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Royal burgh

Royal burgh

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A royal burgh was a type of Scottish burgh
Burgh
A burgh was an autonomous corporate entity in Scotland and Northern England, usually a town. This type of administrative division existed from the 12th century, when King David I created the first royal burghs. Burgh status was broadly analogous to borough status, found in the rest of the United...

 which had been founded by, or subsequently granted, a royal charter
Royal Charter
A royal charter is a formal document issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organizations such as cities or universities. Charters should be distinguished from warrants and...

. Although abolished in 1975, the term is still used in many of the former burghs.

Most royal burghs were either created by the crown, or upgraded from another status, such as burgh of barony
Burgh of barony
A burgh of barony is a type of Scottish town .They were distinct from royal burghs as the title was granted to a tenant-in-chief, a landowner who held his estates directly from the crown....

. As discrete classes of burgh emerged, the royal burghs—originally distinctive by virtue of the fact they were on royal lands—acquired a monopoly
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 of foreign trade.

An important document for each burgh was its burgh charter
Charter
A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified...

, creating the burgh or confirming the rights of the burgh as laid down (perhaps verbally) by a previous monarch. Each royal burgh (with the exception of four 'inactive burghs') was represented in the Parliament of Scotland
Parliament of Scotland
The Parliament of Scotland, officially the Estates of Parliament, was the legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland. The unicameral parliament of Scotland is first found on record during the early 13th century, with the first meeting for which a primary source survives at...

 and could appoint bailies with wide powers in civil and criminal justice
Criminal justice
Criminal Justice is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts...

. By 1707 there were 70 royal burghs.

The Royal Burghs Act 1833 reformed the election of the town councils that governed royal burghs. Those qualified to vote in parliamentary elections under the Reform Act 1832
Reform Act 1832
The Representation of the People Act 1832 was an Act of Parliament that introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system of England and Wales...

 were now entitled to elect burgh councillors.

Origins


Before the reign of David I
David I of Scotland
David I or Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim was a 12th-century ruler who was Prince of the Cumbrians and later King of the Scots...

 Scotland had no towns. The closest thing to towns were the larger than average population concentrations around large monasteries, such as Dunkeld
Dunkeld
Dunkeld is a small town in Strathtay, Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It is about 15 miles north of Perth on the eastern side of the A9 road into the Scottish Highlands and on the opposite side of the Tay from the Victorian village of Birnam. Dunkeld and Birnam share a railway station, on the...

 and St Andrews
St Andrews
St Andrews is a university town and former royal burgh on the east coast of Fife in Scotland. The town is named after Saint Andrew the Apostle.St Andrews has a population of 16,680, making this the fifth largest settlement in Fife....

, and regionally significant fortifications. Scotland, outside Lothian at least, was populated by scattered hamlets, and outside that area, lacked the continental style nucleated village. David I established the first burghs in Scotland, initially only in Middle-English-speaking Lothian (note:Tain
Tain
Tain is a royal burgh and post town in the committee area of Ross and Cromarty, in the Highland area of Scotland.-Etymology:...

 claims a charter dating from 1066 under Malcolm III). The earliest burghs, founded by 1124, were Berwick
Berwick-upon-Tweed
Berwick-upon-Tweed or simply Berwick is a town in the county of Northumberland and is the northernmost town in England, on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is situated 2.5 miles south of the Scottish border....

 and Roxburgh
Roxburgh
Roxburgh , also known as Rosbroch, is a village, civil parish and now-destroyed royal burgh. It was an important trading burgh in High Medieval to early modern Scotland...

. However, by 1130, David had established burghs in Gaelic areas: Stirling
Stirling
Stirling is a city and former ancient burgh in Scotland, and is at the heart of the wider Stirling council area. The city is clustered around a large fortress and medieval old-town beside the River Forth...

, Dunfermline
Dunfermline
Dunfermline is a town and former Royal Burgh in Fife, Scotland, on high ground from the northern shore of the Firth of Forth. According to a 2008 estimate, Dunfermline has a population of 46,430, making it the second-biggest settlement in Fife. Part of the town's name comes from the Gaelic word...

, Perth
Perth, Scotland
Perth is a town and former city and royal burgh in central Scotland. Located on the banks of the River Tay, it is the administrative centre of Perth and Kinross council area and the historic county town of Perthshire...

 and Scone, as well as Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

. The conquest of Moray in that same year led to the establishment of burghs at Elgin
Elgin, Moray
Elgin is a former cathedral city and Royal Burgh in Moray, Scotland. It is the administrative and commercial centre for Moray. The town originated to the south of the River Lossie on the higher ground above the flood plain. Elgin is first documented in the Cartulary of Moray in 1190...

 and Forres
Forres
Forres , is a town and former royal burgh situated in the north of Scotland on the Moray coast, approximately 30 miles east of Inverness. Forres has been a winner of the Scotland in Bloom award on several occasions...

. Before David was dead, St Andrews, Montrose
Montrose, Angus
Montrose is a coastal resort town and former royal burgh in Angus, Scotland. It is situated 38 miles north of Dundee between the mouths of the North and South Esk rivers...

