The Bannockburn Connection


In 1314, Robert the Bruce defeated the English army at the Battle of Bannockburn. One of his generals was his nephew, Thomas Randolph, the Earl of Moray. The Barony of Blantyre was gifted, by the King, to Randolph for services rendered at this famous battle.

After the death of Bruce, Thomas Randolph was appointed Regent of Scotland during the minority of Bruce’s son, King David II and he proved to be a wise and just ruler. The Barony consisted of small hamlets namely Barnhill, Hunthill, Auchinraith, Auchentibber, Blantyre Priory and Kirkton, the old town centre at High Blantyre Cross. The population of Blantyre before 1780 was around five hundred and although not officially documented, in the 1300’s, was likely to have been less than 100 people. The Bruce when handing this parcel of land out thought clearly he was handing out an insignificant little piece of land in the middle of nowhere, and was probably a gesture of gratitude to the people who helped him, more than anything else. What would the Bruce make of Blantyre today and it’s 19,000 inhabitants?


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  1. David is only mysterious because he simply died without issue and the estates devolved upon Patrick his remaining brother. Most of the information of early peerages, such as the account of the Dunbars in a rare peerage from 1798, make deductions from the primary records of the privy council and Great Seal of Scotland. Blantyre as a Baron comes up over and over again and later in the 1400s drumlochernoch, Park, Auchentibber, Crossbasket Farm etc… The Douglases came onto bad terms with the Dunbars and it is interesting that the Calder and Clyde separates their feudal estates Douglas had Bothwell, Drumsagard, Gilbertfield, Calderwood (yes that’s a recent revelation!), etc… whereas there rivals were just across the waters. Makes a lot of sense during those feudal times to have the Priory, Blantyre Castle, possibly even the site of Craigneith all facing opposite fortifications. In terms of the Dunbars: the earliest records of the 1200s do show the attachment of the priory to the Dunbars despite the pop-up of Randolph in between: The Augustinian Priory of Blantyre was an outpost of Jedburgh Abbey as we know. Its founders: Patrick Earl of Dunbar with his wife dedicated it to the ‘Holy Rood’ in 1239. This is likely the origin of an early castle in Blantyre, more likely in what is now High Blantyre adjacent to Old Place as we discussed previously Paul.
    The Dunbars lost their superiority of the Blantyre Barony in the years immediately after Bannockburn, when Robert the Bruce granted it to his nephew, Thomas Randolph. This is likely in relation to the Douglas – Dunbar dispute, as it involved the potential loss of the throne via marriage. Later Agnes, Countess of Dunbar (Black Agnes) daughter to Thomas Randolph of Moray, and sole heiress married Patrick De Dunbar (died 1369), and he thereby gained through her inheritance the additional title of Earl of Moray as well as the title of Dunbar. So it was a back and forth affair.
    Some accounts also describe Agnes as the Countess of Moray, on an assumption that she inherited that earldom when her brother John was killed at the Battle of Neville’s Cross, thereby passing on to her through inheritance. However, the earldom actually reverted back to the crown, and then it was later granted to her nephew. This appears to be because there were no known surviving children of her marriage with Patrick (Patrick de Dunbar, 9th Earl of March). So their estates were left to children of the marriage between that Earl’s cousin ‘John de Dunbar’ of ‘Derchester’ and ‘Birkynside’ and his wife: Isobel Randolph who was Black Agnes’s little sister.
    The three nephews were: George, Earl of Dunbar and March, Sir Patrick de Dunbar, of Beil, John Dunbar, Earl of Moray. Agnes is also known to have had a ward: also Agnes Dunbar, who became mistress of King David II.

  2. Just saw the reply from several years ago – sorry to disagree again but if you pursue the history of the priory of Blantyre you will find it was initially created by Earl Patrick de Dunbar, the crusader, and his Stewart countess – it is thought that Blantyre was a part of her dower on marriage to the earl. Both Blantyre and Cumnock had been in the possession of the Dunbars in the 13th Century – the lands seem to have been possessed directly by the Earls until the 1360s when George de Dunbar received them from the king in a re-grant after the resignation of the last Earl Patrick, his cousin. They then passed in 1375 to the rather mysterious David de Dunbar. Blantyre was in the possession of the Dunbars from early in the 13th century and prior to that it was probably a possession of the Stewarts. Of the Dunbar possessions in the west of Scotland only Mochrum in Galloway was granted originally to Thomas Randolph and then passed thru his daughters Isabel and Agnes to George de Dunbar, son of Isobel (or Geilis) and nephew of Agnes..

    1. After double checking I find that there is a current thought that Earl Patrick the Crusaders wife was in fact the daughter of William de Brus and his Stewart wife – so where exactly Blantyre came to the Dunbars is somewhat confused – but It was Patrick and his wife who granted the priory to Melrose so Patrick had that Barony in the first half of the 13th Century.
      I know this is old history in terms of Blantyre but the Dunbars were associated with Blantyre from the early 1200s to about 1600 when they sold.

  3. Blantyre was not given by Bruce to Randolph. It had been in the possession of the Dunbars since at least sometime in the 1200s, perhaps coming from the Stewarts

    1. Unfortunately , this is not the case. Dunbars were only granted the Barony of Blantyre in 1368 by King David II, cousin of George Dunbar. At the same time he was given the Barony of Cummnock. Fifty years prior to this Randolph, Earl of Moray is recorded as the person of ownership. Randolph was succeeded by his 2 sons Thomas and John. With no children between them, upon their deaths, their vast estates including land on Isle of Man passed to the possession of their sister The Countess of March, the celebrated Black Agnes of Dunbar. Before she died in 1369, and with Royal approval, she granted vast swathes of land, including the Barony of Blantyre to her son George Dunbar. The Robert the Bruce connection was firstly that Randolph was his nephew and very much preceded any involvement of Dunbars. The deeds of this sale are available in historical archives and also documented in 1885 in Rev Stewart Wrights book.

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