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The Scottish Nation

DUNBAR, a surname once very prominent in the annals of national and border warfare, and derived from the town of that name in Haddingtonshire. The word Dun-bar, both in the British and the Gaelic signifies “the fort on the height” or, “strength upon the summit,” and the town obtained its designation from the fortlet on the rock, which at this place projects into the sea.

      Boece, and after him Buchanan, state that Kenneth the First having defeated the Picts in a pitched battle at Scoon, conferred the fortress here upon one of his most valiant soldiers, whose name was Bar, and hence the name of Dun-bar, or the Castle of Bar; but Kenneth was king of the Picts, and certainly did not make war on his own subjects. He invaded Lothian six times, and burnt Dunbar, which had its name before his day. Boece’s derivation of the name, like many others of his statements, is therefore a mere fable.

      So early as 961 we find the men of Lothian under two leaders of the names of Dunbar and Graeme, doing battle against the Danish invaders at Cullen.

      The title of earl of Dunbar and March was long enjoyed by the descendants of Cospatrick, earl of Northumberland, who, with other nobles of the north of England, fled to Scotland after the conquest of that country, in 1066, by William of Normandy, carrying with them Edgar Atheling, the heir of the Saxon line, and his two sisters, Margaret and Christina.

      Malcolm Canmore, who married the princess Margaret, bestowed on Cospatrick the namor of Dunbar and many fair lands in the Merse and Lothian.

      His second son, who was also named Cospatrick, witnessed the foundation charter of the abbey of Holyrood house, by David the First in 1128. He had soon afterwards the rank of an earl, and died in 1139, leaving a son, Cospatrick, the second earl, who made donations to the monastery of Kelso of the patronage of the churches of Home, Lambden, and Greelaw. He died in 1147, leaving four sons.

      His eldest son, Cospatrick the third earl, had two sons, Waldeve, his successor, and Patrick, who inherited the manor of Greenlaw. The latter died in 1166. His son William, after mentioned, was ancestor of the earls of Home.

      Waldeve, the fourth earl, was the first who was designed earl of Dunbar. He was one of the hostages for the performance of the treaty for the release of King William the First from his captivity in England, in 1174. He died in 1182.

      Patrick, the fifth earl, is described as having been a brave warrior. William the Lion bestowed on him, in 1184, Ada, one of his natural daughters, in marriage. He held the office of justiciary of Lothian and keeper of Berwick. In 1218, Earl Patrick founded a monastery of Red friars in Dunbar. In 1231, being then very old, after taking farewell of his children, relations, and neighbours, whom he invited to his castle of Dunbar during the festivities of Christmas for the purpose, he retired to a monastery, where he died the following year.

      His daughter Ada obtained from him the lands of Home, and took for her second husband her cousin William, above mentioned, son of Patrick, second son of Cospatrick, third earl. He assumed the name of Home, and was progenitor of the earls of Home, so created in 1605. See HOME, earl of.

      Patrick, the sixth earl, succeeded his father, at the age of forty-six. Lord Hailes calls him the most powerful baron of the southern districts of Scotland. He held the first rank among the twenty-four barons who guaranteed the treaty of peace with England in 1244. He died in 1248, at the siege of Damietta in Egypt, while on the crusade with Louis IX. of France.

      Patrick, the seventh earl of Dunbar, was one of the chiefs of the English faction during the turbulent minority of Alexander the Third, and heading a party, surprised the castle of Edinburgh, and freed Alexander and his queen from the power of the Comyns. Thomas Lermont of Ereildoun, commonly called ‘the Rhymer,’ visited the castle of Dunbar in 1285, and foretold to the earl the sudden death of Alexander the Third, who was killed, next day, by a fall from his horse on the sands of Kinghorn. This earl was afterwards one of the regents of the kingdom, and died in 1289, at the age of seventy-six.

      Patrick, the eighth earl of Dunbar, surnamed Black Beard, appeared at the parliament at Brigham in 1289, where he is called earl of march or the Merse, being the first of the earls of Dunbar designated by that title. He was one of the competitors for the crown of Scotland, to which he entered a formal claim at Berwick in 1291, as the great-grandson of Ada, daughter of William the Lion; but his claim was soon withdrawn, and swearing fealty to Edward the same year, he ever after steadily adhered to the English interest. His wife, Marjory Comyn, daughter of Alexander, earl of Buchan, favoured the Scots, and retained the castle of Dunbar for Baliol, but was obliged to surrender it to Edward the First in April 1296. The earl died in 1309.

