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History of the Burgh of Dumfries
Chapter II


FICITITOUS CELTIC GENEALOGIES OF NITHSDALE – SUPRMACY OF THE SAXONS – INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY – GLIMPSES OF THE “CASTLE IN THE BRUSHWOOD” AND ITS NEIGHBOURING CABINS, THE NUCLEUS OF THE FUTURE TOWN – DUNEGAL, LORD OF STRANITH – ALAN, LORD OF GALLOWAY; HIS CONNECTION WITH DUMFRIES – DEVORGILLA – SETTLEMENT OF OTHER FAMILIES IN THE DISTRICT: THE CARRUTHERSES, THE MAXWELLS, THE DOUGLASSES, THE SCOTTS, THE CRICHTONS, THE FERGUSSONS, THE GRIERSONS, THE MURRAY, THE RIDDELS, THE CHARTERISES, THE DINNISTOUNS, THE DE MANDEVILLES, THE HERISES, THE DE MOREVILLES, THE MAITLANDS, THE HUNTERS, THE DE ROSINDALES, THE BRUCES, THE BALIOLS, THE COMYNS, THE KIRKPATRICKS, THE CARLYLES, THE JARDINES, AND THE JOHNSTONES.

FAINT notices – not very reliable, we fear – are given by pedigree-makers respecting some Nithsdale families of this early time. Nuath, son of Coel Godhebog, a Cumbrian prince who flourished before 300, owned lands in Annandal and Clydesdale, it is said, which were named, after him, Caer-nuath or Carnwath. If this statement could be relied upon, it would be no very bold hypothesis to say that the river Nith also owes its name to the son of Godhebog. One of Nuath’s descendents of the fourth generation, Loth, a Pictish king, formed a strong encampment along the base of the Tynwald hills, which bore the appellation of Barloth. The second son, Gwallon, built a chain of forts extending from Dryfesdale to the vicinity of Lochmaben, the designation of which is still preserved in the existing farm of Galloberry. Gwallon’s sister, Thenelis, was the mother of the celebrated Kentigern, or St. Mungo, whose name is retained by a Dumfriesshire parish. Marken, or Marcus, brother of Loth, had a son named Kinder: to him belonged the district called after him Loch-Kinder. A son of Kinder’s, Yrein or Yrvin, owned lands in Eskdale, which bore his name; and to him, it is said, the prolific family of the Irvings, who ages afterwards flourished in Annandale, and often held civic rule in Dumfries, owe their origin. [Barjarg Manuscripts.]

The long mythical line of Coel Godhebog, now brought down till the sixth century, had already yielded saints as well as princes. In or about 560 it produced a rival to Ossian, in the person of Lywarch-Hen, called by the genealogist “a great poet.” [The alleged poems of Lywarch-Hen have been investigated lately by Mr. Thomas Wright and others. These critics reject them all as spurious save one – “A Lament or Urien” – the rest being considered by them as Welsh inventions of the twelfth century.] He, like Moore’s young minstrel, bore both lyre and brand. He wrote poems and built fortresses, none of which survive, though the names of the latter, Castle Lywar in Eskdale and Caer Laurie in the Lothians, still linger on the tongue of tradition. Better than all, perhaps, he founded a wide-spread family, who inherit his name in its modern form, Laurie, which is still a common one in Dumfriesshire. This warrior-barb left two sons, one of whom, Lywarch-Ogg, is said to have settled down on the north shore of the Solway, within the region termed Carbantorigum by Ptolemy, and there, early in the seventh century, originated the greatest of the Nithsdale fortresses, Caer-Lywarch-Ogg, named after himself, and historically famous as the Castle of Caerlaverock. [Grose seems half disposed to accredit this statement. His words are: “The castle [of Caerlaverock] is said to have been originally founded in the sixth century by Lewarch-Ogg, son of Lewarch-Hen, a famous British poet, and after him to have been called Caer-Lewarch-Ogg, which in the Gaelic signified the city or fortress of Lewarch-Ogg.” – Antiquities, vol. i., p. 159.]

About eighty years after the era of potentate, the Scoto-Irish begin to exercise a complete ascendancy. They have gone far to absorb both Picts and Britons, and are seen overspreading all the land south of the Forth and Clyde. “As a result,” says Chalmers, “the whole of Galloway and Carrick becomes full of Scoto-Irish names of places, all imposed by the Irish colonists who settled in these countries at the end of the eighth century, and who in subsequent times gradually overspread Kyle, the upper part of Strathclyde, and even pushed into Nithsdale and Eskdale.” Our Dumfries progenitors of the eighth century spoke in the old British tongue, best represented by the modern Welsh; but in the ninth century, and for a long period afterwards, their language was Gaelic, similar to that which is now used in the Highlands and some parts of Ireland.

As yet the boundary line between Scotland and England was undefined. For centuries before the reign of Alexander II., a large portion of Saxon Cumberland – six manors, it is said – formed an integral part of the former kingdom, except for a short period, when William the Conqueror dispossessed its Scottish occupants and divided it among its followers, assigning large lands on the eastern side of the Esk to a knight named De Estonville, from whom they descended by marriage to the De Wakes. If this circumstance led to frequent wars, it also facilitated the intercourse of the two peoples. Dumfriesshire had not become, as yet, a border country; there was no broad line of demarcation between its Celtic inhabitants and the Anglo-Saxons further south: as a consequence, these races would exercise an influence on each other; and when Malcolm Canmore married an English princess, in 1069, this reciprocal influence was greatly enhanced. The Queen of Scots was followed to her new home by numerous relatives and domestics; and the Norman Conquest of England, about the same period, drove thousands more of expatriated Saxons into North Britain, where they settled, and soon became a felt power in the country.

Some of the Norman chiefs followed them, as we shall see, at a later period; and the races who were at fierce antagonism in England, manifested no such feeling towards each other when they met further north. Many families who subsequently played a distinguished part in Scottish public life, were founded by these Saxon or Norman settlers, and some by a union of both. Especially was this the case in that portion of the kingdom to which this history relates.

