Keith, Robert (d.1346) (DNB00)


KEITH, Sir ROBERT (d. 1346), great marischal of Scotland, son of Sir William de Keith, first appears as marischal in 1294, when he received a charter from King John Baliol of the lands of Keith. During the war which ensued on Baliol's dethronement, Keith, who had been appointed by the Scottish regents warden of the forest of Selkirk, was in 1300 captured by the English and imprisoned in the castle of Carlisle. Reported to Edward as ‘one of his worst enemies,’ and ‘of bad repute,’ he was ordered to be removed to Nottingham Castle; but, on reaching York on his way thither, was sent to Bristol Castle. In 1302 he was admitted to the king's peace, and returning to Scotland, is mentioned as dining with the Prince of Wales at Perth in February 1304. In the following year he was sent to the parliament at Westminster as one of the Scots commissioners for the settlement of the government of Scotland. Sir John de Bretagne, earl of Richmond, was then appointed the royal lieutenant in Scotland, and Keith one of his council, with the office of justiciar between the Forth and the Month, at a salary of forty merks yearly (Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, i. 119). Until the lieutenant was able to enter on his duties Keith was appointed one of four wardens of Scotland, and he continued to act for the English king, and received various grants of money from him for his faithful services until the close of 1308. He then joined Robert Bruce, but subsequently to the battle of Inverurie, as the date of his desertion from the English is distinctly stated as Christmas 1308 (Bain, Calendar, sub anno). In March following he united with other Scottish nobles in a letter to the king of France requesting his countenance in the assertion of the national independence. He received several charters of lands from Bruce, including one of the office of marischal of Scotland (Robertson, Index), and was appointed justiciar of Scotland from the Forth to the Orkneys (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. Appendix, p. 626). He had command of the Scottish horse at Bannockburn (24 June 1314), and so successfully attacked the English bowmen in flank as to completely rout them and materially aid the victory of Bruce (Barbour, Bruce, caps. ciii. civ.). He signed the letter of independence to the pope in 1320, and was in 1326 appointed one of the Scots commissioners for concluding a treaty of alliance between Bruce and Charles IV of France, though he does not appear to have gone to France. He married, it is said, Barbara Douglas, and had a son, John, who, dying before him, left a son, Robert. Robert is usually said to have succeeded his grandfather as marischal upon the death of the latter at the battle of Dupplin, on 12 Aug. 1332. But trustworthy evidence contradicts the statement, for which Boece alone is responsible. The contemporary historians, though they mention others of less note, say nothing of the marischal's death at Dupplin; and at the taking of Perth, which occurred later, his grandson is neither styled ‘sir’ nor ‘marischal.’ Keith survived the battle, and was one of those who immediately afterwards provided for the safety of the young king, David II, by removing him to the fortress of Dumbarton, and thence to France. Here Robert Keith, marischal, is mentioned as forming a member of David's court at the Château Gaillard in Normandy (Exchequer Rolls, i. 449, 450, 466). After his return to Scotland with the king he fell at the battle of Neville's Cross in 1346 (Fordun, ed. 1871, Gesta Annalia, cap. clxv.)

[Bain's Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, vols. ii. iii. and iv.; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland (Wood), ii. 186; authorities referred to above.]

H. P.