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Biggar and the House of Fleming
Chapter XXIII - Historical Sketches of the Fleming Family


IN the twelfth century, the Flemings were perhaps the most active and enterprising people in Europe. Finding their own territories in Flanders too limited for their ambitious aspirations they emigrated in considerable numbers to England, during the reigns of William Rufus and Henry I.; and, some years afterwards, took an active part in the civil war waged by Stephen to obtain the English throne. Henry II. having, in the end, vanquished his opponent Stephen, the Flemings were consequently banished the kingdom; and numbers of them taking refuge in Scotland, entered into the service of David L, then on the Scottish throne. Many other Flemings are understood to have come, about the same time, directly from their native regions to Scotland. These strangers, settling in towns and rural situations, contributed greatly, by their skill in agriculture and other industrial art#, to the improvement of the country.

One of these Flemish leaders, it is said, obtained a grant of the lands of Biggar from David I., and settled there with his followers; and thus became the founder of a family that for several centuries reigned as lords superior in that parish. We propose to give a brief account of the most notable incidents in the history of this family, and particularly of the battles and warlike expeditions in which the successive members of it took part. These are entitled to special notice in a work on Biggar. The Flemings of Biggar, in addition to their anxiety to support and advance any cause to which they might be attached, were bound by the feudal law, not merely to appear in the field themselves, at the call of their sovereign, but to bring with them a certain number of their retainers. These retainers, or vassals, were in their turn bound, in consideration of occupying their farms and feus, to give their superior suit and service, both in his court and in the field, as often as these should be required. It is, then, a matter almost of certainty, that in all the battles in which the Flemings fought, they were attended by a portion of the inhabitants of Biggar. In fact, some of the charters by which the Scottish kings conferred honours or rewards on the Flemings, make express reference to the services of their retainers on the battle-field. For instance, in the commission of Chancellorship to James, Lord Fleming, granted under the Great Seal on the 12th of November 155S, during the minority of Queen Mary, it is stated that this honourable office was conferred on Lord Fleming, specially in consideration of ‘the good, faithful, and gratuitous service to our late most noble father, of happy memory, whose soul may God benefit, and to us, by our late well-beloved cousin, Malcolm, Lord Fleming, our Great Chancellor, who, under our banner, with diverse of his relatives, servants, and friends, was slain in the camp of Pinkey Cleugh.’ In the warlike proceedings in which the Flemings took part, the men of Biggar, no doubt, then, fought by their side, and sometimes lost their liberties or their lives in contending with them to revenge a wrong, to repel invasion, or maintain the independence of their country.

The first proprietor of Biggar, of whom we know anything, was Baldwin, who at first was styled Baldwin Flamingus, but who afterwards, as was the usual custom of the period, took also from his lands the title of Biggar. He was appointed by Malcolm IV., the grandson and successor of David I., to the office of Sheriff of Lanarkshire—the shire of Lanark, at that period, including also the territory now forming the county of Renfrew. He, along with his stepson John, who settled at Duneaton, and gave his name to Crawfordjohn, between 1147 and 1160 witnessed a charter of Arnald, Abbot of Kelso, granting the lands of Douglas Water to Theobald, also a Fleming, and said by some writers, though perhaps without sufficient authority, to be the founder of the distinguished House of Douglas. He was also a witness of a charter of Walter, son of Allan, the Steward of Scotland, to the monks of Paisley, between 1165 and 1174; and he himself granted to Hugh de Padenan the lands of Kilpeter in Stragrife. In the Register of the Monastery of Paisley a charter still exists, setting forth that Baldwin, Sheriff of Lanark, gave and granted to God, and the Church of St Mirin of Paisley, and the monks serving God there, the Church of Innerkyp, with all the lands lying near the river where the church is founded, with the entire parish and its pertinents, to be held in free and perpetual gift.

Baldwin was succeeded by his son Valdeve, who, most likely, was also appointed to the office of Sheriff of Lanarkshire, as this office seems to have continued in the Biggar family for several generations. The most remarkable incident in his life, that has been preserved, is his capture by the English, along with William I., sumamed the Lion, at the siege of Alnwick Castle, in 1174. It may be stated, that the kings, of Scotland, sometime previous to this period, held considerable possessions in the north of England, and had been deprived of them by the superior power of the English. William the Lion made a demand for the restoration of these provinces, but Henry, the English king, refused to comply. William, therefore, proclaimed war against Henry; and, during the year 1173, inroads were made, on both sides, into the territories of each other; and though much property was destroyed, and many lives lost, yet no decisive advantage was gained. Next year, William levied a numerous but undisciplined host, consisting of Scots, Flemings, and Gallowaymen, and invaded England. He laid siege to Alnwick Castle; but on tbe 13th of July 1174, with a lamentable want of prudence and caution, he separated himself from the main body of his army, and, attended by Valdeve of Biggar and about sixty horsemen, rode to some distance. The day was dark and misty, and, before they were aware, a body of horsemen had approached within a few hundred yards of them. The King at first took them to be a detachment of his own army; but they soon turned out to be a party of four hundred Englishmen, headed by several gallant Yorkshire barons, who had mustered this force, and were hasting to the assistance of their countrymen. When the King perceived his mistake, he disdained to flee, but cried out, ‘ Let it now appear who among you are good knights,’ and instantly charged against the foe. The King and his followers fought desperately, but, in the end, were overpowered by superiority of numbers; and the king, Valdeve of Biggar, and others, were taken prisoners. They were conducted to Newcastle, and then to the town of Northampton, where William, and most lively his fellow-captives of note, were presented before King Henry, with their legs tied under their horses’ bellies, as if they had been the most ignominious felons. The Scottish King was kept a prisoner for some time in the Castle of Richmond, and then sent to Falaise in Normandy, that continental sovereigns might behold an instance of the successful achievements of the English. Whether any of the other captives accompanied the King to the Continent, history has not declared; but he was not himself released till the 8th December, when the Scottish nation had to submit to the deep mortification and disgrace of giving up to England the Castles of Edinburgh, Berwick, Roxburgh, Jedburgh, and Stirling, and seeing the King do homage, not merely for his lands in England, but for the whole kingdom of -Scotland.

