14 January 2022

Isabel Douglas Drummond, Countess of Mar and Garoich

 


Isabel Douglas Drummond,
Countess of Mar and Garoich

When I research the people in my family tree I often fall in love with them as I did with James Douglas or Thomas Randolph.  How could I not?  They were men perfect to be heroes of the romance novels I pen.  Or I see their lives unfold, almost as if designed for a movie as in the romance of Margaret de Seton and Alan de Wynton— a love and marriage that nearly sparked a war.  Sometimes, I am overcome with sadness at the fate of my ancestors.  Such as the valiant hero Alexander Ramsay, who was abused and starved to death by William Douglas of Liddlesdale (who was then killed by another William Douglas—his uncle, the first earl of Douglas—in revenge for Alexander’s horrible death).  Another poor soul that touched me was my second great-grandmother, Rebecca Ellen Knight Montgomerie, who starved to death in 1937 in Nicholasville, Kentucky, ten years after her beloved husband had died and left her alone and destitute.  My grandfather remembered both Rebecca and Toby—his grandparents, and spoke of them with love and pride.  No one cared about her fate.

One that especially haunts me is Isabel Douglas, my cousin eighteen times removed.  Born in Scotland, Isabel was beauty, a rich woman, well-titled and endowed with castles and money.  She came with a rich heritage, so vital to the forging of Scotland into a nation.  And yet, all that power, wealth and influence failed her in a most spectacular, and horribly sad fashion.  

Her bloodlines came from the great Scottish houses of nobility.  Her great- grandfather on her father’s side was William ‘le Hardi’ Douglas – the valiant commander of Berwick Castle, who gave his life supporting William Wallace.  He was the first noble to back Wallace in his rebellion.  His son went on to be the fiercest fighter Scotland has ever known—Sir James ‘the Black’ Douglas.  Yes, Robert the Bruce’s most trusted commander was her great-granduncle.  But then, on her mother’s side you can see the ancient Stewart and Mar lines, going back to Bruce himself.  She was his great-grandniece, as well.  Her father was William Douglas, 1st earl of Douglas, Mormaer of Mar (the very one who killed his nephew William Douglas over the murder of Alexander Ramsay).  Her mother was Margret Stewart Swinton Mar, Countess of Douglas (through her husband), but also Countess of Mar and Garioch, in her own right.  
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Isabel was thus courted by all the men in the Highlands, the most sought after woman in all of Scotland, looking to align themselves with these royal houses of Douglas, Stewart, Bruce and Mar.  Of all the swains vying for her hand, Isabel chose Sir Malcolm Drummond, the son of John Drummond, 11th earl of Lennox, to be her husband, a fine match.  He was brother-in-law to King Robert III of Scotland.  Matters went along well for the couple for nearly a decade.  Her husband was a trusted advisor to the king, and was often traveling on business of the realm.  They seemed happy, outside of Isabel bearing no children.  That last detail would soon come back to haunt her.


arms of James Douglas, 2nd earl of Douglas

She was a prize, indeed, but she expected all the castles and titles that went with her family name to go to her older brother, James Douglas.  He became the 2nd earl of Douglas and Mar upon the death of their father.  She was married, so beyond the covetous eyes of Scotland’s power-hungry men.  However, her heroic and dashing brother gave his life leading the Scots to victory at the Battle of Otterburn in August 1388.  He died without leaving any legitimate children, and with his death, all his titles and wealth, outside the Douglas entailment, were left to his sister.  She also inherited the titles through her mother, Countess of Mar and Garioch.  Like her brother, Isabel had no children—heirs, and worse, no powerful husband, brother or father to protect her.  Suddenly, she was left wide open to plots and devious plans to seize her and control the fortune, castles and the prestigious titles that came with her.

