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The Scottish Nation
Soulis


SOULIS, an ancient surname, borne by a once potent family which seems to have left no representative. The first of the name was Ranulph de Sules, an Anglo-Saxon baron of Northamptonshire, who accompanied David I. into Scotland, and received from him a grant of lands in Liddesdale, with the manor of Nisbet in Teviotdale, as well as other lands in East Lothian. He is a witness to several of the charters of that monarch. He and his successors were lords of Liddesdale; in charters they were often styled Pincerna Regis. Ranulph built a fortalice in Liddesdale, called Hermitage castle, which gave rise to the now extinct village of Castletown. [Electric Scotland Note: Geoff Crolley sent in a note saying: As far as I am led to believe the castle built was Liddel Castle on the Liddel Water four miles south of where hermitage was built later.  Liddel Castle or Castle Sule was where the Castletown was built.  Hermitage may have been built  causing a bit of a around 1244 ruccuss with both nations.] In 1271 William de Soulis was knighted at Haddington by Alexander III., and under the same monarch he became justiciary of Lothian. He was one of the magnates Scotiae who, in 1284, engaged to support the succession of the princess Margaret to her grandfather, Alexander III. In 1290, he and Sir John Soulis were present in the meeting of the Estates of Scotland at Brigham, now Birgham, a village on the northern bank of the Tweed, when the proposal for a marriage between the heiress of Scotland and the prince of Wales was agreed to. Sir John de Soulis was one of the ambassadors to France to arrange the marriage of Joletta, daughter of the count de Dreux, with Alexander III. IN 1294, he again went to France, to negotiate the marriage of Edward Baliol with a daughter of Charles, brother of the French king. IN 1299 he was appointed by John Baliol custos regni Scotiae, keeper of the Scottish kingdom. In 1300 he commanded at the siege of Stirling castle, which was surrendered to him by the English. In 1303 he was one of the Scots commissioners at Paris. At the capitulation of Strathurd, 9th February 1304, he was excepted by Edward I. from the ignominious conditions imposed on the vanquished, and it was provided that he should remain in exile for two years. He joined Robert the Bruce, and for his services to that monarch, was rewarded with a grant of the baronies of Kirkandrews and Torthorwald, and the lands of Brettalach, Dumfries-shire. Accompanying Edward Bruce to Ireland, he was slain with him in battle near Dunkalk, 5th October, 1318. [Electric Scotland Note: Geoff Crolley sent in a note saying: As far as I am led to believe the castle built was Liddel Castle on the Liddel Water four miles south of where Hermitage was later built. This is where brothers William and John Soules were born. Castletown grew up near Liddel Castle (Castle Sule).  Hermitage Castle nearly caused a war between both nations when it was built around 1244.  This is said to have been Thomas Soules’s birthplace.]

In 1296, Sir Thomas de Soulis, of the county of Roxburgh, the brother of Sir John, swore fealty to Edward I. In 1300 he was taken prisoner by the English in Galloway, and as we learn by the Wardrobe accounts, Edward I. ordered four-pence a-day to be paid as his allowance. In 1306 his widow, Alicia de Soulis, did homage to Edward for lands in Scotland.

Nicholas de Soulis, of this family, was one of the claimants of the crown of Scotland after the death of Alexander III. Prynne the historian thus states his claim, -- :Alexander II. left a bastard daughter, Margery, who married Allen Durward, an active, ambitious baron, who died in 1275, leaving three daughters. One of these daughters, Ermangard, married a Soulis; and of this Soulis was Nicholas the competitor.” His grandson, Sir William Soulis, is designed Butellarius Regis in 1320. He was one of the Scots nobles who sent the famous letter to the Pope that year, asserting the independence of Scotland. He was governor of Berwick; but soon after was convicted of treason and forfeited by King Robert the Bruce, and Sir Alexander Seton was appointed governor of Berwick in his place. He was sentenced to imprisonment for life. Barbour insinuates that the object of the conspirators was to place Soulis on the throne.

The barony of Caverton, Roxburghshire, also belonged to the Soulises, one of whom, Lord Soulis, according to tradition, was boiled alive at the Nine-stane rigg in the parish of Castletown, near his castle of Hermitage. In the town of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, stood Soulis’s Cross, a stone pillar, eight or nine feet high, placed at the south entrance of the High church, and erected to the memory of Lord Soulis, said to have been an English nobleman, who was killed on the spot in 1444, by an arrow from one of the family of Kilmarnock. In 1825, the inhabitants rebuilt it by subscription, and placed a small vase on its top, with the inscription, “To the Memory of Lord Soulis, 1444.”


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