      His son, Patrick, the ninth earl, received Edward the Second, when he fled from the field of Bannockburn in 1314, into his castle of Dunbar, whence in a fishing oat he escaped to England. The earl afterwards made his peace with his cousin Robert the Bruce, and was present at the parliament held at Ayr on the 26th April, 1315, when the succession to the crown of Scotland was settled. He was subsequently appointed governor of the castle of Berwick, where he was besieged by Edward the Third in 1333. After the defeat at Halidon Hill, however, he surrendered that important place, and renewed his oath of fealty to Edward; and his castle of Dunbar, which had been dismantled and razed to the ground, on the approach of the English, was now rebuilt, at the earl’s expense, and garrisoned by an English force. He attended Edward Baliol at the parliament held at Edinburgh in February 1334, when the latter ceded to England, Berwick, Dunbar, Roxburgh, and Edinburgh, and all the southern counties of Scotland. In the following December, however, he again renounced his allegiance to the English king, and afterwards exerted himself actively against the English interest. In his absence his countess, who from her complexion was styled Black Agnes, defended the castle of Dunbar against the earl of Salisbury, whom she compelled to retire after a siege of nineteen weeks. Of this heroic lady a memoir is subjoined. The earl commanded the left wing of the Scottish army at the fatal battle of Durham on the 17th October 1346, where, among other nobles, fell his countess’ brother, Thomas, earl of Moray, and as he had no male issue, she became sole possessor of his extensive estates, and her husband assumed the additional title of the earl of Moray. (See MORAY, earl of]. He died in 1369.

      His third daughter, Lady Elizabeth Dunbar, was married to John Maitland of Lethington, ancestor of the earls of Lauderdale. When the second earl of Lauderdale was created a duke in 1672, he chose for his second title that of marquis of March, to indicate his descent from the Dunbars, earls of March. See LAUDERDALE, earl of.

      George, the tenth earl of Dunbar, from the vast possessions which he inherited, became one of the most powerful nobles in Scotland of his time, and the rival of the Douglases. In 1388 he accompanied the earl of Douglas in his incursion into England, and after the battle of Otterburn he took the command of the Scots, whom he conducted safely home. His daughter Elizabeth was betrothed by contract to David duke of Rothesay, the son of Robert the Third, and heir to the throne, but Archibald earl of Douglas, surnamed the Grim, protested against the match, and through the influence of the duke of Albany, had the contract annulled, and the prince was married to his own daughter Marjory instead. In consequence of this slight the earl of Dunbar renounced his allegiance, and retiring into England, put himself under the protection of Henry the Fourth. In February 1401 he made a wasteful inroad into Scotland, and in June 1402 he again devastated the Borders. At the battle of Homildon hill he fought on the English side. Through the mediation of Walter Halyburton of Dirleton, a reconciliation with the Douglases was effected in 1408, and he returned to Scotland the following year. In 1411 he was one of the commissioners for negociating a truce with England. He died of a contagious fever, in 1420, at the age of 82.

      George, eleventh earl of Dunbar and March, succeeded his father in 1420, being then almost fifty years of age, but after holding his titles and estates for fourteen years, and being employed in various public transactions, particularly in making the truces with England which were so frequent at that period, he was, in 1434, imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh by James the First, and deprived of his earldom and possessions, which he was accused of holding after they had been forfeited by his father’s treason; and notwithstanding the plea which he offered of his father’s pardon by the regent Albany, the forfeiture was confirmed by parliament, and the earldom and estates of Dunbar vested in the crown. To make some amends for the severity of his conduct the king conferred upon Earl George the title of earl of Buchan, but, disdaining to assume the title, he retired with his eldest son to England, “and thus,” says Douglas, “ended the long line of the earls of Dunbar and March, who for many generations enjoyed vast estates and influence.”