As a result of the immigration, a new speech was heard everywhere on the banks of the Nith, and many parts of southern Scotland. Before the end of the twelfth century, the Anglo-Saxon, or rather the Scoto-Saxon, mother of our modern Doric, became the ruling language: it silenced the Gaelic, or banished it beyond the Forth, just as the Gaelic had previously subdued the original tongue. About this time we begin to get a dim view of Dumfries; but, before we endeavour to describe how, at this early period, it looked, glimmering in the mist of the ancient chroniclers, an additional word or two must be said as to its probable origin and fortunes in pre-historic times.

We have seen how the Britons of Nithsdale were harassed by the Picts or Caledonians; and it is not unlikely that the latter, some time before the exodus under Constantine, may have planted down a rude fort of some kind on the site now occupied by Dumfries, with the view of securing a permanent footing in the district. They, however, never seem to have acquired a regular settlement on the left bank of the Nith; and to their kinsmen of a later period, the Scoto-Irish, the credit must be given of having built the castle which originated the town. Our forefathers of that early time did not erect many castles of stone and lime; and the defensive structure which, from its situation, conferred a name on the town that gradually grew up around it, was doubtless formed of oak, hewn down in some neighbouring forest – for there was nothing but brushwood on the somewhat barren and exposed hill which received the Castle for its crest.

The existence of such a fortress at a very early period is beyond the reach of doubt. A charter by William the Lion, witnessed by David his brother and others, describes a toft or tenement at Dumfries as being between the Castle and the Church; and another charter from the same monarch confers a piece of land similarly situated on Jocelyne, Bishop of Glasgow – the words used in the latter instance, “inter vetus Castellum et Ecclesiam,” indicating that the Castle, even at that period (about 1180), was an ancient building. Supposing it to have been at the date of the grant a hundred and eighty years old, this would carry us back to 1000 as the year when this particular castle was erected; but long before that date a Segovian fortlet on the same site may have been planted down and become the germ of the Burgh.

In considering a question of this kind, natural influences, in the absence of written documents, may sometimes be profitably consulted; and in the case before us there are two which especially claim attention: the first, a defile or pass in the mountain range overlooking the town on the west, through which the Scoto-Irish from Galloway would proceed when entering Nithsdale; and the second is the circumstance that it was not till near the site of the town that the river Nith would become fordable by persons crossing it in an opposite way from Cumberland. [Dr. Burnside’s MS. History of Dumfries.] That under such conditions as these, a small colony of Scoto-Irish should, in the ninth or tenth century, have been planted down on the left bank of the river, is highly probable; and a few of the settles may even have tenanted their rude cabins some time before the fortress rose to give a name and protection to their humble village.

We can easily fancy to ourselves a band of adventurous Celts taking possession of this favourable site, in spite of any opposition that may have been made to them by previous occupants. Crossing the Nith in their curraghs, or wading it at the fords, they would occupy at first only the drum or low shrub-covered hill-side – up which the oldest street of the Burgh runs – in order to maintain close communication with their friends in Galloway. Eventually growing more confident, they would, we suppose, creep a little north and south, thus giving a cross-like form to their colony, and by-and-by build for their defence a peel-house, the progenitor of several future fortresses, at the top of the acclivity. Friars’ Vennel, the street first referred to, is unquestionably the most ancient portion of the town; and we are inclined to think that it and a small part of High Street, with a few adjoining outskirts, formed the Dumfries of the eleventh century. Soon afterwards, on being constituted a royal burgh, it must have expanded rapidly: the main thoroughfare running down nearly half a mile to the Church of St. Michael’s, houses rising up in Lochmabengate, and all around the Castle, at the head of the High Street; and forming, as a whole, no inconsiderable town.

During the long epoch which preceded the reign of Malcolm Canmore, the district watered by the Nith had experienced many changes. The Britons, rude and idolatrous, were its primitive occupants. Then we find them comparatively civilized by their Roman conquerors, though still left by them in all the moral darkness of their original heathenism. The burrows, cairns, and remains of stone temples still to be seen in the district, tell of a time when Druidism was the prevailing religion, and Christianity unknown. Before the Romans retired from Valentia, more potent civilizers than they appeared in it, and originated a beneficent influence that proved to be enduring. Ninian passing through Nithsdale bearing the Gospel lamp, and irradiating the moral darkness of the district, is the finest picture we can think of in these early times. He it was who first denounced the Druidical rites and superstition of its people, and called upon them to abandon their idolatrous groves and their alters, crimsoned at times with human blood, and embrace the new faith. This devoted apostle of the Selgovæ made many disciples, who had to endure the fires of persecution; but the pure doctrines which he preached made steady progress in spite of all opposition. Ninian commenced his labours about the year 400; and before another century had elapsed, nearly all the people of Valentia had been baptized. He founded a college at Whithorn, in Galloway; and Bede records that the first stone church in Britain was built by him at the same place, and appropriately called Candida Casa. The Scoto-Irish invaders of Valentia in the ninth century also professed Christianity, having been converted long before through the instrumentality of the Culdees under Columbia; and their intermixture with the Selgovæ, and ultimate ascendancy over them, were on the whole fruitful of good results.

When the Saxons came in thousands, and the Normans in hundreds, to the south of Scotland, as encouraged to do by Malcolm Canmore and succeeding sovereigns, another powerful impulse was given to the civilization of the kingdom.

In the eleventh century we find the heterogeneous elements of the population so fused together that the inhabitants are not so much Britons, Picts, Scoto-Irish, or Saxons, but Scots, forming a nation, united under one common head, and their country taking a not unimportant position among the States of Europe. It is under such interesting circumstances as these that we get our first faint glimpse of Dumfries and Nithsdale – that we see the ‘castle” towering through the “brushwood,” the cabins beginning to cluster round it, and the neighbourhood occupied by chiefs making some little figure in history, for which they were taken notice of by contemporary annalists or the eye of tradition.

