Current Events

Just a little aside to tell you what’s been going on. As in the previous post, I have been attempting to read Michael Prestwich’s, Edward 1. It has been slightly dry and definitely not as reader friendly as Marc Morris’s, A Great and Terrible King. Although I did feel that Marc’s book had a definite sympathetic bent towards Edward. Prestwich’s book is more a confusing reword of the facts of his reign as taken from the financial accounts of the time. This of course, is useful for citing your own research but so far, does little to flesh out the person of Edward himself in the way that Marc does.Again, let me caveat that with the fact that I am only partway into the book.

While there is no doubt that the facts are essential to proving the likelihood of a certain event taking place, it does take talent to bring that to the public. It is rather distracting to have numbers written all over the place when I am reading. Hopefully sometime in the near future they will find better ways to cite sources. That being said , I like it when the writer says that prior thoughts on a subject couldn’t have been correct because ……. and there is the fact.  We can never fully know what the motivations may have been behind someone’s actions unless we were there. History is always incomplete. We are a little more certain of the outcomes of their actions. Let me say this though, it is hard to even begin to imagine the world Edward was thrown into as a young man. The term “living large” would hardly describe it. Some were up to the task , like Edward, and some were not, like his father.” It is a pity that the closest most young men will get to this kind of history is in a video game. I would recommend Marc’s book as a good basic book that can hold your interest. When I am done with Prestwich’s book I will do some comparing. If my mind isn’t boggled by then.

In other news, I had put my Irish research to bed in order to get on with the Scottish side of the family and that is how I got into this thing with Edward. He was the scourge of the Scots and I became curious about all the claims against him. However, things suddenly started to crop up. First, I got an email by an offended second cousin who felt I had portrayed her in a bad light (which I have tried to rectify), then I got an email from a lady who has worked at Garden Hill for 20 years and suddenly came upon my post Life at Garden Hill. That was the home of my great aunt and uncle who ran the South Dublin workhouse. It was converted into offices. She wanted to know if I had more info and has colleagues writing about the St. James hospital which was built over it. The house will be torn down and replaced by a pediatric wing. Then just the other day, I got a long-awaited reply from William Healy, whose great grandfather was acquainted with the Phillips family (my mom’s family). He is trying to help me locate the graves of my great grandparents and is sending information on that. Mystery there is that everyone keeps saying that 3 brothers came to Canada instead of 2. I was told the first one died when he was young but I have not found a death record for him. That leads me onto another chase to see if either of these is true. It is all unexpected but exciting! I hadn’t thought of my posts as being permanently up there for people to read years after I wrote them. Lesson learned.


Graham Border Marriages 1596

By coincidence, I visited the National Archives at Kew, England website looking for the rolls Marc Morris talks about in his book, A Great and Terrible King, and was waylaid. I came across a section on Marriage Across the Border which has a scan of a genealogy made for Lord Burghley in 1596 of the Graham clan of Netherby, Cumberland. I immediately wanted to see if there were any Clark/Graham marriages (you may remember that my 3X great grandmother, Jane Graham married Henry Clark) on the document but guess what? It wouldn’t enlarge enough for me to make out that ridiculous quill pen writing of the day. I went to print it and it wouldn’t print the image although the option was there. So, no go. I have contacted the Archives to see if anything can be done. My Graham records only go back to the early 18th century. I sometimes think it would take 10 lifetimes to sort out our life in Britain, never mind when they finally came over to Canada! Will advise.

Speed Bonnie Boat

On March 2, 1316, Marjorie Bruce, King Robert’s daughter, in late pregnancy, fell from her horse and went into labor. She had married Walter Stewart ,6th High Steward of Scotland in 1315. She died in childbirth at Paisley Abbey, after having a son, Robert who would later become the first Stuart king of Scotland. Robert the Bruce’s son, David would die without a legitimate heir, making way for the new king.

The Stuarts kept close ties with France and maintained the fight for Scottish independence. James IV attempted to make peace with England by marrying Margaret Tudor but later went to war against England when Henry VIII invaded France, Scotland’s ally. He was killed and defeated at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1542. In that same year his son James V, died leaving the throne to his daughter Mary Queen of Scots.

During the Scottish Reformation, Mary who was Catholic, was forced to give up her throne to her son James VI. When she fled to England, Elizabeth I had her imprisoned and eventually executed. When Elizabeth died, James, raised as a Protestant, took the throne and the Presbyterian church became Scotland’s national church. He ruled Scotland as James VI and England as James I, both countries unified under one king. James established Scottish colonies in America and Ireland and set about reorganizing the Presbyterian church.