      DUNBAR, Earl of, a title in the Scottish peerage, revived in 1605, in the person of George Home, third son of Alexander Home of Manderston, in Berwickshire (of the Wedderburn family). See HOME, surname of. He is described by Archbishop Spottiswoode as a man of “deep wit, few words, and in his majesty’s service no less faithful than fortunate.” Being early introduced at court, he soon rose high in the favour of King James the Sixth, who, in 1585, appointed him one of the gentlemen of his bedchamber, and in 1590 conferred on him the honour of knighthood, and constituted him master of the wardrobe. He was one of the cubicular courtiers mentioned in Calderwood’s History (vol. v. p. 510) as having, from their jealousy of the Octavians, stirred up the tumult at Edinburgh of 17th December 1596. On 5th September 1601 he was appointed high treasurer of Scotland. In 1603, he attended James to London, on his accession to the English throne, and on 7th July 1604, was sworn a privy councillor of England, and created a peer of that kingdom, by the title of Baron Home of Berwick. He was created by commission in Holyroodhouse, earl of Dunbar, in the peerage of Scotland, by patent dated at Windsor, 3d July 1605, and subsequently became chancellor of the Exchequer in England. After this period he had the chief management of James’ affairs in Scotland. In the beginning of 1606, he and the earl of Mar were sent from court to Edinburgh to have the imprisoned ministers at Blackness put upon their trial, being appointed one of the assessors to the justice-depute on the occasion. He regretted to Mr. James Melville the employment, and said he would be content to give a thousand pounds sterling to have the king satisfied in that matter, without injury to the kirk, and danger of the honest men who were warded, and desired him to endeavour to prevail with them to make confession, however slight, of a fault, and to come in the king’s will; promising to use his interest with his majesty in their behalf. He was the principal person employed in procuring the re-establishment of episcopacy in Scotland, and in the parliament held at Perth, 9th July 1606, he carried through the act for the restoration of the estate of bishops. In the same parliament he obtained a ratification of the earldom of Dunbar, and other lands, and an acquittance and discharge of the king’s jewels and wardrobe. He was present at the conferences held by the eight ministers with the king at Hampton Court in September of the same year, and when they were called before the Scottish council, the meeting was held at his house. In Calderwood’s history is the following entry as to the payment of the ministers’ expenses: “Upon Wedinsday, the 15th of October, the erle of Dumbar sent Robert Fowsie to their loodging, with eight scheats of gray paper, full of English money, knitt up in form of sugar loaves, conteaning five hundreth merks a piece to everie one of them, for their charges and expenses in comming to court.” [Calderwood, vol. vi. p. 589.] He refused, however, to admit them, on their application, to a personal conference with himself. He was present in the convention of the ministry at Linlithgow, in December 1606, and gave great offence by the solemnity with which he kept Christmas in Edinburgh that year. In the end of June 1608 he again came to Scotland with a commission of lieutenantry for the north parts, and as commissioner to the General Assembly of the church of Scotland, which was held at Linlithgow on the last Tuesday of July. On the first of that month he entered Edinburgh with a great train. In the following month he was instrumental in bringing George Sprott, a notary of Eyemouth, to trial and execution, for concealment of the Gowrie conspiracy, eight years before, and acquired some odium by being present conspicuously at Sprott’s execution. In January 1609 he was again sent down to Edinburgh to hold a convention of the estates, and in the following March he assisted at the trial of Lord Balmerinoch (who had been committed to his keeping) for high treason, in counterfeiting the king’s writing, and sending letters to the Pope, in his majesty’s name, without his knowledge. [See BALMERINO, Lord.] On Sunday the 24th of April he kept St. George’s day at Berwick with much ceremony, and at the feast which he made on the occasion was “served as one of the knights of the garter, by lords, knights, barons, and gentlemen of good rank.” He attended church in great pomp, “convoyed with lords, knights, barons, gentlemen, and soldiers,” and the ceremonies he used in church are specified with great minuteness by Calderwood in his History (vol. vii. p. 18.) This must have been his instalment as a knight of the garter, which Douglas in his Peerage fixes to have taken place on the 20th of May. He was present, as one of his majesty’s commissioners, at the conference at Falkland, 4th May 1609, and about the end of July, he went to Dumfries, where he held a justice-court, and hanged a number of border thieves. He was again nominated one of the commissioners to the General Assembly, appointed to meet at Glasgow, 8th June 1610, and on passing through Newcastle, he was very pressing with Mr. James Melville, who was then exiled to that town, to apply himself to please the king, assuring him that he should be as highly advanced as any minister in Scotland, and even hinting that he might be made a bishop. He took him with him to Berwick, where he left him confined, and entered Edinburgh in state on the 24th of May. He died at Whitehall 29th January 1611, “not without suspicions,” says Calderwood, “of poison. Howsoever it was, the earl was by death pulled down from the height of his honour, even when he was about to solemnize magnificently his daughter’s marriage with the Lord Walden (afterwards earl of Suffolk). He purposed to celebrate St. George’s day following in Berwick, where he had almost finished a sumptuous and glorious palace. He was so busy, and left nothing undone to overthrow the discipline of our church, and specially at the Assembly holden the last summer in Glasgow. Gut none of his posterity enjoyeth a foot broad of land this day of his conquest in Scotland.” [History, vol. vii. p. 153.] “His death,” he adds, “bred an alteration in state affairs; sundry of the council, as well bishops as others, went up to court in the month of March after, every one for his own particular.” [Page 154.] He was buried at Dunbar, where there is a monument to his memory. The earl married Catherine, daughter of Sir Alexander Gordon of Gight, by Mary, daughter of Cardinal Bethune, and had two daughters, Lady Anne, married to Sir James Home of Cowdenknows, and was mother of the third earl of Home, [se HOME, Earl of] and Lady Elizabeth, countess of Suffolk.

      In 1776, as we learn from Douglas’ Peerage, (Wood’s edition, vol. i. p. 454) John Home, of the family of Wedderburn, descended from David, second son of Sir David Home of Wedderburn, was retoured heir male of the earl of Dunbar, but the service was reduced by the court of session, at the instance of Sir George Home of Blackader, baronet, descended from John Home of Blackader, fourth son of Sir David Home of Wedderburn, and immediate younger brother of Alexander Home, the first of Manderston (grandfather of George, earl of Dunbar), and therefore, by the law of Scotland, preferable to the descendants of the elder brother of Alexander. Mr. Home Drummond of Blair Drummond, Perthshire, as descended from and heir male of, Patrick Home of Renton, uncle of the earl of Dunbar, and nearest heir male of the latter, has, as such, a ground of claim to that peerage, as the patent grants the title to the first earl and his heirs-male general. [See HOME-DRUMMOND.]


      Sir Henry Constable of Birton and Halsham, belonging to an English family, was in 1620 created Viscount Dunbar and Baron Constable, but on the death of the fourth viscount in 1721, these titles became dormant.


