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The Scottish Nation

LAMBERTON, a surname derived from the lands of that name in Berwickshire, now the property of a family of the name of Renton. In Carrís History of Coldingham Priory (page 144) it is stated that a Saxon named Lambert is supposed to have settled here with his followers, and so gave rise to the tun or village, either before the conquest or within thirty years subsequent to it, as two places adjoining each other bore this name in 1098, when King Edgar bestowed them on the monks of Durham. The manorial tenant, who held a part of these lands of the prior of Durham, assumed from them the name of Lamberton. In the reign of David I., William de Lamberton was witness to a charter of Earl Henry, son of that monarch, confirming Cospatrickís gift of the villages of Edrom and Nesbit to St. Cuthbertís monks. Henry de Lamberton was one of the barons appointed in 1292, to examine the claims which Robert Bruce advanced to the Scottish crown, and on 28th August, 1296, he swore fealty to Edward I. at Berwick. Robert de Lamberton also swore fealty to the same monarch, within the chapel of Berwick castle, in June of the same year. From this ancient family, which has been long extinct, probably sprung the famous William Lamberton, bishop of St. Andrews, the most distinguished person of the name, by whose advice and assistance the immortal Bruce was encouraged in his efforts to deliver Scotland from the English yoke.

      He was previously parson of Campsie and chancellor of the diocese of Glasgow, and was consecrated, in 1298, bishop of St. Andrews. On his election he had a dispute with the Culdees, who pretended a right, from old times, to elect the bishop of St. Andrews, but the Pope decided the matter against them. Bishop Lambertonís name appears in many ancient writs. He was one of the regents for Baliol, when the latter was the prisoner of Edward I. in England. After Sir William Wallace had, by the jealousy of the nobles, been forced to relinquish the government, Bishop Lamberton, Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick, and John Comyn the younger, were appointed guardians of the kingdom, in name and place of Baliol. They immediately besieged Stirling castle, then held for the English, and it shortly after capitulated.

      In 1305, after the judicial murder of Wallace, a parliament was held at London, in which the Scottish nation was represented by ten commissioners, Bishop Lamberton being one of them. To his keeping, the English king committed the eldest son of the steward of Scotland, who had been given to him as a hostage. When Edward heard of the assassination of Comyn at Dumfries, he demanded back the youth, but instead of restoring his charge, the bishop delivered him over to Bruce. He had entered into a secret league with the latter to support his cause, and he place the crown on his head, on his first coronation at Scone, 27th March 1306. He had enabled Sir James Douglas, then one of his pages, to join the patriot king, as related in his life.

      After the defeat of Bruce at Methven, and the dispersion of his followers, the bishop of St. Andrews was taken prisoner. Being found clad in armour, he was carried in chains to England, imprisoned in the castle of Winchester, and only saved from the gallows by the sacred character of his office. The allowance made to a prisoner of his rank shows the value of money in those days. He received daily, for his own expenses, sixpence; for a man-servant to attend him, three-pence; for his footboy, a halfpenny; and for a chaplain, three halfpence. On the death of Edward I. in 1307, having made submission to Edward II., and sworn fealty to him, he was allowed to return to Scotland. He has been accused of unsteadiness and vacillation in his political conduct, but he lived in turbulent and difficult times, and he certainly exerted all his influence and power, which, as the head of the national church, were very great, to place Bruce upon the throne. By his support of the claims of that heroic monarch, the latter, even when his fortunes were at the worst, secured the favour of the Scottish clergy, and was, in consequence, enabled to set the excommunication of the Pope at defiance.

      After the victory of Bannockburn, Bishop Lamberton devoted himself to his ecclesiastical duties with great zeal, and munificently expended his revenues in promoting the prosperity of the church. Besides repairing and enlarging the castle of St. Andrews, he built the houses of Monimail, Torry, Dairsie, Inchmurtach, Muckhart, Kettins, Linton, Monymusk, and Stow. He built also ten churches, in his diocese, and finished and consecrated the cathedral in 1318. He adorned the chapter house with curious seats and ceiling, furnished the canons with vestments for their service, and their library with books. He also built a palace for the bishop in St. Andrews. He purchased from the abbot and monks of Reading in Yorkshire, and bestowed on the canons regular of his own cathedral, the island of May in the mouth of the firth of Forth, which King David I. had given to the said monks, and built a cell upon it for them. He died in 1328, and was buried at the north side of the great altar of the High church of St. Andrews.

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