Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray bigraphy, stories - Earl of Moray, 1332

Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray : biography

- 20 July 1332

Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray (died 20 July 1332) was Regent of Scotland, an important figure in the Wars of Scottish Independence, and is named second of those in whose names the Barons' Letter to Pope John XXII, commonly known as the Declaration of Arbroath, was sent.

War of Independence

Thomas, the future Earl of Moray, supported Bruce in his initial coup when he proclaimed himself king and was crowned at Scone, but was captured after the defeat at the Battle of Methven and changed sides. Later, fighting for the English, he was in the company of Bruces Scottish enemy John MacDougall of Lorn but was captured and brought before the king, whom he taunted for his alleged cowardice by engaging in guerrilla warfare instead of standing and fighting in pitched battle. He was then put into solitary confinement where he would have plenty of time to think about his decisions.

However, he was persuaded to change sides again, and went on to become one of the king's most important lieutenants. The fact that he was allowed to resume his allegiance to Bruce suggests that they did have family ties. His most famous achievement took place on 14 March 1314 Tabraham, Christopher, 'Edinburgh Castle Official Souvenir Guide' when he carried out a daring attack on Edinburgh Castle. This was one of a handful of castles in Scotland still in English hands, and stood on top of an apparently impregnable rock. Amongst his men was William Francis, the son of a former Governor, who knew about a path up the rock, which he had used to visit the town at night against his father's wishes. He volunteered to show Randolph the route and at the dead of night, Randolph led his men up this path to capture the castle.

He played an important role in the Scottish victory at Bannockburn, where he commanded one of the divisions (schiltroms) of the infantry, the others being commanded by King Robert and Edward Bruce, the king's brother.Barbour, The Bruce, p 216.Ross, David R., James the Good, pp. 61-83.Scott, Ronald McNair, Robert the Bruce, pp. 149-152.Traquair, Peter Freedom's Sword

It is difficult to say exactly when Randolph was raised to the Earldom of Moray, but by 1315 he is styled "Thomas Ranulphi comes Morauie".Angus, William, 'Miscellaneous Charters 1315-1401' in Miscellany of The Scottish History Society volume five, Edinburgh, 1933:5

Marriage and family

Thomas Randolph married Isabel, only daughter of Sir John Stewart of Bonkyll (killed at the Battle of Falkirk (1298)), a brother of James Stewart, 5th High Steward of Scotland.Anderson, William, The Scottish Nation, Edinburgh, 1867, vol.vii: 200.Mackenzie, A.M., M.A., D.Litt., The Rise of the Stewarts, London, 1935: 14n.Simpson, David, The Genealogical and Chronological History of the Stuarts, Edinburgh, 1713: 64-5. They had several children, including:

  • Thomas Randolph, 2nd Earl of Moray,
  • John Randolph, 3rd Earl of Moray,
  • Agnes Randolph, who married Patrick Dunbar, 9th Earl of Dunbar.
  • Geilis (or Isabella) Randolph, wife of John de Dunbar of Derchester and Birkynsyde, mother of George I, Earl of March.


On the death of Robert I, the crown was inherited by his son David II, who was only five years old. Randolph became Regent, but three years later died of a sudden illness at Musselburgh on his way to repel an invasion by Edward Balliol and his supporters. At the time it was said that he had been poisoned by the English, but this is now discounted by many scholars though many Scots still believe he was murdered. His successor as Guardian was Domhnall II, Earl of Mar.Traquair, Peter Freedom's Sword. Collins, 1998. ISBN 978-0-00-472079-1

Diplomatic career

After the death of Edward Bruce and the recall of the expeditionary force from Ireland, Sir Thomas was sent by his uncle as envoy to the court of Rome where he succeeded in getting a temporary absolution for King Robert who had been excommunicated for killing John Comyn. In 1326 he also led the Scottish deputation which negotiated the Treaty of Corbeil, renewing the defensive Franco-Scottish alliance.Ronald McNair Scott: Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, Hutchinson & Co 1982, p 216


He accompanied the king's brother, Edward Bruce, on his invasion of Ireland in 1315 and was one of the principal leaders of the war against the English settlers in Ireland. He was also in charge of returning to Scotland to gather reinforcements and to transfer soldiers between the two fronts as needed.

Early life

He is usually described as a nephew of Robert the BruceBain, Joseph, FSA (Scot)., The Edwards in Scotland, 1296 - 1377, Edinburgh, 1901:61 & 66 although their exact relationship is uncertain. The traditional view is that it was through a daughter of the first marriage of Countess Marjorie of Carrick, who was mother of King Robert by her second marriage. However modern sources state that the King's father Robert (1253–1304) married secondly, after 1292, to a lady with the Christian name of Eleanor (died 1331) by whom he had a daughter, Isabel de Bruce, who married Thomas Randolph, Lord Chamberlain of Scotland.Weis, Fredk., Lewis, et al., The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, 5th edition, Baltimore, 2002: 50Richardson, Douglas, Plantagenet Ancestry, Baltimore, Md., 2004: 682

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