Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Durward, Alan

DURWARD, ALAN (Alanus Ostiarius, Hostiarius, Dyrwart ‘Le Usher’) (d. 1268), justiciar of Scotland and earl of Atholl, was the son of Thomas Ostiarius, who was a benefactor to the monks of Arbroath, and a signatory to at least one charter of Alexander II, dated between 1231 and 1233 A.D. (Reg. of Aberbr. p. 9; Cal. of Doc. ii. 530; cf. Crawford, p. 12; Stewart, Peerage, i. 161). Durward makes his first appearance as Alan ‘Ostiarius domini Regis Scocie, Comes Atholie,’ in a deed of gift to St. Thomas's Church at Arbroath, a deed which was confirmed by Alexander II at Kintore, 12 Oct. 1233 (Vetus Reg. of Aberbr. pp. 91, 190; cf. Scotiæ Monasticon, iii. 419). In 1244 he was the first noble to pledge himself for the fidelity of Alexander II in this king's oath to Henry III; and further on in the same document undertakes, along with the seven earls of Scotland, to withstand their own sovereign should he attempt to play false (Matt. Paris, iv. 381). On Alexander II's death (8 July 1249) he starts forward as one of the chief leaders of the English party at the Scotch court. The little king's coronation had been fixed for 13 July, when ‘Alan Dorwart totius nunc Scociæ justitiarius’ put forward a claim to defer the coronation till the young Alexander had been made a knight; his proposal was, however, negatived mainly by the influence of Walter Comyn, count of Menteith, the head of the national party in Scotland (Fordun, p. 293; Robertson, ii. 55). At Christmas Alexander met Henry III at York, was knighted (25 Dec.), and married to his eldest daughter Margaret (26 Dec. 1251) (Fordun, p. 293; Robertson, ii. 55; Matt. Paris, v. 267). Before leaving York Durward's enemies accused him of treason. He had married a natural daughter of Alexander II, and was now charged with having written to the pope begging him to legitimatise his daughters by this lady. This act was construed as equivalent to an attempt to regulate the succession to the throne. The influence of the English king saved Durward for the time; but on his return to Scotland his chief opponents, the counts of Menteith and Mar, forced Durward's great ally, the chancellor Robert, abbot of Dunfermline, to resign his office, a step which marked the triumph of the Comyns and their party (Chron. de Melrose, pp. 219–20; Fordun, pp. 296–7).

On this it would seem that Durward, one of the heads of the English faction, or ‘the king's friends’ as they were later called, took refuge in England. His leading associates were Malise, earl of Strathearn, Patrick, earl of Dunbar, Alexander, the steward of Scotland, and Robert Bruce, afterwards a claimant for the Scottish throne. Durward himself attended Henry III on the Gascon expedition of August 1253, on which occasion he seems to have been doing service for the Earl of Strathearn. He also seems to have been present at Prince Edward's marriage with Eleanor of Castile (1254). At this time he was in receipt of a pension of 50l. a year from the king of England, and his name is found entered in the English rolls more than once in the course of the next few years in connection with other monetary claims, such as that for fifteen marks as recompense for a horse lost overseas in the king's service (18–19 May 1255). In February 1256 the king was in his debt to the amount of 94l. 16s. 8d., and payment for this and other moneys was secured by an order on the revenues of the sheriffs of Northumberland (February 1256) and York (April 1257, January 1258). On 24 Dec. 1257 his pension was commuted for the manor and castle of Bolsover, which he continued to hold free from tallage at least till October 1274, and perhaps till the time of his death (Chron. de Melrose, p. 220; Cal. of Doc. i. Nos. 1956, 1984–1985, 2028, 2043–4, 2057, 2082, 2105, ii. 18, 26).