Even down till the death of David I., which took place in 1153, Nithsdale was still for the most part Celtic in its people and institutions. Its lord or chief, Dunegal, one of the Dougalls or M’Dowalls of Galloway, [Tytler’s History of Scotland, vol. i., p. 270.] ruled over the valley in patriarchal style – the feudal system not yet having forced its way into this portion of Scotland. All the land on which the town of Dumfries now stands, and many a fair road besides, were, under the name of Stranith, held by Dunegal as their legal superior; the inhabitants being recognized as the tenants of the soil, according to their real or supposed relationship to him as head of the clan. As a matter of course, the Castle of Dumfries belonged to him: he did not reside there, however, but at another stronghold situated fifteen miles further up the Nith – the Castle of Morton [Grose’s Antiquities, vol. i., p. 148.] – the hoary ruins of which still remain, carrying the beholder eight centuries back to an epoch and a people which present a striking contrast to those of the present day.

Dunegal of Stranid appears as witness of the grant made by David I. to Robert Brus of Strathannand, or Annandale, about 1124. When Dunegal died, his extensive possessions were divided among four sons left by him, only two of whom, Randolph (or Rodolph) and Duvenal, are specially noticed by the chroniclers of the time. [Douglas’s Peerage, p. 498.] Randolph, the eldest, who inherited the largest share of Stranith, lived like his sire in the style of a petty king, at the patrimonial castle, till the reign of William the Lion. This, the second territorial magnate of Nithsdale, mentioned in history, acquired additional opulence by his marriage with the Lady Bethoc, who brought him Bethoc-rule, Bugh-chester, and other manors in Teviotdale; and from them sprang many illustrious descendants, the chief of whom was the celebrated Thomas Randolph, created Earl of Moray by Bruce, as a reward for his patriotic services during the war of independence. [Caledonia, vol. iii., p. 72.]

Dunegal’s eldest son was no doubt superior of Dumfries: as such, he granted a portion of land lying near the town to the Abbey of Jedburgh in 1147. Randolph had three sons, Duncan, Gillespie (or Gillipatrick), and Dovenald – the last of whom received from his father Sanchar, Ellioc, Dunscore, and other lands in the district, and was slain while quite a youth at the “Battle of the Standard.” One of Dovenald’s sons, Edgar, who lived in the reigns of William the Lion and Alexander II., gave the church of Morton to the Monastery of Kelso, and the churches of Dalgarnock and Dunscore to the Monastery of Holywood, or Darcongall, which stood at a distance of three miles from Dumfries. The children of this chief adopted the name of Edgar for the family – one of the earliest recorded instances of the use of surnames in Nithsdale. His daughter, Affrica Edgar, who inherited the parish of Dunscore, gave the fourth part of it to Melrose Abbey; [There is a farm in Dunscore called Edgarstown: so named, perhaps, from having been the residence of Affrica.] one of his sons, Richard, owned the Castle and half of the barony of Sanquhar; and a grandson, Donald, acquired from David II. the captainship of the MacGowans, a numerous clan then located in the district. Edgar is still a common name in Dumfriesshire: one or two families who bear it have been settled in the parish of Carlaverock, on the Solway, for seven centuries; the common progenitor of all the Edgars having been the son of Dovenald the Scoto-Irish chief.

While the Dunegal dynasty was becoming less powerful, but before its influence finally disappeared, another Celtic family, the M’Dowalls, Lords of Galloway, from whom it originally sprang, became land-holders in Nithsdale, and closely associated with its hamlet-capital. In the reign of David I., the lordship of Galloway was held by Fergus. Distinguished for his warlike achievements, he was still better known as a patron of such learning as the age produced, and as a promoter of religion. To him the Monasteries of Tongland, Whithorn, and Soulseat, the Priory of St. Mary’s Isle, and the Abbey of Dundrennan, owed their origin; [Spottiswood’s Religious Houses, chap. v., sect. 1.] and it is believed that the revival in 1154 of the Bishopric of Candida Casa, which included part of Dumfriesshire, was due to his munificence. [Murray’s Literary History of Galloway.]

Fergus left two sons, Uchtred and Gilbert, and one daughter, bearing, like the descendant of Dunegal previously mentioned, the singular name of Affrica, who, marrying Olave, King of Man, became the progenitor of all its succeeding sovereigns of the Norwegian line. The two sons of Fergus inherited his dominions between them: they were broad enough for both; but Gilbert, a fierce, unscrupulous savage, wishing to be lord of the entire province, levied war upon his brother, surprised his Castle of Loch Fergus, near Kirkcudbright, and put him to death under circumstances of the most revolting cruelty. The unfortunate Uchtred founded the beautiful Abbey of Lincluden, near the confluence of the Cluden with the Nith, about a mile above Dumfries: [Spottiswood, chap. xviii., sect. 2.] according to tradition, it eventually furnished a resting place for his mutilated remains; and its grey ruins still help to keep his memory green. Gilbert closed a life of turbulence eleven years after the fratricidal deed; and Roland, son of the murdered Uchtred, claimed a right to succeed him, which he enforced by the sword. 

