Blantyre Priory by Dr Wilson

Here’s a little extract from Dr Wilsons book from the 1930s,

A Contribution to the History of Lanarkshire

It goes into some detail about the history of Blantyre Priory. The wording is somewhat deeper and detailed than I would usually post on this page, but for those that seek more about Blantyre, it’s great reading. Pictured is a illustration from that book of Blantyre Priory ruins at the time, which were considerably more than todays.

1930s plan of Priory Ruins Dr Wilson wm

It is thought that this Priory was founded by King Alexander II (1214-1249); be this as it may, Blantyre Priory is on Baiamond’s list of ecclesiastical establishments that were to be taxed, and the date of this list is 1275.

The Prior attended the Parliament that was held at Brigham, Peeblesshire, in 1289, to consider the betrothal of the Maid of Norway to Prince Edward of England. The Priory of Blantyre and that of Restennet in Forfar were cells or dependencies of Jedburgh. The monks of Jedburgh and Blantyre were Canons Regular of the Order of Augustinian Canons. They took the vows of chastity and poverty and their habit was a long black cassock with a white rochet over it, having over that a black cloak.

After King Edward’s conquest of Scotland, nobles, clergy and others did homage to Edward in 1296. Among these was: ‘Friar’ William, Prior of Blantyre. In the following year, 1297, Sir William Wallace began the great struggle for national independence. Among his active supporters were Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell and Prior William of Blantyre. These men had no hesitation in breaking their oath of fealty to Edward; however, for oath-breaking, Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow, became notorious. Wishart was ultimately sent a prisoner to England, where by Edward’s orders he was kept in chains. When this patriot was liberated after the Battle of Bannockburn he was blind. Edward practically completed his second conquest of Scotland at Falkirk in 1298, and among the prisoners of war was Prior William of Blantyre. When Comyn and his adherents surrendered to Edward in February 1304, a general amnesty was declared. This amnesty included the Prior, but as he was still being treated as a prisoner the following command was issued by Edward : “The K. to the Sheriff of Lanark.

Among the conditions of the late agreement between his envoys and Sir John Comyn of Badenaghe, all prisoners were to be released, except Sir Hubert de Morham and his father. The K. hears that Robert de Barde who lately took friar William de Cokeburgne, warden of B1antyre Priory, is distraining him and his pledges for ransom, in violation of the treaty. He commands the sheriff instantly to stop this and allow nothing of the kind in future in his bailliary.

Wemyss. March, 1304.” Robert the Bruce was Sheriff of Lanarkshire at this date. Among those who were excluded from this amnesty were Bishop Wishart and Sir William Wallace. The latter, however, had never sworn allegiance to Edward.

As Blantyre Priory was a cell or dependency of Jedburgh, there would be much intercourse between these places. The Abbey of Jedburgh was pillaged, partially destroyed, and the monks dispersed by the soldiery of Edward I. The monks fled to Blantyre. Bothwell Castle, however, had already been stormed and captured and it is probable that the Priory, with only the river intervening, had also been ransacked and robbed by the remorseless invaders as they swept over the disorganized country. The Priory of Restennet was the hiding-place for the valuable possessions of Jedburgh.

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