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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
IX. The Gaels


as often as occasion shall arise." His family came to an end before 1400, but in any case the Scrymgeours had long been in possession of the similar but more important office of Bannerman. It was the creation of this office for the Fife Kindred (later represented by the Scrymgeours) who already had charge of the Brecbennoch, that probably led to the Brecbennoeh being given to the Arbroth monks in the first place, as per the King’s wishes. Yet an at least partly aprocryphal story is told by Boece regarding the acquisition by the Scrymgeours of the post of bannerman of the vexillum regium and their name. In an early historical work, the Crnnikls, Boece asserts that in the days of King Alexander I (1107-1124) or, as an inconsistency, King Malcolm (Malcolm IV?- 1153-c.1175), the King traveled to Monymusk to fight his rivals for the Crown (the Moray-men) hut saw his bannerman  "trembling for fear of enemies and not passing so pertly forward as he desired." At this point the King took the banner from him and gave it to one "Sir Alexander Carron," who was given the significant name Scrymgeour.

Later in the same book Boece asserts that Sir Alexander Carron won his new surname by going forward in a skirmishing party of picked men, with the vexillion region, and defeating and killing the opposition. First of all, the date is far too early, as the family of Scrymgcour only held the office from the reign of Alexander III (1249 -1216), and the first of the name Scrymgeour does not appear until the career of Alexander, grandson of Carin, who fought bravely as Bannerman for both Wallace and Bruce in the Scottish wars of independence. It is clearly he that this romantic story is really about, the character Sir Alexander Carron being apparently a combination of his name with that of his earliest recorded ancestor, Carin of Cupar, with the added flavor of an older "Brechennoch" tradition connected with the struggles of David I against the "Moray-men." The story is probably meant to contrast the bravery of Sir Alexander with the relative ineffectiveness of those other vexillum-bearers, the monks of Arbroth, hence the mention of the relatively obscure estate of Monymusk.

The Spens too are descended from the house of Fife, and appear to have branched off the main stem sometime after the family of Wemyss. They take their name from the office of Spence or Spense, from dispensa, Latin despensario, that of custodian of the larder or provision room, in this case apparently originally connected with Inchaffray Abbey in Strathearn. The post apparently evolved into a royal government office, in the same way that the Stewart or Steward of the King’s household (that is, the whole Kingdom) himself became a royal officer of realm-wide responsibility. Several persons named Spensa or Dispensa are mentioned as government officials from the thirteenth century onwards, including one in 1529 for whom there is entry in the royal accounts of livery for "John Spens at the cupboard." Roger Dispensator witnessed a charter by the bishop of Moray between 1202 and 1222. Thomas Dispensator witnessed excambion of time lands of Dolays Mychel


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