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A History of the County of Renfrew from the Earliest Times
Chapter VIII.—Stuart and Plantagenet


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 France5 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. 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. 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. 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.” 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, 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. 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.5 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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