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A History of the County of Renfrew from the Earliest Times
Chapter VII.—The Wars of Bruce


At the coronation of Bruce at Scone, March 27, 1306, Renfrewshire, if it was represented at all, was represented by the Earl of Lennox, a descendant of Walter fitz Alan. The Steward was not present. Less versatile than Bruce, and less perjured than Wishart the Bishop of Glasgow, while Bruce was fighting for Edward he was steadily supporting Wallace. His Renfrewshire and other estates had been given to the Earl of Lincoln. But on February 9, 1304, he made his peace with Edward, and on November, 1305, appeared in Westminster Hall before the Lord High Chancellor of England, confessed his broken faith to the King, and submitted himself and his lands in Scotland and elsewhere to his will. A year later, November 22, 1306, the Earl of Lincoln restored the Steward’s estates in Scotland into the King’s hands for the sum of four thousand merks. Three months before this, Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, was accused of handing over to Robert de Bruce the Steward’s son and heir, Andrew; but denied it. Apparently the charge was not well founded, for on the 25th of the same month (August, 1306) Malise Earl of Strathearn and John Inchmartyne undertook to produce him bodily to the King under pain of forfeiture of their lives and goods.8 Whether they did produce him is uncertain. Nothing further is heard of him. The Steward continued to hold aloof from Bruce. Perhaps he was not sure of him, or he was hopeless of his success; or perhaps he preferred to make sure, whatever might happen to Bruce or to Scotland, of his estates.

His son and successor, Walter, the sixth Steward, threw himself on the side of Bruce with enthusiasm. At Bannockburn, according to Barbour,

“Valtir, Steward of Scotland, syne,
That than we bot ane berdle hyne,
Com with a rout of nobill men,
That all be contynans mycht ken.”

Though but a youth of seventeen or eighteen years, he was given, along with Sir William Douglas, the command of the third battle or division of the Scots army, and, by his gallant bearing in the fight, commended himself to the favour of the King.

After the battle, when “ it rained ransoms in Scotland,” and the Earl of Essex was exchanged for the Scots Queen, her sister, the princess Marjorie, and the Bishop of Glasgow, the King entrusted their safe conduct from the border to the young Steward. Soon after, Marjorie was wedded to the Steward, and became the mother of Robert, later Robert II.

During Bruce’s quixotic expedition in Ireland, Walter was appointed joint Regent of the Kingdom with Douglas. In 1316, his son was acknowledged by Parliament heir to the crown in the event of the King dying without male issue. Berwick was surprised and captured on March 28 in the same year, and after holding out sixteen weeks longer, the castle surrendered. Anticipating that Edward would endeavour to recapture both town and castle, the King entrusted the keeping of them to his son-in-law, the Steward.

Edward was not long in making the expected attempt. He summoned his forces to meet him at Newcastle-on-Tyne, on July 24, 1319, and began the siege of the town on September 7. Walter was materially assisted in the defence by John Crabbe, the Flemish engineer, whose doings, as well as

those of the Steward, are described in vigorous language by Barbour. In order to create a diversion in favour of the besieged, the Scots King sent Douglas and Randolph with a force of 15,000 men by another route into England. They advanced, laying waste the country, as far as Ripon, and thence to Boroughbridge, without meeting with resistance. At Myton-on-Swale, the Archbishop of York had

“ . . . gaderit in-till full gret hy
Archeria, burgess, with yhemenry,
Prestis, clerkis, monkis and freris,
Husbandis, and men of all mysteris,
Quhill at thai sammyn assemmyllit var
Weill tuenty thousand men and mair.”

In the battle which followed, called by the Archdeacon of Aberdeen The Chapter of Mitton, because of the number of priests slain, the English were utterly routed. On hearing of the disaster, Edward at once raised the siege, and was forced to consent to a truce for two years.

At the Parliament held at Arbroath, April 6, 1320, Walter the Steward signed the celebrated letter to the Pope from the barons and lay community of Scotland, in which they accused Edward in much the same terms as he had accused them, protested against the attitude which His Holiness had taken up against them, and maintained their right to live without molestation as a free and independent nation.

