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1. ROBERTRobert de Comines probably came from Comines in Flanders and entered the service of William the Conqueror. He was sent north as earl of Northumbria in 1068 after the deposition of Gospatric. He got as far as Durham with his 700 men where Bishop Ethelwin warned him about an army mobilised against him. He ignored the advice and on 28 Jan. 1069 the rebel army attacked Durham and killed many of his men and set fire to the bishop's house where he was staying and Robert was killed in the fire. After this attack Ethelwin turned against the Normans and gathered an army and marched on York. Issue ?2I. _______Ref: Anglo-Saxon England- Frank M. Stenton, Oxford University Press, 1971 2I. _________ (ROBERT 1)Issue 3I. WILLIAM- m. MAUD BASSETT II. Osbert- d. 1144 III. Walter- mentioned in a charter from Hexham Abbey in 1162. 3I. WILLIAM (ROBERT 1)m. MAUD BASSETT William came from Fonthill Gifford, Wiltshire and was among the Norman landowners who emigrated to Scotland by invitation of King David I. He also held land in England as Earl of Huntingdon. This Comyn family were direct descendants of Robert Comine, Earl of Northumbria. William was Chancellor of Scotland. Issue 4I. RICHARD- m. HEXILDA TYNEDALE (m.2. Mael Coluim, Earl of Atholl), d.c.1190 4I. RICHARD (ROBERT 1, WILLIAM 3) m. HEXILDA, TYNEDALE, (m.2. Mael Coluim, Earl of Atholl), d. of Uchtred, Lord of Tynedale and Bethoc ingen Domnaill Bain, and grand daughter of Donald Bane d.c.1190
Site of Northallerton Castle Richard witnessed many charters from Malcolm IV and William the Lion. In 1144 Richard received Northallerton Castle from his father William. He was made Justiciary of Scotland by King William. Richard was captured with King William in 1174 and was a hostage for him in the Treaty of Falaise. With Hextilda's consent he gave land to the monks at Hexham, Kelso and Holyrood. "Hextildis comitissa de Eththetela" donated property to Rievall Abbey for the soul of "domini mei Richardi Cumin".(1) Issue I. John- d. before 1152, bur. Kelso Abbey 5II. WILLIAM- m.1. ?, 2. MARGARET, Countess of Buchan, d. 1233 III. Odinel- Odo was a priest and a witness to Richard's charters to religious houses in 1162 and 1166. IV. Simon- mentioned in the 1166 charter to the Augustinians at Holyrood. V. Idonea- m. Adam FitzGilbert VI. Ada VII. Christien- Richard's daughters were witnesses to a donation made by Mael Coluim, Earl of Atholl and their mother Hexitilda to the church of St. Cuthbert in Durham. Ref: (1) Monasticon- Dugdale- Rievall Abbey, Yorkshire- Vol. XI, p. 284 Robert the Bruce's Rivals: They Comyns, 1213-1314- Alan Young, East Linton, 1997- pp.15-9 "The Scottish Nation"- William Anderson, A. Fullarton & Co., Edinburgh, 1880
5II. WILLIAM (ROBERT 1, WILLIAM 3, RICHARD 4) m.1.c.1193 SARAH FITZHUGH (d.c.1204), d. of Robert FitzHugh 2. MARGARET, Countess of BUCHAN, d. of Fergus, Earl of Buchan d. 1233, bur. Deer Abbey
In 1200 William, as King William the Lion's envoy, was sent to congratulate King John on his succeeding to the throne of England. He was Sheriff of Forfar from 1195 until 1211 and was Justiciary of Scotland from 1205 until 1233 as well as Warden of Moray in 1211-2. He defeated the tribe under Buthred of the family of Heth who had come from Ireland. He made his fortune in the service of William the Lion fighting the insurgency of Gofraid mac Domnaill of the Meic Uilleim in the north whom King William beheaded at Kincardine in 1213. Upon finally destroying the Meic Uilleim in 1229 he was given the Lordship of Badenoch. He was a witness to 88 charters by the king. By his marriage with Margaret he became Earl of Buchan upon Fergus' death c.1214. William helped oversee the construction of St. Mungo's Cathedral in Glasgow and after his death Margaret continued his work there. The Liber Pluscardensis records the death in 1233 of "Willelmus Cumyn comes de Buchane" who founded ecclesiam de Deer.(1)