For several generations, nothing very remarkable regarding the family of Biggar is known. Their names, however, appear very frequently as witnesses of important charters granted by the Scottish kings and barons, and the abbots of religious houses. For instance, William Flandrensis, most likely a son of Valdeve of Biggar, along with Hugo Cancellarius, who died in 1199, witnessed a deed of William I. to the monks of Kelso, and also a charter of the same monarch confirming the teinds of Linlithgow to the nuns of Manuel. He was also a witness of a donation of Richard le Bard to the monastery of Kelso, which was confirmed by Alexander n. in 1228. Hugh of Biggar, a grandson of Valdeve by his son Robert, as patron of the Church of Strathaven, granted, on the 14th February 1228, to St Machute’s of Lesmahagow, and the monks there, in pure and perpetual gift, all the tithe land of Richard le Bard lying on the south part of the river Avon, the great Kyp, the lesser Kyp, Glengenel, Polnebo, and Louchere. The names of the witnesses to this charter are interesting, is showing some of the principal men then holding possessions in the neighbourhood of Biggar. They were, William Fleamang, probably the unde of the donor, Malcolm Loccard, most likely of Symington, Robert of Robertstun, Radulph of Cormaoeston, and Richard, parson of Coulter. Peter of Biggar is mentioned in a charter of Anneis de Brus, granting the Church of Wodekyirch, or Thankerton, to the monks of Kelso; but, as is commonly the case in very old charters, the precise date is not given. In 1232, Symon of Biggar is a witness of a charter of the Archbishop of Glasgow, transferring the Churches of Roberton, Wiston, Symington, Dunsyre, etc., to the monks of Kelso. Sir Malcolm Fleming, most likely a son of William formerly mentioned, witnessed the donation of the Church of Largs to the monastery of Paisley, by Walter, the High Steward, who died in 1246. In a charter of Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, of which he was a witness, he is styled, ‘ Vice Comes de Dunbarton,* which shows that during the reign of Alexander III. he had been appointed to the office of Sheriff of that county. Nicholas of Biggar, Knight, is mentioned in a deed dated at Lesmahagow in the year 1269, and he appears to have been Sheriff of Lanarkshire in 1273. He died previous to 1292, when the marriage of his wife Mary, and the ward and marriage of his daughters Marjory and Ada, were granted by Edward I. of England to Robert, Bishop of Glasgow. It has been asserted by some writers, that the Lairds of Biggar to whom we have already referred, were a different family from the Flemings who afterwards were proprietors and superiors of this barony. A Fleming, they say, married one of the daughters of Sir Malcolm de Biggar just referred to, and receiving with her the lands of Biggar, became the progenitor of the family who possessed the Biggar estate for some centuries. So far, however, as we can ascertain, this assertion is based entirely on conjecture.

Robert Fleming, who probably was the son of Malcolm, attended the assembly of bishops, earls, abbots, priors, and barons, which took place at Brigham, 12th March 1289-90, to consider the proposal made by Edward I. of England, to marry his son Edward to the Maid of Norway, heiress to the Scottish throne, and thus to unite both kingdoms under one sovereign. Robert Fleming, along with the others present, agreed to this proposal, and appended his name to a letter addressed to the English monarch, in which it is stated that they were overjoyed to hear the good news that the ‘ Apostle ’ had granted a dispensation for the marriage of Margaret, their dear lady and Queen, to Prince Edward; and requested to be furnished with early intelligence regarding the steps taken to forward this important measure, with assurance of their full and ready concurrence, provided certain reasonable conditions were agreed to, which would be specified by commissioners, who were to attend in London at the meeting of the Parliament in Easter. This scheme, after all, was defeated by

the early death of tbe Maid of Norway, in September 1290. Robert Fleming, previous to the year 1305, appears to have thrown off his allegiance to Edward of England, sad to have joined the patriots who fought for their country’s freedom. According to Holinshed, he was in the Castle of Lochmaben when Robert Bruce, escaping from the murderous fangs of the English king, arrived, in the February of that year, at the stronghold of his forefathers. At that time, the Justiciars, Roger de Kirkpatrick and Walter Burgheton, held their courts ait Dumfries; and Bruce, as a freeholder in Annandaie, was, no doubt, summoned to give suit and service for his lands, by appearing in the retinue of these dignitaries. He, at all events, set out to that town, attended by his brother Edward, and Robert Fleming; and during their journey, it is said, they met a servant of the distinguished Sir John Comyn, who had been Governor of Scotland, and who, as a sister’s son of Baliol, was also one of the -claimants of the Scottish throne. This Servant was bearing despatches from his master to the English king; and as Bruce had began to suspect that Comyn was a traitor to his country, and faithless to certain engagements into which he had entered with himself, he felt no scruple in attacking the servant, and depriving him of the documents with which he had been entrusted. In these he found that Comyn strongly urged Edward to lose no time in putting Bruce to death, alleging as his principal reason for giving this advice, that so long as he continued to live, it would be difficult to suppress the efforts of the Scots to throw off the yoke of England. At Dumfries, Bruce met with a number of the barons and freeholders of the southern districts of Scotland, and among others with Comyn, Roger Kirkpatrick, and James Lindsay. It is said that Bruce embraced this opportunity to convene a meeting of his countrymen, at which he urged them to make a stand once more in defence of their liberty and independence, and ended by advancing his own claims to the Scottish throne, and expressing his determination to assert ;and maintain them at all hazards. Many of the gentlemen present signified their intention of giving him support; but Comyn, as was to be expected, opposed his pretensions and designs, and attempted to show that he had a preferable claim to the Scottish throne, as the heir of Baliol, and for the services which he <had already rendered to his country.

The meeting appears to have broken up without coming to any deaided resolution; and Bruce shortly afterwards met Comyn in the Church of the Greyfriars, and taxed him with his duplicity. A -warm altercation ensued, and in ihe heat of the moment Bruce so far forgot himself, and the sacred place in which he stood, that he drew his poniard, and smote Comyn to the ground. Struck with horror at committing so atrocious a deed, he instantly rushed to the door, and there met Fleming, Kirkpatrick, and other friends. Seeing him pale sand trembling, they asked the cause. ‘ I doubt,’ said Bruce, 'I have slain Comyn.’ ‘Doubt!* said Kirkpatrick; ‘ then Til mak sicker;’ and along with the others hurried into the Church. They were resolutely opposed by Robert Comyn, who defended the body of his brother; but they very soon despatched him, and then plunged their weapons into the breast of the dying baron. On their return, Bruce inquired if Comyn was dead. Fleming, holding up his bloody sword, exclaimed, ‘ Let the deed shaw;’ and it is said that henceforth this expression was adopted as the motto on the crest of the Flemings of Biggar. Robert Fleming continued to be a strenuous supporter of Robert Bruce, and, no doubt, so long as he lived, fought in his battles and shared in his varied fortunes.

Robert Fleming died previous to 1314, and thus was not destined to take a part in the glorious and decisive battle of Bannockburn. He left two sons, Malcolm and Patrick. Patrick is usually styled Lord of Biggar, and he may have received the barony of Biggar for his patrimony. He married one of the daughters and heiresses of Sir Simon Fraser of Oliver Castle; and thus the Flemings obtained considerable possessions in Tweeddale, and also a right to add the arms of the Frasers—viz., second and third azure, and three cinquefoils argent —to their escutcheon. It was, no doubt, in consequence of obtaining these possessions that he was appointed to the office of Sheriff of Peeblesshire. We see no reason to credit the statement given by Crawford, and repeated by many subsequent writers, that Patrick Fleming received the barony of Biggar as part of his wife’s heritage. We can, in fact, find no proof whatever that her father, Sir Simon Fraser, was ever proprietor of the lands of Biggar. The documents in the charter chest of the Fleming family throw no decided light on this subject. The oldest family document in which the Flemings of Biggar are mentioned, is dated 1857. This is a charter granted by Malcolm, Earl of Wigton, to his kinsman, Malcolm Fleming, Laird of Biggar, of all his lands of Auchmoir, etc., with their pertinents, wadset to him by Sir Thomas Morham, Knight, for 200 merks. There is, indeed, an old paper in the chest referred to, entitled, ‘ Catalogue of the knights, lords, and earls of the house of flemyng, as they ar recorded in their Charters,’ and evidently written during the seventeenth century, in which it is stated that a Sir Malcolm Fleming of Biggar lived in the reign of David I. This statement was made, perhaps, on the authority of a charter, though it cannot now be found; but, if it rested on nothing better than tradition, it at least shows that the family, two or three centuries ago, entertained the opinion that the Flemings of Biggar were as old as the days of that monarch.

Malcolm, the elder son, appears to have given a warm support to the cause of Robert Bruce. He was, no doubt, present with his retainers at the battle of Bannockburn. Robert Bruce, in consideration of his eminent services, conferred upon him die charters of several lands. We give a translation of one of them as a specimen.