On March 16, 1322, the Earl of Lancaster, who was aiming at the English crown, and had entered into a secret league with Douglas and Randolph, was defeated at Boroughbridge before the Scots could join hands with him, by Sir Andrew Harcla, governor of Carlisle. When the two years’ truce had expired, encouraged apparently by his success over Lancaster and his adherents, Edward resolved to resume hostilities against Scotland, and, as it turned out, for the last time. While his army was mustering at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the Scots, under Douglas and Randolph, entered England by the western marches, and, penetrating beyond Preston, did enormous damage. Their raid began on July 3. On the 12th of the month, after burning the town and castle of Lancaster to the ground, they returned by Carlisle, At Carlisle, they lay for five days, and left it on the 24th, after an inroad lasting three weeks and three days, during which they apparently encountered little or no opposition.

Early in August, Edward entered Scotland1 with his army, and marching up Lauderdale, descended upon Edinburgh. There he found no one to oppose him. The Scots King had adopted the old plan of clearing the country of provisions and retiring before the invader, and had fixed his camp beyond the Forth at Culross. The invaders, many of whom perished from hunger, were soon compelled to retreat. The Scots lost no time in following them. By September 17, when Edward was at Newcastle, they appeared before Norham with a small force of 200 men. Edward pressed on from Newcastle, which he left on the 25th, by Durham and Barnard Castle to Rievaux Abbey, whence he despatched a letter, on October 13, to Aymer de Valence, ordering him to join the Earl of Richmond and Henry Beaumont at Byland on the following day. The main army of the Scots had gone round by Carlisle3 and by a rapid march surprised Edward at Rievaux on October 14, the day after the despatch of the letter to Aymer de Valence. Edward’s baggage was captured, many prisoners were taken, but the King escaped, though hard pressed by the Steward, who followed him, at the head of 500 men, almost up to the gates of York.4 This was Walter’s last achievement.

The war with Scotland was resumed by Edward III. after the deposition of his father, Edward II., but a treaty was soon concluded by which England undertook to acknowledge Scotland as an independent country, and a marriage was arranged between David, Bruce’s infant son, and Joanna, Princess of England and sister to the King. Before the treaty was concluded, Walter was dead. He died at Bathgate, April 9, 1326, ten years after his wife Marjorie, and left behind him a boy of ten, who afterwards became Robert II. Walter was a great favourite with both King and people. His death was universally lamented. “ Than,” says Barbour,

“Than mycht men heir folk gret and cry,
And mony a knycht and ek lady
Mak in [apert] richt evill cher ;
Sa did thai all that evir thair wer.
All men hym menyt comonly ;
For of hia elde he wea worthy.
Quhen thai lang tyme thar dule had maid,
The coraa to Paalay haf thai had,
And thar, withe gret aolempnite
And with gret dule, entyrit wea he,
God for hia mycht his saull he bring
Quhar ioy ay leatia but endyng—Amen.”

Wallace, James the Steward, and Walter—Renfrewshire had a large hand in the wars against Edward I. and Edward II., and in freeing the country from their yoke. Wallace revived the drooping spirit of his countrymen in their darkest hour, and gave them their first victory over their foes. James the Steward, after vacillating for a time, threw in his lot with the popular party. Until the ranks of the magnates, his companions in arms, were thinned by death and desertion, and he and the remnant of them were forced to yield, he fought steadily against the Plantagenet; and when at last he was obliged to sue for peace, he was among those who were excepted from the treaty as deserving to be more severely dealt with because of the more stubborn character of their resistance. Walter came in on the full tide of victory, and though but a boy in his teens when he began, did brilliant service in the cause of his country at Bannockburn and Berwick, and in the campaign in which the power of the Second Edward was completely broken.

The name of one other deserves to be added to theirs—that of

“Yorthy and vicht, stahvard and stout Curtass and fair, and of gude fame Schir Alane of Catcart.”

Sir Alan Cathcart was a comrade of Edward Bruce, and accompanied him and Bruce during their wanderings in Scotland, when their fortunes were lowest. From the way in which he speaks of him, Barbour was evidently acquainted with him. It was from him, he tells us, that he obtained the story of the discomfiture by Edward Bruce with fifty men of Sir John St. John with fifteen hundred men in Galloway, at which feat of arms Sir Alan was present.

