This is a territorial name from the lands of Blackadder on the river of that name in Berwickshire. ‘Adder’ is from the old English word ‘awedur’, meaning ‘running water’ or ‘stream’. Black lists Blakadir de Eodem (of that ilk) holding lands in the earldom of March in 1426. The family became embroiled in the constant Borders feuds and extended their lands by grants from James II, bestowed as a reward for repelling English raids with great ferocity. The Borders holdings of Blackadder of that Ilk were taken into the family of Home by the marriage of Beatrix and her younger sister, the only heirs of their father Robert, to younger sons of Home of Wedderburn in 1518. According to Anderson, this was achieved in the following manner: ‘Andrew Blackadder followed the standard of Douglas at Flodden in 1513 and was slain along with two hundred gentlemen of that name on that disastrous field leaving a widow and two daughters, Beatrix and Margaret, who at the time were mere children. From the unprotected state of Robert’s daughters, the Homes of Wedderburn formed a design of seizing the lands of Blackadder. They began by cutting off all within their reach whose affinity was dreaded as an hereditary obstacle. They attacked Robert Blackadder, the Prior of Coldingham, and assassinated him. His brother, the Dean of Dunblane, shared the same fate. Various others were dispatched in like manner. They now assaulted the Castle of Blackadder where the widow and her two young daughters resided. The garrison refused to surrender but the Homes succeeded in obtaining possession of the fortress, seized the widow and her children, compelling them to the marriage by force. The two daughters were contracted to younger sons, John and Robert in 1518 and as they were only in their eighth year, they were confined in the Castle of Blackadder until they became of age.’ Whatever the truth of this story, the Home possession of the estates was challenged by a cousin, Sir John Blackadder, who held the lands of Tulliallan. Sir John sought assistance from Parliament but, as was so often the case at that time, the matter was ultimately resolved by steel. Sir John Blackadder was beheaded in March 1531 for the murder of the Abbot of Culross in a dispute over land. He was succeeded in the barony of Tulliallan by his brother Patrick, who again renewed his dispute against the Homes for the family lands. Again, Anderson accused the Homes of treachery in the story of Patrick’s murder in an ambush near Edinburgh, where he was to meet the Homes to try to resolve their differences. The Blackadders thereafter relinquished their claim to the Borders lands, and Sir John Home was created, Baronet, of Blackadder in 1671. They continued to hold the estate and Castle of Tulliallan, and the family prospered. They acquired further lands in Clackmannan-shire and Perthshire by successful marriages into the families of Bruce and Oliphant. 

The Reverend John Blackadder was a prominent presbyterian minister who suffered under the persecution of the Covenanters in the late seventeenth century. Elizabeth Blackadder has been one of Scotland’s most distinguished twentieth-century painters. Tulliallan now houses the Scottish police training establishment.

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