Deer Abbey Issue- first six children by Sarah, last seven by Margaret 6I. RICHARD- b.c.1194, d.c.1245 II. Jardine- Lord of Inverallochy III. Walter- m. Isabella, Countess of Menteith (m.2. John Russell, Kt.) IV. Johanna- b.c.1198, m.c.1220 Uilleam I, Earl of Ross (d.c.1274), d.c.1274 V. John- m.c.1242 Matilda, Countess of Angus (d. 1261), d. 1242 VI. David- m. Isabel de Valoigne (d. 1253), d. 1247 VII. Idonea- m.1237 Gilbert de Haya of Erroll (d. 1262) 7VIII. ALEXANDER- m. ELIZABETH De QUINCY IX. William- b.c.1217 X. Margaret- m. Sir John Keith, Marischal of Scotland (d. 1270) XI. Fergus8XII. ELIZABETH- m. WILLIAM MAR (d. 1281), d. 1267 XIII. Agnes- m.c.1262 Sir Philip de Meldrum, Justiciar of Scotland
Ref: (1) Liber Pluscardensis- Vol. I, Liber VII, CX, p. 73 Robert the Bruce's Rivals: They Comyns, 1213-1314- Alan Young, East Linton, 1997 The Scottish Nation- William Anderson, A. Fullarton & Co., Edinburgh, 1880
6I. RICHARD (ROBERT 1, WILLIAM 3, RICHARD 4, WILLIAM 5) Richard received all the estates of his brother Walter after his death without any sons. Issue 9I. JOHN- m.1. Eva, 2. Alice ?de Ross or de Lindsay, d.c.1274 Ref:
"The Scottish Nation"- William Anderson, A. Fullarton & Co., Edinburgh, 1880
9I. JOHN (ROBERT 1, WILLIAM 3, RICHARD 4, WILLIAM 5, RICHARD 6) m.1. Eva 2. Alice ?de Ross or de Lindsay d.c.1274 The Comyn family were in effective power in Scotland from 1249 to 1255, when Alexander III of Scotland was a minor; John was one of those with court influence. The Comyns were ousted, by Alan Durward, but returned to power in 1257-8. John the "Red Comyn" was Justiciary of Galloway and joined the other barons in demanding security from Henry III before they would allow the Queen of Scotland to go to London. He fought for Henry III of England at the Battle of Lewes (1265), with John Baliol the elder and Robert Bruce the elder; he was captured.(1) In 1267 he was given license to crenellate Tarset Castle in Tynedale (by present-day Lanehead, near Hexham), by Henry III.(2) Tarset had previously been held by Walter Comyn.
Site of Tarset Castle He started castle construction at Blair Castle with a tower built in 1269 which is now incorporated into the current structure and known as the Cummings Tower. The place was soon taken back by David, Earl of Atholl.
The Cummings Tower Issue I. William- m. Heiress of Mentieth, d.s.p. 10II. JOHN- m. MARJORY BALIOL, living in 1299 III. _______ - m. Alexander of Argyll IV. _______- m. Sir William Galbraith, Lord of Kyncaith V. ________- m. Galfrid de Mowbray
Ref: (1) English Heritage Battlefield Report: Lewes 1264 at: http://www.englishheritage.org.uk/upload/pdf/Lewes.pdf (2) Cal. Doc. Scot.- Vol. I, No. 2463; Cal. Pat. Rolls- 178 "The Scottish Nation"- William Anderson, A. Fullarton & Co., Edinburgh, 1880
10II. JOHN (ROBERT 1, WILLIAM 3, RICHARD 4, WILLIAM 5, RICHARD 6, JOHN 7) m. MARJORY BALIOL, d. of John Balliol of Barnard Castle d. 1302 Lochindorb castle Sir John the "Black Comyn" became Lord of Badenoch and was one of the nobles who settled the Norwegian marriage of Princess Margaret in 1281.