‘Robert, King of Scotland. Be it known that we have given, and by this our present charter confirmed, to Malcolm Fleming, our well-beloved and faithful soldier, for his homage and service, the whole barony of Kirkintilloch, with its pertinents, which formerly belonged to John Comyn, Knight, holding and to be held by the said Malcolm and his heirs from us and our heirs, by all its proper boundaries and divisions, and with all its liberties, commodities, easements, and just pertinents, as freely, quietly, fully, and honourably as the said John held or possessed, for some time, the said barony and its pertinents; the said Malcolm and his heirs rendering to us and our heirs the service of a knight in our army, and suit in the court of the Sheriffdom of Dumbarton.’ He also received from Bruce charters of the lands of Achyndonan and their pertinents in the Lennox, which had been resigned by Malcolm de Drummond, and of the lands of Poltown in the county of Wigton. Bruce also appointed him to the offices of Sheriff of Dumbarton, and Governor of the castle of that name; and Walter, the High Steward, on the Feast of St Dunstan, 19th May 1321, rewarded him with an annuity out of the revenues of the Abbey and Convent of Holyrood, drawn from the barony of Cars.

Sir Walter Scott, as is well known, makes Malcolm Fleming a leading character in his last published novel, ‘ Castle Dangerous.' He is described in that work as fighting at the capture of Douglas Castle, the Castle Dangerous of the novel, and there vanquishing in single combat Sir Aymer de Vallence, on Palm Sunday, 19th March 1306-7. He has, of course, a sweetheart, whose name was Margaret de Hautlieu. Her father was a Norman baron, who, in quest of adventures, came to the Scottish court, and in the war for independence took the side of Baliol. His daughter Margaret, in course of the story, says, ‘Among those soldiers of the soil, Malcolm Fleming of Biggar was one of the most distinguished by his noble birth, his high acquirements, and his fame in chivalry. 1 saw him, and fell in love with the handsomest youth in Scotland.’ Her father had designed to wed her to a youth, bred at the English court, and, therefore, was utterly opposed to her union with Malcolm Fleming, a keen partisan of the opposite faction of Bruce. Fleming, who was inspired by a similar passion, resolved not to be thwarted by any ordinary obstacle, and therefore, along with Sir William Wallace, concerted a plan to carry her off by force. They assailed the house in which she lived, and a combat ensuing, Wallace attempted in the midst of the confusion to carry her down a ladder; but this being overturned, they were both precipitated to the ground, and the form of the fair Margaret was seriously injured and disfigured. On recovering from her wounds and bruises, she became a nun at Douglas, and during the contentions of the period, was carried off by a band of marauders to the borders. She was, however, rescued; and the last sentence that Scott published as a novelist, is as follows:—'In a short time it was made generally known throughout Scotland, that Sir Malcolm Fleming and the lady Margaret de Hautlieu were to be united at the court of the good King Robert, and the husband invested with the honours of Biggar and Cumbernauld, an earldom so long known in the family of Fleming.’

Previous to completing the novel of 'Castle Dangerous,' Sir Walter paid a visit to the scene in which it is laid. Having been subjected to several attacks of apoplexy, his health was at the time in a precarious condition; and a few weeks previously, he had been assailed with a strong burst of popular indignation at Jedburgh, in making an attempt to oppose the movement for Parliamentary Reform. Accompanied by Mr John Gibson Lockhart, his son-in-law, he left Abbotsford on the morning of the 18th July 1831, and, travelling through many scenes hallowed by his magic pen, he arrived at Biggar in the afternoon, where he was detained for some time, in consequence of the horses belonging to the chief inn being engaged elsewhere. A report spread rapidly through the town that the great minstrel of Scotland had arrived; and instantly the weavers left their looms, the smiths their forges, the shoemakers their stalls, and the merchants their shops, and hastened forth to obtain a sight of a man who had afforded them so .much delight, and who had conferred so great fame and honour on his country. In general, Scott was annoyed when he was made the object of vulgar gaze and attention; but, on this occasion, Lockhart says that he appeared gratified by the respectful notice of the people of Biggar, jmd he accounts for it by saying, 'Jedburgh, no doubt, hung on his mind, and he might be pleased to find that political differences did not interfere everywhere with his reception among his countrymen.’

It is to be regretted that the temper of our great novelist, in the enfeebled state in which he was at the time, was ruffled by an incident which occurred a few minutes after he left the town of Biggar. It is thus related by Lockhart:—‘ About a mile from Biggar we overtook a parcel of carters, one of whom was maltreating his horse; and Sir Walter called to him from the carriage-window with great indignation. The man looked and spoke insolently; and, as we drove on, he used some strong expressions about what he would have done had this happened within the bounds of his sheriffship. As he continued moved in an uncommon degree, I said, jokingly, that I wondered his porridge diet had left his blood so warm, and quoted Prior’s

'Was ever Tartar fierce or cruel Upon a mess of w&ter-gruel?”

He smiled graciously, and extemporized this variation on the next eouplet,

“Yet who shall stand the Sheriff’s force If Selkirk carter beats his horse?”

Malcolm Fleming was succeeded by his son Malcolm, who remained stedfast in his attachment to David, the youthful son of Bruce, whom that monarch left to inherit his perilous and unstable throne. Fleming, therefore, threw in his lot with the Earl of Mar, the Douglases, Sir Andrew Murray and others, who, after the Battle of Dupplin in 1333 refused to coneur in the usurpation of the Scottish throne by Edward BaiioL Having succeeded his father as Governor of Dumbarton Castle, he was able to afford a refuge in that fortress to David during the disastrous state of his affairs that ensued from the loss of that battle, line party with whom Fleming acted, having attacked Baliol and his adherents at Annan, drove them across the border. Edward III. of England, who favoured Baliol in consequence of having received from him an acknowledgment as his lord superior, proclaimed war against the friends of Bruce, and having levied a large army, laid siege to Berwick. This town was gallantly defended by the Earl of March and Sir Alexander Seton. A stipulation was entered into with Edward, that the Scots would deliver Berwick into his hands unless they were able, before the 19th day of July 1333, to throw 200 men into the town, or defeat the English in a pitched battle. The adherents of David Bruce immediately raised an army, and marched to the relief of the beleaguered town. The Governor representing that the inhabitants were reduced to the last extremity, the Scots resolved to hazard a battle, and, crossing the Tweed, took up their position at a place called Dunse Park. On this movement, Edward withdrew his army to an eminence on the west of Berwick, called Halidonhill, and both sides prepared for the oombat. The English were drawn up in four battalions, flanked by those terrible archers who often contributed so much to gain the battles of the English. The Scots were also arrayed in four battalions; and their principal leaders were, Lord Archibald Douglas of Galloway, Regent of the kingdom; the Steward of Scotland, a youth of seventeen years of age; the Earls of Ross and Moray; and James and Simon Fraser. Fleming and his retainers were placed in the first •division of the second battalion. A morass intervened between the two armies, and the Scots, with their national impetuosity, resolved to cross it and attack the English. The morass, as might be expected, retarded their advanoe, and threw them into confusion. ‘ And then,’ as an old author states, ‘ the Englische myn-stnelles beten ther tabers, and blowen ther trompes, and papers pipden loude, and mad a grete schoute uppon the Skottes, and then hadde the Englische bachefers eche of them 11 wingis of archers, whiche, at that meeting, miohtly drewen ther bowes, and made arrowes flee as thik as motes in the sonne beme, and so thai smote the Skottes that thai fell to the grounde by many thousands.’ A considerable body of the Scots, led on by the more intrepid of the nobility, succeeded in clearing the marsh, and pressing up the hill on which the English army stood. They fought, however, under great disadvantages^. Their ranks were disordered; they bad to ascend a rising ground, and to encounter a body of men greatly superior in numbers, drawn up in close array, and occupying a commanding position. They renewed tbe charge several times, but they were ultimately driven back, and the whole Scottish army was completely broken and scattered in irretrievable confusion. Fourteen thousand warriors, including a number of the nobility, were laid lifeless on the field. Fleming was fortunate enough to escape, and fled to his strong Castle of Dumbarton. Edward overran the country, appointed sheriffs, garrisoned castles, and managed all matters as if Scotland had been thoroughly and irretrievably subdued, and had become an integral part of England. Fleming, therefore, began to suspect that Dumbarton might not be strong enough to protect the King and Queen; and on this account he privately conveyed them to France, where they remained for eight years. They returned to Scotland on the 4th of May 1341, when their interests in Scotland had begun to be again in the ascendant.