, and Aberdeen
Aberdeen
Aberdeen is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 25th most populous city, with an official population estimate of ....

 were also burghs. In the reigns of Máel Coluim IV and William, burghs were added at Inverness
Inverness
Inverness is a city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland...

, Banff
Banff, Aberdeenshire
Banff is a town in the Banff and Buchan area of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Banff is situated on Banff Bay and faces the town of Macduff across the estuary of the River Deveron...

, Cullen, Auldearn
Auldearn
Auldearn is a village situated east of the River Nairn, just outside Nairn in the Highland council area of Scotland. It takes its name from William the Lyon's castle of Eren , built there in the 12th century....

, Nairn
Nairn
Nairn is a town and former burgh in the Highland council area of Scotland. It is an ancient fishing port and market town around east of Inverness...

, Inverurie
Inverurie
Inverurie is a Royal Burgh and town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, approximately north west of Aberdeen on the A96 road and is served by Inverurie railway station on the Aberdeen to Inverness Line...

, Kintore
Kintore, Aberdeenshire
Kintore is a town and former royal burgh near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, now bypassed by the A96 road between Aberdeen and Inverness. The name Kintore comes from the Gaelic, Ceann Tòrr. Ceann means the head, or the end, and Tòrr means a round hill. So the name signifies that the town...

, Brechin
Brechin
Brechin is a former royal burgh in Angus, Scotland. Traditionally Brechin is often described as a city because of its cathedral and its status as the seat of a pre-Reformation Roman Catholic diocese , but that status has not been officially recognised in the modern era...

, Forfar
Forfar
Forfar is a parish, town and former royal burgh of approximately 13,500 people in Angus, located in the East Central Lowlands of Scotland. Forfar is the county town of Angus, which was officially known as Forfarshire from the 18th century until 1929, when the ancient name was reinstated, and...

, Arbroath
Arbroath
Arbroath or Aberbrothock is a former royal burgh and the largest town in the council area of Angus in Scotland, and has a population of 22,785...

, Dundee
Dundee
Dundee is the fourth-largest city in Scotland and the 39th most populous settlement in the United Kingdom. It lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea...

, Lanark
Lanark
Lanark is a small town in the central belt of Scotland. Its population of 8,253 makes it the 100th largest settlement in Scotland. The name is believed to come from the Cumbric Lanerc meaning "clear space, glade"....

, Dumfries
Dumfries
Dumfries is a market town and former royal burgh within the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland. It is near the mouth of the River Nith into the Solway Firth. Dumfries was the county town of the former county of Dumfriesshire. Dumfries is nicknamed Queen of the South...

 and (uniquely for the west coast) Ayr
Ayr
Ayr is a town and port situated on the Firth of Clyde in south-west Scotland. With a population of around 46,000, Ayr is the largest settlement in Ayrshire, of which it is the county town, and has held royal burgh status since 1205...

. New Lothian burghs also came into existence, at Haddington
Haddington, East Lothian
The Royal Burgh of Haddington is a town in East Lothian, Scotland. It is the main administrative, cultural and geographical centre for East Lothian, which was known officially as Haddingtonshire before 1921. It lies about east of Edinburgh. The name Haddington is Anglo-Saxon, dating from the 6th...

, Leith
Leith
-South Leith v. North Leith:Up until the late 16th century Leith , comprised two separate towns on either side of the river....

 and Peebles
Peebles
Peebles is a burgh in the committee area of Tweeddale, in the Scottish Borders, lying on the River Tweed. According to the 2001 Census, the population was 8,159.-History:...

. By 1210, there were 40 burghs in the Scottish kingdom. Rosemarkie
Rosemarkie
Rosemarkie is a village on the south coast of the Black Isle peninsula in northern Scotland.-Geography:Rosemarkie lies a quarter of a mile east of the town of Fortrose...

, Dingwall
Dingwall
Dingwall is a town and former royal burgh in the Highland council area of Scotland. It has a population of 5,026. It was formerly an east-coast harbor but now lies inland. Dingwall Castle was once the biggest castle north of Stirling. On the town's present-day outskirts lies Tulloch Castle, parts...

 and Cromarty
Cromarty
The Royal Burgh of Cromarty is a burgh in Ross and Cromarty, Highland, Scotland.-History:It was previously the county town of the former county of Cromartyshire...

 were also burghs by the Scottish Wars of Independence.

David I established the first burghs, and their charters and Leges Burgorum (rules governing virtually every aspect of life and work in a burgh) were copied almost verbatim from the customs of Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

. He essentially imported the burgh into his "Scottish" dominions from his English ones. Burghs were for the most part populated by foreigners, rather than native Scots or even Lothianers. The predominant ethnic group were the Flemings, but early burgesses were also English, French and German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

. The burgh’s vocabulary was composed totally of either Germanic terms (not necessarily or even predominantly English) such as croft, rood, gild, gait and wynd, or French ones such as provost, bailie, vennel, port and ferme. The councils that governed individual burghs were individually known as lie doussane, meaning the dozen.

List of royal burghs




By 1153 (royal)

  • Aberdeen
    Aberdeen
    Aberdeen is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 25th most populous city, with an official population estimate of ....