Death of James Douglas, 2nd earl of Douglas at Otterburn

In 1402, Isabel was left behind at Kildrummy Castle, the seat for the Earldom of Mar, while Malcolm was off for business at one of their other castles.  No sooner had he reached his destination than he was set upon by a band of Highlanders, led by Alexander Stewart, the illegitimate son of Alexander Stewart, earl of Buchan, ‘the Wolf of Badenoch’.  Alexander tossed Malcolm into the dungeon of his own castle, where he soon died at the hands of his captors.  Isabel was left alone and increasingly isolated.

A crime such as this would have been dealt with swiftly in better times, but Scotland was undergoing a period of upheaval.  The king was old and sick, nearly infirmed by this point, and the real power in the country was Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, who virtually was king from 1388 to 1420, during the final years of reign of his brother Robert III, and even into the early reign of James I, who had been imprisoned in London.  His nephew David, duke of Rothesay was heir to the crown, but he died after Albany imprisoned him at Falkirk. When one plays fast and free with laws and decency, I suppose it’s not surprising that he turned a blind eye at what his nephew Alexander did to Malcolm Drummond. 

Kildrummy Castle

In August of 1404, Alexander and his gang fell upon Kildrummy Castle and forced Isabel to sign over the earldoms of Mar and Garloich to him and his descendants.  I am sure after Alexander murdered her husband, she signed anything put before her just to save her life.  The next month, she anticipated that the charter would be invalidated for reason of duress.  It’s unclear what happened, whether the charter was voided or not, but Alexander took steps to seal her fate by forcing her to marry him on 9th December 1404.  Since she was now legally his wife, the king (Alexander’s cousin) confirmed Alexander as the earl of Mar and Garloich.

The events shocked the kingdom, but Alexander escaped any punishment due to his close relationship with the royal family.  Isabel was held prisoner for the last four years of her life, dying in Douglas Castle in 1408.  No one cared that the murderer of her husband forced her to wed him so he could usurp her titles and inheritances, or kept her prisoner during the final years of her life.  After all, she was just a woman.  She was barely forty-seven years old when she died.  She died childless.  Totally alone.

Castle Douglas

In 1424 his self-styled titles of earls of Mar and Garioch were regularized by James I, his cousin.  Alexander Stewart lived on, dying in August of 1435.  He had remarried in 1410, to Marie van Hoorn, daughter of the Lord of Duffel.  She failed to give him any heirs.  He did have an illegitimate son, Thomas Stewart, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Archibald Douglas, 4th earl of Douglas, duke of Toraine, and great-granddaughter of James ‘the Black’ Douglas.  However, since he was illegitimate he could not inherit the titles his father had stolen.  Oddly enough, Alexander was on a jury of twenty-one knights and peers that convicted his first cousin, Murdoch Steward, 2nd duke of Albany and two of his sons for treason just before his death, destroying the Stewarts of Albany.  Another son, James fled to Ireland to escape the same fate.

Since the earldom could not pass to Thomas, it reverted to the crown, and was later given to John Erskine, 6th Lord Erskine, whose descendants hold the title to this day.  I have a feeling Isabel perhaps found some measure of peace in Stewart losing in the end what he fought so hard to gain.

My writer’s imagination can envision the terror of a woman finding herself alone in the world, and her only value is the material things she can offer a man.  I often wonder about her death, how she died at such an early age.  I can see her in my mind’s eye, walking a dark corridor and knowing there was no saving herself.  As I said, she haunts me.






Deborah writes a Scottish Medieval Historical series the Dragons of Challon in the time of Robert the Bruce,
and Contemporary  Paranormal Romance series 
the Sister of Colford Hall.




06 January 2022

The Tragic loss of my cousin Mary Folk

 


Mary Irene Elizabeth Folk
(7th February 1957 - 5th January 2022)

It is such sad news.  My second-cousin, Mary, died yesterday.  Mary was born with cerebral palsy.  She endured many operations trying to help her legs, leaving her unable to bend her knees and ankles.  She was independent lady, who saw the loss of three brothers, one her twin, and a sister over the years.  Her father, a vet who served in Vietnam, died in the 1990s.  Then her mother, Jewel was lost over a silly accident--a stubbed toe that caused a secondary bone infection, which eventually claimed her life.  Her younger brother, Richie, broke his back in a diving accident when he was in his teens and was left a quadriplegic.  Mary helped care for him until his death.  