      There are five baronetages belonging to families of the name of Dunbar; viz. of Mochrum, Wigtonshire, of date 1694, descended from the second earl of Moray of the name of Dunbar; of Durn, in Banffshire, of date 1697, descended from the earls of March, through Patrick, tenth earl; of Northfield, Morayshire, of date 1698, descended in the direct male line from James Dunbar, fifth earl of Moray; of Hempriggs, Caithness-shire, of date 1698 (see DUFFUS); and of Boath, Nairnshire, of date 1814, descended from John Dunbar, earl of Moray, son of the ninth earl of Dunbar.

      There was a sixth baronetcy, of Baldoon, county of Wigton, conferred in 1664, but the heirs-male of the first baronet failing, the title soon became extinct, and the estate of Baldoon devolved on his granddaughter and heiress, Mary, wife of Lord Basil Hamilton, and mother of Basil Hamilton of Baldoon, M.P., whose son, Dunbar Hamilton, succeeded in 1744 to the earldom of Selkirk.

      Of the family of Mochrum was Gavin Dunbar, archbishop of Glasgow, and lord high chancellor of Scotland in the reign of James the Fifth, being a younger son of Sir John Dunbar of Mochrum by his second wife, Janet, daughter of Sir Alexander Stewart of Garlies, and nephew of Gavin Dunbar, bishop of Aberdeen, of whom a memoir is subsequently given below. At the university of Glasgow, he greatly distinguished himself by his acquirements in classical learning and philosophy, and afterwards applying himself to the study of theology and the canon law, he became in 1514 dean of Moray. In the following year he obtained the priory of Whithorn in Galloway, and soon after was appointed preceptor to the young king, (James the Fifth). In September 1524, on the translation of Archbishop James Bethune to St. Andrews, he was appointed by the lords of the regency to succeed him as archbishop of Glasgow, and on the 3d August 1525, was named, with the earl of Angus and others, a commissioner to meet those of England, for the purpose of procuring a peace, and taking order with the marauders of the borders. In 1526, he was admitted a member of the privy council, and was one of the three prelates selected by the king himself “to be of his secret counsail for the spirituale stait.” On 15th November of the same year he was chosen one of the lords of the articles for the clergy. He was present at the condemnation of Patrick Hamilton the martyr, at St. Andrews, the last day of February 1527, and in the subsequent persecution of the reformers his name occurs as taking a prominent part. After the escape of the king from the power of the Douglases, he was appointed lord chancellor, 21st August 1528, in place of the earl of Angus, and in 1531 and 1532, he was elected a lord of the articles. On the 27th May of the latter year, the first session of the college of justice was begun, in his presence and in that of the king, the office of principal being conferred by statute on the lord chancellor. On James’ departure for France, to wed the princess Magdalene, he was appointed, by commission dated 29th August 1536, one of the lords of the regency, and about the same time was presented by the king to the abbacy of Inchaffray in Perthshire, which he held in commendam. In February 1539, he was active in the condemnation and burning for heresy of Thomas Forret, vicar of Dollar, and others, on the Castlehill of Edinburgh, and soon after, at the instigation of Cardinal Bethune, he condemned Jerome Russell, and a youth named Kennedy, to death at Glasgow, although he himself was inclined to spare their lives. After James’ death he was continued chancellor by the regent Arran; appointed a lord of the articles on 13th March 1543, and two days afterwards sworn one of the governor’s privy council. The same day, on the presentation in parliament of a writing or bill by Lord Maxwell, for allowing the Scriptures to be read in the vulgar tongue, which the lords of the articles had found to be reasonable, and allowed to be read in full parliament, Lord chancellor Dunbar, for himself and in name of all the prelates of the realm, opposed its being enacted, and proposed that the consideration of it should be deferred until a provincial council could be called to decide upon it. It was, however, passed, and on 15th December following, he was forced to resign the seals to Cardinal Bethune. His name frequently occurs afterwards in the rolls of parliament. In 1545, when George Wishart was preaching in the west of Scotland, Archbishop Dunbar went to Ayr to oppose him, and occupied the pulpit there, while Wishart preached at the market cross. “The bishop,” says Calderwood, “preached to his jackemen and to some old boisses of the town. The summe of all his sermon was this, ‘They say we should preache: why not? – better late thrive nor never thrive. Hold us still for your bishop, and we sall provide better the nixt time.’ This was the beginning and the end of the bishop’s sermon. He departed out of the town with haste, but returned not to fulfil his promise.” (Calderwood’s Hist., vol. i. p. 187.) In the end of harvest 1545, Cardinal Bethune visited Glasgow, and Knox and Calderwood relate a dispute for precedency which took place between the crossbearers of the cardinal and the archbishop, coming forth or going in at the quire door of Glasgow cathedral, which ended in buffets and blows, and led to a coolness between their masters, and they were only reconciled on occasion of the martyrdom of George Wishart. “The cardinal,” says Calderwood, “was knowne proud, and the archbishop was a glorious fool. The cardinal alleged that by reason of his cardinalship, he was primate of all Scotland, and the Pope’s legate: that his cross should not only go before, but also should only be borne wheresoever he himself was. Good Gukestone, Glaikstone, Archbishop Dunbar, lacked no reasons, as he thought for maintenance of his glory. He was an archbishop in his own province, bishop in his own diocese and cathedral church, and there ought to give place to no man.”? (See Knox’s History, p. 51.) In the following February, however, the archbishop attended the summons of the cardinal to be present at the trial of Wishart at St. Andrews. He assisted at the judgment against him, and witnessed his cruel death from the same window as the cardinal. Archbishop Dunbar died on the 30th April 1547, and was interred in the chancel of his cathedral church, in a tomb which he had caused to be erected for himself, but of which no vestige now remains. Spotswood speaks of him as a good and learned man, and Buchanan has celebrated his praises in one of the most elegant of his epigrams.