David, whatever may have been his defects in other respects, was fully alive to the great and notable services which had been rendered to him by Malcolm Fleming. At the town of Ayr, on the 9th of November, about six months after his return from France, he conferred on him a charter, by which he was raised to the dignity of Earl of Wigton, and obtained very important rights and privileges. The following may be given as the substance of this charter, from the original Latin:—David, by the grace of God, King of Scotland. Be it known to all good men on the face of the earth, lay or clerical, that we have given, granted, and, by this our charter, confirmed to Malcolm Fleming, our well-beloved and faithful Knight, for his homages and laudable service paid and to be paid to us, all our lands of Faryes and the Rynnes, and the whole of our burgh of Wigton, with all their pertinents, and all my lands of the whole Sheriffship of Wigton, by their proper boundaries and divisions, viz., along the Water of Cree to the sea, and along the sea-coast to Molereunysuage, and from that point to the bounds of Carrick, and from these bounds to the head of the Water of Cree. All these lands are to be held by Malcolm and the heirs-male, lawfully begotten, or to be begotten, of his body, from us and our heirs, in feu and heritage, by the bounds and divisions described, in free Earldom, with homages and services of the said lands, with feus and forfeitures, with courts and escheats, with pit and gallows, with sok and sak, thol and theam, with infang-thief, with multures, mills, and their sequels, with fowlings, fishings, and huntings, with all other liberties, commodities, easememts, and just pertinents, that may belong to the free Earldom at present, or at any future time, named as well as not named; together with the advowson of churches, and the right of patronage of the monasteries and abbacies existing in the Earldom, reserving only to us and our heirs the patronage of the episcopal seat of Whithorn, and continuing to the burgesses of Wigton the same liberties which they justly possessed in the times of our predecessors. And because the place of Wigton is held to be the principal manor of the whole Sheriffdom, we ordain and perpetually confirm that Malcolm and his heirs take hence the title of Earl and Earls of Wigton; and because the said Malcolm has always conducted himself faithfully and laudably towards us, in times both of prosperity and adversity, we add, as a perpetual memorial of such service, to the grant of the said Earldom, that he and his heirs hold it in free regality, and have power to judge, in its courts, in the four pleas of the Crown,—the said Malcolm and his heirs rendering to us and our heirs the service of five knights in our army.

The alliance which for centuries existed between France and Scotland, was often the cause of great disasters to the Scots. It repeatedly involved them in war with England, during which their country was invaded and their armies defeated. David II. had been hospitably entertained in France during the eight years that he resided in it; and Philip, the French king, had aided his adherents in Scotland with contributions of arms and money. When war broke out between France and England in 1346, the French naturally desired that David would make a diversion in their favour by invading England. The Scottish king, therefore, summoned his subjects to repair to his standard at Perth; and thither accordingly went Malcolm Fleming, now Earl of Wigton, his cousin, Sir Malcolm Fleming of Biggar, and their relatives and retainers, to devote their energies and their lives to the service of their sovereign. The Scots, under the command of the King himself, marched to the borders; and rashly supposing that, as Edward HI. was in person carrying on the war in France, the English would be incapable of making any defence, they crossed the border, and ravaged the country as far as Durham. Had David possessed any forethought, or been amenable to advice, he would have lost no time in retreating, and securing his booty in the less accessible places of his own country; but he allowed time for the English to assemble an army of 30,000 men, under the command of Ralph Nevil, Lords Henry Percy, Musgrove, Scrope, Hastings, etc. The English very soon advanced to meet the Scots, who were encamped at Bear Park, near the town of Durham. Their position was ill chosen. It consisted of an undulating common, intersected with hedges and ditches, which prevented the different divisions from readily supporting each other. David drew up his army in three divisions. He led the centre himself, while the right wing was commanded by the Earl of Moray and the Knight of Liddesdale, and the left by the High Steward and the Earl of March. When the English bowmen advanced, they began, as usual, to discharge a shower of arrows, which did considerable execution; and this caused Sir John Graham to hasten to the King,

These pleas were robbery, rape, murder, and anon.and request a detachment of cavalry to disperse them; but though this was the movement that decided the Battle of Bannockburn, the King infatuatedly turned a deaf ear to the request, and Graham, stung with disappointment, rallied such followers as he could command, and rushed on the foe. His heroism was unavailing. The deadly shower of arrows laid numbers prostrate in the dust; and when his own horse was shot down, it was with difficulty that he made his way back to the main body.

The whole forces of the English were now in sight, and the number of gorgeous banners and crucifixes carried by the warriors of the Church made an imposing display. Moray’s division having been galled by the archers, and attacked by the men at arms, was put into disorder; and the English cavalry improving the advantage, rushed on the broken ranks with irresistible fury and impetuosity. Moray himself was slain, and his division nearly cut to pieces. The force of the English attack was now directed to the centre of the Soots, under the command of the young King. It was assailed on the flank by 10,000 bowmen, but it bravely stood its ground, and, for three hours, carried on the fray with great vigour. The King would not flinch a foot. His nobles fell thick around him. Hay, the Great Constable, Keith, the Great Marshall, Charters, the Chancellor, and Peebles, the Lord Chamberlain, were all cut down; and two arrows penetrated the King’s person, but he would neither surrender nor flee from the field. Copland, an English knight, at last broke in upon him, and engaged him in a hand-to-hand encounter, in the course of which the King drove out two of Copland’s teeth with his dagger; but in the end he was overpowered, and taken prisoner. The High Steward and the Earl of March, thinking that opposition was now hopeless, withdrew their division, and sustained little loss. It is estimated that 15,000 of the Scots were slain in this battle; and among the prisoners taken, besides the King, were the Earls of Wigton, Fife, Monteith, and Sutherland, Douglas, Knight of Liddeedale, send about fifty other barons and knights, including Sir Malcolm Fleming of Biggar. They were conducted under a strong escort to London, paraded along the streets with great ostentation, and then lodged in the Tower. The Earl of Wigton, and his cousin^ Sir Malcolm Fleming of Biggar, were captured by a person named Robert Bertram, and it appears that they were afterwards committed to his charge. This individual either set them at liberty, or allowed them to escape; and far this oonduot, was denounced an enemy to his king, and punished with imprisonment in the Tower, and the confiscation of his lands and goods.

