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The Historical Families of Dunfriesshire and the Border Wars

The conquest of England by the Romans [I think should mean the Normans] in 1066 brought a host of adventurers into the country, who were often rewarded for their part in the battle of Hastings by the sequestrated estates of the Saxon lords. Among these were Robert de Bruis, Jardine, Comyn, Pierre de Bailleul, Seigneur de Fescamps, and Le Seigneur de Jeanville, all mentioned by the Norman chronicler; and the three first were transferred to lands in the north of England. Cumberland and Lothian were claimed by both the English and the Scots at that time. Bruis or Bruce and Cumyn through marriages, and the others probably in a similar way, obtained a footing in Dumfriesshire, where the warlike character of the natives is still shown by the traces of Roman fortresses and encampments built along the Borders in early ages to oppose their advance upon South Britain. Here the Norman settlers intermarried with the Maxwells, Murrays, Carlyles, Kirkpatricks, Crichtons, Carrutherses, Irvings, Grahames, Griersons, Fergussons, and other families in Annandale, who, after Cumberland finally became English, formed an effectual barrier against any further encroachments from the south.

The rivers Esk and Sark, and a morass called Solway Moss, make a natural boundary between Cumberland and Dumfriesshire, added to the bleak tract of country extending for about seven miles from the mouth of the Annan to the Sark. The deep valley of the Annan and the banks of the Milk, with their isolated towns and villages, occasionally recall Switzerland to the modern tourist, and before the union of the two crowns were favourite hiding places for outlaws and bandits, as the arm of the law had difficulty in penetrating to these remote regions, except through the chiefs of the clans. The English borderers were as rude and nearly as aggressive as their Scottish neighbours, so that peace never existed long between North Cumberland and South Dumfriesshire, whatever treaties were signed by their respective kings. Gretna or Graitney, Annan, Newbie, Sark or Morton, Caerlaverock, Holmains, Dunskellie (now Cove), Lochwood, Hoddam, Johnstone, Closeburn or Killosburn, Amisfield, and Comlongan all possessed fortified towers, where the owners occasionally withstood a siege. The Castle of Lochmaben, which the King retained in his own hands, had walls eight feet in thickness, and the sovereigns occasionally made it their temporary residence.

Lochmaben Castle

Early in the 12th century, Robert de Bruis or Bruce held the title of Lord of the Valley of Annan or Annandale, besides large estates in Yorkshire, where he founded the monastery of Gysburn. He gave to this house the patronage of all the churches in Annandale, and his son and grandson, William and Robert, confirmed the gift. The original deeds, preserved at York, are signed, among others, by Humphrey de Gardine (Jardine) and Adam Carlile, both well-known border names, and the churches, described are Lochmaben, Kirkpatrick, Cumbertrees, Rein Patrik (now Redkirk), Gretenhow (or Gretna), and Annan. In the subsequent wars between England and Scotland these churches were made over to the See of Glasgow, and long before the Reformation were generally sold to lay patrons. Between 1170 and 1180 William de Bruce, Lord of Annandale, granted lands to Adam Carlyle, a native of the soil who held property in Cumberland, and the lands of Newbie in Dumfriesshire; and in a charter of Henry de Graeme, ancestor of the Duke of Montrose, the district of Dumfriesshire from Wamphray, inclusive, to Greistna Grene is granted to David Carlyle, Lord of Torthorwald. These early charters have no dates, which can only be ascertained by the reign of the King of Scotland under whom they were conferred. "Twa score Carvels (Carlyles) frae Cockpool" are mentioned in an ancient ballad called "The Bedesman of Nithsdale" as having followed Richard I. of England to the Crusades.

The pedigree of the Bruces goes back into the regions of fable. As Princes of Orkney and Caithness, they had a connection with Scotland in the 9th century, and their chief married the daughter of Malcolm II. of Scotland. His son, Regenwald, a sea king, roved through Europe for a bride, and found one in the daughter of Vladimir the Great, the first Christian Czar of Russia. Regenwald finally settled in Normandy, and his grandson Robert followed the fortunes of the Conqueror. His descendant Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale, married the natural daughter of the Scottish King, William, who, following the example of his son-in-law (up to that time Scotland was without a coat of arms), assumed a heraldic distinction, and bore a lion on his shield. The son of this Bruce espoused King William’s niece, and was the father of the Lord of Annandale, known as the competitor for the throne of Scotland in 1286. Another branch of the family remained in England, where it still exists; while the house of Robert the First became extinct in the male line with his only son David II., for his four brothers, all slaughtered during the long war with England, had died childless. His daughter Marjory died before her father, but she had married Walter, son of James, High Steward of Scotland, and was the ancestress of the Stuarts or Stewards, and of her gracious Majesty.