In 1286 at Alexander III's death he was chosen by Parliament one of the six Regents of Scotland during the minority of the Maiden of Norway. After the death of the Queen the "Black Comyn" became a candidate for the crown as descended from King Duncan by the daughter of his son Donald Bane. He did not push his claim for fear of jeopardising that of his brother-in-law John de Balliol. He was a committed ally of Balliol and assisted him in his struggle against Edward I and ws the driving force behind Balliol's claim to the throne and the revolt against Edward's demands. At the meeting of the competitors for the crown at Holywell-haugh 2 June 1291 John acknowledged Edward the feudal superior of Scotland and swore allegiance to the English King. After the election of Baliol to the vacant throne the "Black Comyn" seems to have retired from public life.
Lochindorb Castle Issue 11I. JOHN- m. JOAN PLANTAGENET, d. 4 Feb. 1305/6 II. Euphemia- m. Sir Andrew Moray of Petty III. ______- m. Sir William Galbraith Ref:
Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland- G.W.S. Barrow, 2005- p. 188 "The Scottish Nation"- William Anderson, A. Fullarton & Co., Edinburgh, 1880
11I. JOHN (ROBERT 1, WILLIAM 3, RICHARD 4, WILLIAM 5, RICHARD 6, JOHN 7, JOHN 8) m. JOAN PLANTAGENET, d. of William de Valence, Earl of Pembroke d. 10 Feb. 1305/6
John the "Red Comyn" possessed the same right to the throne as Baliol and he supported King Edward as long as he supported Baliol's interest. Upon the English King's insulting treatment of John Baliol the Scots revolted and John joined the army which destroyed much of Cumberland. He was among the force admitted to Dunbar castle by the Countess of March, Marjory Comyn which held off the English under Warene, Earl of Surrey. After the Battle of Dunbar 28 Apr. 1296 the castle surrendered and the "Red Comyn" was taken prisoner to the Tower of London, but soon released on condition that he took up service with King Edward in Flanders. After the English defeat by Wallace at Stirling bridge on 11 Sept. 1297 John was among the Scots who deserted the English and ended up in Paris where they appealed for aid from Philip IV, however, the only help they received was a ship back to Scotland. John then joined the patriots and commanded the cavalry at the battle of Falkirk 22 July 1298 when all his men ran from the field. The main Scottish sources, the chronicles of John Fordun and John Barbour, were composed decades after the event, long after the Comyns had been expelled from Scotland. The important thing to remember about Fordun and Barbour is that they were not composing detached historical narratives, but manifestos, so to speak, with a specific agenda in mind, namely to magnify Robert Bruce and diminish John Comyn. In Fordun John and his kin move on and off stage like operatic villains. Hating Wallace, they seem only to have appeared on the battlefield with premeditated treachery in mind—"For, on account of the ill-will, begotten of the sprig of envy, which the Comyns had conceived towards the aforesaid William, they, with their accomplices, forsook the field, and escaped unhurt." This is set alongside a commendation of Robert Bruce, the future king, who, in Fordun's account, fought on the side of the English and "was the means of bringing about the victory." Set against the partisan Scottish accounts we have the contemporary English record of the Lanercost Chronicle, partisan in a different way, which simply blames the inadequacy of the Scottish cavalry in general. Soon after the defeat John Comyn was to emerge as Guardian in place of Wallace, unlikely if treachery had been so manifest. John afterwards threatened to impeach Wallace for treason and he therefore voluntarily resigned as Governor of Scotland with John de Soulis and Sir John being chosen Regents. With no independent power base Wallace, whose prestige had always been based on the success of his army, had little choice but to resign as Guardian after Falkirk, though Fordun has him stepping down because of the "wickedness of the Comyns." In his place came one of the more unusual, and difficult, balancing acts in Scottish history: John Comyn and Robert Bruce the younger, who had now joined the patriot party. The Scots were still fighting on behalf of the absent King John, so Bruce must have paid lip service to the cause, though his royal ambitions were openly known. The records give little or nothing in the way of insight into the feelings and motives of these