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Miss Isabella Geddes Douglas ( Ella) (3 January 1922 – 28 July 2013)

Isabella Geddes Douglas, most commonly known as Ella, but to a few Ella Doll! Her infectious laugh and personality made her unintentionally the centre of attention in any room. Born on 3rd January 1922 at Swinside Hall, she was the youngest of five.

Ella went to school firstly at Oxnam then to Jedburgh, where she left at 14, but this did not restrict her knowledge or vocabulary, she was exceptional at crosswords. She spent the majority of her life at Swinside Hall, where, with the help of her sisters, she prepared endless amounts of milky coffee and cakes for anyone who was lucky enough to walk through the door, including the local postie on a daily basis. Ella also had the most important task of being the designated driver transporting the family to various destinations.

Leaving Swinside after foot and mouth was very difficult for all involved, especially Ella, as she had never known anywhere else. However, the move to 14 Cherrybank, Springwood Park, Kelso put Ella into her element, even if she didn’t know it at the time. Having a small community in such a tight area allowed her to be more sociable than ever, being able to keep an eye on whatever was going on. With often the silhouette of the two white heids peering out the window on approach to Cherrybank. After her sister Jean-Ann passed away Ella moved into Queens Court, Jedburgh where she found great enjoyment through her ever expanding social life, often joked as more vibrant than the rest of the family put together!

Although Ella never married, she always had a keen eye for the men. This all began growing up through the war and her love of going dancing with the soldiers, be it Scottish Country Dancing or something more resembling Strictly, Ella was there on her bicycle making milking the cows and feeding the hens a difficult task the next morning. There were even stories of a nights dancing being ruined by accidents enroute that involved ripped tights and blooded knees with a swift return to Swinside.

This keen eye continued through her love of sport – golf, rugby, football – she would watch it all. She enjoyed watching all games and all teams with no real affiliation.

Ella was never short of a companion, as she enjoyed the company of a border terrier. Perhaps this was because the dog could not interrupt her flow of conversation.

Due to Ella’s personality and gift for a blether, she could always find someone to lend her a hand. Be it purchasing her precious butter puff biscuits, taking the dog for a walk whilst at Springwood or simply getting her rubbish out, she always had someone to call on. This was due to the sheer enjoyment and entertainment that Ella would supply and maybe the homemade scones and jam had something to do with it.

Although Ella never travelled too far, the friendships she made meant she was cherished well beyond her boundaries. She was not just a great aunt or a friendly face but an integral part of the history in the Oxnam area and the last of a golden age. Her limitless spirit and tales of yester year brought much pleasure to those who had the good fortune to make her acquaintance. Today also brings the end of an era to the Douglas family at Swinside Hall who gave such life and warmth to this small community and will be dearly missed by all.


•  James Douglas Cairns, Church Elder (10 September 1951 – 12 May 2012), Netherwells, formerly Riccalton & Swinside was a nephew of Ella and Nancy.  Aged only 22, following the death of his Uncle Tom, Douglas found himself in charge at Swinside under the guidance of Johnny Geddes and with help from Nancy and Frank Cowe, Bill Moffat, Jock Buchanan and Jimmy Douglas.
•  In 1992 John Henderson stated that "Cunzeirton Farm is owned by the Misses Douglas who live at Swinside Hall’’.

See also:
Douglas of Swinside

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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024