DISTANT ancestors of a Borders landlord have travelled half-way round the world to return the silver anniversary certificate he was presented with in the late 1880s.

John Newton was mine host of the Red Lion in Earlston during the latter part of the 19th century.

And to celebrate his 25 years behind the bar of the popular Victoria coaching inn he was presented with a certificate on behalf of the community on March 27, 1889.

It remains unclear if Mr Newton emigrated to Australia himself or if if it was his son, but the certificate was shipped Down Under with the rest of the family's belongings.

Earlier this year Veronica and Stewart Nicholl contacted the current owner of the Red Lion, Ritchie Grierson, after they uncovered the heirloom.

And last week the couple, on their first ever trip to Scotland, brought the certificate as well as a photograph of Mr Newtown with them.

Ritchie told us: "A few months ago I received a message from the couple, saying that they believed a distant relative of theirs had once owned the pub.

"They explained that they were planning their first ever trip to Scotland and asked if they could call in.

"I checked the title deeds and found on the list of owners a notary instrument dated December 1893 mentioning the 'Trustees of the deceased John Newton'.

"It was there in black and white: he had indeed once owned the pub."

Established in 1840, the Red Lion was one of three popular coaching inns, along with the White Swan and Black Bull, positioned along the village High Street to cater for travellers between Edinburgh and the south.

The 1889 certificate was presented to Mr Newton just four years before his death to congratulate him 'on becoming proprietor of the Red Lion hotel Earlston which house for upwards of quarter of a century, managed as tenant with credit by yourself and with hearty approval of the community'.

The certificate went on to praise Mr Newtown for being an 'upright, honest and exemplary man'.

And a dinner was also held in his honour to mark his 25 years at the Red Lion.

Both Ritchie and the Nicholls would like to hear from anyone who is a descendent of Mr Newton or has any more information about him.

They can make contact via email at ritchie@redlionearlston.co.uk