men, but it seems reasonably clear that hatred and suspicion of the one for the other were uppermost. At a meeting of a council of the magnates at Peebles in August 1299 an argument broke out, during which Comyn is said by an English spy to have seized Bruce by the throat. Seemingly to act as a mediator William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, was appointed as a third Guardian, not the best of arrangements as Lamberton was politically closer to Bruce. Bruce resigned before May 1300, when the restoration of King John was looking increasingly likely, leaving only Comyn and Lamberton, but even this was too much. When parliament assembled at Rutherglen it learned that "the bishop of St Andrews and sire John Comyn were at discord and the Stewart of Scotland and the earl of Atholl took the part of the bishop, and sir John Comyn said that he did not wish to be a guardian of the realm along with the bishop. But at length they were in accord and they elected Sir Ingram d'Umphraville to be one of the guardians of the realm in place of the earl of Carrick." This was obviously an arrangement that suited Comyn, because Umphraville was a close political associate and a kinsman of King John. With the Guardianship taking Scotland one way Robert Bruce went the other, making his peace with Edward by February 1302 in a document in which he expressed the fear that "the realm of Scotland might be removed from the hands of the king, which God forbid, and delivered to John Balliol, or to his son." The new triumvirate lasted to May 1301, when John de Soules emerged as sole Guardian, seemingly appointed by Balliol himself pending his return. The following year, with Soules leaving for France on a diplomatic mission, Comyn became sole Guardian, occupying the position for the next two years. Comyn became Lord of Badenoch following his father's death that same year. In 1300 when Edward invaded Scotland the Earl of Buchan and Sir John had an audience with the King and demanded that Baliol be permitted to reign over them and that their estates which had been unjustly given
to English nobles be restored. Edward refused to grant these proposals and the Scots left vowing to defend themselves to the last. There was a certain inevitability to the Comyn domination of Scottish government in the years before 1304: not only were they the most powerful of the noble families, but their heartlands to the north of the Forth had been untouched ever since the campaign of 1296. English invasions in 1298, 1300 and 1301 had been confined to the south of the country, leaving the north as the chief recruiting ground, and supply base, of the Scottish army. In 1302 John joined forces with Sir Simon Fraser of Tweeddale and they defeated the superior English force at Roslin 25 Feb. 1302/3. For once Fordun recognised the achievement: There never was so desperate a struggle, or one in which the stoutness of knightly prowess shone forth so brightly. The commander and leader in this struggle was John Comyn, the son... John Comyn, then guardian of Scotland, and Simon Fraser with their followers, day and night, did their best to harass and to annoy, by their general prowess, the aforesaid kings officers and bailiffs... the aforesaid John Comyn and Simon, with their abettors, hearing of their arrival at Rosslyn and wishing to steal a march rather than have one stolen upon them, came briskly through from Biggar to Rosslyn, in one night, with some chosen men, who chose rather death before unworthy subjection to the English nation; and all of a sudden they fearlessly fell upon the enemy. John continued to lead the patriots through the war and thus redeemed himself for his army's flight from the battle of Falkirk. Scotland was again over run by Edward's army and John along with Wallace and Fraser were forced into the forests where they carried on a guerilla was against the English: "The Lord of Badenauh, Freselle, and Walais, Lived at thieves' law, ever robbing alle wayes." Politically, however, the outlook was bleak. Philip entered into a final peace with Edward, from which Scotland was excluded. John Balliol, whose star had risen briefly above the horizon, now sank into the twilight of history. In a mood of desperation the Scottish diplomats in Paris, who included Comyn's cousin Buchan, wrote words of encouragement; "For God's sake do not despair...it would gladden your hearts if you would know how much your honour has increased in every part of the world as a result of your