Among the defenders of the Castle of Stirling when it capitulated to the English, July 24, 1304, were Fergus de Ardrossan and his brother Robert, whose family, though not then connected with Renfrewshire, was afterwards. Another name in the same list is that of Robertus de Ranfru (Renfrew). Among those belonging to the county who are said to have fought on the patriotic side during these wars, were Robert de Semple of Castle Semple, and Matthew of Renfrew. The latter was a prisoner first in the castle of the High Peak, Derbyshire, and afterwards in Nottingham Castle. Robert of Renfrew was imprisoned in Salisbury and then in Old Sarum, where he died, December 22, 1306. For his conduct at Bannockburn, Sir Reginald Crawfurd of Crosbie received from Bruce a grant of the lands of Auchinames in the parish of Kilbarchan; and, for his services on the same field, Semple was rewarded with a grant of part of the lands of Balliol in the parish of Largs.

Renfrewshire stands a little apart from the main road leading from England by the west into the centre of Scotland, and hence during the various marching and counter-marchings of the English armies in the country, they seldom passed through or were present in it. Yet the English troops were by no means unknown in the shire. The strong castle of Inverkip early fell into their hands, and, as Barbour puts it,'* ves then stuffit all with Ynglis men.” Sir Philip de Mowbray escaped to it after the battle of Loudon Hill, May 10, 1307. The Renfrewshire estates of the Steward, as already mentioned, were given by Edward I. to the Earl of Lincoln. The people were restive, and the patriot army lay about. In 1299, John the Mareschal, bailiff of the Earl of Lincoln, wrote to the King in great trepidation, pleading for help. The Guardian of Scotland, he reported, with three hundred men-at-arms and a multitude of foot, who had been lurking in Galloway, had entered Cunningham after the King’s son, afterwards Edward II., had left, and taken his bailiffs, and totally rebelled against their late fealty. He prays for immediate aid, and says that without the King’s help he cannot defend the barony against so many Scots. Five years later things were no better. The King’s escheators had to be escorted through the county by an armed force. Their names were James de Dalileye and John de Westons. Ten foot soldiers were required to escort them from Dumbarton to the town of Renfrew, Sir John Wallace and Robert Boyd assisting them with ten men-at-arms. The same escort was required to convey them from Renfrew to Ayr. Without such escort, it is said, “ they could no ways have done their work.”

In 1307 the monastery of Paisley was burned almost to the ground, and in 1310 Edward II. penetrated to Renfrew with his army. The leaders of those who set fire to the monastic buildings are not known. The town of Paisley was probably burned at the same time. Edward seems to have entered and left Renfrew on the same day, though it is not improbable that his stay in the royal burgh extended over one or more days. Some of his writs were attested at Lanark on October 15, and others at Renfrew on the same day. The next that occur are tested at Linlithgow on October 23 and 28. On the other hand, his lieutenant was at Lanark on October 15, and he himself appears to have reached Biggar on the 16th.

Altogether, though a number of the inhabitants had signed the Ragman Roll, the county suffered and did much in the cause of freedom.

On the death of Robert I., Randolph Earl of Moray became Regent. Douglas died in Spain, when on his way to the Holy Land with the heart of Bruce. Soon after this disaster, David II., then in his eighth year, was both crowned and anointed at Scone, November 24, 1331. The heir-apparent to the crown was the Steward, then about seventeen years of age. David married an English princess. The early part of his reign he spent in France. Twice he was a captive in England. After his release he became little better than a tool of the English court, and would have handed down the crown his father had won to an English successor. Towards the end, the war between Scotland and England virtually resolved itself into a conflict between the Steward and the Plantagenet.

Of the Steward’s earliest days, nothing is known. The first notice we have of him occurs in the beginning of David II.’s reign Probably he was at Dupplin Moor, August 12, 1332, when Balliol and the disinherited nobles won their remarkable victory over the forces of the Crown under Donald Earl of Mar, the successor of Randolph in the Regency.

