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The Ancestry of Robert the Bruce
arms of Carrick from an early seal
I ~ The first Earls of Carrick
The ancient province of Galloway was in the southwestern corner of Scotland and included what were to be known later as Wigtownshire, the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, and much of Ayrshire. Carrick, its northern portion, was peopled most probably by descendants of the Picts.

Fergus, Prince of Galloway, d 1161 leaving two sons:
.. A1 Uchtred
.. .. B1 Roland
.. A2
Gilbert, an unpleasant villain who shared Galloway with his brother, as was then the custom, and during the disturbances that followed the capture of King William the Lion (by the English in 1174) slew Uchtred and offered his loyalty to the English king, Henry II. This was refused, on account of his fratricide, but when William was freed in 1175 and marched into Galloway, Gilbert escaped with a fine. He rewarded this leniency with war against Scotland, rejecting offers to buy peace, and in 1184 is recorded as being under the protection of the English. He died 1st January 1185 and was succeeded by his son and heir:

Duncan, who was faced immediately with civil war. Roland, Uchtred's son, won a great victory 5th July 1185 and the following year negotiated a peace that, with the approval of King William, awarded Carrick to Duncan on his renunciation of all claims to the southern portion of Galloway. Duncan is reported as being created Earl of Carrick by Alexander II between 1225 and 1230 following further confirmation of his resignation of all claim to the Lordship of Galloway. He m Avelina, dtr of Alan Fitz Walter, 2nd High Steward, and d 13th June 1250 leaving issue:
.. A1
Neil, his heir [see below]
.. A2 John de Carrick, knight, held the lands of Straiton and was probably the father of:
.. .. B1 Roland de Carrick, granted a charter by his uncle Neil appointing him and his heirs the chiefship of the whole clan and the leadership of its men in war. He m 2ndly Matilda, a co-heiress of Helwisa Levington, wife of Eustace Baliol, and d ante 30th April 1275 leaving issue (the eldest from an earlier marriage):
.. .. .. C1 Gilbert Fitz Roland de Carrick, knight, whose seal bore the arms illustrated at the head of this article, left issue:
.. .. .. .. D1 Gilbert de Carrick, knight, captured at Durham 1346.
.. .. .. C2 Roland de Carrick, heir to his mother Matilda 30 March 1308, b ca 1275, probably the father of:
.. .. .. .. D1 Malcolm, whose seal bore a two-headed eagle displayed.
.. .. .. c1. A dtr who m Arthur, Castellan of Lochdoon (who surrendered that castle to the English ca October 1306, an action that led to the hanging, drawing and quartering of Sir Christopher Seton, brother-in-law to Robert the Bruce, and to unfounded accusations of complicity against his wife's brother Sir Gilbert Fitz Roland de Carrick [C1 above].
.. A3 Alexander
.. A4 Alan of Straiton.

Neil (sometimes also Nicol or Nicolaus), 2nd Earl of Carrick, a Regent of Scotland and Guardian to Alexander III and Margaret, dtr of Henry III, 20th September 1255, having no heir male of his body, granted to his nephew, as reported above, the chiefship of the whole clan. He m Margaret (sometimes Isabel), dtr of Walter, 3rd High Steward and had issue four daughters of whom only the eldest is known:

Margaret (or Marjorie), Countess of Carrick, m Adam de Kilconcath, 3rd Earl of Carrick in her right, who d on Crusade at Acre in 1270 without issue. What followed belongs to legend and has been much embroidered by novelists, but the probability appears to be that Robert de Brus, the son of Robert de Brus, Lord of Annandale and of Cleveland (known to history as "Robert Bruce the Competitor"), newly returned from the Crusade, visited the Countess to bring her the news of her widowhood. He encountered her while she was hunting, she judged him a worthy trophy, and the consequence was his capture and enforced sojourn in her castle until he married her a few days later. Cynics and historians insist that this was a ruse to allow Alexander III to take a lenient view of their having married without his consent, and when he seized her castle and lands she regained them with payment of a fine (perhaps the same fine she would have paid for licence to marry anyway). Countess Marjorie d 1292 having brought into this world five sons and five daughers, of whom the most famous son was to become King Robert I, 4th Earl of Carrick. Her husband, Earl of Carrick in her right, resigned the earldom to his eldest son when the Countess died, and he died (some say on Crusade) before 4 April 1304 (Cal. Docs. Scot., ii. No 1493) ~ which credulous fans of Mel Gibson who watched the pretence of him betraying Sir William Wallace a year later may find surprising. (That's showbiz, folks.)

In the next instalment we shall look at the origins of the Bruce family in Normandy and, in the one after that, as recent research suggests, at their origins in Flanders.

Map of Southwest Scotland
Argent a chevron Gules
Galloway was a principality of substantial size before its northern portion was separated from it to create the Earldom of Carrick.
The later arms of the Earldom of Carrick, without the nine cross crosslets fitchée, suggest that the arms shown at the head of this article (copied from the seal) may have been argent and gules.

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