  • Berwick-Upon-Tweed
    Berwick-upon-Tweed
    Berwick-upon-Tweed or simply Berwick is a town in the county of Northumberland and is the northernmost town in England, on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is situated 2.5 miles south of the Scottish border....

     (before 1124)
  • Lanark
    Lanark
    Lanark is a small town in the central belt of Scotland. Its population of 8,253 makes it the 100th largest settlement in Scotland. The name is believed to come from the Cumbric Lanerc meaning "clear space, glade"....

     (1144)
  • Edinburgh
    Edinburgh
    Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

  • Dunfermline
    Dunfermline
    Dunfermline is a town and former Royal Burgh in Fife, Scotland, on high ground from the northern shore of the Firth of Forth. According to a 2008 estimate, Dunfermline has a population of 46,430, making it the second-biggest settlement in Fife. Part of the town's name comes from the Gaelic word...

  • Elgin
    Elgin, Moray
    Elgin is a former cathedral city and Royal Burgh in Moray, Scotland. It is the administrative and commercial centre for Moray. The town originated to the south of the River Lossie on the higher ground above the flood plain. Elgin is first documented in the Cartulary of Moray in 1190...

  • Forres
    Forres
    Forres , is a town and former royal burgh situated in the north of Scotland on the Moray coast, approximately 30 miles east of Inverness. Forres has been a winner of the Scotland in Bloom award on several occasions...

  • Linlithgow
    Linlithgow
    Linlithgow is a Royal Burgh in West Lothian, Scotland. An ancient town, it lies south of its two most prominent landmarks: Linlithgow Palace and Linlithgow Loch, and north of the Union Canal....

  • Montrose
    Montrose, Angus
    Montrose is a coastal resort town and former royal burgh in Angus, Scotland. It is situated 38 miles north of Dundee between the mouths of the North and South Esk rivers...

  • Peebles
    Peebles
    Peebles is a burgh in the committee area of Tweeddale, in the Scottish Borders, lying on the River Tweed. According to the 2001 Census, the population was 8,159.-History:...

  • Perth
    Perth, Scotland
    Perth is a town and former city and royal burgh in central Scotland. Located on the banks of the River Tay, it is the administrative centre of Perth and Kinross council area and the historic county town of Perthshire...

     (took precedence over all other burghs except Edinburgh)
  • Rutherglen
    Rutherglen
    Rutherglen is a town in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. In 1975, it lost its own local council and administratively became a component of the City of Glasgow. In 1996 Rutherglen was reallocated to the South Lanarkshire council area.-History:...

  • Roxburgh
    Roxburgh
    Roxburgh , also known as Rosbroch, is a village, civil parish and now-destroyed royal burgh. It was an important trading burgh in High Medieval to early modern Scotland...

     (Created a royal burgh c.1124. By the fifteenth century it had decayed, and on the destruction of Roxburgh Castle in 1460 it ceased to exist. Part of Roxburgh was included in the burgh of barony of Kelso in 1614, and in 1936 Lord Lyon recognised Kelso as the successor to the royal burgh.)
  • Stirling
    Stirling
    Stirling is a city and former ancient burgh in Scotland, and is at the heart of the wider Stirling council area. The city is clustered around a large fortress and medieval old-town beside the River Forth...

  • Tain
    Tain
    Tain is a royal burgh and post town in the committee area of Ross and Cromarty, in the Highland area of Scotland.-Etymology:...


By 1153 (Burghs passing between the king and other lords)

  • Haddington
    Haddington, East Lothian
    The Royal Burgh of Haddington is a town in East Lothian, Scotland. It is the main administrative, cultural and geographical centre for East Lothian, which was known officially as Haddingtonshire before 1921. It lies about east of Edinburgh. The name Haddington is Anglo-Saxon, dating from the 6th...

     (granted to Ada, Countess of Northumberland
    Ada de Warenne
    Ada de Warenne was the Anglo-Norman wife of Henry of Scotland, Earl of Northumbria and Earl of Huntingdon. She was the daughter of William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey by Elizabeth of Vermandois, and a great-granddaughter of Henry I of France...

     between 1139 and 1178)
  • Renfrew (before 1153 had been granted to Walter Fitzalan, High Steward of Scotland, reconfirmed as royal burgh 1397)

By 1153 (Burghs controlled by other lords)

  • Canongate
    Canongate
    The Canongate is a small district at the heart of Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.The name derives from the main street running through the area: called Canongate without the definite article, "the". Canongate forms the lower, eastern half of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh's historic Old Town....

     (now part of Edinburgh)
  • St Andrews
    St Andrews
    St Andrews is a university town and former royal burgh on the east coast of Fife in Scotland. The town is named after Saint Andrew the Apostle.St Andrews has a population of 16,680, making this the fifth largest settlement in Fife....


By 1214 (royal)

  • Ayr
    Ayr
    Ayr is a town and port situated on the Firth of Clyde in south-west Scotland. With a population of around 46,000, Ayr is the largest settlement in Ayrshire, of which it is the county town, and has held royal burgh status since 1205...

  • Auldearn
    Auldearn
    Auldearn is a village situated east of the River Nairn, just outside Nairn in the Highland council area of Scotland. It takes its name from William the Lyon's castle of Eren , built there in the 12th century....