DUNBAR and MARCH, AGNES, countess of, commonly called, from her dark complexion, Black Agnes, a high-spirited and courageous woman, whose heroic and successful defence of her husband’s castle of Dunbar against the English, in 1337, has obtained a conspicuous place in the history of the period, was the daughter of the celebrated Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray, regent of Scotland, and the wife of Patrick, ninth earl of Dunbar and March. Her husband having embraced the party of David Bruce, had taken the field with the regent, Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, and was then absent with him in the north of Scotland. In January 1337, William Montague, earl of Salisbury, besieged the castle of Dunbar with a large English army, and employed against it great battering engines, constructed to throw huge stones against the walls. The castle, in some old records called “Earl Patrick’s strong house,” was indeed very strong, being built upon a chain of rocks stretching into the sea, and having only one passage to the mainland, which was well fortified. Before the use of artillery it was almost impregnable, and during the siege by the earl of Salisbury, Black Agnes, in the absence of her husband, resolved to defend it to the last extremity. She performed all the duties of a bold and vigilant commander, setting at defiance all the attempts of the English to take the castle. She showed herself with her maids on the battlements, and when the battering engines hurled immense stones against the walls, she in scorn ordered one of her female attendants to wipe off the dust with a towel or handkerchief. One of the engines employed by the besiegers was an enormous machine constructed of timber, moving upon wheels, and including within it several platforms or stages, which held various parties of armed men, who were defended by a strong roofing of boards and hides, under cover of which they could advance with safety to the foot of the walls. This machine, from the shape of its roof, which resembled the ridge of a hog’s back, was termed a sow. When the countess beheld this formidable and bulky engine rolled forward to the walls of the castle, so far from being intimidated, she cried out to the earl of Salisbury in derision:

                        “Beware, Montagow,
                        For farrow shall thy sow!”

At the same time she made a signal, when a huge fragment of rock, which had been made ready for the purpose, was hurled from the battlements upon the sow, and its roof was at once dashed in pieces. As the English soldiers enclosed within it, were running in all directions to escape with their lives, Black Agnes scoffingly called out, “Behold the litter of English pigs.” It happened that one day when the earl of Salisbury rode near the walls with a knight dressed in armour of proof, one William Spens, a Scottish archer, shot an arrow from the battlements of the castle, with such good aim and force that it pierced through the folds of mail which the knight wore over his acton, or leathern jacket, and reached his heart. “That,” sais Salisbury, as the knight fell dead from his horse, “is one of my lady’s tire-pins. Black Agnes’ love shafts go straight to the heart.”

      The resistance of the countess was so determined that Salisbury, despairing of taking the castle by force of arms, endeavoured to bribe one of the garrison to betray his trust, and offered him a considerable sum if he would leave the gate open, so as to admit a party of English after nightfall. The man took the money, but disclosed the whole transaction to the countess. It is thought that it was at her suggestion that he had entered into such a treaty with Salisbury, as she was anxious to make the latter prisoner. In this, however, she was disappointed. At the time fixed, the earl, trusting to the agreement with the porter, came before the gate, which, as had been arranged, he found open, and the portcullis drawn up. As he was about to enter, however, one of his followers, named John Co0peland, a squire of Northumberland, hastily passed before him. As soon as he was within the fortress, the portcullis was dropped, and Copeland, mistaken for his commander, remained a prisoner, while Salisbury escaped. Black Agnes witnessed the result of the enterprise from the battlements, and as he retired she called out jeeringly to Salisbury, addressing him, as she always did, by his family name: “Farewell, Montague! I intended that you should have supped with us, and assist us in defending the castle against the English.”

      Turning the siege into a blockade, Salisbury closely invested the castle both by land and sea, all communication being cut off betwixt the garrison and their friends. Alexander Ramsay of Dalwolsy (ancestor of the earls of Dalhousie), who was then concealed, with a resolute company of young men, in the caves of Hawthornden, near Roslin, and maintained a kind of predatory warfare against the English, having heard of the extremities to which the brave garrison of Dunbar and their intrepid female commander were reduced, proceeded to their relief with forty men. These he embarked at the Bass, in some boats which he had engaged for the purpose, and taking advantage of a dark night, he contrived to elude the vigilance of the English, and entered the castle by a postern next the sea, the ruins of which are still visible. He was no sooner within the fortress than he sallied out, and attacked the advanced guards of the English, whom he drove back to their camp. Salisbury now despaired of taking the castle, and on the 10th of June 1337 he raised the siege, which had lasted nineteen weeks. The castle was left in possession of Black Agnes, whose courage and perseverance formed the subject of the songs of the minstrels of the time. In Winton’s ‘Cronykill’ there is an interesting account of this memorable siege, under the title,

                        “Of the assiege of Dunbare,
                        Where the Countess was wise and ware.”