From Dupplin, Balliol went to Perth, and thence to Scone, where he was crowned. Returning to Perth, he set out for Galloway ; going by “Coil” and “ Conyngham,” probably after passing through Renfrewshire. He then crossed Crawford Moor to Roxburgh, where he swore fealty to Edward III. and covenanted to give him Berwick and lands of the value of 2000 on the Border. Near Jedburgh, he defeated Archibald Douglas, who was lying in ambush to attack him. At Roxburgh bridge he captured Sir Andrew Moray, the son of Wallace’s friend, who was now Regent, and sent him to England, where he remained till he was ransomed. Balliol then returned to the West March, near Annan. It is here that we first meet with the young Steward. About daybreak, on December 16, along with the Earl of Mar and Archibald Douglas, he suddenly fell upon the sleeping court of Balliol, killed about a’ hundred of his men, and nearly captured Balliol himself, who with difficulty escaped half naked to Carlisle.

The Scots now raided across the Border. Edward accused them of infringing the Treaty of Northampton, which he himself, by his encouragement of Balliol, had helped to turn into waste paper. Balliol re-crossed the Border, and Edward summoned his levies to meet him at Newcastle on March 21,1333, preparatory to laying siege to Berwick, which, though ceded to him, was still in the hands of the Scots. He was joined by Balliol, and the two sat down before Berwick, the King of England and the titular king of the country fighting together against it.

The Guardian of Scotland was now Archibald Douglas, youngest brother of the “ Good ” Sir James. By a raid into England, in which he threatened to carry off Edward’s Queen from Bamborough Castle, he tried to divert the English army from its immediate object, but failed. Re-crossing the Tweed, he found the English army drawn up on the slope of Halidon Hill. The positions at Bannockburn were here reversed. The front protected by the moss was that of the English army, not that of the Scots. The battle was won by the English archers, and the defeat of Bannockburn was avenged. The whole of the Scots army of nearly 15,000 men were either slain or made prisoners. The Regent Douglas fell mortally wounded, and six earls—Ross, Sutherland, Menteith, Lennox, Carrick, and Atholl (John Campbell)—besides many others, some of them veterans in the wars of the Bruce Randolph, who led the first line, escaped to France; the Steward, who led the second, found refuge in Bute. The Earl of March, one of the defenders of Berwick, joined Edward, and was rewarded by the English King with a grant of 100 of land to himself and his wife, “Black” Agnes Randolph ; John Crabbe, the Flemish engineer, having, it is said, been badly treated by the Scots, also changed sides, and distinguished himself in the siege of the town, which, fifteen years before, he had so skilfully defended.

The whole country now seemed to be at the feet of the conqueror. A few places of strength were in the hands of a number of resolute men, but so precarious was the condition of affairs that it was deemed advisable to send the young King and his Queen to France lest they should fall into the hands of the invader. Balliol held a Parliament at Edinburgh in February, 1333-34, at which were ratified all the promises he had made to Edward at Roxburgh. Among the Bishops at this Parliament were Aberdeen, Brechin, Ross, Galloway, the “ King’s own Bishop ” William Sinclair, who in Bruce’s day had rallied a Scottish army and routed an English force, and the scarcely less famous Bishop of Dunblane, who, as the Abbot of Inchaffray, had marched barefoot, cross in hand, down the ranks of the Scots before Bannockburn. Among the barons were the English Earl of Atholl, Beaumont of Buchan, Talbot Earl of Mar, Alexander de Mowbray, Alexander de Seton, William de Keith, and the lately converted Earl of March, who had held Berwick against Balliol and his master Edward. At Newcastle, on June 12, 1334, Balliol by a formal instrument made over to the English Crown the forests of Jedburgh, Selkirk, Ettrick, and the counties of Roxburgh, Peebles, Edinburgh, Linlithgow, Haddington, and Dumfries, with their burghs and castles.1 Over this new domain Edward appointed his own officials, but gave instructions that the laws of Scotland should be preserved and maintained in it.