So many times, so many turns, life was not kind to Mary.  She walked with a cane, but kept her mobility until a bad fall several years ago.  At that time I began a campaign to get Mary to move from Corona California, where she lived most of her life, to be closer to me.  I tried to help her make plans to sell her house, and help her buy a home here.  I didn't like her being alone.  She refused flatly, citing she had better medical benefits in California and not wanting to lose them.  I tried for months to change her mind, but Mary could be quite stubborn when she chose.  I think, in truth, she didn't want to leave her home, because the cemetery where where beloved brother, mother and step-father was just across the street from her home.  She couldn't leave them.

  She began to have a problem with her ankle, it split open and the wound wouldn't heal.  Another bout in the hospital to help heal that brought another specter -- she caught Covid while in the hospital.  She seemed to recover, but she was never back to normal.  From that point she stopped walking.  As of late, she was confided to her bed, with a caregiver coming daily to aid her. 

Somehow, a fire started behind the hospital style bed.  Mary had no escape.  The fire department reached her, but she was horribly burned by then.  They took her to the hospital where she died later that day.  After barely escaping a house fire myself, I shudder at the nightmare way this kind soul was lost. 

Life was never kind to Mary.  It seems death was not either.  I am in shock.  She was the kindest person, so full of laughter and love.  No matter what life threw at her, she was always laughing and looking for the bright side of things.  Life is never fair, but for Mary it seems so cruel.

Words cannot express the deep sorrow within me...



27 December 2021

Happy Boxing Day

 


Yeah, yeah, it was yesterday, but I was busy...lol.  I  took lunch to Candy and we celebrated Boxing Day.  I also took her a box of some small treats.  I had found about a dozen postcard from 1907-30 era of Bay Shore NY -- images of a time when her grandmother and mother would have been around.  I also found an amazing bottle from Bay Shore Bottling Company (early version of ginger ales, mineral waters, and other soft drinks.  The bottle was made in Bay Shore in 1880-1890.  Another I gave her on Christmas was a vase made to look like a store Entenmann's. While you can find their goods nationwide now, their original store was in Bay Shore. They used to get her birthday cakes there. Her sister's wedding cake was done there.

  


She loves it here in Kentucky, but it's always very nice to visit memories, so these things gave her a "touchstone" to do so.

She made me the most beautiful sleeved cape, in white and gold, with a matching winter hat.  LOVE THEM.

  


Missing my husband, naturally, but this gentle fun days of giving and sharing with my dear friend Candy makes the holidays pass easier.




02 December 2021

Remembering

 


So very hard to believe she passed away this night thirty-four years ago.

My mother was a special person, so full of life, so full of sadness.
And I miss her.

03 November 2021

The ideal Christmas gift for that Romance lover




Turning back to the man on the ground, she once again had to wipe the gathering flakes from his face.  She attempted to tug him to a sitting position, thinking she could wrap her mantle around them both, and lend him what little body heat she still had.  When she went to lift him, she realized he still had his broadsword lashed crosswise over his back.  Finding the strap’s buckle on the center of his chest, she released it.

Then, froze as the howl came. 

It was close by.  The man groaned as she urgently rolled his dead weight, enough to drag the sword out from under him, and then dropped the leather sheath as she freed the blade.  Holding the sword in her right hand, she used her left to release the clasp of her mantle.  She would need her arms free to swing the sword.  Keeping her eyes fixed upon the trees, she dragged her woolen cape over the man’s unmoving body.

The deep growl sent a chill to her marrow as the threat of the snowstorm had failed to do.  Low tree limbs rustled and then parted as the set of glowing yellow eyes peeked through the wintry foliage.