The conclusion modernized may be thus rendered, in the supposed words of Salisbury,

                        “She kept a stir in tower and trench,
                        That watchful, plodding Scottish wench;
                        Came I early, came I late,
                        I found Agnes at the gate.”

      On the death of the countess’ brother, Thomas, earl of Moray, who fell at the battle of Durham, in 1346, as he had no male issue, she became his heiress, and besides the earldom of Moray, she and her husband obtained the Isle of Man, the lordship of Annandale, the baronies of Morton and Tibbers in Nithsdale, of Morthingtoun (afterwards Mordington) and Longformacus, and the manor of Dunse in Berwickshire; with Mochrum in Galloway, Cumnock in Ayrshire, and Blantyre in Clydesdale. The countess died about the year 1369, leaving two sons, George, tenth earl of Dunbar and March, and John earl of Moray. The barony of Mordington above mentioned seems to have been given as a dowry to her daughter Agnes, on the latter marrying James Douglas of Dalkeith; and it continued with the descendants of this Douglas till the Reformation, and eventually gave them the title of Baron Mordington in the peerage of Scotland – a title which became dormant in 1796.

DUNBAR, WILLIAM, styled by Pinkerton, “the chief of the ancient Scottish poets,” and by George Ellis, “the greatest poet that Scotland has produced,” is supposed, from an allusion in one of his poems, to have been born in East Lothian, about the middle of the fifteenth century. Laing sets down 1460, and Pinkerton 1465, as the date of his birth. Walter Kennedy, in his famous ‘Flyting’ with Dunbar, represents him as a descendant of the forfeited family of the earls of Dunbar and March, and his biographer, Mr. David Laing, conjectures that he was either the grandson or the grandnephew of Sir Patrick Dunbar of Beill, the fourth son of George, tenth earl of March, the only branch of that once powerful family retaining property in East Lothian. “This Sir Patrick,” says Mr. Laing, “signalized himself on many occasions, and was one of the hostages for James I. in 1426; and it also appears from an original charter dated August 10, 1440, that one of his sons was named William, who in all probability was either the father or uncle of the poet. No other persons of the same baptismal name can be traced during the whole of that century, and as such names usually run in families, the circumstance of our author’s alleged descent from the earls of March, in connection with his own avowal respecting his birthplace, adds some strength to the conjecture of his being the grandson of Sir Patrick Dunbar of Beill.” It is certain that he chiefly resided in Edinburgh, and this is sufficient to account for the allusion to Lothian in his poems. In Sibbald’s Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, vol. i., page 358, a probability is stated of his belonging to Fifeshire; but as regards the precise place, as well as the exact date of his birth, conjecture, however ingenious, is vainly exercised. Enough that he was born a Scotsman. Allan Ramsay was in a mistake when he said in his ‘Evergreen,’ that his birthplace was Mount Saltone; and Lord Hailes was even farther bewildered when he fixed upon Salton in East Lothian as the place either of his birth or residence. Mount Falconn was the place meant, as it stands distinctly in Chapman and Miller’s Miscellany, 1508. It is a far-fetched idea to suppose that “Mount Falconn” was intended to mean Falkland Mount in Fifeshire; although certainly the family of Dunbar, notwithstanding their attainder, retained possession of the barony of Kilconquhar, in Fife, until the reign of Queen Mary. That Dunbar was intended for the church there can be no doubt. In the year 1475, he was sent to the university of St. Andrews. He is supposed also to have studied at Oxford. In his youth he appears to have been a travelling noviciate of the order of St. Frances, as we learn from his poem, ‘How Dunbar was Desyred to be ane Frier.’ Modernized into prose, according to Dr. Irving’s paraphrase, the poet says, “

Before the dawn of day, methought St. Francis appeared to me with a religious habit in his hand, and said, go, my servant, clothe thee in these vestments, and renounce the world. But at him and his habit I was scared like a man who sees a ghost. – And why art thou terrified at the sight of the holy weed? – St. Francis, reverence attend thee! I thank thee for the goodwill which thou hast manifested towards me; but with regard to those garments of which thou art so liberal, it has never entered into my mind to wear them. Sweet confessor, thou needst not take it in evil part. In holy legends have I heard it alleged, that bishops are more frequently canonized than friars. If, therefore, thou wouldst guide my soul towards heaven, invest me with the robes of a bishop. Had it ever been my fortune to become a friar, the date is now long past. Between Berwick and Calais, in every flourishing town of the English dominions, have I made good cheer in the habit of thy order. In friar’s weed have I ascended the pulpit of Dernton and Canterbury; in it have I also crossed the sea at Dover, and instructed the inhabitants of Picardy. But this mode of life compelled me to have recourse to many a pious fraud from whose guilt no holy water could cleanse me.”