The English, taking advantage of the defenceless and disordered state of Scotland after the Battle of Durham, overran the Merse, Ettrick, Annandale, and Galloway. Considering that these districts had all been thoroughly and irretrievably subdued, they fixed on a new boundary between the two kingdoms, which was to extend from Gockburnspath to Soultra, and from Carlops to Crosscryne. As Wyntoun in his ‘ Cronykill ’ says,

'At Karlinlippis and at Corscryne,
Thare thai made the marches syne.’

The Earl of Wigton was present at the Parliament held at Edinburgh, 26tih September 1357, and gave his consent to the appointment of a commission to conclude a treaty for the ransom of David II. This negotiation was completed at Berwick in October following, and the Scots agreed to pay 100,000 merks, and to give a number of persons connected with the chief families, as hostages for the faithful performance of their part of the treaty. The Earl of Wigton appended his seal to the documents in this case, and gave his grandson Thomas as one of the hostages, his son John having died about the year 1351. The Earl, who seems to have had very extensive possessions, conveyed the lands of Kilmaronock in Dumbartonshire, and the island of Inch-cailloch in Lochlomond, to his son-in-law, John Danielson; the lands of Kyllynsith in Dumbartonshire, to Robert de la Vail; the lands of Hallys and Letbemald, to Robert Dunbarton, Clerk of Register; and he gave a donation to the Monastery of Newbattle, in the beginning of 1346, to say ’prayers for the safety of his soul. He himself obtained a charter of the five merk land of Garmnole and Knockiebirvan. He died about the year 1362, and was succeeded by his grandson Thomas.

Thomas, the second Earl of Wigton, was a hostage for David II. when he was permitted to visit his dominions, 4th September 1351; andr as we have already stated, he was one of the hostages for the fulfilment of the treaty that net David at liberty, 3d July 1354. David conferred on him a new charter of the Earldom of Wigton, dated at' Perth, 25th January 1365; but he withheld the right of regality, out of deference, it is' supposed, to the wishes of Archibald Douglas, Lord of Galloway, who was grievously dissatisfied that another person should exercise such a jurisdiction in a territory with which he was connected. The right of regality was of great importance. By it the possessor was made absolute in his own domains. He held his own courts; was supreme judge in all cases, civil or criminal; had the power of death or imprisonment in his own dungeon; and could reclaim any of his vassals from the court even of the High Justiciar himself. A quarrel at length arose between the Earl and the native population of Wigtonshire, most likely originated and fomented by the same Archibald Douglas; and this rendered his position so disagreeable, that he was induced to dispose of his lands, privileges, and title in Wigtonshire to that nobleman. A copy of the deed conveying these still exists; and as the transaction is one of very rare occurrence in Scottish history, we give the following translation ‘ Know ye that I, Thomas Fleming) not by force or fear induced, nor by error misled, but of my pure free will, firmly resolved, in my great, urgent, and inexorable necessity, and especially because of great and grievous discords and deadly animosities lately arisen between me and the natives of the Earldom of Wigton, have sold, and by title of sale for ever granted, to the noble and potent Sir Archibald of Douglas, Knight, Lord of Galloway, on the east side of the Water of Cree, my whole foresaid Earldom; and have purely, simply, absolutely, and for ever transferred to the said Archibald all right and claim competent in future to me, my heirs and assignees, in the said Earldom, with its pertinents, for a certain considerable sum of money paid to me in my foresaid great and urgent necessity, to be holden by the foresaid Archibald, his heirs and assignees, in fee and heritage, by all its bounds and marches, in meadows, grazings, moors, marshes, roads, paths, waters, pools, mills, multures, with servants, thralls, and their progeny, with fowlings, huntings, and fishings, with pit and gallows, sok and sak, toll and teme, infangthief and outfang-thief, with fees, forfeitures, and escheats, wards, reliefs, and marriages, tenandries and services of free tenants; as also, all and whole the other liberties, commodities, easements, just pertinents, and free customs, belonging, or that can by any right or title whatsoever belong, to the said Earldom, as freely, quietly, fully, and honourably, and entirely in all and through all, as I, the foresaid Thomas, or any of my predecessors, held and possessed the same Earldom. In testimony whereof, I have appended my seal to these presents. Given at Edinburgh, the 8th day of February, in the year of our Lord 1871.’

This sale was confirmed by Robert II. on the 7th of October 1372. The sum which Thomas Fleming obtained for the Earldom, with all its important rights and possessions, was L.500. One of the most noticeable things connected with this transaction, is that a sale was made, not merely of the lands and their privileges, but also of the title. In a royal charter granted by Robert II. in 1375, Fleming is styled Thomas Fleming of Fulwood, formerly Earl of Wigton. The family of Douglas, however, did not assume the title till a considerable time after the sale took place.

Thomas Fleming, having no children, appears to have alienated most of his estates during his life. In 1371 he granted an annuity of twelve merks to William Boyd; on the 20th June 1372, he gave in pledge the barony of Lenzie for the sum of L.80; and he gifted the town of Kirkintilloch to Sir Gilbert - Kennedy, which was confirmed 18th May 1373.

The successor of Thomas Fleming was Sir Malcolm Fleming of Biggar, a son of Sir Patrick, who married the daughter of Sir Simon Fraser. As formerly stated, he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Durham; and afterwards received from David II. charters of the barony of Dalliel, and of the lands of Rinns of Wigton, and Sthboger

The lands of Fulwood lie on the banks of the Greif in Renfrewshire. in the barony of Lenzie. His cousin, Malcolm, Earl of Wigton, gave him a grant of the lands of Achmoir and Seymoir in 1357, as already stated; and his predecessor Thomas, previous to his death, conferred on him the barony of Lenzie, and this gift was confirmed by Robert II on the 20th September 1382. He was appointed Sheriff of Dumbarton in 1364, and had an assignment of the pledge made of the barony of Lenzie by Thomas Fleming to William Boyd for L.80. He had a charter from Robert H. of a tenement in Cramond, resigned by Marjory Fleming, 16th January 1380.

Sir Malcolm left two sons, David and Patrick. Patrick, in April 1369, exchanged his lands of Dalnoter and Gartscandane, in the Earldom of Lennox, for the lands of Bord, Tweoures, Croy, etc., in the barony of* Leygneh,’ belonging to Sir Robert Erskine, and became the progenitor of the Flemings of Bord.

David Fleming of Biggar played a distinguished part in the public transactions of his time. In 1362 he received from David IL a charter of certain annual rents; on the 20th of May 1365 he obtained a safe conduct to visit England; and in 1388 accompanied Douglas in the expedition to England which terminated in the Battle of Otter bum, so much celebrated in our annals, as one of the most chivalrous encounters that ever took place between the inhabitants of the two kingdoms. The Scots, on this occasion, numbering about 5000 men, penetrated into the mountainous district of England on the eastern frontier, and then emerged into the flat and richly cultivated country, burning, plundering, and slaying wherever they went The Percies of Northumberland lost no time in levying an army, and throwing themselves into Newcastle. In the course of a sally which they made from the town, Douglas captured the spear of Henry Percy, commonly called Hotspur, and bragged that he would carry it as a trophy into Scotland. Hotspur, indignant at the thought of this disgrace, resolved to make every effort to prevent the design from being carried into effect. In the meantime, the Scots, having accomplished the object of their expedition, retreated up the vale of the little river Reid, and on the 19th of August pitched their tents at Otterbum, about twenty miles from the Scottish border. They were closely but stealthily followed by the English, who were much superior in point of numbers, and who, during the night, approached within a short distance of their camp, with the design of making an attack on its flank.

