On my mother’s side of the family, through the Dodds line, we reach the Usher family of Toftfield, an estate near Darnick, Melrose, Roxburghshire. The Usher family were close friends and neighbours of Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford. Here’s the obituary of my 5xg-aunt, recording part of that association:
Kelso Chronicle, 12 January 1894
DEATH OF A LOCAL LADY – On Christmas Eve, at Laverock Bank Terrace, Trinity, Edinburgh, there passed away at the age of 67 [should be 87], Agnes Usher, widow of Mr John Cunningham, architect in Liverpool. She was the eldest daughter, by his second marriage, of Mr John Usher, formerly proprietor of Toftfield, Huntlyburn, Melrose. Miss Usher was born at Toftfield. When young, she was a good deal taken notice of by Sir Walter Scott. On one occasion, when Sir Walter was on a visit to her father’s house, he was much pleased with her singing, observing, however, that the pianoforte in use was no great instrument. He sent over next morning the grand pianoforte at which his daughter had learned music; and it has been in the family ever since. In consequence of the migrations of the Cunninghams, unweildy as it was, it was conveyed to the United States, and afterwards to and from South Africa. A few years ago it was made into a harpsichord and presented to her daughter on the occasion of her marriage. Mrs Cunningham was (as will be gathered from the above) a sister of Mr John Usher, late of Stodrig.
Agnes herself recalled that Sir Walter Scott had been fascinated by her and her sister Mary, who were identical twins, and he could not tell them apart as young children. Later, as a sixteen-year-old, she travelled in a stage coach with Sir Walter, travelling to Galashiels, but he did not recognise her, and she was too shy to introduce herself.