recent battle with the English." However, for the first time since 1296 Edward was preparing an offensive that would take him deep into the north of Scotland. Edward took the Comyn's castle of Lochindorb and Sir John's army was defeated in an attempt to stop the English at the Forth. On 9 Feb. 1304 the Earls of Pembroke and Ulster and Sir Henry Percy met Sir John at Strathurd (Struthers) in Fife. However, this was no abject surrender, unlike that of King John in 1296. Comyn laid down clear terms, insisting that there should be no reprisals or disinheritance, which Edward accepted, with notable exceptions. Edward maintained his particular hatred for one former Guardian. Comyn was thus obliged to adhere to a condition in which he and other named individuals were to "capture Sir William Wallace and hand him over to the king, who will watch to see how each of them conducts himself so that he can do most favour to whoever shall capture Wallace..." There is no evidence to suggest Comyn made any effort to fulfill this condition, though this does not imply that he would have failed to hand over Wallace if he had the opportunity. At a conference between the rivals to the throne at Stirling the Bruce made the following proposal to John: "Support my title to the throne and I will give you all my lands or bestow on me your lands and I shall support your claim." John agreed to support Robert in his claim in exchange for his lands and Bruce went to London, but John anxious to regain Edward's favor betrayed the plot to the English King an sent him the signed agreement. King Edward then told some of his nobles of the plan to destroy the Bruce and that night the Earl of Gloucester sent Robert a purse of money and a pair of gilded spurs, a sign to flee to Scotland. On his way back home he met Sir John's messenger who had all the papers confirming his suspicions of his rival's treachery including a paper suggesting that Edward put the Bruce to death. King Robert went to Dumfries and requested a private interview with Sir John 10 Feb. 1305 in the church of the Minorite Friars. Bruce then drew his dagger and stabbed him in the heart and quickly left the church, pale and agitated telling his followers: "I doubt I have slain the red Comyn."
"You doubt!" said Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick: "Is that a matter to be left to doubt? I'se mak siccar (I will make sure)." He rushed into the church with Sir James Lindesay and Sir Christopher Seton and finished off the "Red Comyn" and his uncle Sir Robert Comyn who tried to defend him. Although the above story is interesting it is probably not true and John's murder was probably the unexpected outcome of a quarrel between the two rivals as no agreement existed and King Edward certainly did not know of it as he states in a document shortly after Comyn's death that he had complete confidence in the Bruce. It is probable that John instilled some suspicions into Edward's mind out of jealousy for Robert and after hearing of it Bruce demanded an explaination and killed him in the heat of the arguement. The appearance of a premeditated assassination was aggravated by the actions of Robert's followers. The later Scottish sources all try to justify the crime by amplifying earlier accusations of malevolence and treachery against Comyn. For the English sources the villain is Robert Bruce, who lured Comyn into a church—taken as a guarantee of safety—with the intention of committing premeditated murder. We will never know the complete truth, because none of those present ever provided an account of what happened. One thing all the sources agree on, both English and Scottish, is that Bruce could never move his cause forward for as long as John Comyn was alive. We know that by early 1306, either from the records or subsequent events, that Bruce had secured the support of leading Scottish churchmen, like Lamberton and Robert Wishart the bishop of Glasgow, for some kind of political coup, most likely involving the revival of the Scottish monarchy. Balliol was obviously never going to return—not that Bruce would have worked for such an outcome—so the only two realistic candidates for the office were either himself or John Comyn. Some sources suggest that Bruce offered a pact, whereby one would take the crown in return for the lands of the other; but it does not seem credible that he would have hazarded his long-cherished claim so lightly. The essential truth is probably contained in a list of charges later