Brechin, David (DNB00)


BRECHIN, Sir DAVID (d. 1321), lord of Brechin, a royal burgh in Angusshire, was eldest son of Sir David of Brechin, one of the barons of Scotland who attended Edward I into France 1297 : his mother, whose Christian name is not known, was one of the seven sisters of King Robert Bruce, but his father seems to have favoured the English side up to the king's victory at Inverary in 1308, when he retired to his castle of Brechin. Being besieged, however, he made his peace and ranged himself under the standard of his brother-in-law. We do not know when and where the younger Sir David was born, or what were those feats of arms in the Holy Land said to have won him the poetical title of 'The Flower of Chivalry.' Like his father, he attached himself to the English, and in 1312 was made warden of the town and castle of Dundee, then in English hands. He received at this time a pension out of the customs duties on hides and wool at the port of Berwick-on-Tweed, through Piers Gaveston, the king's favourite. At the battle of Bannockburn (1314) he was taken prisoner, but afterwards came into great favour with King Robert. It is said, however, that he still received pay from Edward, and held special letters of protection from him. Brechin was one of the nobles who signed the letter of 6 April 1320, soliciting the pope's interference. De Brechin was implicated in Lord Soulis's conspiracy against King Robert. The plans were revealed to him on an oath of secrecy. He refused co-operation, but kept silence. The plot was divulged, and Bruce instantly arrested Soulis, Brechin, and others, and called a parliament at Perth (August 1320) to try them. Brechin and others were executed. The records of the trial are lost, but Tytler, without giving references, says there is evidence in the archives of the Tower of Brechin's complicity in the treason. Other writers doubt his guilt. The old Scottish poets commemorate him in their historical poems as 'the gud Schir David the Brechyn,' and his death left a stain on his uncle's character. He is called 'the flower of chivalrie,' 'the prime young man of his age for all arts of both peace and war.' All speak of his connection with the crusades, but if there is truth in this part of his little-known history, he could not have been a young man at the time of his execution.

His lands of Brechin, Rothernay, Kinloch, and Knoegy were given by the king to David of Barclay, who, in 1315, had married his sister Margaret, and from whom the present possessors, the earls of Panmure, are descended.

[Tytler's Scotland, i. 170; Wright's Scotland, i. 112; Buchanan, i. 46; Boece in Holinshed, 223; Fordun's Chron. i. 348, ii. 341; Barbour, 'the Brus,' b. xix; Scott's Minstrelsy, iii. 254; Dalrymple's Annals, ii. 96; Gibbon, c. lix.; Rymer's Fœd. iii. 311; Rot. Scot. temp. Edw. II; Mills' Crusades, ii. 276; Anderson's Dipl. Scot. pl. 51; Douglas's Peer. Scot. i. 243.]

J. W.-G.