Fortunately, dissensions soon, broke out amongst the adherents of Balliol, and Mowbray, one of the most prominent of their number, joined Sir Andrew Moray, who had been ransomed ; and the two sat down to besiege Beaumont’s Castle of Dundearg in Buchan. The castle was taken and Beaumont sent to England. Talbot also was made a prisoner.2 Watching his opportunity, the young Steward, whose estates had been forfeited and conferred upon the Earl of Atholl, crossed over from Bute under cover of night to Inverkip. Here horses were waiting for him, and hastily mounting he pressed on to Over-cumnock, from whence he re-crossed the Clyde to Dumbarton, where he was heartily welcomed by Malcolm Fleming, the governor. With the assistance of Colin Campbell of Lochow, he stormed Dunoon Castle in Cowal. As soon as this was known in Bute, his vassals there rose against the English governor, Alan de Lyle, put him to death, and carrying his head before them, proceeded in savage triumph to join their chief. Rothesay Castle was soon in the hands of the insurgents. Thomas Bruce co-operated with the Steward in Carrick; William Carruthers was active on the same side in Annandale. Randolph Earl of Moray returned from France and joined the Steward. Renfrew with Kyle and Carrick was cleared of the invaders. The Earl of Atholl (David of Strathbogie), hitherto one of the most notable of the English party, was won over to the popular side; and Balliol had again to flee across the border. But late as the season was, Edward at once marched northward. About the beginning of November he joined Balliol at Berwick, and then proceeded to overrun the south of Scotland. Christmas

he spent at Roxburgh, strengthening the fortifications of both town and castle, and then returned to Newcastle to meet the French Ambassadors who had come on behalf of Philip to arrange for peace with the Scots. Balliol came west to spend his Christmas at Renfrew, and in the castle of the Steward held high court and festival, distributing gifts among his friends, and doubtless causing many searchings of heart in the neighbouring monastery, where the Abbot had just received from Benedict XII. the right to wear the mitre and the ring and other coveted privileges. Balliol did not remain long in the Steward’s castle at Renfrew. He knew that he was in the midst of enemies, and preferring the better part of valour, made haste to follow Edward across the Border.

The Steward and Sir Andrew Moray were now made Guardians of the Kingdom. In April they held a meeting of Parliament at Dairsie in Fife. To this Parliament came the Earls of Moray, Atholl, and March, who by this time had renounced his allegiance to Balliol and joined the popular party. Atholl is said to have caused a misunderstanding between the two Regents, but the statement may be doubted. Assuming, however, that he did, the misunderstanding cannot have been of much importance. It did not prevent them from settling their military policy and working it out in harmony.

Edward rejected the overtures of Philip. Their only effect was to harden his resolution to conquer the Scots. In the beginning of July he sent a fleet of 180 ships to the Forth with supplies. On the 2nd of the month he was at Carlisle, and thence led an army into Scotland by the west. Balliol led another from Berwick, and the two met at Glasgow, when a great riot occurred. The united forces reached Perth by August 13, devastating the country as they went, and sending parties out in all directions to carry fire and sword among the people. Edward returned to Berwick by way of Edinburgh, where he was from the 10th to the 18th of September.10 In November, the Castle of Kildrummy was besieged by Atholl, who had been left as Balliol’s regent, and was bravely defended by Christina Bruce, the wife of Sir Andrew Moray. Moray went to her relief. Atholl raised the siege to meet him, and was slain. Moray used his victory to bring back the whole of the country north of the Mounth to the side of King David. Then he came south and laid siege to Cupar, in Fife, which was strongly held by William Bullock, the priest, and a number of Balliol’s .adherents. At the request of the French ambassadors, the siege was raised. A Parliament was held by the patriots at Dunfermline, and then Moray went north to lay siege to Atholl’s Castle of Lochindorb.

In May (1336) Edward despatched Balliol and Henry of Lancaster to Perth with a large army, and in June he followed them. After fortifying Perth, he marched northward with a picked body of men to relieve Lochindorb and to punish Moray. On his way, he heard that Moray was lurking in the wood of Stronkalterc, and turned aside to pursue him. His approach was seen, and Moray and his troops vanished, and eluded all his efforts to overtake them.4 After relieving Lochindorb, Edward laid waste the fertile lands to the north of the Mounth, burning towns, castles, and cornfields. Turning eastwards, he sacked and burned Aberdeen, and then returned to Perth, strengthening the garrisons on his way. About the beginning of September he left Balliol with a strong force in the Fair City and took his way south, believing that at last he had overawed the country and broken its spirit; but he was soon to learn that he was wrong.