  • Cullen
  • Dumfries
    Dumfries
    Dumfries is a market town and former royal burgh within the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland. It is near the mouth of the River Nith into the Solway Firth. Dumfries was the county town of the former county of Dumfriesshire. Dumfries is nicknamed Queen of the South...

  • Forfar
    Forfar
    Forfar is a parish, town and former royal burgh of approximately 13,500 people in Angus, located in the East Central Lowlands of Scotland. Forfar is the county town of Angus, which was officially known as Forfarshire from the 18th century until 1929, when the ancient name was reinstated, and...

  • Inverkeithing
    Inverkeithing
    Inverkeithing is a town and a royal burgh in Fife, Scotland, located on the Firth of Forth. According to population estimates , the town has a population of 5,265. The port town was given burgh status by King David I of Scotland in the 12th century and is situated about 9 miles north from...

  • Inverness
    Inverness
    Inverness is a city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland...

  • Jedburgh
    Jedburgh
    Jedburgh is a town and former royal burgh in the Scottish Borders and historically in Roxburghshire.-Location:Jedburgh lies on the Jed Water, a tributary of the River Teviot, it is only ten miles from the border with England and is dominated by the substantial ruins of Jedburgh Abbey...

  • Kinghorn
    Kinghorn
    Kinghorn is a town in Fife, Scotland. A seaside resort with two beaches, Kinghorn Beach and Pettycur Bay, plus a fishing port, it stands on the north shore of the Firth of Forth opposite Edinburgh...

  • Kintore
    Kintore, Aberdeenshire
    Kintore is a town and former royal burgh near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, now bypassed by the A96 road between Aberdeen and Inverness. The name Kintore comes from the Gaelic, Ceann Tòrr. Ceann means the head, or the end, and Tòrr means a round hill. So the name signifies that the town...

  • Lauder
    Lauder
    The Royal Burgh of Lauder is a town in the Scottish Borders 27 miles south east of Edinburgh. It is also a royal burgh in the county of Berwickshire. It lies on the edge of the Lammermuir Hills, on the Southern Upland Way.-Medieval history:...

     (made a Royal Burgh by King William I of Scotland
    William I of Scotland
    William the Lion , sometimes styled William I, also known by the nickname Garbh, "the Rough", reigned as King of the Scots from 1165 to 1214...

    , 'The Lion')
  • Leith
    Leith
    -South Leith v. North Leith:Up until the late 16th century Leith , comprised two separate towns on either side of the river....

     (The burgh was frequently in conflict with Edinburgh over trading rights and status. In 1636 it was re-erected as a burgh of barony in favour of the City of Edinburgh. Absorbed by the Royal Burgh of Edinburgh in 1920)
  • Nairn
    Nairn
    Nairn is a town and former burgh in the Highland council area of Scotland. It is an ancient fishing port and market town around east of Inverness...


By 1214 (Burghs controlled by other lords)

  • Annan
    Annan, Dumfries and Galloway
    The royal burgh of Annan is a well-built town, red sandstone being the material mainly used. Each year in July, Annan celebrates the Royal Charter and the boundaries of the Royal Burgh are confirmed when a mounted cavalcade undertakes the Riding of the Marches. Entertainment includes a...

     (a royal burgh by 1532)
  • Arbroath
    Arbroath
    Arbroath or Aberbrothock is a former royal burgh and the largest town in the council area of Angus in Scotland, and has a population of 22,785...

  • Brechin
    Brechin
    Brechin is a former royal burgh in Angus, Scotland. Traditionally Brechin is often described as a city because of its cathedral and its status as the seat of a pre-Reformation Roman Catholic diocese , but that status has not been officially recognised in the modern era...

  • Dundee
    Dundee
    Dundee is the fourth-largest city in Scotland and the 39th most populous settlement in the United Kingdom. It lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea...

  • Glasgow
    Glasgow
    Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

  • Kirkintilloch
    Kirkintilloch
    Kirkintilloch is a town and former burgh in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. It lies on the Forth and Clyde Canal, about eight miles northeast of central Glasgow...

  • Prestwick
    Prestwick
    Prestwick is a town in South Ayrshire on the south-west coast of Scotland, about south-west of Glasgow. It adjoins the larger town of Ayr, the centre of which is about south...


Burghs created by Alexander II
Alexander II of Scotland
Alexander II was King of Scots from1214 to his death.-Early life:...

  • Dingwall
    Dingwall
    Dingwall is a town and former royal burgh in the Highland council area of Scotland. It has a population of 5,026. It was formerly an east-coast harbor but now lies inland. Dingwall Castle was once the biggest castle north of Stirling. On the town's present-day outskirts lies Tulloch Castle, parts...

     (1226) (later became a burgh of barony of the Earl of Ross
    Earl of Ross
    The Mormaer or Earl of Ross was the leader of a medieval Gaelic lordship in northern Scotland, roughly between the River Oykel and the River Beauly.-Origins and transfers:...

     1321, re-established as a royal burgh in fifteenth century)
  • Dumbarton (1222)

By 1300 (royal)

  • Auchterarder
    Auchterarder
    Auchterarder is a small town located north of the Ochil Hills in Perth and Kinross, Scotland, and home to the famous Gleneagles Hotel. The 1.5 mile long High Street of Auchterarder gave the town its popular name of "Lang Toon"....