At Roland’s death his eldest son, Alan, became undisputed ruler of Galloway. He was the last, and one of the best of its lords. By his marriage with Margaret, daughter of David, Earl of Huntindon, and niece of William the Lion, he acquired a large addition to his territorial wealth. His position in Scotland was second only to that of the King; and so extensive were his possessions in England, that the Scoto-Irish chief was recognized as an equal by the proudest of its Norman chivalry. When, in 1211, King John invaded Ireland, Lord Alan assisted him with both men and arms: for which service he received from that monarch a grant of the Island of Ruglin and lands in Ulster. A few years afterwards we find him arrayed against his English sovereign, combining with other barons to extort from John the world-famous Magna Charta. Alexander II. seems to have at first been jealous of his powerful subject; but when John temporarily overcame the leaguers of the Charter, and Alan fled northwards for protection, he was graciously received at the Scottish Court, and made Chancellor of the kingdom. It is a curious circumstance that in the royal charter which confers upon him this office, he is called, not Prince or Lord of Galloway, but simply “Alan of Dunfres;” [Calendars of Ancient Charters referred to in Nicholson’s History of Galloway, vol. i., p. 179.] – a clear proof that he had a large proprietary interest in the town, [The volume of the Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society for 1864-5, contains an ingenious and interesting paper on the connection of Alan, Lord of Galloway, with Dumfries, by Mr. James Starke, F.S.A., Scot.] and favouring the belief that he resided in it occasionally, fraternizing with his near kinsmen, the descendants of Dunegal, some of whom still bore rule in the district; the most prominent being Thomas, son of Rodolph, who died in 1261, and who was father of Thomas Randolph of Stranid, and brother-in-law to King Robert Bruce. Alan was three times married: by his first wife he had an only child, married to Roger de Quincy, a Norman baron; by his second wife he had a son, who died without issue, and two daughters, one of whom, Christian, wedded to William de Fortibus, left no offspring; the other was the far-famed Devorgilla, born in 1213, of whom we shall have much to say in a subsequent chapter.

Respecting the other territorial lords of Celtic lineage who flourished at an early period in Dumfriesshire, little is known. Probably some of them, by acquiring French-looking surnames, according to the courtly fashion which David I. encouraged, have been lost sight of, and figure in history as Norman barons. Some genealogists, as we have seen, find trace of a Nithsdale potentate in the name Carlaverock; but the reputed builder of the great Border fortress has a somewhat shadowy aspect, like Ossian’s heroes.

Not so Ruther, a genuine patriarch of the old Gaelic stock, who, dying in the reign of David I., left his name to the parish lands he possessed, Caer-Ruther, corrupted to Carruthers – a parish so called, now annexed to that of Middlebie, and signifying the town of Ruther. [Barjarg Manuscripts.] Thomas, son of Robert Carruthers, received from David II. a grant of Musfold (Mousewald); and his son is witness to a charter in 1363. In 1426, Roger Carruthers received a charter from Archibald, Earl of Douglas, of Holmains, Little Dalton, and other contiguous lands; and from him are descended the Carrutherses of Holmains, Warmanbie, and Dormont.

Here we may fittingly introduce the name of a great family with whose fortunes Nithsdale and Dumfries were most closely associated for centuries – the Maxwells: of Scoto-Irish stock, according to some authorities; cradled in Normandy, the nursery-land of heroes, say others. David, Earl of Cumberland, afterwards King of Scots, gave lands on the Tweed, near Kelso, to Maccus: a Celtic-sounding name, though his father, Unwyn, it is stated, claimed a Norman lineage. The estate – called, after its proprietor, Maccusville – gave a name to the family, which in course of years became modified to Maxwell. We read of Ewen de Maccuswell being at the siege of Alnwick in 1093; and, not many years afterwards, of Eugene de Maccuswell marrying the daughter of Roland, Lord of Galloway, by which alliance the connection of the house with Dumfries was increased, if not originated. At a very remote period, they acquired possessions on the Solway; and if Lywarch-Ogg were a real personage – of which we entertain a lingering doubt – he might, with some degree of plausibility, be set down as the progenitor of the Maxwells, since the fortress which is said to bear his name first became historical in their hands. By whomsoever the Castle of Carlaverock was built, it belonged to them as far back as the days of Malcolm Canmore.

With the Maxwells are associated the old Celtic family of Kirkconnells, who settled near the estuary of the Nith, on the Galloway side, in the days of Malcolm Canmore; taking their name from the lands they occupied, as was customary at that early period. John, Dominus de Kirkconnell, founded the Abbey of Holywood some time in the twelfth century; [Dugdale’s Monasticon, vol. ii., p. 1057.] and, about 1200, his supposed grandson, William Fitzmichael, granted a portion of the family patrimony to the monks of Holm-cultram. As Carlaverock Castle, on the opposite shore of the Solway, was within sight of Kirkconnell Tower, their owners were near neighbours; and what more natural than that their families should intermarry? Accordingly, in course of time Aymer, nephew of the first Lord Maxwell, espoused Janet, the heiress of the Kirkconnells, and the name of the latter became merged in that of Maxwell. No fewer than five baronetcies were held by cadets of the Nithsdale Maxwells, namely, Springkell in Dumfriesshire, Cardoness and Monreith in Galloway, Calderwood in Lanarkshire, and Pollok in Renfrewshire.

For two centuries or more, no name was so much identified with the County as the illustrious one of Douglas: -

          “Hosts have been known at that dread sound to yield;
And Douglas dead, his name has won the field.”

“Sholto Dhu-glass! – Behold the dark man!” said the squire of Sovathius, King of Scots, on presenting to that monarch a swarthy stranger who had saved the royal life at a battle in the Western Isles. “ ‘Dhu-glass’ shall he be called,” rejoined the grateful king; “and for his gallant service this day he shall receive broad lands in Lanarkshire as a reward.” If this tradition is to be relied upon, the saviour of Solvathius was the ancestor of the Douglasses; but their historian, Hume of Godscroft, looking upon it as a fable, says: “We do not know them in the fountain, but in the stream; not in the root, but in the stem: for we know not who was the first mean man that did raise himself above the vulgar.” William of Dufglass, the first of the name on record, witnessed a charter by Joceline, Bishop of Glasgow, to the monks of Kelso, some time between 1170 and 1190. [Douglas’s Peerage, vol. i., p. 419.] Passing over three generations, we reach the first of the name who was associated with Dumfries – Sir William Douglas, the friend of Wallace, and father of the good Sir James Douglas, the hero of Otterburn.