His back was scarcely turned when Moray issued from his fastnesses, and re-took castle after castle. Before June (1336) he had taken Falkland, Leuchars, and St. Andrews in Fife; but in his attack upon Cupar he failed. It was defended by Bullock, the ecclesiastic, and was effectively relieved by Sir John Stirling, warden of Edinburgh. After paying a passing visit to his own castle of Bothwell, which had been captured in the preceding March, Moray made a foray into Cumberland, and then turning back, laid siege to Edinburgh, till the approach of an English force compelled him to retire. In April and May, 1337, he was besieging Stirling. Edward hurried to the rescue, and Moray once more drew off into the Highlands,6 where he waited until the English army had withdrawn. He then swept down into the Lowlands, conquered Lothian, again laid siege to Edinburgh, routed an English force advancing to its relief at Crichton, and pursued the fugitives to Galashiels. This was his last exploit. He withdrew to Avoch, and died. He was the son of Wallace’s friend, Andrew de Moray, who fell wounded at Falkirk in 1297, and was about forty years of age.

The Steward, afterwards Robert II., a young man of about twenty-three, now became Regent. The patriotic party rallied round him, and the battle for independence went on as vigorously as ever. Fortunately for the Scots, Edward became more and more embroiled with France, and while his hands were full of affairs there, he was obliged to leave matters in Scotland to his lieutenants. In 1337, the Earl of Salisbury was besieging Dunbar Castle, but in the following year, owing to its heroic defence by Black Agnes of Dunbar and its timely relief by Sir Alexander Ramsay, the siege was raised.

The Steward first sent the Knight of Liddesdale for French aid, and then, having assembled a force, laid siege to Perth. He is said to have been assisted in the siege by the ecclesiastic Bullock, Constable of Cupar, but as Bullock received pay from the English as Constable of Cupar as late as December 12, 1339, that is not likely. The Governor of Perth was Sir Thomas Ughtred. He was badly provisioned, and after holding out as long as he was able, surrendered the place to the Steward, August 17, 1339. Following the example of Robert I., the Steward levelled its walls with the ground. He then marched to Stirling, but after an attempt to take the castle by assault, he appears to have left it aside.

In 1340 a foray was made into England under the leadership of the Earls of March and Sutherland. Much damage was done in the northern counties, but the raiders were obliged to beat a speedy retreat across the Border. On April 16, 1341, Edinburgh Castle was captured by a clever stratagem, said to have been devised by the ecclesiastic Bullock, who by this time must have come over to the Scots side, and carried out by the Knight of Liddesdale. The portcullis of the castle was blocked by the waggon of pretended wine merchants, who were Scots men-at-arms in disguise; the Knight then rushed in with a chosen band, and the castle was taken.

The country being now regarded as sufficiently cleared of its enemies to admit of the King’s return, an invitation was sent to him, and on June 2, he landed with his Queen at Inverbervie, and thence proceeded to Aberdeen. The King was a lad of eighteen years of age. The Steward, as in duty bound, surrendered the kingdom into his hands.

During the Stewards regency, Edward of England had been fully occupied in France in a vain attempt to make good his claims to the French crown. Towards the end of the year of David’s return, he unwillingly agreed to a truce for nine months with the French King, and was expected to spend the winter in Ghent. But he suddenly landed in England, and coming north, marched through Ettrick forest in an extremely bad season, and then spent Christmas at Melrose. But affairs in France were of more interest to him now than those of Scotland, and instead of prosecuting the war against the Scots, he went south to raise money for his French wars.

On March 30, 1342, the castle of Roxburgh was taken. Its garrison numbered about one hundred and thirty, among whom were twenty-three Scotsmen. Sir Alexander Ramsay is said to have won it by escalade. According to the Scalacronica, “ al they that were captyne of this covyne dyed after an il death.” This was the case with the gallant Ramsay, who was starved to death in Hermitage Castle, “ through envy that William Douglas bare hym.”5 The next castle to fall was Stirling, which surrendered “ from defect of victual,” as Sir Thomas Rokeby says, April 10. On June 2, the Earl of Moray was released from his six years’ captivity in England in exchange for the Earl of Salisbury, a prisoner with the French, and David and he are said to have led several forays into England.