Swallowing hard, Skena brought the sword up, preparing to swing, and praying she had strength enough to wield the mighty sword true.


Skena stood trembling, from the cold, aye, but more so from dread.  With the specter of famine looming across the land, she feared wolves would soon be a threat they would face.  Foolishly, she had hoped the menace would not come this early in the season.  Swallowing to moisten the dryness in her mouth, she watched the feral eyes narrow on her, judging how much a threat she presented holding the sword.  Plainly, she posed nary a concern to the creature.  Shoulders lowered, teeth bared, he edged forward, a low growl of intent rising deep in his throat.  The animal scented her fear.  Her weakness only emboldened him. 

Keeping her attention on the black wolf, her eyes quickly scanned to see if there were others coming up behind him or circling around.  Where you found one, usually there lurked a small pack.  Her luck holding, thus far no other pairs of bright eyes appeared; no dark forms skulked through the unmoving undergrowth around the dense pine trees. 

“Oh, please let him be a lone wolf,” she offered her wish to the Auld Ones, before whispering dark words to weave a Charm of Protection, drawing upon what little powers she possessed to sustain her through this ordeal.

 Not a small woman, her Ogilvie blood showed in her tall body and strong bones.  Even so, to hold the heavy broadsword—which took years for a man to master—was tiring.  Her arms vibrated; tremors racked her muscles.  A mix of terror and cold.  The winter storm slowly leached all the strength from her body.  She fought against the quaking, still the sword wobbled in her grip.

Baring his fangs, the wolf crept slowly forward, more daring with each step.  Skena had trouble keeping her vision clear.  Falling flakes and those kicked up by the spindrift continued to stick to her long lashes, adding moisture to the tears she valiantly labored to hold at bay.  It was vital to see the wolf when he leapt, in order to time her swing.  She sucked in a hard breath of terror.  The creature was so much bigger than she expected!


“Off with you, evil foal-chû.  You shall no’ be making a meal of this warrior or me.”  She spoke false courage, hoping the sound of her voice might frighten him into backing off.  Instead, his body coiled, preparing to spring.

So intent upon the wolf, Skena hopped slightly when long arms enclosed about her.  Startled and yet unwilling to take her eyes off the black creature, it was several heartbeats before she comprehended the stranger had awakened and was on his feet.  Suddenly, in his strong embrace she was not so scared.

“Be still, my lady.  I lend my strength to your swing.”  The warrior’s cold hands closed over hers.  He leaned against her back; his powerful muscles caused her shaking to lessen.

Skena had little chance for the details of his nearness to filter through her thoughts, for with a feral snarl the wolf leapt at them.  Frozen in terror, she was unable to move, yet she felt the warrior wielding the sword.  Bared teeth snapped close to her throat.  She cried out and then flinched when the great blade caught the beast in the neck.  Blood splattered across her clothing and her face.  Its heat shocked her.  Numb with the horror, she stared at the animal writhing on the ground.  In the gathering darkness, the pooling blood oddly appeared black upon the pristine snow.  The coppery smell set her stomach to roiling; revolted, she choked back rising nausea.  Her grip slackened about the hilt.  

            The knight’s fingers closed tighter around hers.  “Nay, my lady, never leave a wounded animal alive...sometimes, not even a man.  ’Tis when they are most dangerous.  They risk all for they have naught to lose.” 


 

One Snowy Knight, Dragons of Challon, Book 3


Prairie Rose Publications

#DragonsofChallon #ScottishRomance #MedievalRomance  #Historical Romance



01 November 2021

RIP sweet Loki

 




RIP

Loki

He came to me in 2013.  A stray someone tossed away.  My friend Candy had been feeding him, but she broke her back in November of that year, so I took over putting food out for him.  One night, I heard the start of a cat fight outside.  He was cowering against the bottom of the stairs, while another orange kitty was going to beat on him to get the food.  I told him to come to me and I would protect him.  He hesitate a moment, and then dashed to me and hid behind my legs.  I have have dozens of kitties in my lifetime, but never one that came running to me at the start of the fight.

