Background : Upper Redesdale
During the eighteenth century and for much of the nineteenth, the whole of upper Redesdale was contained within the parish of Elsdon.
This was an enormous parish of in excess of 77,000 acres that had been divided up for administrative purposes into seven townships.
According to Hodgson, with the exception of Ramshope, an extra-parochial district, the townships had been named after principal areas of settlement.
Only the three most northerly of these historic townships are in the present Northumberland National Park - Troughend, Rochester and Ramshope, but they contain around two-thirds of the acreage of the original parish. On the east, the townships were bordered by the North Tyne parishes of Bellingham, Thorneyburn and Falstone, on the west by the Coquetdale parishes of the Chapelry of Holystone and the Parish of Alwinton, while to the north lay Scotland. The Park does not contain all of the original Troughend township, but it is important to begin any historical survey from the nearest available geographic boundaries.
During the medieval period, Redesdale, which was part of the huge Manor of Harbottle, had the status of a Liberty. Lordship of the area was granted to families, principally the Umfravilles, who would exercise the powers of the Crown within its borders maintaining public order and defence against the Scots. In the fifteenth century, this system of government was further complicated by the imposition of local control through a system of Wardens of the Marches on both sides of the Border.
The role of the Wardens was essentially the maintenance of government along the Border and the conduct of local relations between the rulers of England and Scotland. With the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the new King, James VI of Scotland and I of England, imposed a new form of government along the Border similar to those elsewhere in his kingdoms.
One survival among these changes was the Lordship of Redesdale. One reason for this was that since the 1540s the Lordship had been in the hands of the Crown, and administered directly by royal officers. Another was that there were still considerable property rights attached to the Lordship that made it a valuable gift that could be used by the King to secure his own authority among his nobility.
Thus, in January 1604, James granted the Lordship of Redesdale to one of his favourites and close supporters, George Home, Earl of Dunbar. Dunbar held the Lordship until his death in 1611, upon which event the King, in 1614, granted the Lordship and other property rights in England to the Earl’s daughter, Anne, and her husband, Theophilus, Lord Howard de Walden.