Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray

Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray (d. 20 July 1332) was an important figure in the Scottish Wars of Independence. He is usually described as a nephew of Robert the Bruce although their exact relationship is uncertain. The traditional view is that his mother was a daughter of the first marriage of Countess Marjorie of Carrick, who was mother of King Robert by her second marriage, but recently this view has been questioned. The term "nephew", like "cousin", could be used rather loosely in those days, although there are no grounds for believing that he was Bruce's illegitimate son.

Randolph supported Bruce in his initial coup when he proclaimed himself king and was crowned at Scone, but abandoned him after the English victory at the Battle of Methven. Later, fighting for the English, he was captured and brought before the king, who he taunted for his alleged cowardice by engaging in guerrilla warfare instead of standing and fighting in pitched battle.

However, he was persuaded to change sides again, and went on to become one of the king's most important lieutenants, eventually being made Earl of Moray. 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 in 1314, just a few months before the Battle of Bannockburn, 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. The son of a former Governor knew about a path up the rock, which he had used to visit the town at night against his father's wishes, and tipped off the Scots. Randolph led his men up this path one night to capture the castle.

He played an important role in the Scottish victory at Bannockburn, where he commanded one of the four schiltrons of the Scottish infantry.

On the death of Robert I the crown was inherited by his son David II, who was only a boy. Randolph became regent, but three years later died of a sudden illness at Musselburgh on his way to repel an invasion by Edward Baliol and his supporters. At the time it was believed that he had poisoned by the English, but this is now discounted.

Thomas Randolph married Isabel Stewart, a kinswoman of Walter Stewart. Three of his children succeeded him to the earldom of Moray: Thomas, John and Agnes.

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Earl of Moray Followed by:
Thomas Randolph


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