The next day, he came down the hill in 6 inches of snow to get food.  I had just lost my kitty Algie.  So as I watched Loki make his way down the steep hill, I thought I could save him -- if he would let me.  He came up on the porch and I quickly got Candy's pet carrier.  I asked him if I could pick him up and he let me.  He wasn't happy about the carrier, even less about being take in the truck to my house.  But he just about cried when he saw I was taking him to a bedroom.  Clearly, he had been an indoor kitty.  He knew what a bed and little box was.  I slept in the spare room wth him for a couple nights to get him used to being in a new house.

I never regretted making him a part of my family.  He never did anything wrong, no clawing, spraying, or scratching etc.  He was just so happy to have a warm, safe home.  He was such a gentle kitty.  And he loved me for saving him.

He was with me for just shy of eight years.  I had hoped to have him longer.
The last two and half years have been rough for me, with losing my husband and then my surgery on my jaw.  He slept beside me and would reach out during the night, and put a paw on me, like "It's okay, you're not alone.  Everything is going to be fine."

Tonight, that ghostly paw isn't there to reassure me.  And I miss his so much.





03 October 2021

Links to my articles on the Women of Bruce and Dunbar

Coming in 2022
Women of Bruce - Part 7 - Daughters of Robert the Bruce - Marjorie Bruce Stewart, Elizabeth de Brus Oliphant of Gask, Margaret de Brus of the Glen, Christian de Brus of Carrick, Maud de Brus de Issac, Margaret de Brus Countess of Sutherland, 


Coming 2022
Women of Bruce Part 7 and 8
The Sisters of Robert the Bruce: Maud and Marjorie


Coming in  2022
Women of Bruce - Part 6 -  The Oft Forgotten Sisters of Robert the Bruce--Mary


 Isabel Douglas Drummond Stewart, Countess of Mar and Garioch
Great-Grandniece of Robert the Bruce


Wyntoun's War of the Rough Wooing of my 16th Great Grandmother (and cousin to Robert the Bruce)


Women of Bruce - Part 5 - Sisters of Robert the Bruce--A Tale of Two Isabels



Women of Bruce - Part 4 - Sisters of Robert the Bruce--Christian


Women of Bruce - Part 3 - The Wives of Robert the Bruce


Women of Bruce - Part 2 - Isabel Macduff, countess of Buchan, a woman who crowned a king




A Tale of Two Women and One Castle - The Ladies of Dunbar - Part Two - Agnes Randolph



A Tale of Two Women and One Castle - The Ladies of Dunbar - Part One - Marjorie Comyn


Countess Mabel Montgomerie -- a woman ahead of her times, or a monster in men's eyes



(Just a note -- images are stock images or digitally created images, not meant to be taken as real images of the Bruce women...lol.  Actor portrayed, you might say)

11 September 2021

Anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge

 

11 September 1297: Andrew de Moray and William Wallace comprehensively defeat the English army at The Battle of Stirling Bridge. Moray subsequently dies of wounds suffered during the battle, and the lion's share of the victory goes to Wallace instead of Moray. History might look very different had Moray lived. The Bishop of St Andrews, the most powerful seat in Scotland, William Lamberton, along with Bishop Robert Wishart, were eyeing putting Moray on the throne of Scotland, since he was of Auld Scot blood and could rally the Highland nobles to the cause, while the Bruces were squarely backing Edward Longshanks at this point.







Remembering on 9 11

 




10 September 2021

Wyntoun's War or the "Rough Wooing" of my 19th Great Grandmother

I’m taking a small break this month from the Bruce sisters.  I promise to finish up next month with Maud, Margaret and Mary de Brus.  Due to two new roofs and other demanding needs, I just wasn't able to devote the time I need for the remaining trio.  Instead, I will speak of some Bruce relations, for they are of the blood, cousins.  But, more importantly, this tale is about love, romance, and a lovers dash to Edinburgh Castle—that may or may not have been a kidnapping—and the man and woman who were my 19th great-grandparents.