The origin of the Scotts, like that of the Douglasses, is so remote, that is cannot be traced with certainty. “Uchtredus filius Scoti,” are words which occur in a deed of inquisition regarding the church of Glasgow in the days of Alexander I., and which seem to denote a Scoto-Irish knight residing in a district chiefly occupied by people who were not Celts. Uchtred’s son, Richard le Scot, was witness to the foundation-charter of the Priory of St. Andrew’s some time before 1158. [Ibid, vol. i., p. 245.] Richard is said to have had two sons, one called after himself, who occupied the land of Murdochstone, or Murdieston, in Clydesdale, from whom are descended the Scotts of Buccleuch; the other, Michael, who gave rise to the Scotts of Balwearie. It was not till several centuries afterwards that the noble family, who have now an yearly rental in Dumfriesshire of £79,000, [Valuation Roll of the County of Dumfries.] possessed a rood of land in the County; their first acquisition there having been when Sir Walter Scot of Kirkcup, who had some time before bartered Murdieston of Branxholm in Roxburghshire, received a grant of part of the barony of Langholm from King James II., in 1459.

A Celtic chief who possessed the lands of Crichton in mid-Lothian in the reign of Malcolm Canmore, borrowed his surname from them; and some of his descendants are traceable in Upper Nithsdale about two centuries later. Thomas, supposed son of Thurstanus de Crichton, swore fealty to Edward I. William, his second son, acquired, by marriage with Isobel, daughter of Robert de Ross (related to the Lord of the Isles), half of the barony of Sanquhar. The other half having been purchased by his successors, it became the chief title of the family. In 1633, the direct descendant of the Mid-Lothian baron was created Viscount of Ayr and Earl of Dumfries.

The Fergussons, another Celtic family, existed very early in Dumfriesshire; but whether they belonged to a sept of that name which had its chief seat to the north of Dunkeld, or were descended from some earlier settlers in the south, is not known. Early in the fourteenth century, John of Crauford, son of the Laird of Dalgarnock, granted a charter of lands in the parish of Glencairn to his cousin, John Fergusson, “Dominus de Craigdarroch;” and it is believed that the estate so called – which is owned by them till this day – had been at that date in their possession for several generations. [Not a few members of the Craigdarroch family acquired distinction as soldiers and lawyers: one of them in recent times figured as the hero of Burns’s ballad, “The Whistle;” on gaining which trophy he was thus addressed by the bard: -

      “Thy line, that have struggled for freedom with Bruce,
Shall heroes and patriots ever produce:
So thine be the laurel, and mine be the bay;
The field thou hast won, by yon bright god of day.”]

A branch of the family, the Fergussons of Isle, resided for many centuries in the neighbouring parish of Kirkmahoe: their house, a fine specimen of a Scottish gentleman’s domicile during the middle ages, is still to be seen entire, though untenanted, overlooking the patrimonial acres, and other ground full of historical and poetical interest – Dalswinton, Friars’ Carse, the lands of Lag and Ellisland – on which we must not pause to dilate.

The Fergussons are literally “the sons of Fergus:” and, in like manner, another ancient Dumfriesshire family, the Griersons, are “the sons of Gregor;” those of them who settled in Lag tracing their descent from Gilbert, second son of Malcolm, Dominus de MacGregor, who did in 1374.

Many Flemings were attracted to Scotland during the twelfth century: one of them, named Ferskin, obtained the lands of Strathbrock in Linlithgowshire, now termed Broxburn, as a reward for his valour against an insurgent band in Morayshire. Some time about 1130 he received a grant of land in that county; and his descendants, settling there, assumed the name of De Moray or Moravia. Such is the account given of the origin of the Murrays, who, in various branches, acquired a high position in Scotland. The Moryquhat, or Murraythwaite branch, flourished in Dumfriesshire in the thirteenth century, Sir William Murray of Cockpule, who lived in the reign of Alexander III., married Isobel, sister of Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray. Their son, William, received a charter of the barony of Comlongan [According to Pennant, the great Lord Mansfield, a descendant of Murray of Cockpule, was born in Comlongan Castle.] and Ryvil, from his uncle Randolph. The family were ennobled about 1623, in the person of Sir John Murray of Lochmaben, created Earl of Annandale.

The boyhood of David I. was spent at the English court. As Earl of Cumberland he was brought into familiar intercourse with the Norman barons; and when he was called to succeed Alexander I., in 1124, many of them accompanied or followed him to Scotland. One of these was Gervase, son of Geoffrey, Lord of Ridel, who received from the King estates in Roxburghshire. His descendant, Sir Walter Riddel (the second baronet), left five sons, the eldest of whom acquired lands in Glencairn, which he named Glenriddel, thus giving rise to a well known Dumfriesshire family.

Charteris is the surname of a very old Scottish family. Their origin is traced to William, son of the Earl of Charteris in France, who went to England with the Norman conqueror. A son or grandson of William migrated northward in the reign of David I. Robert de Charteris acquired the lands of Amisfield or Hempisfield, in Tinwald, prior to 1175. His son, Walter, and grandson, Thomas, are mentioned in a donation to the Monastery of Kelso. Robert, the son of Thomas, granted the same monastery the patronage of two churches in Dumfriesshire, by a charter in which his name appears in its Latinized form as Robert de Cornoto Miles. The manor-house of Amisfield, a quaint memorial of the olden time, is yet to be seen, situated about four miles north-east of Dumfries; [Robert Chambers, in his Picture of Scotland, p. 228, says: “(Amisfield Tower) is not large, and not in the least degree imposing; but yet it is, without exception, the most curious specimen of the baronial tower now existing in Scotland.] and the family had a residence in the Burgh, which also, in a sadly altered form, survives.

Long before Walter the Steward ascended the Scottish throne, in virtue of his marriage with Bruce’s daughter Marjory, several members of the same family acquired lands in various parts of Scotland; and when he took the surname of Stewart, they followed his example. One branch of the Stewarts settled in Nithsdale before the death of Alexander III. Soon afterwards we read of Sir Walter Stewart of Dalswinton: he acquired the lands of Garlies in Kirkcudbrightshire. His direct descendant in the seventeenth century, Sir Alexander Stewart, was ennobled under the title of Earl of Galloway. According to Pinkerton, the first of the Stewarts was a Norman knight named Alan, who obtained from William the Conqueror the barony of Oswestry, on Shropshire.