      How long he continued a travelling friar, or what were the circumstances under which he first became connected with the court, is unknown; but he seems afterwards to have been employed in various embassies to foreign courts, including that of England, in the character, as his biographer suggests, of “ane clerk,” it being customary in those days to associate some one of the clergy in such missions, their education enabling them to be of great service in promoting negociations. From various allusions in his poetical contest or ‘Flyting’ with his friend Walter Kennedy, it would appear that before the close of the fifteenth century Dunbar had on several occasions visited the Continent. Mr. Laing thinks it more than probable that he was in the train of the earl of Bothwell and Lord Monypenny who, in July 1491, were sent on an embassy to France, and that he was left behind in Paris, after the ambassadors had returned in November of that year. He seems to have been residing in Edinburgh in the year 1500, in the character of a court poet, for in August of that year he received from the king, James the Fourth, a yearly pension of ten pounds (not so small a sum in those days as it would now be considered), which was the first occasion on which his name occurs in the public records.

      Towards the close of 1501 he appears to have visited England, and it is conjectured, on very good grounds, that he accompanied the ambassadors who were sent to London to conclude the negociations for the king’s marriage with the princess Margaret, and that he remained to witness the ceremony of affiancing the royal bride, which took place on the 25th of January 1502. His biographer has little hesitation in believing that Dunbar was the person then styled “the Rhymer of Scotland,” who received £6 13s. 4d. in reward from Henry the Seventh, on the last day of the year 1501, and a similar sum on the 7th of January following. This propitious alliance, which eventually led to the union of the two kingdoms, was commemorated by Dunbar in a poem of surpassing beauty, called ‘The Thistle and the Rose.’ “At this period,” says Mr. Laing, “Dunbar appears to have lived on terms of great familiarity with the king, and to have participated freely in all the gaieties and amusements of the Scottish court; his sole occupation being that of writing ballads on any passing event which might serve to exercise his fancy or imagination, and thus contribute to the entertainment of his royal master.” Several of his compositions consist of supplications and addresses to the king, for preferment in the church, the great object of his ambition. He frequently complains that his old age is suffered to wear away in poverty and neglect, while his youth was spent in the king’s service. In one of these pieces, ‘The Petition of the Grey Horse, Auld Dunbar,’ he represents himself as an old worn out steed which deserves to be turned out to pasture, and to have shelter provided during the winter. In form of an answer, a rhyming order, addressed to the treasurer by the king, is attached to the poem, but whether really written by James or added by Dunbar himself cannot be ascertained. It is certain that on the 17th of March 1504, on occasion of his first performing mass in the king’s presence, his majesty’s offering to him was seven French crowns, or £4 18s. in Scottish money, a larger sum than usually given by the king on hearing “a priest’s first mass.” At Martinmas 1507 his pension was increased to the annual sum of £20, and on the 26th August 1510, by a warrant under the privy seal, it was raised to £80, to be paid as before, at the stated terms of Martinmas and Whit-Sunday, during his life, “or until he be promoted to a benefice of £100 or above.” But that benefice it was never his fortune to receive. As he himself says in one of his addresses, “It has been so long promised that it might have come in much shorter time from the New found isle, or over the great Ocean-Sea, or from the deserts of India.” He also addressed several poems on the subject of promotion to the queen, who seems to have favoured him, although her power of serving him was not so great as her will. He is supposed to have formed one of her train, when she set out to visit the northern parts of Scotland for the first time, in May 1511, as the poem composed by him, descriptive of her reception at Aberdeen, is, says Mr. Laing, evidently written by an eyewitness. Another of his poems, although of a satirical nature, but interesting both on account of its locality and the curious picture which it exhibits of the state of the Scottish metropolis at that early period, is his ‘

Address to the Merchants of Edinburgh,’ written probably about the year 1500.

      Some of Dunbar’s poems were printed in his lifetime by Chapman and Millar so early as 1508. Among his principal pieces may be mentioned ‘’the Golden Targe,’ a moral allegorical piece, the design of which is to show the mastery of love over reason; ‘The Two Marriet Wemen and the Wedo,’ which contains much humorous sentiment and many sarcastic reflections on the female sex; and ‘A Dance,’ representing pictures illustrative of the seven deadly sins. His ‘Lament for the Makars,’ as writers of verses were in those days called, written “quhen he was seik,” is among those of his pieces which were printed by Chepman and Millar in 1508. In it he expresses his sorrow for the death of all his early friends and brother poets, and for his rival, Walter Kennedy, then lying at the point of death, and he concludes very naturally that since death has all his brethren “tane,” he himself cannot be expected to be left “alane,” but must of force “his nyxt pray be.” He is also supposed to be the author of an exquisitely humorous tale, entitled ‘The Freirs of Berwick,’ which supplied the groundwork of Allan Ramsay’s well-known poem of ‘The Monk and the Miller’s Wife.’ In his ‘Testament of Kennedy,’ in compliance with a practice of some of the poets of that period, he interweaves Latin with Scottish verses in a very fantastic manner. It is not certain how or where he spent his latter years. His name does not appear in the Treasurer’s accounts after the 14th May 1513, a few months previous to the disastrous battle of Flodden, when his patron James the Fourth and the chief part of his nobles were slain. Whether his pension was transferred to some other branch of the royal revenue, or he himself was at last promoted to a benefice by the queen dowager during her regency, there is now no means of ascertaining. There is but too much reason to believe that, disappointed in all his applications for a church, he died as he had lived in poverty. His death is supposed to have taken place about 1520. A complete edition of his poems, with a life and notes, was published by Mr. David Laing of Edinburgh, in 1834, in two volumes, and to it, as well as to Dr. Irving’s Life of Dunbar, I have been principally indebted for the materials for this notice.