After Edward III. had again declared war against the French, on April 24, 1345, David, in an evil hour for himself and his country, resolved, at the instigation of France, to invade England. An army was assembled at Perth. About the 9th of October,9 while Edward was besieging Calais, it entered England by the west marches under the leadership of the King and the Knight of Liddesdale. The peel of Liddel was taken by assault, and its constable, Sir Walter Selby, beheaded. Contrary to the advice of Douglas, who counselled a return, the King marched through Gilsland, skirting Tyndale, to Hexham, where he is said to have numbered his forces, consisting of two thousand men-at-arms and a great number of light-horsemen and light-armed foot. At Bishop-Auckland, to the south-west of Durham, the Archbishop of York and other English leaders had assembled their forces. While marching to intercept David’s further progress they unexpectedly encountered a foraging party under Douglas, who was put to flight. An attack was then made upon the main army. The Steward led the second division. Twice he drove back the English archers and footmen ; but the Bishop of Durham coming up to their rescue, the Steward’s lines were broken and his troops dispersed. The rest of the Scots with the exception of the King’s division had, by this time, been scattered or taken prisoners. The King fought bravely, but was at last forced to yield. The Steward and the Earl of March, who led the third division of the army, escaped unhurt, but the loss on the Scots side, both in killed and prisoners, was enormous. Five hundred and forty knights and men-at-arms were slain, and over twelve thousand common soldiers. These numbers were swelled by Lord Lucy, who, arriving too late to take part in the battle, took up the pursuit of the fugitives, who were also exposed to attack by the garrison of Berwick. Thus ended the battle of Durham or of Neville’s Cross —a tremendous calamity to Scotland, and a proof that, however great the personal courage of David Bruce may have been, he had neither the military skill nor the prudence of his father.

The Steward had again to take the leading part in the management of the affairs of the country, and to do his best to repair its misfortunes. Fortunately “King Edwarde was so distresid with his afferes beyound the se that he toke litle regard to the Scottisch matiers.” Still the task of the Steward was not easy. By the defeat at Neville’s Cross and the loss of its King and the flower of its nobility, the country had been thoroughly stunned; it was greatly impoverished ; Berwick and Roxburgh were already in the hands of the English, and in the summer of 1347 two English armies crossed the borders. With twenty thousand men Lord Percy harried Tweeddale, the Merse, Teviotdale, and Ettrick, and then swept down upon the Lothians. Balliol, starting from Carlisle, raided Annandale and Galloway, and then pushing northward, effected a junction with Percy. Turning westward, the united armies marched by Falkirk to Glasgow, and then through Renfrewshire into the counties of Ayr and Dumfries, devastating the country as they went. Balliol had hoped to hold his court in Perth, but was fain to rest in the castle of Caerlaverock on the Solway, within easy reach of Carlisle.

But the Scots were by no means subdued. In the following year, 1348, Lord William Douglas, son of Sir Archibald Douglas, and nephew of the good Lord James, returned from France. The Steward appointed him Governor of Edinburgh Castle, in succession to Sir David Lyndsay. After chasing the English out of Douglasdale, he collected a large force in Ettrick forest and continued his operations in Tweeddale and Teviotdale. Other Scottish lords co-operated with him, and “ a little by a little,” they “ won al that they had lost at the bataille of Duresme.” Calais was taken, and a truce, in which Scotland was included, was arranged between the English and French, on October 22, and renewed from time to time during the next six years.

During the peace, the Steward was mainly occupied in arranging for the King’s ransom. Edward was in no hurry to set him free, and David was not impatient of his captivity. In the beginning of 1352, he was allowed, after leaving pledges for his return, to visit Scotland, in order to persuade the Scottish nobles to accept Edward’s terms.* The Knight of Liddesdale bound himself to serve Edward in all his wars, “except against the Scots, unless at his own pleasure,” on condition that he received the Hermitage and lands in Annan-dale and Moffatdale. There were secret negotiations also between David and Edward, in which David acknowledged Edward as his Lord Paramount. Edward’s terms indeed were the same as his grandfather’s—the recognition of his supremacy over Scotland. In July, 1354, negotiations for David’s ransom were begun at Newcastle. The Scots were to pay 90,000 merks sterling in nine years and twenty hostages were to be given. The negotiations, however, were suddenly broken off. A French knight arrived with sixty French cavaliers and 40,000 moutons, worth four shillings a piece, or about 8,000, equal to about 300,000 of present money. The moutons were accepted, and a raid was made across the border. Norham and the surrounding district were plundered, and as the raiders were retreating with their booty, Sir Thomas Gray, the governor of Norham Castle, set upon them. He and his son were taken prisoners, and to their subsequent enforced leisure in Edinburgh Castle we owe the ScaLctcronica, one of the best contemporary records. The Scots and French took Berwick town, after which the latter were thankfully dismissed to their homes.