Ronaldus de Dinnistoun witnessed the inquisition made by David, when Prince of Cumberland, in 1116. One of his female descendants shared the throne of Robert II. (the first of the Stewarts), and gave birth to a line of sovereigns: hence the family saying, “Kings came of us, not we of kings.” They obtained the barony of Glencairn from that monarch: and a daughter of the house having married Sir William Cunningham of Kilmaurs, the descendant of a north of England family, he acquired with her the barony; and their grandson, Alexander, became Earl of Glencairn – the first who wore the title. [Douglas’s Peerage, vol. i., p. 633; Barjarg MSS.]

Roger de Mandeville, whose ancestor crossed from Normandy with its irresistible Duke, married Affrica, natural daughter of William the Lion; obtaining with her the barony of Tynwald and the temple-lands of Dalgarno and Closeburn – the latter of which, at her death, in 1233, were given by Alexander II. to Ivon Kirkpatrick. Roger de Mandeville, second of the name, was a competitor for the crown in 1296. We read of John of Mundville, notary at Dumfries in 1610; and the Mundells, who trace their origin to Roger the Norman, have still numerous representatives in the town and district.

While William Rufus reigned in England, if not before, the Norman family of Heriz, descended from Count de Vendôme, resided at Wyverton, in Nottinghamshire; and they too were represented in the train of the Prince of Cumberland, when he went northward to become King of Scots. William de Heriz was witness to various royal charters, dating from 1175 to 1199. His descendant, Nigel, held lands in Selkirkshire so early as the reign of Alexander II.; a charter from that monarch to the monks of Melrose describing certain property granted to them as extending “from the river Etreyich, by the rivulet of Tymeye, as far as the marches of Nigel de Heriz.” Soon afterwards, we find the family settling down in the Vale of Nith. Their head, William de Herris, swore fealty to Edward I. for his lands in Galloway; and Robert, the son of William, is designated “Dominus de Nithsdale: in a charter granted to him, in 1323, by King Robert Bruce. [Ibid, vol. i., p. 726.]

During the reign of David I. no family held higher rank in Scotland than the De Morevilles, whose progenitor Hugh accompanied him from Cumberland. The names of De Mantelent, Conyngham (ancestor of the Earls of Glencairn), De Thirlstane, Haig of Bemersyde, and St. Clair appear in the list of their vassals. Henry St. Clair rose to be Earl of Orkney; and by his marriage with “the Fair Maid of Nithsdale,” daughter of Black Douglas, became Sheriff of the district. Roland, Lord of Galloway, wedded Eliza de Moreville; and her brother William, the next head of the house, dying without issue, their whole estates, with the office of High Constable held by them, devolved upon the M’Dowalls.

Among the followers of Hugh de Moreville was a knight named Elsi or Eklis, who received from him a grant of Thirlstane. The daughter and heiress of Eklis married Richard de Mantelent, also of Norman blood. In course of time the original name was transferred to lands owned by the family in Penpont; and the family patronymic was changed to Maitland: hence the Maitlands of Eccles, one of the most ancient houses in the south of Scotland.

Another very old family connected with Dumfries, the Hunters, trace their origin to Norman the Hunter, designated in the Notes on the Ragman’s Roll as proprietor of Hunterston. John, the seventh baron, by marrying the daughter of Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig, strengthened the relationship of his family with the district. [On the 26th of February, 1825, King George IV. granted liberty to the then head of this ancient house, William Francis Hunter of Barjarg Tower, and of Lagan (both in Dumfriesshire), and to Jane, his wife, only surviving child of Francis St. Aubyn of Collen Mixton, Cornwall, by Jane his wife, daughter and co-heir of Robert Arundell, Esq., some time of Marozion, Cornwall, to assume the surname and arms of Arundell with those of Hunter. The Arundells are of very remote antiquity, having occupied for at least ten centuries an illustrious position in the west of England. The present representative of both houses is W. F. Hunter Arundell, Esq. of Barjarg.]

We find Walter de Carnoc the possessor of Drumgray and Trailflat, in Annandale, early in the twelfth century; Alexander de Meyners, son of Robert, Chancellor of Scotland, holding the lands of Durisdeer at the same period; and the Corbits, who held the lordship of Millum, in Cumberland, under Henry III., passing northward in the succeeding reign, [Barjarg Manuscripts.] and founding several families, one of whom settled in Dumfries.

During the reigns of Malcolm IV. and David I., the territory which afterwards became famous as the Western Border, including the Debatable Land, was held for the most part by two brothers called Rosindale, who had followed the banner of the Norman Duke. Guido de Rosindale, who owned possessions on both sides of the Lower Liddel, manifested his devotional zeal by giving to the monks of Jedburgh forty acres of land lying between the Esk and the Liddel, throwing the fishings of the latter stream into the grant. His brother, Turgot, was a still more bountiful son of the Church. He founded a conventual establishment in Eskdale, calling it “Domus de Religiosus de Liddall,” endowing it richly, and placing both house and lands under the superiority of Jedburgh. It afterwards came to be known as the Priory of Canonby, owing to the canons residing within its walls. Another French knight, Ranulph de Soulis, who swelled the train and won the favour of King David, also obtained from him a large slice of Liddesdale, where he erected a fortalice that originated the village of Castleton. John de Soulis received from Bruce the baronies of Kirkandrews, on the Esk, and of Torthorwald, near Dumfries.