DUNBAR, GAVIN, bishop of Aberdeen, one of the greatest benefactors of that city of his time, was, according to most authorities, the fourth son of Sir Alexander Dunbar of Westfield, only son of James, fifth earl of Moray, and Isabel, daughter of Alexander Sutherland, baron of Duffus. According to Bishop Keith, however, who seems likely to be correct, he was the son of Sir James Dunbar of Cumnock, by Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the earl of Sutherland; thus, being the nephew, instead of the son, of the above named Sir Alexander Dunbar. Of his early studies or pursuits there is no record, but in the year 1488, he was appointed dean of Moray, and he became archdeacon of St. Andrews, 18th March, 1503. At the same time he was made privy councillor to King James the Fourth, and clerk register. In 1518 he attained to the dignity of bishop of Aberdeen. It is said that it was by his advice that Hector Boece, principal of King’s college, Old Aberdeen, wrote his History of Scotland. About 1530 he erected a stately bridge over the river Dee, about two miles from Aberdeen, consisting of seven arches, which had been projected by Bishop William Elphinstone, one of his predecessors, who died in 1514, leaving a considerable sum of money for the purpose. He also completed the building of the cathedral of Aberdeen, which had been begun by Bishop Kininmunde, the second of that name, about the year 1357, and had been carried on by his successors. In the year 1531 he endowed an hospital in Old Aberdeen for the maintenance of twelve poor men. Twenty-one poor men now derive support from the funds of the Bishop’s hospital. Bishop Dunbar died at St. Andrews on the 9th of March, 1532. According to Dempster, he was an author, and wrote ‘Contra Hereticos Germanos,’ and ‘De Ecclesia Aberdonensi.’ this latter work Dr. Mackenzie takes to be the “Breviary which he caused compose for his church.” During the period that this munificent prelate was bishop of Aberdeen, it is stated that he expended the whole revenues of the see in works of charity and beneficence. so many, indeed, were the benefactions which he conferred on the city, that, if we except the labours of Elphinstone, it is perhaps true what Dempster states, that he alone left more monuments of his piety behind him than did all his predecessors together. A remarkable circumstance is stated by Dempster, that when the Reformers broke down the bishop’s monument, many years after his burial, they, to their great amazement, found his body quite fresh, and his vestments entire.

DUNBAR, DR. JAMES, author of ‘Essays on the History of Mankind in Rude and Uncultivated Ages,’ published in 1780, was professor of moral philosophy in King’s college, Aberdeen, where he died, May 28, 1798.

DUNBAR, GEORGE, A.M., F.R.S.E., an eminent Greek scholar, was born in the village of Coldingham, Berwickshire, in 1774. In early life he was employed for some time as a gardener, but an accident, from the effects of which he became lame for the remainder of his life, incapacitated him for so active an occupation, and his attention was thenceforward directed to literature. An assiduous cultivation of the classics soon developed those faculties of which in subsequent years he showed himself possessed. About the beginning of the present century he went to Edinburgh, and his attainments procured for him a situation as tutor in the family of the then Lord Provost Fettes. He was shortly after selected as assistant to Professor Dalziel, who then filled the chair of Greek literature in the university of Edinburgh, on whose death in 1805, he was appointed his successor, and the duties of his professorship he continued to discharge, with great zeal and ability, till the commencement of the session of 1851-2. An evident devotion to his profession, accomplished scholarship, and great experience enhanced by other good qualities, contributed to his great success as a public instructor, and peculiarly fitted him to conduct one of the most important classes in the university. Of him it may be truly said that his long and unwearied study of the Grecian language and literature strikingly illustrated the truth and force of Dr. Beattie’s remark, that it was impossible for a man to shine in more than one department of literature, science, or art. Professor Dunbar chose his department and chalked out a line of study for himself, in a steady adherence to which lay the secret of the high distinction which he acquired. He died at Trinity near Edinburgh, 6th December, 1851, in the 76th year of his age. His works are: –

      Collectanea Majora, and Collectanea Minora, published without his name, soon after his becoming professor.

      Both of these attracted considerable attention among classical teachers at the time, but have been latterly superseded by more recent elementary works.

      Exercises on the Syntax and some peculiar Idioms in the Greek language. 1812, 8vo.

      Analysis of the formation of the tenses of the Greek verb. 1813, 8vo.

      Prosodia Graeca. Edin. 1815, 8vo.

      A Greek and English Lexicon; also an English and Greek Lexicon, in conjunction with E.H. Barker. Edin. 1831, 8vo.

      A New Greek and English, and English and Greek Lexicon. Edin. 1840, 8vo. 3d ed. Edin. 1850, 8vo. The desideratum which this work supplied in classical literature is universally acknowledged. The author in his Preface says that he was engaged on it for a period of eight years.

      An Inquiry into the structure and affinity of the Greek and Latin languages. Edin. 1827, 8vo.

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