In the following year, Edward, whose finances had been amply replenished, came north with an army of 80,000 men. Berwick town was won back and the castle relieved. Balliol went to Roxburgh, and there resigned into the hands of his master the crown and kingdom, which had never been his. Edward then advanced to Edinburgh, finding the country everywhere wasted before him. His fleet with provisions never reached him, and he was forced to retreat with the Scots hanging either on his rear or on his flanks. Satisfied, apparently, that the reduction of the country was impossible, he consented to a truce. Negotiations were opened for the ransom of David, and in October, 1357, the treaty of ransom was ratified. The Scots were to pay 10,000 merks in ten years. Hostages were given for its payment, the Steward’s eldest son being one of them. One of the commissioners who arranged the treaty was Barbour, the author of The Brus.

On the return of David, the Steward resigned his office into his hands, as did also William Lord Douglas, who had been appointed joint Regent with him. The rough congratulations of his subjects were not much to the taste of David, and he made no secret of his dislike for them.3 Nevertheless, when the Estates met at Scone, November 6, 1357, everything was done to raise the money due as his ransom.4 Complaints were soon made, however, that the sums collected were mainly absorbed by David’s private expenses, and in the spring of 1363 the Earl of Douglas, thinking that David “was not a good lord to him,” took up arms, seized Dirleton Castle, then in the King’s hands from ward, and entered into a formal bond with the Earl of March, the Steward, and the eldest and second sons of the latter, to compel their sovereign to change his counsellors. The rising was promptly suppressed by the King. The Steward swore fealty at Inchmurdach on May 4, 1363, and the Earls of March and Douglas made submission separately. Immediately after this David married Dame Margaret Logy, a widow and an old friend, “ solely through the force of love.”

In the following October David repaired to London, where a plan was matured for setting aside the parliamentary rights of the Steward and for bringing about a union of the Crowns of England and Scotland. According to the scheme as agreed to November 27, 1363, the ransom money was to be immediately discharged on condition of the crown of Scotland being settled on Edward III. in default of David’s male issue, careful and elaborate provision being made for preserving the separate uses and institutions of the kingdom. David was jealous of his nephew and apparent heir, and probably expected that the prospect of being relieved of the taxes for his ransom would commend the scheme to the body of the nation. When the proposal was laid before Parliament at Scone, March 4 following, it met with a decided and peremptory rejection.

The ill-will of the King towards the Steward was fomented by the Queen, who, soon after her marriage (it was her fourth) seems to have placed herself at the head of a political faction formed specially to oppose the Steward and the Earls of March and Douglas. Under her influence, the extravagant expenditure of the Court continued. David is also said to have been incensed against the Steward because of some supposed failure in his duty at the battle of Neville’s Cross, and at what he regarded as encroachments upon his royal prerogatives by the Steward while Regent. Bower asserts that, at the instigation of the Queen, the Steward and his three oldest sons were each confined in separate fortresses. That the Steward himself and the “ Wolf of Badenoch ”—Alexander, his third son—were thrown into prison, is certain, but whether it was at the instigation of Margaret, is not. Alexander was kept in the Castle of Lochleven for three weeks before the audit of January 20, 1368-69, and possibly for some time longer. The Steward’s imprisonment, which was in the same place, ended before the said audit and began after the Parliament of June, 1368. It is possible, if not probable, that the incarceration of both was connected with the troubles in the Highlands. The prominent offender there was John of the Isles, the Steward’s son-in-law, and the two were suspected of acting together.

On February 22, 1370-71, David died in Edinburgh Castle, when, in accordance with the settlement of 1318, the Steward became King under the title of Robert II.


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