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History of Moffat
Chapter III


Usurpation of Edward Baliol—Receives encouragement from the Scottish Nobility.—Sir Andrew Murray sends Archibald Douglas into Ajmandale.—Collects a thousand horsemen at Moffat—Defeat of Baliol's Army at Anxian.—Retrieves his position.—Baliol's character.—The "Three Stan'in Stanes."— Various beliefs regarding them.—BaIfires.—The Gallowgate.


EDWARD BALIOL, on account of the ready and beneficial support granted him by Edward III. of England, invaded Scotland, and was crowned at Scone Abbey on the 24th September, 1332. While such proceedings were being carried on in a lawless and reckless manner, the supporters of the Brucian interest, anxious to keep the youthful David from the dangers of war, conveyed him to a safe and peaceful habitation in France. Baliol's army rendezvoused near Moffat in December, 1332, while there earnestly striving to secure the support of the lords of the upper district of Annandale, but to a certain extent they failed. The evident want of independence on the part of Baliol made them refuse to connect themselves with his cause, and be instruments in his hands to promote his glory and gratify his ambitious mind. This idea seems throughout to have been impressed upon the minds of the Scottish people, as we are informed by Tytler that "the mean dependance of Baliol upon the English monarch deprived him of the affections of the people." He saw in the far distance the crown of Scotland brightly shining, but he knew, at the same time, that without the aid of Scotchmen, so much required and longed for, he could never attain it And while we wish to condemn Baliol for his pertinacity and fruitless ambition, still we cannot refrain from praising to a certain extent the perseverance he displayed in his efforts to gain the affection and support of the people. Seeing that Baliol was in a measure overcoming those who endeavoured to prevent his making a way into their territory, and thinking it would be impossible, after the battle of Duplin, to re-establish the power of David, Alexander Bruce, Lord. of Carrick and Galway, yielded to the earnest solicitations of the Baliol party* Such slight encouragement endued him with fresh hopes and expectations, and accordingly he summoned the nobility to Annan castle to do him homage. We are not in possession of any matter to guide us to a eonclusion, whether many of the nobility patronised him, or whether he was further encouraged by their presence. Shortly afterwards his army fearlessly encamped on the Burgh Moor at Annan.. Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell sent Sir Archibald Douglas into Annandale, for the purpose of watching the daily movements of the invader; and collecting a thousand horsemen at Moffat, came suddenly upon the encampment. Aided by the darkness, this defender of Scottish rights and liberties fell upon the forces of Baliol while the King slept, and being somewhat unsteadied by the influences of revelry and sleep, though they showed fight, they were speedily overcome. The remaining partizans of Baliol fled o'er the country, earnestly seeking a covert to screen themselves from their impending fate; so that in the absolute confusion of his camp, and left by those who previously had sworn allegiance to him, he fled from the scene of the brief but bloody campaign on a cart horse unsaddled. Having fled over the Solway sands he safely reached England, and at Carlisle put himself under the friendly protection of Lord Dacres, Constable of the Castle and Sheriff of Cumberland, whose kind treatment for some time he enjoyed.* Amongst other English officers slain—some being near relatives of the vassal-king of Scotland—were Henry Baliol, a brother of the pretender, and Walter Comyn, who were mercilessly slaughtered on the west bank of the river Annan. John Mowbray and Richard Kirk are amongst the noteworthy who fell in the engagement which took place on the 16th December, 1332 Though this caused the supporters of David to renew their praiseworthy efforts with redoubled energy, yet it did not cause l3aliol to despair long, or give up the movement with the despondent smile of the vanquished. His power was re-established, receiving encouragement from the continued patronage of Edward, and from his indomitable perseverance: and his chief desire being naturally to maintain his position, he once more stood on the fair road to fortune, and for the support given him, with the liberality of a monarch he freely bestowed many of the lands of Scotland to his English friends and benefactors. The lands Of Moffatdale and Annandale, originally the estate of Randolph, Earl of Murray, fell by Baliol's grant into the hands of Henry Percy, receiving also the Castle of Lochmaben (the chief protection of Annandale), as a means of defending them.' Former historians vividly point out the greed of the English, which shone preeminent in their requests. They pled that Baliol having been made king thtough their generosity and ready aid, he in return must show gratitude for the kindness done him. When the truth is, that Baliol was created king by the influence and support of Edward, not so much for the personal good of the Pretender, as represented, but for the purpose of winning Scotland through the instrumentality of the same, and joining it to the possessions of the unrelenting English monarch. Starting encouraged, and practically assisted by the power of Edward, receiving to some extent the respect and support of the nobility, ]3aliol's hopes of future success, and expectations of future power, were indeed great. At many times, again, thoughts of power and royalty were expelled from his mind in his anxiety to snatch himself from the gloominess of danger and despair, and to establish his feet upon safer ground. We cannot look back upon the movements of this would-be monarch without feeling an absolute disgust at the mean, ambitious, and presumptuous man. Neither can we look back upon the actions of the English monarch, and his avaricious supporters, without feeling equally disgusted, and almost inclined to pity Baliol placed in such embarassed circumstances. Short though his reign was—covering only a space of about four months—it was filled by daily increasing difficulties, mingled with a wilful injustice, and evident delight in receiving personal gain, though it might have a detrimental influence over the interest and affairs of others. Baliol at length had well-nigh exhausted his hereditary ingenuity, and his fate was at hand. Assisted by the French, the supporters of the Brucian interest recalled and established David—a prince, as Tytler remarks, "subjected to many reverses of fortune"—upon the Scottish throne.