     (status had been lost by 1707)
  • Cromarty
    Cromarty
    The Royal Burgh of Cromarty is a burgh in Ross and Cromarty, Highland, Scotland.-History:It was previously the county town of the former county of Cromartyshire...

     (appears to have become a burgh of barony under the Earl of Ross
    Earl of Ross
    The Mormaer or Earl of Ross was the leader of a medieval Gaelic lordship in northern Scotland, roughly between the River Oykel and the River Beauly.-Origins and transfers:...

     1315, re-established as a royal burgh 1593)
  • Fyvie
    Fyvie
    Fyvie is a village in the Formartine area of Aberdeenshire, Scotland.-Fyvie Castle:Fyvie Castle is reputed to have been built by King William the Lyon in the early thirteenth century...

  • Kilrenny
    Kilrenny
    Kilrenny is a village in Fife, Scotland. Part of the East Neuk, it lies immediately to the north of Anstruther on the south Fife coast....

  • Lanark
    Lanark
    Lanark is a small town in the central belt of Scotland. Its population of 8,253 makes it the 100th largest settlement in Scotland. The name is believed to come from the Cumbric Lanerc meaning "clear space, glade"....

  • Rosemarkie
    Rosemarkie
    Rosemarkie is a village on the south coast of the Black Isle peninsula in northern Scotland.-Geography:Rosemarkie lies a quarter of a mile east of the town of Fortrose...

  • Selkirk
  • Wigtown
    Wigtown
    Wigtown is a town and former royal burgh in the Machars of Galloway in the south west of Scotland. It lies south of Newton Stewart and east of Stranraer. It has a population of about 1,000...


By 1300 (Burghs controlled by other lords)

  • Crawford
    Crawford, South Lanarkshire
    Crawford is a village in South Lanarkshire, Scotland.Crawford is close to the source of the River Clyde and the M74 motorway, fifty miles south east of Glasgow and fifty-three miles north west of Carlisle...

     (had ceased to exist by 16th century)
  • Dunbar
    Dunbar
    Dunbar is a town in East Lothian on the southeast coast of Scotland, approximately 28 miles east of Edinburgh and 28 miles from the English Border at Berwick-upon-Tweed....

     (became a royal burgh 1445)
  • Inverurie
    Inverurie
    Inverurie is a Royal Burgh and town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, approximately north west of Aberdeen on the A96 road and is served by Inverurie railway station on the Aberdeen to Inverness Line...

     (became a royal burgh 1558)
  • Irvine
    Irvine, North Ayrshire
    Irvine is a new town on the coast of the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire, Scotland. According to 2007 population estimates, the town is home to 39,527 inhabitants, making it the biggest settlement in North Ayrshire....

     (became a royal burgh 1372)
  • Kelso (never became a royal burgh)
  • Lochmaben
    Lochmaben
    Lochmaben is a small town in Scotland, and site of a once-important castle. It lies four miles west of Lockerbie, in Dumfries and Galloway.-Notable people:*Angus Douglas - Scottish internationalist footballer...

     (a royal burgh by 1447)
  • Newburgh, Aberdeenshire
    Newburgh, Aberdeenshire
    Newburgh is a coastal village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The village dates to 1261 AD, when Lord Sinclair wanted to establish a chapel in the area. Originally built as a school, somewhat later the chapel of Holy Rood was established.-Geography:...

     (never became a royal burgh)
  • Newburgh, Fife
    Newburgh, Fife
    Newburgh is a royal burgh of Fife, Scotland having a population of 2040 . Newburgh has grown little since 1901 when the population was counted at 1904 persons....

     (became a royal burgh in 1631)
  • Urr
    URR
    URR or Urr may refer to:*Urea reduction ratio, used to quantify dialysis treatment adequacy*Urr Water, a river in Scotland*Haugh of Urr, a village by the Urr Water, in the Urr parish...

    (short-lived)

Burghs created by Robert II
Robert II of Scotland
Robert II became King of Scots in 1371 as the first monarch of the House of Stewart. He was the son of Walter Stewart, hereditary High Steward of Scotland and of Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert I and of his first wife Isabella of Mar...

  • Banff
    Banff, Aberdeenshire
    Banff is a town in the Banff and Buchan area of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Banff is situated on Banff Bay and faces the town of Macduff across the estuary of the River Deveron...

     (1372)
  • North Berwick
    North Berwick
    The Royal Burgh of North Berwick is a seaside town in East Lothian, Scotland. It is situated on the south shore of the Firth of Forth, approximately 25 miles east of Edinburgh. North Berwick became a fashionable holiday resort in the 19th century because of its two sandy bays, the East Bay and the...

     (1373; suppressed by William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas
    William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas
    William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas was a Scottish magnate.-Early Life:William Douglas was the son of Sir Archibald Douglas and Beatrice Lindsay, and nephew of "Sir James the Good", Robert the Bruce's trusted deputy...

    , current charter 1568)

Burghs created by Robert III
Robert III of Scotland
Robert III was King of Scots from 1390 to his death. His given name was John Stewart, and he was known primarily as the Earl of Carrick before ascending the throne at age 53...