Wyntoun's War 
or the Rough Wooing of my 19th Great-Grandmother.

At the start of 1343, Lady Margaret de Seton was suddenly thrust into the role of heiress to her father, Lord Alexander de Seton, governor of Berwick Castle.  The Setons were longtime supporters of Clan Bruce, and even married into it.  Alexander was the brother of Sir Christopher Seton, who wed Christian de Brus (sister to Robert the Bruce).  You might recall from my previous article about this Bruce sister that Christopher was Christian’s second husband, and he gave his life defending the Bruce women when they were trying to flee the English in 1306.  Over the decades, the Setons were recognized for their loyalty and rewarded by Bruce, and they continued to support his son David II at the cost of their lives.

Margaret de Seton, born around 1330, was Alexander’s last child and only daughter.  She became heiress to her father’s vast wealth at a young age, and not a position she had anticipated inheriting.  She had four valiant warriors for older brothers—Alexander, John, William and Thomas.  If one fell, another would assume the titles and lands rightfully his.  Some historians dismissively list her as Alexander Seton’s granddaughter, and instead, put her as the daughter of her brother, Alexander.  A couple try to fix her as daughter of John, another brother, (likely because she became heiress after John’s death).  These careless mix-ups really cause snarls, which few show interest in fixing.  Both Alexandersfather and son—were at Berwick Castle at the time of the siege of 1332-3, so for starters, they tend to blur the two Alexanders into one person, which they are not.  The father outlived the son by over a decade.  Margaret clearly was the daughter of Alexander the elder and Christian le Chenyne (granddaughter of Isabella Macduff, countess of Buchan—the woman who crowned Bruce king).  However, the confusion doesn’t end there.  Her mother’s name was Christian, and her uncle Christopher married Christian de Brus, thus many are now listing Christopher and Bruce’s sister as her parents, which they are not.  Christopher died in 1306, long before Margaret came along.

In the late summer of 1332, Alexander—the father—was governor of Berwick Castle, when a siege was laid.  His defense of the fortress cost him three of his sons. Margaret’s brothers died valiantly in the continued struggle against Edward Balliol and Edward III.  Alexander, was killed in the Battle of Kinghorn, where the son of John Balliol was trying to land in Scotland so he might claim the Scottish crown for himself.  William also died in the same fight, drowned in repulsing the landing.  A third brother, Thomas, was captured.  Seton called for a truce, which was granted, but only on condition that he surrender if not relieved by the Scots before the 11th of July.  They were relieved by riders, men under Sir William Keith, Sir Alexander Gray and Sir William Prenderguest. Only Edward III of England said the riders came from the English side of the border, not Scottish, so the castle was not “relieved from Scotland” and thus he proceeded to execute Thomas and ten other men held prisoner.  Alexander and his wife were forced to watch as Thomas was hanged, drawn and quartered before the gates of the town.  Keith took command of the town from Alexander (small wonder), and negotiated a second truce which held—an unconditional surrender to the English, but it allowed all the Scots to leave unharmed.

Around the mid-1340s tragedy again strikes the Setons.  Twice.  First, Sir Alexander dies around 1343, and the title goes to the remaining son, Sir John.  Only, three years later, John dies at the Battle of Neville’s Cross in Durham, England.  And dies without issue.  Some list him as marrying a Margaret Ruthven and having a son, Alexander, but that is likely an echo of the mess they have created with Seaton and his son, who died at the Battle of Kinghorn.  I believe this to be false, because had there been a son, that child would’ve inherited the estate of his grandfather, not his aunt, Margaret.  For Margaret to become heiress it clearly means John didn’t have a child for the estate to go to, and as John’s younger sister, Margaret was next in line.

So, there in a space of less than three years, she loses her father, and his final son, John, dies in battle.  A lot of heartache facing a young woman.  With the passing of her father and brother, she is suddenly a very rich heiress—and target of greedy young men everywhere.