Durward does not seem to have left Scotland before July 1252, in which month he had a safe-conduct to England till 1 Nov., before which date (22 Oct.) he was granted a license to shoot six does in Gualtrees forest on his return. In August 1255 the Scotch troubles had so increased that Henry III despatched Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester, and John Mansel northwards to protect ‘his beloved friends’ the Earls of Dunbar, Strathearn, and Alan Durward. It was by the advice of these nobles and their adherents that Alexander III and his queen had appealed to the king of England, who now took them under his care, and engaged to make no peace with their adversaries unless by their consent (21 Sept. 1255). At the same time a new council was appointed to govern the kingdom for seven years. Among its members Durward's name figures prominently, and, according to Fordun, he was restored to his office of high justiciar (20 Sept.). His enjoyment of this post can, however, hardly have lasted longer than two years, when the Earl of Menteith, taking advantage of the disturbances caused by the elevation of his friend, the ex-chancellor Gameline, to the see of St. Andrews, called together his fellow-nobles of the national party, seized the young king while still asleep in his bed (29 Oct. 1257) at Kinross, carried him to Stirling, and there established a council of their own. Durward, whom the patriotic chonicler of Melrose styles ‘the architect of all the evil,’ on hearing this fled to England, and his party was dispersed (ib. i. Nos. 1888, 1895, 1987, 2013–15; Rymer, i. 559, 566–7; Fordun, pp. 298–9; Chron. de Mailros, pp. 220–1).

Early next year, 1258, the king of Scotland mustered his forces at Roxburgh to take vengeance on his late tutors, who promised to appear at Forfar and there render an account of their misdeeds. Henry, however, had given orders to receive Durward into Norham Castle, and had granted him fifty marks for his expenses (2–5 April). Six months later (8 Sept.) he was rumoured to be supporting the refugees on the borders of Scotland with arms. His commissioners appeared at Jedwood, where peace was made between the opposing parties after a three weeks' discussion, seemingly on the condition that the royal council should consist of eight persons, four being chosen from each party. Though Durward's name appears as a member of this body, the power, according to Robertson, was almost entirely vested in the hands of the Comyns, nor indeed did it include a single earl of the opposing faction (Chron. de Mailros, pp. 221–2; Rymer, 1st edit. i. 378). Two years later (16 Nov. 1260) ‘Alan Ostiarius’ is one of the four barons who undertake the duty of protecting the Scotch interests while Queen Margaret goes to England to be confined of her first daughter (Chron. de Mailros, p. 223; Rymer, 1st edit. i. 378).

From this time, and, indeed, through all the preceding years, Alan's name is occasionally to be found in English documents. Henry III in 1260 granted him two casks of wine (11 Nov.). Later he seems to have been in money difficulties. Certain Lucca merchants have a claim of 60s. against him in 1263; while in 1268 he was in danger of distraint for debt. The same year he received letters of protection for three years (Cal. of Doc. Nos. 2222, 2316, 2470, 2493). The date of his death is given as 1268 in the ‘Chronicle of Lanercost.’ His son, Thomas Durward, was already a knight in April 1256 (Hist. Doc. i. 245; Reg. of Aberbroth. p. 227). A Sir Thomas Durward, who is possibly to be identified with the last mentioned knight, swore fealty to Edward I on 15 June 1296 (Cal. of Doc. p. 195).

The ‘Chronicle of Lanercost’ (sub ann. 1268) relates a curious story as to how Durward year after year continued to demand an increase of rent from one of his tenants, promising that every time should be the last, and giving his right hand in confirmation of the bargain, till, at last, wearied out by such falsehood, the farmer called out for the left hand, as the right had deceived him so often.

Durward occasionally signed charters as Count of Atholl, e.g. in one dated 25 Dec. 1234 (Reg. of Aberbr. p. 76). According to Douglas he got this title by marriage with the daughter, or rather the granddaughter (cf. Robertson, ii. 192), of Henry, earl of Atholl. The same writer seems to make his proper name to be Alanus de Londiniis, son of Thomas de Londiniis (i. 131–2). Durward was justiciar of Scotland at least as early as 16 Dec. 1246 (Reg. of Aberbr. p. 202). Durward's wife Margery, daughter of Alexander II, was dead by 1292, when Nicholas de Soules set up a claim to the Scotch throne in the right of her younger sister Ermengarde (Rymer, ed. 1816, vol. i. pt. ii. p. 775). [Registers of Arbroath and Newbottle (Bannatyne Soc.); Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, i. and ii., ed. Bain; Historical Documents illustrative of History of Scotland (Stevenson); Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, i. 131–2; authorities quoted above.]

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