As soon as the alarm was given, Douglas drofr up his men on a piece of ground still more advantageously situated for an engagement than that occupied by the encampment. The English supposed that the Scots by this movement had beat a retreat, and, therefore, were surprised when, by the light of the moon, they discovered them drawn up in battle array, and awaiting the encounter. The combat instantly commenced, and raged with great fury, both sides being inflamed with national animosity, and putting implicit confidence in the skill and bravery of their leaders. The Scots, oppressed with numbers, were on the point of giving way, when Douglas ordered his banner to be advanced, and, attended by his best knights, rushed forward, shouting his usual war-cry, *A Douglas! a Douglas!* and smote all down before him with his battle-axe. He at length fell, pierced by three mortal wounds; but he urged those around him to conceal his disaster, and to carry on the combat with redoubled fury. This was done; and in a short time the English were entirely routed, and all the chief men of Durham and Northumberland were either killed or taken prisoners, and among the latter were the Percies themselves. Froissart, who obtained his information from persons on both sides who had taken part in the battle, says in his Chronicles:—'Of all the battles which I have made mention of heretofore in this history, this of Otterbum was the bravest and the best contested; for there was neither knight nor squire but acquitted himself nobly, doing well his duty, and fighting hand to hand without either stay or faint-heartedness.’

Sir David Fleming, or, as the monks of Holyrood used to call him, 'Davie Fleming of Biggar,’ came out of the encounter at Otterbum with no small reputation for bravery and martial prowess. It was most likely as a reward for his gallant services that he obtained from Robert II. grants of various lands and sums of money. On the 14th March 1390, he received from that monarch a charter of annual rents of the value of L.50 sterling, due to the Crown by the abbot and monks of Holyrood from the lands of Cars in Stirlingshire; and charters of the lands of Auchlan, in the barony of Kinnedward, —of Barbethe, Caslis, Galnethe, and Glentall, in the parish of Straiton in Ayrshire,—of Cambusbarron and Blaregis, in Stirlingshire,—of the chapels of Kirkintilloch, the lands of Drumtablay, in Dumbartonshire, —the lands of Wodland and Meiklgall, in the barony of Monycabow, and the lands of Cavers and the Sheriffship of Roxburgh.

With the consent of his son and heir Malcolm, he, in his turn, gave the lands of Mureton to the Monastery of Cambuskenneth, in order that the monks of that establishment might constantly pray for the welfare of the souls of Malcolm, his father, of Christian, his mother, of himself, and his wife Isabella. At that period, he seems to have been in a very generous and pious turn of mind; for in a few days after, viz., on the 25th of the same month, he granted a charter * to the abbot and monks of Holyrood, which was drawn up at Stirling, and confirmed by Robert III. A copy of it still exists in the char-tulary of the Monastery of Holyrood, and, strange enough, is written in the contracted vernacular Scotch of the period, and not, as was usual, in Latin. ‘ It oontenis and bearis witness that ye said Davi Lord of Bigare and Lenzie has giffen in pure and perpetuale almous to ye said religious men, twenty marks of annuale rent to pay a channon stngsnd perpetually at ye altare of St Nicholas, in ye said Abbay, quare ye said Davi has ordanit his sepulture. Item the said Davi has giffen five marks of annuale rent in pure and perpetual almous for the repair of St Nicholas altare, both within and without, with glass windows, and his arms on them. Finally, he has giffen ten pound of annuale rent for the offering up of continual prayer for his own soul and the souls of his relatives.’ It further provides, that David Fleming or his heirs might redeem these animal offerings by paying down to the abbot and monks, on the high altar of Holyrood, the sum of one hundred pounds. He also mortified his whole lands of Drumtablay, with a portion of the miln thereof, to the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin in Kirkintilloch, to say masses for the salvation of his own soul, the soul of his wife, his parents, and others. This mortification was confirmed by Robert III. in 1379.

Robert III, though possessed of a mild and generous disposition, was a weak and indolent monarch. He had been injured in boyhood by a kick from a horse, and was thus prevented from engaging in those martial and violent exercises in which the nobles took delight, and which they thought indispensable in a king. The Duke of Albany, the King’s brother, was a far more spirited and energetic individual, and took the chief management of public affairs. The Duke of Rothesay, the King’s eldest son, gave great uneasiness to his father by his riotous and irregular behaviour; and, with the view of reclaiming him to more settled habits, it was proposed to unite him in: marriage with a daughter of one of the nobles. Albany, in carrying out this arrangement, made it a condition, that the daughter of that nobleman would be preferred who would pay down the largest sum of money. The Earl of March at first proposed to give the largest sum, and his daughter and the Prince were betrothed. The Earl of Douglas afterwards offered a still larger Bum; and Albany, with great injustice, broke faith with the Earl of March, and united the Prince, to Margery Douglas. This marriage was exceedingly unhappy.. The Prince continued his irregularities; and two ruffians, at the instigation, it is said, of Albany and Douglas, seized the unhappy young; man, and’ immured him in the dungeon of Falkland Castle, where he was starved to death.

The Earl of March, filled with indignation at the dishonourable treatment which he had received in this matrimonial transaction, fled to England, and at the head of an English force committed great havoc on the Scottish border. The Earl of Douglas, to revenge this inroad, levied an army, and marched into England; but he was routed at Homildon by an English force under die command of the Percies, and taken prisoner. A short time afterwards* the Percies, in conjunction with other discontented nobles, broke out in rebellion, and in the war which they waged against their sovereign Henry IV., received the assistance of Douglas, whom they had set at liberty. At the Battle of Shrewsbury, Douglas fought with great bravery, but his horse stumbling, he was wounded and taken prisoner; while the Earl of Northumberland and Lord Rardolph, escaping from the field, took refuge in Scotland. Henry IV., addressing himself to the Duke of Albany, proposed to set at liberty Murdoch, the Duke’s son, the Earl of Douglas, and other Scottish prisoners in England, on condition that the English refugees were immediately put to death. Albany entered into this base project; but Sir David Fleming of Biggar having discovered it before it was ripe for execution, apprised his friend, the Earl of Northumberland, of the fate intended for him, and advised him to seek safety in flight By this means the English exiles escaped the bloody fangs of the Duke of Albany, greatly to the mortification of the Douglases, who resolved to embrace the earliest opportunity of taking vengeance on Fleming.

Robert III., being well aware of the ambitious and unscrupulous character of his brother, the Duke of Albany, was careful to have his second son, James, Earl of Carrick, brought up in a place of security. He was, therefore, educated in the Castle of St Andrews, under the superintendence of Henry Wardlaw, then Bishop of that See. The death of his brother in the Castle of Falkland, and the unsettled state of the country, made the King apprehensive that there was no place in Scotland beyond the reach of violence, and therefore he resolved to send his son to France to complete his education. A vessel was prepared for the voyage, and stationed at the Bass; and a strong body of armed men, under the command of Sir David Fleming and the Earl of Orkney, were ordered to escort the Prince from St Andrews to Edinburgh, and then to North Berwick. These barons performed the duty assigned them with great promptness and fidelity, and the Prince, with the Earl of Orkney and a small suit, were safely put aboard the vessel They were, however, not destined to reach the shores of France; for, on passing Flamborough Head, they were captured by an armed English vessel, carried to London, and thrown into the Tower, in direct violation of a truce, which, at the time, existed between the two kingdoms.