Other names come up, which call for a more detailed genealogical notice: those of Bruce, Baliol, and Comyn – all of Norman lineage – all associated with great historical events – all closely identified with Dumfries. The Bruces have been traced back to Thebotaw, Duke of Sleswick, who lived in the eighth century, and left an heir, Ouslin, by his wife Gundella, a German princess. Reginald, a Danish lord, Eynor, Torfin, Lothar, Sygurt, all successive Earls of Orkney, form a continuation of the stem till the eighth head of the house is reached – Brusce, Earl of Caithness, whose mother was daughter to Malcolm II., King of Scots. Regenwald, son of Brusce, wedded Arlogia, daughter of Waldemar, Duke of Russia: their eldest son, Robert, built the castle of “La Brusce,” in Normandy, during the tenth century. The family, though ranked as Norman, were only so for one generation – and, if the pedigree before us can be relied upon, [Genealogy of the Bruces in Ord’s History of Cleveland, as extended by the late Mr. John Parker, principal extractor of the Court of Session. See the Rev. W. Graham’s Lochmaben Five Hundred Years Ago, pp. 150-157.] they were Scottish or Orcadian before being French; they were then English for two generations – Robert de Brusce, second of the name, coming to South Britain with William the Conqueror, becoming Lord of Skelton in Yorkshire; and their son, Robert de Brus, accompanying David, Earl of Cumberland, into Scotland, settling down in that kingdom – a goodly plant, which, in the light of subsequent events, might be spoken of allegorically as the root of Freedom’s tree.

Robert, about 1124, received from his royal friend and patron, David, a grant of Strathannand (Annandale), or Estrahannent, as it is termed in the charter. He was succeeded by a son of the same name, the second Baron of Annandale; and the son of the latter, also named Robert, on inheriting the estates, was created Lord of Annandale. Dying without male issue, he was succeeded by his brother William, second Lord of Annandale, Robert de Brus, William’s eldest son, fifth Baron and third Lord of Annandale, married Isabella, second daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of William the Lion; and by this alliance with the royal house of Scotland, founded the claim to the Crown made by his son Robert, the fourth Lord, in 1292. The grandson of the latter – the greatest of his race – restored the monarchy and re-established the independence of Scotland, when both had been long trodden in the dust.

Soon after the Bruces settled in Annandale, the rival house of Baliol also received a grant of Scottish territory from David I., still retaining, however, their original English patrimony of Barnard Castle, Durham. [“Bernard Castle,” saith old Leland, “standeth stately upon Tees.” It is founded upon a very high rock, and its ruins impend over the river, including within the area a circuit of six acres and upwards. This once magnificent fortress derives its name from its founder, Barnard Baliol. – Note A. to Rokeby.] In the reign of William the Lion, Ingleram de Baliol married the heiress of Walter de Berkley, Chamberlain of Scotland; and Henry, the fruit of their union, succeeded to that influential office. Another scion of the original stock, John Baliol of Barnard Castle, married Devorgilla, daughter of Alan, Lord of Galloway. This illustrious woman sometimes resided at her father’s court, but more frequently at Fotheringay, in Northamptonshire, the seat of her maternal grandfather, the Earl of Huntingdon. There the young Yorkshire baron wooed and won the “Lady of Fotheringay.” As she was then usually termed – a most auspicious alliance in itself, but the source of much unhappiness to the country; John, their only surviving son, entailing upon it a load of woes by becoming a competitor for the Crown, in virtue of his mother’s descent from the eldest niece of William the Lion.

In many respects the Comyns resembled the two distinguished houses just noticed, having been, like them, Norman-French, afterwards English, finally Scottish, and also putting forth a claim to the disputed sceptre; while all the three families, as we shall subsequently see, were vitally concerned in a foul tragedy with which the country rang, and the scene of which was an obscure vennel in the village-capital of Nithsdale. William Comyn was High Chancellor of Scotland for nine years, ending in 1142. His nephew, Richard, married Hexilda, granddaughter of King Donald-Bain; and, dying in 1189, was succeeded by his eldest son, William, who, by his second marriage, acquired the earldom of Buchan, and added the Highland territory of Badenoch to the other estates of the house. Richard Comyn, the fruits of the first marriage, died about 1249; and his son, John Comyn the Red, became connected with Galloway by being made its Justiciary in 1258. He was succeeded by his second son, John Comyn the Black, designed of Badenoch, which devolved upon him at the death of his uncle, the Earl of Monteith. The position occupied by the family in Galloway brought him into friendly intercourse with its hereditary rulers; and, as a result, he became the son-in-law of Devorgilla by marrying her youngest daughter, Marjory: and thus he became also the brother-in-law of John Baliol, afterwards King of Scotland. At his death, in 1299, he was succeeded by John, the second of the family that bore the surname of the Red.

The estate given by David I. to Robert Brus, third of the name, is described in the charter as “Estrahannent et totan terram a divisa Dunegal de Stranit, usque ad divisam Randulphi Meschines;” [The original document is in the British Museum.] that is to say, Annandale, and all the land lying between the Nithsdale property of Dunegal and that of Randulph de Meschines, Lord of Cumberland; and the deed empowered him to hold and enjoy his castle there, with all the privileges pertaining to it (“suum castellum bene et honorifice, cum omnibus consuetudinibus suis teneat et habeat”), in the same manner as Randulph did in Carlisle and his other Cumbrian possessions. The extensive barony of the Bruce was given to him on feudal terms: he was to hold it be the sword, and render in return military service to his sovereign. That the knight might be able to fulfil these conditions, he brought with him numerous Norman followers, some of whom founded families in the district; but it is not necessary to assume, as has been hastily done by some historians, that he drove out all the original holders of the soil, or that he even placed himself in opposition to them as a class.