As you might assume, Sir Alexander was popular in the hearts of the people of East Lothian, in his never failing support around the Bruce family.  He had sacrificed a brother and three sons in protecting Bruce’s rule and his legacy, and finally the fourth son had died in the same service.  The prominence of the Seton family had risen, along with that of the Stewarts and Bruces.  Thus, the people of East Lothian felt a protectiveness toward young Margaret.  Only, others hoped to latch onto her wealth and the power of her name, so the young woman was nearly crushed in the stampede of suitors for her hand.

Into the middle of this story rides one dashing and handsome Baron Alan de Wyntoun, son of Alan de Wynton and Margaret Murray (de Moray).   This new Margaret really complicates matters in trying to keep things reasonably straight, because she is the granddaughter of Christian de Brus.  Yeah, Excedrin headache 113, and it only gets worse!  She was also the granddaughter of Thomas Randolph, 1st earl of Moray—Bruce’s nephew.  I know you are really hating all these tangled lines, but I needed to demonstrate why a small knight, a vassal of Sir Alexander Seton, would take it upon himself to swoop in and abduct Margaret.  I am assuming, though the Wyntouns, who took vows of homage and fealty to the mighty Setons, they felt they had as much right to status and position through their close lineage to the Bruces and the Randolphs.

Emboldened by the blood in his veins, Alan carried off Margaret in what the Scots called a “rough wooing”.  Well, hadn’t Marjorie Carrick snatched Robert Bruce, lord Annandale in this fashion?  And let’s not forget about William le Hardi Douglas, who executed a raid to abscond with his second wife, Eleanor Bagot de Lovayne.  Alan and Margaret grew up hearing these stories around fireside.  Alan was akin to the royal family, and was in fact cousin to the Setons.  I am guessing Alan saw the chance to raise the Wyntouns up to the level they had been heretofore denied by forcing the then seventeen-year-old woman into marriage.  At least, some said forced.

Alan wasn’t the first, nor the last Scotsman, to take this quick route to winning the hand of an heiress.  Only, it was another thing to pull this stunt so closely following Sir John’s death at Neville's Cross, and as they say, poor Alexander barely cold in his grave. 

Since the Wyntouns were close cousins to the Setons, and a cadet branch of her own family, there arose cries of consanguinity—mostly from the disappointed rivals, who still hoped to get their chance of being husband to the valuable heiress if they broke the marriage.  There is scant enough material to make a good judgment call on whether this was a kidnapping or an elopement.  I come down on the side that Margaret was a party to the plan, and was determined to marry whom she wanted before a king stepped in and forced her to wed someone she didn’t care for.  Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but how the event unfolded only reinforced that belief they were in love and wanting to control their own fate.

Inadvertently, the two lovers seemed to set half of East Lothians out for blood, while the others were ready to hold a wedding feast.  A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but it was said her abduction caused a war—the Wyntoun’s War.  Still, whether or not this was an actual abduction to force a marriage, or something Margaret actively participated in so she could marry Alan, was hotly debated at the time.  The one telling fact that sticks out in my mind—his uncle, William de Moray, brother to Alan’s mother, took the young couple into Edinburgh Castle.  He was governor there, and granted the lovers protection within the castle walls, barring the angry mob that was following in their wake.

One chronicler. Fordun, proclaimed that 'a hundred ploughs were laid aside in Lothian while the matter was discussed.’  Half favored “the ravisher” and applauded Wyntoun for taking the situation in hand.  Others were armed and ready to bring him in for punishment for daring to steal the daughter of his overlord.  And the jilted suitors likely screamed the loudest!  Citizens of Lothian grew into an angry mob and fell upon the castle, demanding Wyntoun be handed over.  When Wyntoun’s uncle refused, an objection quickly made it all the way to the ear of King David II,  and a call was sent out for Alan to be arrested—cousin or not!