The Duke of Albany and the Douglases being full of indignation against David Fleming, both on account of the escape of the English refugees and the departure of the young Prince, collected a number of their retainers, and placed them under the command of Sir James Douglas of Balveny and Alexander Seton. These individuals fell upon Fleming and his party at Longherdmanston, on their way from North Berwick; and, after an obstinate encounter, Fleming and a number of his followers were slain. The body of Fleming was conveyed to the Abbey of Holyrood, and there, according to his own arrangement, was interred under the altar of St Nicholas, the patron saint of the old Parish Kirk of Biggar. Wyntoun thus speaks of his prowess as a warrior; and the esteem in which he was held by the King:—

'Schire Davy Flemyng of Cumbirnald Lord,—
A knycht stout and bald,
Trowit and luvit wel wyth ye King,
Our Prynce resavit in Ids keiping.’

Of his death and burial the same poet says:—

'Fra this, Schire Davy thare wee dayne,
Der Lords all passit hame agane,
And ye con wee on ye mome
Throuch Edinbruch wyth honoure borne
Til Halyrudhouse, yare he lyes,
His spirite intil Paradys.’

Sir David Fleming was twice married. His first wife was Jean, daughter of Sir David Barclay of Brechin; and by her he had a daughter, Marion, who became the wife of Sir William Maule of Panmure. By his second wife, Isabel, heiress of the Baron of Monycabow, he had two sons, Malcolm and David. David was the founder of a respectable branch of the Fleming family, who settled at a place in Renfrewshire which was called BoghalL1 The elder son, Malcolm, succeeded to the family estates of Biggar and Cumbernauld. He married Elizabeth, daughter of the Duke of Albany, niece of Robert HI., and thus was closely connected with the royal family of Scotland. He was knighted by that monarch, and received from his father-in-law a charter of the lands of Torwood, most likely as the dowry of his wife. He, of course, inherited the lands in the parish of Drummelzier, acquired by the Flemings from their marriage with the family of Sir Simon Fraser. The father of Sir Simon, who died in 1291, had bestowed a portion of the lands of Kingledoors on the monks of Melrose. These lands, in ancient times, were divided into Craw Kingledoors and Chapel Kingledoors; Chapel Kingledoors being so called from a chapel which stood on it, dedicated to St Cuthbert. A dispute arose between the monks of Melrose and the Lairds of Biggar, regarding the party on whom devolved the burden of repairing and upholding the chapel, and had the right of appointing a priest to officiate at its altar. Malcolm Fleming, of whom we are now treating, put an end to this long and keenly controverted point, by renouncing, in 1417, 'all right and claim in the chapel and its priest had, or to be had, from the beginning of the world to the end of tune.'

The Earl of Carrick, whom we mentioned as having been conveyed by Sir David Fleming to the Bass, and as having been captured and imprisoned by the English, became, on the death of his father, in 1406, James L; but for eighteen years was detained a prisoner in England. He was allowed to visit his dominions in May 1421, and Malcolm Fleming was one of the hostages for his return to captivity. A war breaking out between France and England, in 1419, many of the most bold and adventurous Scots embarked for France, and took part in the contest against the English in that country. The English carried the Scottish king to France, in order that he might exert his authority to prevent his subjects from taking any further part in the war; but they refused to obey his orders so long as he was not a free agent; and this circumstance made the English more readily disposed to listen to proposals to set him at liberty. A treaty was at length concluded at London on the 4th December 1423, by which it was stipulated that the Scots should pay L.40,000, as a compensation for the expense which the English had incurred in the maintenance and education of James, and also give a number of the principal barons as hostages for the due fulfilment of the terms of this treaty. The names of the hostages, and the yearly income of each, are given in ‘ Ryiuer’s Fcedera.’ ‘Malcolmus, Dominus de Bygare,’ was one of the hostages; and his yearly income is set down at 600 merks, which, if the value of a rnerk at that time was equal to L.10 of our present currency, would amount to L.6000.

James I. was no sooner established on his throne than he began to administer justice with a severity that, in a short time, cost him his life. Among other persons whom he brought to trial, was Murdoch, Duke of Albany, his cousin, who had succeeded his father as Regent of the kingdom during the confinement of the King in England; and both he and his two sons were condemned for abusing the Bang’s authority, and beheaded at Stirling, in May 1425. Sir Malcolm Fleming of Biggar, being the brother-in-law of Murdoch, was apprehended it the same time; but, as most likely no satisfactory plea could be advanced against him, he was soon set at liberty.

In those days of feud and faction, very strange and unexpected alliances were often formed. It would naturally be supposed that Malcolm Fleming, having lost his father by the craft and malignity of the Duke of Albany and the family of Douglas, would hold them in deadly enmity; but, instead of this, he married the daughter of the one, and became the intimate friend and counsellor of the other. At that time no noblemen were more powerful, or comported themselves with a more haughty and imperious bearing, than the Earls of Douglas, of whom it was nothing uncommon to hear, that they were marching through the country with a band of several thousand armed men in their train. In fact, their power and authority became dangerous to the Stewart dynasty, more especially as, by marriage with the royal family, they had acquired some hopes of succeeding to the throne. Archibald, the fifth Earl of Douglas, died on the 26th of June 1439, and left two sons, William and David. William, who at his father’s death was only seventeen years of age, was a youth of good abilities, gallant demeanour, and generous disposition; and, had his lot been cast in more peaceful and settled times, he might have been one of the most distinguished members of his illustrious House. Malcolm Fleming of Biggar was his near neighbour, and his age and experience might point him out as a most proper friend and adviser. At all events,, the recent feud between the two Hotoses was forgotten, arid a great intimacy springing up between them; Douglas sent him arid Allan Lauder of the Bass to France* to carry his oath of allegiance to the French king, and to receive investiture in the Dukedom of Tou-raine, which had been bestowed on the grandfather of Douglas, for Us gallant services to the French nation. Charles VII., then King of France, gave Fleming and'Lauder a very kind reception, and, as we are told by Lindsay of Pitscottie* ‘grantit glaidlie to thair requeisit and message, and gave to him (Douglas) and his procutatouris the haill landis and rentis in Franee, quhilkis hid guid&chir had a befoir.’ At the period of which we are now speaking, Scotland was in a very miserable condition; James I. had been cruelly murdered at Perth, and his son and successor was only a few years old. No single person possessed # sufficient power and authority to exercise, with effect, the administration of public affairs, to cause the laws to be respected and obeyed, to overawe the factious, turbulent, and bloodthirsty barons, and promote the peaceful arts of industry and commerce. The two noblemen who clainted and excercised the largest share of power were Alexander Livingston of Callender, who held the office of Governor; and William Crichton of Crichton, who was Chancellor of the kingdom. These barons carried on a constant rivalry1 with one another, each of them being resolutely bent oh obtaining the • superiority, and equally industrious in issuing edicts, calling on the people to give him exclusive obedience. The minds of the population were thus distracted; the adherents of one party perpetrated every species of enormity on the other; the lands remained uncultivated; and famine, with all its dire concomitants, was the result. The young Earl of Douglas, amid these unhappy dissensions and calamities, is alleged to have conducted himself in a very imperious and lawless manner, riding up and down at the* head of several hundred armed troopers, and burning, slaughtering, and pillaging wherever he went. The Governor and Chancellor having, at length, effected s reconciliation, came to a resolution to crush, by dissimulation and violence, the exorbitant power of Douglas A letter was Written to hiin, representing that the affairs of State could not be conducted without his aid, and requesting him to repair without delay to Edinburgh. It is stated that other inducements Were given to draw him into the snare, such as holding out a prospect of advancing him, or his under Malise, Earl of Strathern, to the supreme power, in preference to the son of James I.; but the fact is, that the reasons which they adduced are not certainly known. Whatever they were, they were sufficient to puff up the vain young man with very confident and exalted notions, and made him deaf to all the entreaties and remonstrances of his friends to keep aloof from the society of Crichton and Livingston, whose hasty reconciliation made them apprehensive of impending danger. Accompanied by his brother David, his friend Malcolm Fleming, and a small escort, he set out towards Edinburgh, and by the way was met by Crichton, the Chancellor, who conducted him and his attendants to the Castle of Crichton, and* there splendidly entertained them for several days. They at length left Crichton’s festive halls, and proceeded to the Castle of Edinburgh, where they were seemingly welcomed with the greatest cordiality. Lesley, Pits-cottie, and perhaps some other of our older historians, state that they were here entertained at a sumptuous dinner, and that, in the course of it, a bull’s head was placed on the table, which was a sign of condemnation to death. This, it is said, gave rise to the popular rhyme,—

