Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/70

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[1286 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

claim to the throne. Barbour, Fordun, and other chroniclers are all significantly silent on this head, but they did not write till long after the Brucian settlement, and it is only too much in accord with the practice of historians of every age, and especially of the Middle Ages, to suppress everything that might tell to the discredit of the reigning house. It is strange, however, that John de Balliol's averment, in pleading his claim to the Crown before King Edward, has received so little attention from later historians. He there alleged that—

"When the bishops and great men of Scotland had sworn to defend the kingdom for their Lady, the daughter of the King of Norway, ... Sir Robert de Brus and the Earl of Carrick, his son, attacked the castle of Dumfries with fire and arms and banners displayed, and against the peace expelled the forces of the Queen who held the same. Hence Sir Robert advanced to the castle of Botil.[1] He then caused a proclamation to be made by one Patrick M'Guffok within the bailary of the said castle... Furthermore, the Earl of Carrick, by the assent and power of his father, took the Lady of Scotland's castle of Wigtown, and killed several people there."[2]

Several passages may be quoted from the Records to prove that this allegation was strictly in accord with what had taken place. Sir William de St. Clair, Sheriff (vicecomes) of Dumfries, reported to the Chancellor that the lands of Bardonan in Galloway, a royal ward, had lain uncultivated for two years, because of the war ensuing on King Alexander's death.[3] A similar report was made of the Crown lands in Wigtownshire by the sheriff of that county,

  1. Now called Buittle; de Balliol's residence in Galloway.
  2. Palgrave, p. lxxx.
  3. Exchequer Rolls, i., 35.