Keep in mind, Alan and Margaret are my 19th great-grandparents, so I am possibly a bit prejudiced.  Be still my heart—for after much arguing and various threats, Margaret was required to perform The Ring or The Sword ceremony.  I wrote about the rite and ritual in A Restless Knight— when Tamlyn marries Julian Challon in the old ways.  Family lore says the couple I based them upon went through this ceremony when they wed, but they haven't been fully documented yet.  So, imagine my thrill at finding proof of yet another set of great-grandparents going through this very same ceremony! One tale says Margaret was blindfolded and made to choose between a sword and a ring, each resting upon a pillow.  She did not get to feel these objects, by the way, but had to touch the pillow upon which they rested to determine Alan's fate.  This was seen as a Trial by Ordeal—God’s hand would decide Alan’s fate through her selection.  Other tales say she made her own choice—knowingly, and had from the start.  Whichever you wish to believe, Margaret picked the ring, and she and Alan were officially wed.  They lived together as man and wife, and had two children*** —a son William and a daughter, Christian.

*** I put the stars here to make note there is extreme conflict on the number of children.  William and Christian are fully recognized and well-documented as Alan and Margaret’s children—their only children.  However, some genealogy sites list the couple as having two other sons—Alexander and Henry. Some list the men as Margaret’s sons, half-brothers to William and Christian, implying they were fathered by another man after Alan left.  However, this doesn’t hold water for me since both of these sons inherited Wyntoun lands and titles, and chose to use the Wyntoun name, not the Seton name and honours.  The conflicts arise because both are shown as born years after Alan’s death.  I sincerely believe the date of Alan’s death is off by a decade, and these two are his legitimate sons, which jives with proof to them inheriting his holdings and electing to use his surname.  Even sites that run by the Seton family recognize both of them as Alan’s.  If you take the stance, as I believe, Alan died ten years later than they record, then these are his legitimate sons.

Alexander de Wyntoun of Seton married Jean Halyburton, daughter of Sir Thomas Halyburton of Dirleton.  The youngest son, Henry de Wyntoun, retained his father's surname and inherited Wrychthouses in Edinburgh.  Henry married Amy Brouna of Coalston, and he went on to be one of the heroes of the Battle of Otterburn, August 19, 1388. 

Margaret’s daughter Christian (though they start up with muddling things again by often calling her Margaret, too), went on to do well, marrying George Dunbar, the 9th earl of Dunbar and March—son of Gelis Isabelle Randolph and John Dunbar, of Derchester & Birkynside, earl of Fife—and grandson of Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray.  They went on to have nine daughters and sons.

After the marriage, Alan changed his name to Seton, and used the title of Lord Seton, jure uxoris (by right of wife).  Even so, rumors held that Margaret’s family tended to make life such a continuing hell for Alan that by his early fifties he took to the cross, joining the Knights Hospitallers and went off on a crusade.  Since the last crusade had ended long before this time, it’s assumed he went to the Holy Lands as a pilgrim.  He is recorded as leaving 400 ducats of gold for safe keeping with a Venetian merchant, Nicholas Zucull, in London as he departed England, but that is the last anyone hears of Alan de Wyntoun de Seton.

In 1363 his son, Lord William Seton authorized Adam Wymondham, a citizen, and Nicholas Nogrebon, a Venetian, to recover the money.  The document states that Alan had died on his way to Mount Sinai, when about to visit the tomb of St. Katherine there.  The date of Lord William seeking to recover the money in 1363 seems to support Alan “vanishing” around 1357.  There is no reason they would wait sixteen years to recover the gold.

Little is mentioned of the remainder of Margaret’s life.  She died around 1360, about four years after the disappearance of her husband.

I am sorry such a pale hangs over the end to their story, both vaguely fading into the mists of history without a definitive end to their lives, or what happened to turn Alan against his family and to leave.  But the romance writer in me loves having a real life set of grandparents who went through The Ring and the Sword ceremony, just like my beloved Tamlyn and Julian.