The Royal Burgh Charter
From Hodge's MSS., written about 1722, and preserved in the Advocates Library in Edinburgh, we learn that: -
"King James V. on a visit to the Forest of Selkirk, understanding the good services done by the Burgh of Selkirk to King James IV. At Flodden, did make a grant to the Burgh of Selkirk of 10,000 aikers of his forest to belong to them in property, for maintaining the Royalty, with liberty to cut down as much of the forest as would rebuild the Town. He appointed them sheriffs within themselves, with the power of re-pledging from any count, spiritual or temporal. He granted to the Burgh liberty to make incorporations, and particularly one of the sutors, and appointed the deacon to provide each newly admitted burgess with a maid, if the burgess required it. I am told several burgesses some years ago, pled their privilege and have been supplied to their satisfaction."
From the following Charter of James V. dated at St Andrews, in the year 1535, which is the oldest in the Town's possession, it would appear that Selkirk had been constituted a free Burgh by the King's ancestors: -
"Whereas the charters of the old foundation of the Burgh of Selkirk and its liberties granted by the King's progenitors have for the most part been destroyed through assaults of war, pestilence, fire and others, whereby the usages of trade have ceased among the burgesses, to the great hurt of them and of the common weal, and to the prejudice and great damage of His Majesty in the matter of customs, the King has infeft of new to the burgesses and community the Burgh of Selkirk in free Burgh, with the commons and possessions belonging to the same, with power of electing bailies, of holding a fair annually on St. Laurence Day and during the octaves thereof, with court house, prison, power of holding burgh courts, and with liberty to buy and sell wine, wax, ale, spices, broad and narrow woollen and linen, and other merchandise whatsoever, and of having bakers, brewers, vendors of fish and flesh, as freely and in the same manner as any other burgh within the kingdom. To hold of the crown in free and heritage and free burgage for ever, for payment of the burgh fermes and other duties, use and wont as in times past."
In yet a further Charter issued in 1540: -
"The King - considering the Burgh of Selkirk lies near to England, Liddesdale and other pernicious and unpeaceful provinces full of thieves, robbers and traitors, by whom and other powerful men (for want of a noble and good man to defend it and its inhabitants) it has often been burnt, harried, destroyed and oppressed - concedes to the biallies and community of Selkirk the power of annually electing a provost, which provost and baillies he created sheriffs of Selkirk within the said burgh, holding office directly to the King.
"Moreover, the King exempts the said provost, baillies, inhabitants and community from the jurisdiction of the Sheriff of Selkirk, confirms the commutation of the burgh dues and petty customs for an annual payment of five pounds, and confers on the said provost, etc., the right to have walls, trenches and water ditches around the said Burgh."