Robert Bruce, the son of the competitor and father of the great Bruce, seems to have been English in his sympathies, and had formed a second marriage with the daughter of Edward’s ally, the Earl of Ulster. It was not till he died that his son (who had received a pardon from Edward I. for killing a stag in the King’s English forests) took an ostensible part on the side of Scotland. The elder Bruce had fought with Edward I. and with Louis IX. in the Holy Land, and it is probable that one of the family, like the Carliles, also accompanied Richard I. to the Crusades, for the Jardines, Johnstones, and Kirkpatricks carry the same saltire and chief as the Bruces on their shields, and it is believed that they adopted them when fighting with the Lord of Annandale against the Saracens..

With the Bruces and Baliols, the Graemes or Grahames, Carliles, and Corries, seem at this date to have been the chief landowners in Dumfriesshire. The Grahames and Carliles claimed direct descent—the first from King Grime, and the last from Malcolm II. of Scotland; and with their kindred, the Kirkpatricks, were on good terms apparently with the Norman immigrants, as their names are frequently found together on inquisitions, or as witnesses to the same deeds. Two of the sisters of the great Bruce married Annandale men, Sir Christopher Seton and Sir William de Carlile, and the wife of Carlile left numerous descendants. But the Carlile property, which once comprised half of Annandale, was reduced in 1700 to a few isolated estates; and no Carlile appears as a Member of Parliament for any part of Dumfriesshire after 1357. The Lord Carlile who supped with Bothwell in 1567, on the eve of the murder of King Henry, could not sign his own name.

Holywood Church

The second son of Sir William de Carlile and Margaret Bruce was killed at the battle of Durham in 1346, leaving one child, Susanna, who was afterwards married to Robert Corrie. A charter in favour of his brother William de Carlile from Robert Bruce styles him the King’s sister’s son; and another dated at Melrose, 1363, from David II. in favour of Susanna Carlile and of her husband, Robert Corrie, calls the deceased Thomas Carlile the King’s blood relation, and grants to his daughter and her spouse the lands along the southern coast of Dumfriesshire, which had belonged to her grandfather. The Corries (the name is Celtic for hollow) were the hereditary keepers of the castle of Loch Doon in 1306, and a little later, owing to the marriage above-named, added greatly to their possessions in Dumfriesshire. Besides the Barony of Corrie, comprising the modern parishes of Hutton and Corrie, they owned Keldwood in the modern Cumberland parish of Kirkandrews-upon-Esk, Comlongan, Ruthwell, the Barony of Newbie, the Barony of Stapleton, Robgill, and part of the parish of St. Patrick, now divided into Kirkpatrick-Fleming; and Gretna, which includes the ruins of the ancient Redkirk or Rampatrick, and the celebrated Lochmaben Stone, where treaties were signed with the English. But during the 15th century the rebellion of the Douglases involved Dumfriesshire in a civil war. In 1484 George Corrie took the side of the insurgents against the King, and when they were defeated he was outlawed, and part of his estates transferred to Thomas Carruthers, a loyal freeman in Annandale. His brothers, Thomas and William Corrie, for some time retained a portion of the family lands, but subject to constant forays on the part of their neighbours, and in spite of numerous lawsuits, they could get no redress. Yet Thomas Corrie of Kelwood and Newbie was of sufficient importance to be appointed in 1529, with the King’s treasurer and two Scottish knights, an arbiter in a family matter between the Earls of Eglintoun and Glencairn. He married a daughter of Lord Herries.

Dumfriesshire supplied many soldiers for the service of Sir William Wallace, who called himself guardian of the kingdom for King John; and as Lord of Annan, Baliol [Baliol’s father was buried in 1269 at Sweetheart Abbey near Dumfries, which had been founded by his wife Devongilla, daughter of Allan, Lord of Galloway. She also founded Holywood, and built the Old Bridge at Dumfries.] seems to have had his strongest support in Annandale. Lochmaben, Sanquhar, Caerlaverock, Graitney, and Annan changed hands very frequently between 1296 and 1370, and in the middle of the present century an inscription was still legible on a tomb in Graitney Churchyard showing that it belonged to a near relative of Wallace.

N0TE.—Hostages for the Ransom of David II., 1357.—"John Steward (Robt. III.); Humphrey Kirkpatrick; Reynald, son and heir of Sir J. More; Gilbert, ditto of John Kennedy; John, ditto of John Berkeley; John Fleming, son of the Earl of Wigton; John, son of Andrea de Valence; Patrick, son of Sir David Graham; Robt., son of Sir Wm. Cunningham; Robt., son of Sir John Steward of Darnley; Robt., son and heir of Sir Robt. Darzel; Thos., son to Robt. Esk; Wm., son of Thos. Somerville; David, son of David de Wemyss; Thos., son of Wm. de la Haye of Loughewode; John, son and heir to John Gray; John, son and heir of the Earl of Sutherland, is sent to London with his father to appear before the Chancellor; Wm., son and heir to the Earl of Rosse, is sick, and King David and the Bishops of St. Andrew, Brechin, and the Earl of March have undertaken that he shall be delivered if he is alive to the Keeper of Berwick before Easter, and if he be dead, that the next heir of the said Earl shall come in his place."

—(Original MS. in London Record Office.)

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