The Morays of Petty originate in the north of Scotland. This was a troublesome district and King David I eventually pacified the locals after stiff resistance. However the lack of resources, many leading Knights were killed during these battles, led him to seek suitable men to control the often violent locals. One such man was a Flemish nobleman called Freskin, he built Duffus Castle on the coast of North East Scotland, near what is now RAF Lossimouth. This remained a fiercely independent district for many years until the middle of the 13th century. He also begat the Morays!
The grasping English imperialist poured his men into all the important aspects of Scots society, unwanted and unwelcomed. Their influence in finance, church and law was so pernicious that even John Balliol had enough. Eddie wasnie pleased ken like? It did not take long for Scots to take action. Andrew de Moray joined with several other nobles and made for Carlisle Castle, wreaking havoc around the area. They however failed to take the Castle itself, the door being shut against them by one Robert de Brus and his son Robert, the future King. Bruce's lands lay over the Solway Firth in the south west of Scotland and the intricacies of politics were playing their part. The choice of Balliol must have hurt and Bruce played a long game here. Both father and son had sworn fealty to Edward and joined the malefactors army as it destroyed Berwick on Tweed, then Scotland's richest city. Here Edwards men spent three days of murder and rapine as they destroyed both the town and the 15,000 souls within. Where were the Americans then eh? Shortly after this, near Dunbar, a Scots army was routed by the Earl of Surrey, John de Warenne, leaving 8000 dead they say. The brutal repression of a free people quickly saw King John Balliol captured and imprisoned in the south, Scots nobles bending their knees, but not their hearts and many men, including Andrew Moray imprisoned. Moray was kept in Chester Castle but somehow he escaped, possibly by ransom or bribing Hugh de Lacey the warden, and made his way home to the north, he was a determined man and his imprisonment may have encouraged his zeal.
After his victory Edward had placed his men in all the important posts and castles. Sir Hugh de Cressingham became head of the treasury administration in Scotland charged with tax collection. Like all Englishmen he began to tax Scots beyond what they could pay, George Osborne reads this bit daily, and he and his men lined their own pockets as well as the treasuries. The brutal repression, taxation and then the attempt to force men into Edwards army led to stiff resistance once again. Throughout Scotland people rose up opposing the foul treatment of the oppressor. Many joining Moray up at, er Moray, in 1297 where he had regained control of his lands and began retrieving the rest of the north. Andrew Moray began his freedom fight at the same time as Sir William Wallace, a John Balliol loyalist, was wreaking havoc on the invader in the south west. Wallace disposed of the English High Sherriff, William de Heselrig, at Lanark, before attacking Scone and continuing a guerrilla war against the invader. Other nobles, Robert Bruce amongst them, rose also seeking their fortune in this war. (It is notable Bruce, who ranked higher than Wallace did not work with him.) While the English empire builder was building an army to invade Flanders and steal their land, he had already forced the Welsh to bow before him, he found his attention distracted by serious trouble across the border. The men he sent to put this down, often Scots he had imprisoned, failed miserably as they decided to join the rising. Englishmen who attempted to intervene did so at the cost of their heads, whoopee!
Edward was peeved and he demanded that The Earl of Surrey, John de Warenne, take action. De Warenne had led the Kings armies at Berwick and Dunbar but he had remained in the north of England rather than Scotland complaining the weather was too cold and harmful to his health for him to reside there. He has a point! His sloth allowed the hero's of the story to gather support throughout the land, the whole nation apart from one or two small English held places was now in uproar. The invaders could not travel in safety, their friends less so, and at the approach of the Surrey's army Moray and Wallace joined their forces together at Stirling to deal with the malcontent English.
The battle was a short and cruel one. Badly led by the Earl of Surrey, with reinforcements turned back long before they had arrived because Cressingham, in joint command, considered them too expensive and unnecessary, and with the first troops ordered over the bridge called back as the Earl was still asleep and his belief that he was once again facing an untrained rabble the day was set. The suggestion of sending cavalry round the flank was rejected, on cost grounds by Hugh Cressingham, as he felt this may somehow prolong the war! He did however lead the Knights himself as they crossed the small wooden bridge two abreast. The Scots, now a trained and disciplined army, watched from above or hidden in the woods. Once the commanders thought sufficient Knights and infantry had crossed the bridge the Scots spearmen, until then hidden from view, took up position blocking the access to the bridge. The narrowness of the bridge and the by now fast flowing River Forth meant the crossing was under Scots control. Cut off from the vast array on the other side this portion of the English invading army was doomed. The ground here was boggy and a narrow wooden causeway, with bog and rocky ground on either side took away the Knights advantages. Vengeance was taken for Dunbar and Berwick and for those many prisoners dying in captivity. Around 100 Knights including Cressingham died, falling from his horse as it turned while attempting to fight his way back across the bridge, his associate Sir Marmaduke Tweng did manage to push through the defenders along with a handful of others while Cressinghams squire swam the river, others attempting this drowned. Along with the Knights some five thousand English and Welsh footsoldiers were destroyed that afternoon. In panic the English destroyed the bridge from their side and as their army began to fade away left the field. The Scots army, mostly a peasant army, had some loss also, around 1500 with Andrew Moray leading from the front the most important amongst them. It is likely he being a trained soldier was responsible for the tactics used this day yet his name is sadly forgotten. A angry Sir William Wallace then had Cressinghams body flayed and the skin divided into portions and sent to every church door in the land. This man was indeed hated in Scotland for his greed and corruption.
The Earl of Surrey saw his army falter around him and returned from whence he came. He led from the front, the front of the retreat and Marmaduke Tweng said he ran so hard his horse 'never ate corn again!' His opinion of the Earl was clear. Edward I, known as 'Longshanks,' as he was much taller than most of his time, continued the absurd belief held by Englishmen even today that Scotland belongs to them. The idea that this nation is 'North Britain,' is constantly found in the pages of the 'Daily Mail,' where those comfortably off types in the south east corner demand obescience from those north of Watford! The imperialist wars continued until Edward died at Carlisle in 1307. Having been traitorously handed over to the English King, William Wallace had been murdered at Smithfield in 1305. His cause did not die with him. Robert the Bruce fought his way to become leader of the Scots nation and in 1314 at Bannockburn, not far from Stirling, he once again savaged the English Edward II and 'sent him home to think again.'
Two letters, dated October and November, sent to towns in the Hanseatic League are addressed as from "Andrew de Moray and William Wallace, leaders of the army of the realm of Scotland," both indicating Moray lived at least until November of 1297. It may be Wallace had to use both names because of aristocratic jealousies, the Bruce's determination to gain ground, for instance. We sadly know so little of this man Moray who was important not just to William Wallace but to Scotland as a whole. Soon a new memorial will stand at Stirling to commemorate his glorious achievement. No doubt others will follow elsewhere, but hopefully not a Mel Gibson film!
Andrew de Moray William Wallace John Balliol King Alexander III Scottish History
Toom Tabard Robert the Bruce
Edward I (Longshanks) Hugh de Cressingham John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey
Sir Marmaduke Tweng