  • Rothesay
    Rothesay, Argyll and Bute
    The town of Rothesay is the principal town on the Isle of Bute, in the council area of Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It can be reached by ferry from Wemyss Bay which offers an onward rail link to Glasgow. At the centre of the town is Rothesay Castle, a ruined castle which dates back to the 13th...

     (1400/1)

Burghs created by James II
James II of Scotland
James II reigned as King of Scots from 1437 to his death.He was the son of James I, King of Scots, and Joan Beaufort...

  • Dunbar
    Dunbar
    Dunbar is a town in East Lothian on the southeast coast of Scotland, approximately 28 miles east of Edinburgh and 28 miles from the English Border at Berwick-upon-Tweed....

     (1445)
  • Falkland
    Falkland, Fife
    Falkland is a town and former royal burgh, formerly known as the Parish of Kilgour c1300AD in Fife, Scotland at the foot of the Lomond Hills.According to the 2008 population estimate, the village has a population of 1,180.- History :...

     (1458)
  • Kirkcudbright
    Kirkcudbright
    Kirkcudbright, is a town in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.The town lies south of Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie, in the part of Dumfries and Galloway known as the Stewartry, at the mouth of the River Dee, some six miles from the sea...

     (1455)
  • Lochmaben
    Lochmaben
    Lochmaben is a small town in Scotland, and site of a once-important castle. It lies four miles west of Lockerbie, in Dumfries and Galloway.-Notable people:*Angus Douglas - Scottish internationalist footballer...

     (date unknown)
  • Tain
    Tain
    Tain is a royal burgh and post town in the committee area of Ross and Cromarty, in the Highland area of Scotland.-Etymology:...

     c 1439

Burghs created by James III
James III of Scotland
James III was King of Scots from 1460 to 1488. James was an unpopular and ineffective monarch owing to an unwillingness to administer justice fairly, a policy of pursuing alliance with the Kingdom of England, and a disastrous relationship with nearly all his extended family.His reputation as the...

  • Elgin
    Elgin, Moray
    Elgin is a former cathedral city and Royal Burgh in Moray, Scotland. It is the administrative and commercial centre for Moray. The town originated to the south of the River Lossie on the higher ground above the flood plain. Elgin is first documented in the Cartulary of Moray in 1190...

     (1457) (royal burgh status lost in 1312 restored)
  • Kirkwall
    Kirkwall
    Kirkwall is the biggest town and capital of Orkney, off the coast of northern mainland Scotland. The town is first mentioned in Orkneyinga saga in the year 1046 when it is recorded as the residence of Rögnvald Brusason the Earl of Orkney, who was killed by his uncle Thorfinn the Mighty...

     (1486)
  • Nairn
    Nairn
    Nairn is a town and former burgh in the Highland council area of Scotland. It is an ancient fishing port and market town around east of Inverness...

     (1476) (royal burgh status lost in 1312 restored)

Burghs created by James IV
James IV of Scotland
James IV was King of Scots from 11 June 1488 to his death. He is generally regarded as the most successful of the Stewart monarchs of Scotland, but his reign ended with the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Flodden Field, where he became the last monarch from not only Scotland, but also from all...

  • Dingwall
    Dingwall
    Dingwall is a town and former royal burgh in the Highland council area of Scotland. It has a population of 5,026. It was formerly an east-coast harbor but now lies inland. Dingwall Castle was once the biggest castle north of Stirling. On the town's present-day outskirts lies Tulloch Castle, parts...

     (1497/8) (re-established)
  • Forres
    Forres
    Forres , is a town and former royal burgh situated in the north of Scotland on the Moray coast, approximately 30 miles east of Inverness. Forres has been a winner of the Scotland in Bloom award on several occasions...

     (1496) (charter restored royal burgh status lost in 1312, although it may have been a de facto royal burgh)
  • Kintore
    Kintore, Aberdeenshire
    Kintore is a town and former royal burgh near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, now bypassed by the A96 road between Aberdeen and Inverness. The name Kintore comes from the Gaelic, Ceann Tòrr. Ceann means the head, or the end, and Tòrr means a round hill. So the name signifies that the town...

     (1506/7) (re-erected as a royal burgh)
  • Whithorn
    Whithorn
    Whithorn is a former royal burgh in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, about ten miles south of Wigtown. The town was the location of the first recorded Christian church in Scotland, Candida Casa : the 'White [or 'Shining'] House', built by Saint Ninian about 397.-Eighth and twelfth centuries:A...

     (1511)

Burghs created by James V
James V of Scotland
James V was King of Scots from 9 September 1513 until his death, which followed the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss...

  • Annan
    Annan, Dumfries and Galloway
    The royal burgh of Annan is a well-built town, red sandstone being the material mainly used. Each year in July, Annan celebrates the Royal Charter and the boundaries of the Royal Burgh are confirmed when a mounted cavalcade undertakes the Riding of the Marches. Entertainment includes a...

     (1538/9) (status confirmed)
  • Auchtermuchty
    Auchtermuchty
    Auchtermuchty is a town in Fife, Scotland, situated beside Pitlour Hill nine miles north of Glenrothes. Until 1975 it was a royal burgh, established under charter of King James V in 1517. There is evidence of human habitation in the area dating back over 2,000 years, and the Romans are known to...

