Whitsunday, 1915, unless some readjustment of terms can be made. the Capital required for the farm is probably about £3500, and when Mr Armstrong went in he stated he would required to obtain £600 or £800 of this from relations or from the bank. He states he has paid during the past five years an average of £14 per annum for interest so that this should in no way hamper him. He also states that he has found himself unable to reduce the money he borrowed by anything at all in spite of two very good years as regards prices. It is for this reason apparently that the notice is given, as Mr Armstrong states that have two or three bad seasons came on he might become hopelessly involved.

Mr Armstrong states that he is not disappointed with the Hill ground which is done about as well as he expected. He thinks, however, that 45 score is too heavy a stock. He has already reduced it to 42 score, and if he remains on he intends to reduce it to about 40 score. In this he is probably right as the comparatively frequent changes of tenancy in recent years have no doubt tended to an undue increase of the stock valuation purposes. Mr Armstrong states the annual death is about 50 sheep, 20 hoggs and 30 older sheep. He retains 8½ score ewe lambs for stock and sells about six score draft ewes. The field stock is 10 score Cheviots bringing H. B. lambs.

Mr Armstrong thinks the bracken cutting has certainly done good and help the sheep. There is, however, a large area still interested the bracken.

The tenant is most disappointed with the enclosed land. In spite of being apparently in fair condition and much of it recently limed it appears to be unhealthy for both cattle and horses. Has had serious and continuous losses in both these classes of stock since going to Potholm, and cannot actually put down the last to any definite cause. a veterinary surgeon has been consulted and can offer no explanation. The large byre at the steading might possibly be to blame to some extent, and some alterations in the fittings and ventilation might be tried.

Mr Armstrong keeps 13 to 15 Galloway cows, and buys in some additional calves to make up to 20. The heifer calves are kept two years and sold as calvers. Keeps three horses. Mr Armstrong's married son herds the hill ground, and employs a shepherd for the enclosed land and other work as well as a ploughman.

Mr Armstrong is a thoroughly practical man, and although he has had not much experience of hill sheep before going to Potholm, he was perfectly familiar with the management of arable land. The farmhouse and grounds and rather more expensive to keep up and in the case of most farms, but it is most unlikely that there is any extravagance in personal expenses.

The unhealthiness of the farm for cattle is said to get back a considerable time, and to have existed during both Mr Taylor's and Mr Patt'erson's tenancies. Mr Holt kept very few cattle.

The case is a somewhat difficult one. If Mr Armstrong should give up the farm, a further changes of tenant would no doubt tell against a favourable let, and a reduced rent would most likely follow. On the other hand a substantial reduction of rent at the first break in the least is contrary to the general policy of the Estate. Mr Armstrong might be offered a reduction to £370 or £380 but that is probably as far as a concession should go.

Irvine House, Canonbie: 18th of March, 1914


This memorandum was shown to the Archive Group in 2009 by Mr T Wood, late of Potholm Farm. He notes that in 1998 the farm ran 180 cows and followers, and 1200 ewes and care hoggs. We note from the list above that Mr Paterson got his rent reduced to £370.