It has been generally supposed, too, that the Kirkpatricks were strangers to Annandale till they acquired lands there as his vassals; but it is far more probable that they belonged to its old Scoto-Irish or Scoto-Saxon population. Ivon, the first Kirkpatrick of whom we read, may have been a young landless soldier of fortune when Bruce came into the district; or he may, before that time, have taken by right his surname from one or other of the Dumfriesshire parishes that, as early as the tenth century, bore the name of Kirkpatrick. [The parish of Kirkpatrick-juxta was of old called Kilpatrick, from the dedication of its church to Patrick, the great apostle of Ireland, who appears to have been equally well remembered by the Scoto-Irish of the south-west of Scotland. The Gaelic Kil, signifying “a church,” was afterwards translated into the Anglo-Saxon Kirk. In the fifteenth century the adjunct juxta appears to the name of this parish, in order to distinguish it from Kirkpatrick-Fleming in the east of Annandale. – Caledonia, vol. iii., p. 181.] At all events, we think it probable that he was a dweller in “Estrahannent” when it was first erected into a barony. That Ivon was of good birth and family, may be inferred from the favour shown to him by his feudal superior. Some time about 1160, he received from Bruce, second baron of Annandale, a charter of the fishings of Bleatwood and Yester; and the words, “testibus Ivon,” are attached to a deed by which the same nobleman granted the Torduff fishings of the Solway to Abbot Everard and the fraternity of Holm-cultram. [The first of these charters exists among the Carlyle papers; the second is entered in the Register of Holm-cultram Abbey. Both are undated; but their dates may be approximately determined by the date of another charter, by which William the Lion, in the first year of his reign, grants lands in Canonby to Jedburgh Abbey, and to which Abbot Everard is a witness.] At a later period, he obtained the hand of Bruce’s daughter, Euphemia, in marriage – an honour which must have been flattering to his pride, and which bound his family to the Brucian interest during the fearful struggle which ensued on the death of Alexander III.

From that monarch’s immediate predecessor, Ivon, when a very old man, received a grant of the lands of Closeburn, the charter being dated the 5th of August, 1232. [Just about seven hundred years after Ivon appears as an historical figure, one of his descendants, the beautiful Eugenie Marie de Guzman, Countess of Theba, was united in marriage to the greatest living potentate, Napoleon III, Emperor of the French. Her grandfather, William Kirkpatrick, went to Spain, and settled as a merchant in Malaga, where he married a Belgian lady. One of their offspring, Maria, was espoused by Don Cipriano Palafox, then Count of Theba, and afterwards Count de Montijo on the death of his elder brother: they had issue two daughters, the youngest of whom is now Eugenie, Empress of the French.] Adam Kirkpatrick, Lord of Closeburn, the son of this union, was alive in 1294. The next head of the house, Stephen, is styled, in the chartulary of Kelso (1278), “Dominus Villæ de Closeburn, filius et hæres Domini Ade de Kirkpatrick militis.” In the same year he entered into an engagement with the monks of Kelso, regarding a claim made by them to the church of Closeburn. Stephen left two sons: Sir Roger, famous in after times as the knight of the deadly dagger – the “Mak-siccar” Kirkpatrick – and Duncan, who married Isabel, daughter and heiress of Sir David Torthorwald, who is mentioned in the chartulary of Holm-cultram as witness to a donation of one merk out of the lands of Maybie, in 1289. The family were related to Wallace, as well as Bruce, if we are to believe Harry the Minstrel, who says Duncan, the founder of the Torthorwald branch:

                “Kyrkpatrick, that cruel was and keyne,
In Esdaill wod that zer he had been;
With Inglishmen he ‘couth noch weill accord,
Of Torthorwald he baron was and lord,
Of kyn he was to Wallace’ modyr ner.”

The Carleils, or Carlyles, who trace their decent from Crinan, Abthane of Dunkeld (whose son, Maldred, married Beatric, daughter of Malcolm II.), held lands in Annandale, like the Kirkpatricks under Robert Brus, its first lord, about 1185. They also owned property in Cumberland, taking their surname, it is believed, from its chief town, Carlisle. The eldest son of Uchtred, son of Maldred, was Robert of Kinmount; his second son, Richard, received the lands of Newbie-on-the-Moor from his grandfather. Eudo de Carlyle, grandson of Richard, witnessed a charter to the Monastery of Kelso about 1207. [Douglas’s Peerage, vol. i., p. 306.] The next head of the family, Adam, had a charter of various lands in Annandale from William de Brus, second lord of that district, who died in 1215. Gilbert, son of Adam, swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296. William, grandson of Gilbert, rose so high in favour of his liege lord, Bruce, Earl of Carrick, that he gave him his daughter Margaret in marriage: the chief of the Carlyles thus becoming brother-in-law to the illustrious restorer of the monarchy. Their son obtained a charter from his royal uncle, of the lands of Colyn and Roucan, lying near Dumfries, in which he is designated “William Karlo, the King’s sister’s son.” The head of the ancient house was, as we shall afterwards see, ennobled in 1470 as Lord Carlyle of Torthorwald. [A fresh lustre has been cast upon this old Annandale family by the genius of one of its “latter day” members, Thomas Carlyle, the distinguished author.]

Another Annandale sept, the Jardines, held lands in the parish of Applegarth, before the Celtic element in the population was overlaid by that of the Saxons. Winfredus de Jardine, the first of the name on record, flourished prior to 1153; he having been a witness to various grants, conferred, during the reign of David I., on the Abbeys of Aberbrothwick and Kelso.

At what period the great family of the Johnstones settled in Annandale has not been determined. The first trace that we find of them is in the reign of Alexander III., when Hugo de Johnstone owned lands in East Lothian, which he bequeathed to his son John, who gave a portion of them to the Monastery of Soltray, about 1285, “for the safety of his soul.” His descendents, Thomas, Walter, Gilbert, and John, swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296 – the last mentioned baron being termed, in the deed, “Chevalier of the County of Dumfries.” It is more than likely, however, we think, that the Johnstones, as well as the Kirkpaticks, had long previously resided in Strathannand. The name is suggestive of a Saxon origin; and the idea is a natural one, that they either gave it to or received it from, the parish of Johnstone in Annandale. [The parish of Johnstone, says Chalmers, derived its name from the village; and the hamlet, from its having become, in Scoto-Saxon times, the tun, or dwelling, of some person who was distinguished by the name of John. This place afterwards gave the surname to the family of Johnstone, who became a powerful clan in Annandale. – Caledonia, vol. iii., p. 179.]


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