     (1517)
  • Burntisland
    Burntisland
    Burntisland is a town and former royal burgh in Fife, Scotland on the Firth of Forth. According to an estimate taken in 2008, the town has a population of 5,940....

     (1541)
  • Pittenweem
    Pittenweem
    Pittenweem is a small and secluded fishing village and civil parish tucked in the corner of Fife on the east coast of Scotland. According to the 2006 estimate, the village has a population of 1,600. At the 2001 census, the parish had a population of 1,747....

     (1541)

Burghs created by Mary, Queen of Scots

  • Inverurie
    Inverurie
    Inverurie is a Royal Burgh and town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, approximately north west of Aberdeen on the A96 road and is served by Inverurie railway station on the Aberdeen to Inverness Line...

     (1558) (restored lost royal burgh status)

Burghs created by James VI

  • Anstruther Easter (1583)
  • Anstruther Wester (1587)
  • Arbroath
    Arbroath
    Arbroath or Aberbrothock is a former royal burgh and the largest town in the council area of Angus in Scotland, and has a population of 22,785...

     (1599)
  • Cromarty
    Cromarty
    The Royal Burgh of Cromarty is a burgh in Ross and Cromarty, Highland, Scotland.-History:It was previously the county town of the former county of Cromartyshire...

     (1593) (re-established). Disenfranchised by Privy Council
    Privy Council of Scotland
    The Privy Council of Scotland was a body that advised the King.In the range of its functions the council was often more important than the Estates in the running the country. Its registers include a wide range of material on the political, administrative, economic and social affairs of Scotland...

     1672. Later re-established as a burgh of barony in 1685.
  • Culross
    Culross
    The town of Culross, pronounced "Coo-ros", is a former royal burgh in Fife, Scotland.According to the 2006 estimate, the village has a population of 395...

     (1592)
  • Earlsferry (1589) (charter confirmed status since time immemorial)
  • Glasgow
    Glasgow
    Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

     (1611) (had been a de facto previously)
  • Fortrose
    Fortrose
    Fortrose is a burgh in the Scottish Highlands, located on the Moray Firth, approximately ten kilometres north east of Inverness. The town is known for its ruined 13th century cathedral, and as the home of the Brahan Seer. In the Middle Ages it was the seat of the bishopric of Ross...

     (1590) became part of royal burgh of Rosemarkie 1592
  • Kilrenny
    Kilrenny
    Kilrenny is a village in Fife, Scotland. Part of the East Neuk, it lies immediately to the north of Anstruther on the south Fife coast....

     (1592) (The burgh was included in roll of royal burghs by mistake and continued to enjoy that status, despite attempting to resign it)
  • Rosemarkie
    Rosemarkie
    Rosemarkie is a village on the south coast of the Black Isle peninsula in northern Scotland.-Geography:Rosemarkie lies a quarter of a mile east of the town of Fortrose...

     (1592) by union of royal burgh of Fortrose and burgh of barony of Rosemarkie re-established as royal burgh of Fortrose 1661
  • St Andrews
    St Andrews
    St Andrews is a university town and former royal burgh on the east coast of Fife in Scotland. The town is named after Saint Andrew the Apostle.St Andrews has a population of 16,680, making this the fifth largest settlement in Fife....

     (1620) (confirmation of de facto status)
  • Sanquhar
    Sanquhar
    Sanquhar is a town on the River Nith in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. It lies north of Thornhill and west of Moffat. It is a Royal Burgh.Sanquhar is notable for its tiny post office , claimed to be the oldest working post office in the world...

     (1598)
  • Wick
    Wick, Highland
    Wick is an estuary town and a royal burgh in the north of the Highland council area of Scotland. Historically, it is one of two burghs within the county of Caithness, of which Wick was the county town. The town straddles the River Wick and extends along both sides of Wick Bay...

     (1589)

Burghs created by Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

  • Brechin
    Brechin
    Brechin is a former royal burgh in Angus, Scotland. Traditionally Brechin is often described as a city because of its cathedral and its status as the seat of a pre-Reformation Roman Catholic diocese , but that status has not been officially recognised in the modern era...

     (1641) (de facto status ratified by parliament)
  • Dornoch
    Dornoch
    Dornoch is a town and seaside resort, and former Royal burgh in the Highlands of Scotland. It lies on the north shore of the Dornoch Firth, near to where it opens into the Moray Firth to the east...

     (1628)
  • Fortrose
    Fortrose
    Fortrose is a burgh in the Scottish Highlands, located on the Moray Firth, approximately ten kilometres north east of Inverness. The town is known for its ruined 13th century cathedral, and as the home of the Brahan Seer. In the Middle Ages it was the seat of the bishopric of Ross...

     (1661) (reforming of royal burgh of Rosemarkie)
  • Inveraray
    Inveraray
    Inveraray is a royal burgh in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It is on the western shore of Loch Fyne, near its head, and on the A83 road. It is the traditional county town of Argyll and ancestral home to the Duke of Argyll.-Coat of arms:...