'Edinburgh Castle, town, and tower,
God grant ye sink for ee'n;
And that even for the black dinnour
Earl Douglas gat therein.'

Tytler, in opposition to the statements of the old historians, rejects the story of the bull’s head as a mere fiction; but his opinion rests on nothing better than supposition. It is certain, at least, that Douglas and his principal attendants were immediately accused of treason and placed under restraint The Earl and his brother were subjected to the forms of a mock trial, and condemned to be taken to the Castle-hill and beheaded. This sentence was accordingly carried into execution, in presence of the young monarch, on the eve of the Festival of St Katherine, viz., the 24th November 1440.

It has been generally asserted, that the trial and execution of Sir Malcolm Fleming took place at the same time with the Douglases. This is a mistake. It has been ascertained that he was not tried and executed till the fourth day after his friends had been deprived of life. After a form of trial, as illegal as it was insulting, he was brought to the Castlehill, the usual place of execution at the time, and there his head was struck from his body by the axe of the headsman; thus ignominiously losing his life for no other crime that history has left on record than that he was a friend to the youthful Douglas, and obnoxious to men inflamed with mad ambition, and ready to make a cruel and unwarrantable use of the power that had fallen into their hands.

Malcolm, by his wife Elizabeth Stewart, who in old writs is termed Lady Biggar, had two sons, Malcolm and Robert Malcolm was one of the hostages for James 1., and appears to have been released from this duty on the 20th January 1432. He predeceased his father, and therefore his brother Robert succeeded to the estates. One of Robert’s first acts was to make several public protests against the sentence of death and forfeiture which had been pronounced against his father. Copies of several of these instruments are still preserved. We may refer to one of them, written partly in Latin and partly in the vernacular Scotch of the time, which was made at the Cross of Linlithgow. It commences by invoking the name of the Deity, and wishes all men to know by this public instrument, that on the 7th day of January, in the year of our Lord 1440, and the 14th year of the Pontificate of the most holy Father in Christ, Lord Eugenius, by Divine Providence Pope, and in presence of the witnesses whose names are subscribed— Walter Buchanan and Thomas Muirhead, Esquires, and procurators of Robert Fleming, son and heir of the late Malcolm Fleming, Lord of Biggar, having power and sufficient instructions, as is shown by legal documents, went to the Market Cross of the burgh of Linlithgow, and there, before William Houston, Sheriff-depute, and in name of the said Robert, falsified a certain sentence pronounced, or violently carried out, upon Malcolm Fleming, father of the said Robert, on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh; all this being done according to due mode and form, and for the reasons written below, the tenor of which follows in the vulgar:—

‘We, Waltyr of Buchquwane, and Thomas of Murhede, special procuratoris and actourneis, conjunctly and severally, to Robert Flemyng, son and ayr to Malcolm Flemyng, sumtyme Lord of Bigar, sayis to thee John of Blayr, Dempstar, that the Doyme gyffin out of thy mouth on Malcolm Flemyng in a said court haldyn befor our soverane Lord ye King, on the Castle-hill of Edynburch on Mononday the acht and twenty day of the moneth of November, the yere of our Lord Mmoc,c,c,cmo and fourty zeris sayande, “that he had forfat land, lyff, and gud aschete to the King, and that yow gave for doyme,” that doyme forsaid giffen out of thy mouth is evyl, fals, and rotten in itself; and here, We the fors* Walter and Thomas, procuratoris to the said Robert, for hym, and in his name, fals it, adnul it, and again cancel it, in thy hand William of Howston, deput to the Sherray of Lithgow, and tharto a borch in thy hand; and for this cause the courte was unlachful, the doyme unlachful, unorderly giffen, and agane our statut; for had he been a common thef takyn redhand, and haldyn twa sonys, he sulde haff had his law dayis, he askande them, as he did befoir our soverane Lord the King, and be this resoune the doyme is evyll giffyn, and weil agane said; and here we, the forsaid Walter and Thomas, procuratoris to the forsaid Robert, protests for ma resounys to be giffen up be the said Robert, or be his procuratoris, quhan he acht in lawful tyme.’

The said sentence, as thus set forth, being false and void, the procurators of Robert Fleming took a pledge to pursue the adnulification and falsification of the said sentence, in the hands of Robert Nicholson, serjeant of our Lord the King, who received the same pledge.

The procurators afterwards offered a falsification and adnulification of the sentence, under the seal of Robert Fleming, to William Houston, Sheriff-depute, who refused to receive it, alleging that the reception of such a document pertained to the Justiciar and not to the Sheriff; and thereupon the agents publicly protested against this refusal being the cause of any prejudice to the said Robert in time to come. Upon each and all of these points the procurators took public instruments in the hands of a notary public, at the Cross of Linlithgow, at ten o’clock of the day already stated, and before a number of competent witnesses.

On the 16th of August 1443, Sir Alexander Livingstone, as is shown by a document still preserved, in presence of Robert Fleming and four bishops, solemnly purged himself, upon oath, of having given any counsel, assistance, or consent to the slaughter of Sir Malcolm Fleming. It would thus seem that the death of Sir Malcolm is to be ascribed solely to the vindictive feelings or ambitious aspirations of Crichton the Chancellor.

When James II. arrived at the age of maturity, he became convinced that great injustice had been done in putting Malcolm Fleming to death, and forfeiting his estate.. He therefore caused precepts to be addressed to the sheriffs of the different counties in which Fleming’s estates were situated, ordering them to infeft Robert Fleming of Biggar as the heir and successor of his father, who had been proved, by the testimony of several persons, to have died at the faith and peace of his sovereign. He also, on the 6th of June 1451, bestowed on him a charter of the twenty-four merk lands of Petkenny, Culevenny, and Balrody, and their pertinents, lying in the barony of Kinghorn, to be held of the King by rendering the usual services. On the following day, viz., the 7th of June, he conferred on him a charter of all and whole the lands of Auchtermony and their pertinents, lying in the Earldom of Lennox, to be held of the King by rendering a silver penny Scots if sought It was, no doubt, James also who raised Fleming to the peerage, though the date at which this took place is not exactly known. But the favour received by him from the King, which possesses the greatest interest to the people of Biggar, is the erection of Biggar into a free burgh of barony, as we have elsewhere stated.

The lands of Boghall, on the death of their proprietor, John Fleming, in 1581, came into the hands of John, Lord Fleming, who disponed them to his second son, James, in 1598. In course of time they went out of the hands of the Flemings, and became the property of the Earls of Dundonald.


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