On the l3eattock road, a mile from Moffat, stand three stones, termed peculiarly the "Three Stan'in' Stanes," and said to be in some way connected with the defeat of the usurper on the 16th December, 1332, herein narrated. Of their history little or nothing is known. By some it is believed that these stones commemorate the eventful battle, and by others that they were erected to the memory of three officers who fell during the engagement. The former is improbable, and the latter may be characterised as impossible. Mr M'DowalI, in his valuable "History of Dumfries," prosumes they are of Druidical origin, which shows the people of Moffat have been inspired by the sentiment of Keats—

"There is a pleasure on the heath
Where Druids old have been,
Where mantles grey have rustled by,
And swept the nettles green,"

for they take a great interest in them, and consider them one of the nost important spots in the district, looked at from an historical point of view. Though many whom we have met are determined to stick to the historical association formerly expressed, we fear they will have ultimately to come to the latter belief, as they will take some time to show any connection between the memorials of former ages and the Pretender of 1332. All the ideas as yet expressed are enveloped in doubts and surmises, and it is unlikely that any light shall be brought to bear upon the subject, and clear away the mystery attending it.

A little more than a century after this, when it was ascertained that the English were about to make an incursion into Dumfriesshire, an alarm was given to the inliabitents of its various towns and villages in a singular but effective manner. During the absence of William, Seventh Earl of Douglas who held the position of Warden of the West Marches, the Burgh of Dumfries was destroyed by fire in 1448. The country within his Wardency having been devastated by the English, combined with other things as urgent, caused him to return home and superintend the administration of affairs. And, anxious to be guided by those parties who had an interest in all his movements, "he called," says Mr M'Dowall, "a meeting of the whole lords, freeholders, and heads of Border families within the Wardency." Besides making an agreement to stand out against the attacks of the English, they adopted a plan for informing all of the approach of enemies, to which we have referred. When the approach of the English was certain, balefires were ordered to be kindled on suitable hills in Nitbsdalo and Annandale. Moffat, small as it then was, lay, no doubts under a deep debt of obligation to the propounder of the scheme; and to the alike saving and welcome rays which emanated from one of those signals, situated on the Gallowhill. For such we find existed from an old Act—"Item, it is fundin, statut, and raisit in time of werfare anentis bails, birning and keping for coming of ane Inglis vist in Scotland. Per sail ane baffi be brynt on Trailtrow Hill. . . . . and ane on be Gallowhill, in Moffat Parochin."


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