James’s son Charles I, continued with church reform but met with resistance in 1638 when the National Covenant was drawn up. The Covenant was basically a pledge to keep the church as it was, with God as its head only and no interference from royalty. In 1642, civil war broke out between Charles and Parliament, many of whom were Puritans. The Parliamentarians under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell were supported by the Scottish Covenanters. In 1646, Charles was overthrown. Later, in 1649, parliament had him beheaded.

Although the Scots persuaded Charles’s son to agree to the National Covenant, Cromwell defeated them at the Battle of Dunbar in 1651. By 1654, he had forced the Scots to unite with England. When finally, in 1660, Charles II became king, he dissolved this union and like his forebears ruled the two countries separately, allowing Scotland her own beliefs. After his death though, the two countries realized that to preserve peace, they had to unite. Along with Wales, they formed the Kingdom of Great Britain under the Act of Union which took place in 1707. The Scots dissolved their own parliament and instead sent representatives to the British Parliament. They retained their own laws and religion.

The last Stuart monarch was Queen Anne. When she died in 1714, the  German House of Hanover came to the throne under George the I. Many people in the Scottish Highlands remained loyal to the Stuarts and supported James Stuart (known as the Old Pretender), as the rightful heir to the throne. They became known as “Jacobites”, “Jacobus” being the Latin word for “James”.  James lead a rebellion against the crown in 1715 but was crushed and fled to France.

In 1745, the Jacobites rose again in an attempt to plant James’s son, Charles Edward Stuart (known as the Young Pretender) on the throne. He was a handsome lad, hence called “Bonnie Prince Charlie”. The English were easily defeated by the Jacobites in Scotland but when they marched into England they were forced into the Battle of Culloden Moor where they were routed and then mercilessly pursued by the infamous Duke of Cumberland.The story of Charles’s escape through the glens and moors of Scotland until he was rescued and put aboard a frigate to France is one of Scotland’s favorite legends. Below, Charles as painted by John Pettie in 1898.

Bonnie Prince Charlie by John Pettie

Bonnie Prince Charlie by John Pettie

His flight is also remembered in “The Skye Boat Song”

After the revolt in 1746, many clan chiefs were executed and all signs of Highland culture were banned. Kilts and bagpipes were outlawed and the men were disarmed. The restrictions were not removed until 1782 when it was thought the threat of more rebellions had passed.

What does all this mean to me? As I stated previously, Gartshore, Smith and Reid families were living in Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire when Charles Stuart passed through on his retreat from Culloden. These on my maternal grandmothers side. Unfortunately, my maternal grandfather’s name, Phillips, is on the list of Cromwellian Adventurers for Land who were granted land in Ireland during the Cromwellian plantation. To do this he forced Irish landowners off their land.

The King Rests

The death of King Robert I in 1329 was as poignant as his life had been. In the last few years of his life, he suffered from a disfiguring illness. Some have said leprosy but there is no proof of this. He had desired to make a crusade to the Holy Land as all good knights did but that didn’t happen. Once he knew his days were numbered, he made a pilgrimage to St. Ninian’s Shrine at Whithorn in Galloway where he fasted and prayed for four days in penance. Then he ordered his heart removed after death and taken to the Holy Land on crusade. This, his chief commander, Sir James Douglas did. Most of the small party, including James Douglas were lost in battle. The two men who remained found Bruce’s heart, which was contained in a small casket, on the battlefield and brought it back to Scotland. It was buried at Melrose Abbey in Roxburghshire. The King  was buried at Dumfermline Abbey, beneath the high altar beside his queen, Elizabeth. An alabaster tomb covered in gold leaf was made in Paris and placed over the grave. Below, the present tomb.

Grave of Robert the Bruce

Tomb of Robert the Bruce

His heart, buried with an inscription which we may interpret as saying  ” A noble heart may have no ease if freedom fails”.

Bruce's Heart

                        Bruce’s Heart

The Hunterian Museum in Glasgow has a plaster cast of his skull as well as fragments of his tomb from the discovery of it in 1818. That is an interesting story in itself.

Skull Cast of Robert the Bruce

        Skull Cast of Robert the Bruce

You can see what he might have looked like here. The skull had many war injuries on it according to this really interesting report about the facial reconstruction of Bruce.

And finally, I like this carving of him in the Bruce Chapel at St. Conan’s Kirk in Bute and Argyll, Scotland. The head and hands are made of alabaster marble, the rest is wood.

Carving at St. Conan's

           Carving at St. Conan’s