Dick the Devil's Bairns

Breaking the Border Mafia

Jon Tait
Politics & History

The Anglo-Scottish border was a virtual warzone for around 300 years and it created a lawless society that became known as the Border Reivers.

The English and Scottish authorities took a huge step towards brokering some sort of peace in the area in 1597 when, following a Treaty signed at Carlisle, 54 men, representing the wildest reiver clans, were demanded as ‘pledges,’ or hostages.

The plan was for them to be locked up as a means to prevent - or at least try and dissuade - their clans and families from committing further violent crime.

Dick the Devil’s Bairns is their story; the worst of the worst. The book follows the fate of those selected by the respective nations as doing the most damage by raiding, while examining the historic criminal activities carried out by those families, and others, in earning their outlaw reputations and status.

The story also explores the criminal gang’s roles within the context of the wider Reiver society and the part played by their ‘Godfathers’ in creating the first Mafia-style organisations - and their eventual downfall.

Dick the Devil’s Bairns is historic true crime at its rawest and is written by a sports journalist who hails from the Coquet Valley.


Cumberland News Feature

Interview in the Cumberland News.

Gangster Inc. Feature


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