drawn up for Edward against William Lamberton. When Lamberton was made chief Guardian, Bruce rose against King Edward as a traitor, and murdered Sir John Comyn, lord of Badenoch, in the church of the Friors Minor of the town of Dumfries, by the high alter, because Sir John would not assent to the treason which Robert planned against the king of England, namely, to resume war against him and make himself king of Scotland. The murder of John Comyn took Edward by complete surprise. Thirteen days after the event, a garbled version of the facts reached his court at Winchester, where the murder was reported as "the work of some people who are doing their utmost to trouble the peace and quiet of the realm of Scotland." Upon hearing of John's murder Edward appointed the Earl of Pembroke Governor of Scotland and sent him with his army to avenge his death. Once the picture became clear he reacted in fury, authorising Aymer de Valence, Comyn's brother-in-law, to take extraordinary action against Bruce, who had since been crowned king less than seven weeks after the killing in Dumfries. He also emphasised his blood relationship with the Comyns by ordering his cousin, Joan, to send John's young son and namesake to England, where he was placed in the care of Sir John Weston, guardian of the royal children. John Comyn the younger grew to manhood in England, not returning to Scotland until 1314, when he was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn. The death of his father plunged Scotland into a brief but bloody civil war, largely concluded by 1308, but with political reverberations that were to last for decades. The power of the Comyns was effectually broken after the battle of Inverury 22 May 1308 when Robert the Bruce defeated the third Earl of Buchan. The name sunk into an obscurity from which it did not emerge for centuries. Carrick in his "Life of Wallace" states that "while the Scots in the low country cried out against the 'fause Cumyn's kyn' their vassals in Badenoch and Lochaber re-echoed the charge." There was a Gaelic proverb that said that "while there are trees in a wood, there will be deceit in a Cumyn." Issue I. John- d.s.p. 1325 12II. JOAN- m. DAVID De STRATHBOGIE III. ______-
Ref: The Bruce- John Barbour, trans. A.A.H. Duncan, 1964 Scotichronicon- Walter Bower, D.E.R. Watt, Ed., 1987-1996 Chronicles- John Fordun, W.F. Skene, Ed., 1871-2 Lanercost Chronicle- Sir Thomas Gray, trans. H. Maxwell, 1913 Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland- Andrew Wyntoun, D. Lang, Ed., 1872-9 The Scottish Nation- William Anderson, A. Fullarton & Co., Edinburgh, 1880
7VIII. ALEXANDER (ROBERT 1, WILLIAM 3, RICHARD 4, WILLIAM 5) m. ELIZABETH De QUINCY, d. of Roger de Quincy and Helen de Galloway d. before 6 Apr. 1290 In 1244 Alexander was one of the guarantees of the treaty with England and in 1251 he was appointed Justiciary of Scotland, but was removed from office four years later because of his anti-English beliefs and was restored to that office in 1257 and served in that capacity until 1289. By his marriage to Elizabeth he obtained her father's estates in Galloway and other counties and upon the resignation of the office of Constable by her older sister Margaret, Countess of Derby in 1270 Alexander became Constable of Scotland. On 5 Feb. 1283/4 he was one of the Magnates Scotiae who agreed to Margaret of Norway as heir to the crown. In 1286 upon Alexander III's death he was chosen one of six guardians of Scotland. Issue I. John- third Earl of Buchan, m. Isabel, daughter of Duncan, Earl of Fife, d. before 28 Apr. 1313 II. Alexander- fourth Earl of Buchan, m. Joan Latimer III. William- Provost of St. Mary's Church, St. Andrews 13IV. MARJORY- m. PATRICK DUNBAR V. Emma- m. Maol Iosa III, Earl of Strathearn (d. 1313, bur. Inchaffray Abbey) VI. Elizabeth- m. Gilbert De Umfreville, Earl of Angus, d. before 17 Feb. 1328/9 VII. Elena- m. William de Brechin VIII. Annora- m. Nicholas de Soules IX. Roger-
Ref: Robert the Bruce's Rivals: They Comyns, 1213-1314- Alan Young, East Linton, 1997 The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant- G.E. Cokayne, Vicary Gibbs, Alan Sutton Pub., 2000- Vol. II, pp. 374-5 The Complete Peerage or a History of the House of Lords and All its Members From the Earliest TimesPeter W. Hammond, Ed., Sutton Pub., Stroud, Gloucestershire, 1998- Vol. XIV, p. 46 "The Scottish Nation"- William Anderson, A. Fullarton & Co., Edinburgh, 1880
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