     (1648)
  • Kirkcaldy
    Kirkcaldy
    Kirkcaldy is a town and former royal burgh in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. The town lies on a shallow bay on the northern shore of the Firth of Forth; SSE of Glenrothes, ENE of Dunfermline, WSW of Dundee and NNE of Edinburgh...

     (1644) (although de facto since 1574)
  • New Galloway
    New Galloway
    New Galloway is a town in Dumfries and Galloway Region, southwest Scotland. It lies on the west side of the valley of the Water of Ken, a mile north of the end of Loch Ken...

     (1630)
  • Queensferry
    South Queensferry
    South Queensferry , also called Queensferry, is a former Royal Burgh in West Lothian now part of the City of Edinburgh, Scotland. It is located some ten miles to the north west of the city centre, on the shore of the Firth of Forth between the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge, approximately 8...

     (1636)
  • Newburgh, Fife
    Newburgh, Fife
    Newburgh is a royal burgh of Fife, Scotland having a population of 2040 . Newburgh has grown little since 1901 when the population was counted at 1904 persons....

     (1631)

20th century

  • Auchterarder
    Auchterarder
    Auchterarder is a small town located north of the Ochil Hills in Perth and Kinross, Scotland, and home to the famous Gleneagles Hotel. The 1.5 mile long High Street of Auchterarder gave the town its popular name of "Lang Toon"....

     (1951) (reinstated as a royal burgh)
  • Elie and Earlsferry
    Elie and Earlsferry
    Elie and Earlsferry is a town and former royal burgh in Fife, Scotland, situated within the East Neuk beside Chapel Ness on the north coast of the Firth of Forth, eight miles east of Leven...

     (1930) (formed by union of royal burgh of Earlsferry and police burgh of Elie)
  • Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester
    Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester
    Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester was a royal and small burgh in Fife, Scotland from 1930 to 1975.The burgh was formed the amalgamation of three neighbouring royal burghs of Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester by the Local Government Act 1929...

     (formed by union of three royal burghs 1930)

Abolition and status since 1975


Royal burghs were abolished in 1975 by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973
The Local Government Act 1973 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, that reformed local government in Scotland, on May 16, 1975....

. Article XXI of the Act of Union 1707, which states "That the Rights and Privileges of the Royal Boroughs in Scotland as they now are Do Remain entire after the Union and notwithstanding thereof", has been deemed by Her Majesty's Government to be abrogated by the 1973 Act. The towns are now sometimes referred to officially as "former royal burghs", for instance by the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland
Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland
The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland is an independent body in Scotland created under the Local Government Act 1973...

.

The issue of the future status of royal burghs was discussed during debate on the Local Government Bill. In the Commons on 4 December 1972 Ronald Murray (MP
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 for Edinburgh, Leith) stated
Most of the well-known cities and towns of Scotland became royal burghs by Charter. The Bill does not say that those Charters are removed or are of no legal effect, but Schedule 24 repeals the legislation upon which they appear to stand. I hope that the Government do not intend to abolish entirely the ancient rights of royal burghs, at least to be royal burghs.'

In June 1973, David Steel
David Steel
David Martin Scott Steel, Baron Steel of Aikwood, KT, KBE, PC is a British Liberal Democrat politician who served as the Leader of the Liberal Party from 1976 until its merger with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats...

 (MP for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles
Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (UK Parliament constituency)
Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles was a county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1955 to 1983...

), unsuccessfully introduced an amendment that
the title of "Provost" shall attach to the chairman of any community council which is based on any existing burgh .. to .. carry forward a title which appears, for example, in the Royal Charters of those burghs".


In 1977 Alick Buchanan-Smith
Alick Buchanan-Smith
Alick Laidlaw Buchanan-Smith was a Scottish Conservative and Unionist politician.The second son of Alick Drummond Buchanan-Smith, Baron Balerno and Mary Kathleen Smith, he was educated at Edinburgh Academy, Glenalmond College, Pembroke College, Cambridge and University of Edinburgh...

 (MP for North Angus and Mearns
North Angus and Mearns (UK Parliament constituency)
Angus North and Mearns, Scotland, was a county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1950 to 1983...

) asked Frank McElhone
Frank McElhone
Francis Patrick "Frank" McElhone was a Scottish Labour Party politician.McElhone was elected Member of Parliament for Glasgow Gorbals at a 1969 by-election, serving until the constituency was abolished in boundary changes for the 1974 general election.He was then elected as MP for Glasgow Queen's...

, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland
Under-Secretary of State for Scotland
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland is a junior ministerial post in the United Kingdom government, supporting the Secretary of State for Scotland...

:

why a community council for a former Royal burgh is not able to use the words "Royal Burgh" in its title; and what scope there is for the continuance of historical titles under the present organisation of local authorities.


In reply McElhone stated:

The title which may be used by a community council is a matter for the district council to decide when drawing up the scheme for community councils in its area. Section 23 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 governs any change of name of region, islands or district councils. There is no statutory ban to the continuance of historic titles for other purposes.


Accordingly some community council
Community council
A community council is a public representative body in Great Britain.In England they may be statutory parish councils by another name, under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, or they may be non-statutory bodies...

s established since 1975 have the term "Royal Burgh" incorporated in their title. Lord Lyon has permitted the armorial bearings
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

 of a number of royal burghs to be rematriculated by community councils.

See also