The Return of the British Kings

Sir William Wallace (Norman French:William le Waleys) died 23 August 1305) was a Scottish landowner and descendant of the ancient kings of Northwest Britain. He became one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence.

Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, and was Guardian of Scotland, serving until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298. In 1305, Wallace was captured in Robroyston near Glasgow and handed over to King Edward I of England, who had him hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason and crimes against English civilians.

Edward I had used Sir William Soulis to obtain Cruggleton from the Mac Cairills in 1282. William Wallace had assisted William Mac Cairill in recapturing Cruggleton, and he and Wallace wanted independence for Scotland from England. Mac Cairill accompanied Wallace to meet Robert the Bruce July 1st (August?), 1305 near Glasgow. With them was John Stewart of Ruskie who was to betray them. Mac Cairill (M’Kerlie) was asleep and was slain. Wallace awoke at the noise and resisted, but was captured.

Since his death, Wallace has obtained an iconic status far beyond his homeland. He is the protagonist of the 15th-century epic poem The Wallace, by Blind Harry. Wallace is also the subject of literary works by Sir Walter Scott and Jane Porter and of the 1995 Academy Award- winning epic film Braveheart.

Statue of Wallace at Edinburgh Castle

William Wallace was a member of the lesser nobility of Scotland but little is definitely known of his family history. Records show early members of the family as holding estates at Riccarton,Tarbolton, and Auchincruive in Kyle, and Stenton in Haddingtonshire. They were vassals of James Stewart, 5th High Steward of Scotland (himself decended from the ancient British kings of Brittany and an ancestor of William of Orange) as their lands fell within his territory. The traditional view regards William’s birthplace as Elderslie in Renfrewshire, and this is still the view of most historians, but there have been recent claims that he came from Ellerslie in Ayrshire. There is no contemporary evidence linking him with either location, although both areas had connections with the wider Wallace family.

The Wallace family first came to Scotland with a Norman family in the 11th century. King David was eager to extend the benefits of Norman influence and gave grants to the nobles of the south. Among them was Walter FitzAlan, who the Scottish king appointed his Steward in 1136. One of FitzAlan’s followers was Richard Wallace from Oswestry who came north to try and improve his fortunes. Oswestry is on the Welsh border and the name Wallace means “Welshman” in its broad sense, as of Old British descent from lands stretching from Strathclyde, Aeron (Ayrshire), Galloway, Cumbria, Lancashire, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany.

Lord FitzAlan received from King David lands in Ayrshire and so it was here that his follower Richard Wallace settled. Richard Wallace was granted his own estate in Kyle, where it is claimed that his name Richard is still remembered in the placename of the village of Riccarton. While tradition claims Sir Malcolm Wallace of Elderslie as the father of three sons, Malcolm, John, and William Wallace, the seal of William Wallace, rediscovered in 1999, identifies William as the son of Alan Wallace of Ayrshire, who appears in the Ragman Roll of 1296 as “crown tenant of Ayrshire”. Dr. Fiona Watson in “A Report into Sir William Wallace’s connections with Ayrshire”, published in March 1999, reassesses the early life of William Wallace and concludes, “Sir William Wallace was a younger son of Alan Wallace, a crown tenant in Ayrshire”.

Henry VII (Welsh: Harri Tudur; 28 January 1457 – 21 April 1509) was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor.

Henry won the throne when his forces defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle. Henry cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and niece of Richard III. Henry was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the political upheavals of the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. He founded the Tudor dynasty and, after a reign of nearly 24 years, was peacefully succeeded by his son, Henry VIII.

Henry’s main claim to the English throne derived from his mother through the House of Beaufort. Henry’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of Edward III, and his third wife Katherine Swinford. Katherine was Gaunt’s mistress for about 25 years; when they married in 1396, they already had four children, including Henry’s great-grandfather John Beaufort. Thus Henry’s claim from an Anglo-Norman point of view was somewhat tenuous.

Groat of Henry VII

Gaunt’s nephew Richard II legitimised Gaunt’s children by Katherine Swynford by Letters Patent in 1397. In 1407, Henry IV, who was Gaunt’s son by his first wife, issued new Letters Patent confirming the legitimacy of his half-siblings, but also declaring them ineligible for the throne.[6] Henry IV’s action was of doubtful legality, as the Beauforts were previously legitimised by an Act of Parliament, but it further weakened Henry’s claim.

Nonetheless, by 1483 Henry was the senior male Lancastrian claimant remaining, after the deaths in battle or by murder or execution of Henry VI, his son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, and the other Beaufort line of descent through Lady Margaret’s uncle, the 2nd Duke of Somerset.

But Henry also thought of himself as an ancient British King and attracted military support in Wales, thus safeguarding his army’s passage on its way to the Battle of Bosworth. He came from an old-established Anglesey family which claimed descent from Cadwaladr (in legend, the last ancient British king) and on occasion, Henry displayed the red dragon of Cadwaladr. He took it, as well as the standard of St George, on his procession through London after victory at Bosworth. A contemporary writer and Henry’s biographer, Bernard André, also made much of Henry’s Welsh descent.

Although, in reality, his hereditary connections to Welsh aristocracy were not just so strong, he was indeed descended by the paternal line, through several generations, from Ednyfed, the seneschal (steward) of Gwynedd and through this seneschal’s wife from Rhys ap Tewdwr, the King of Deheubarth in South Wales. His more immediate ancestor Tudur ap Goronwy had aristocratic land rights, but his sons, who were first cousins to Owain Glyndwr, sided with Owain in his revolt. One son was executed and the family land was forfeited. Another son, Henry’s great-grandfather, became a butler to the Bishop of Bangor. Owen Tudor, the son of the butler, like the children of other rebels, was provided for by Henry V, a circumstance which precipitated his access to Queen Catherine of Valois.

And so, to the bards of Wales, Henry was a candidate for Y Mab Darogan – “The Son of Prophecy” who would free the Welsh, last of the Britons to be anglicised, from English domination.

William and Mary of Orange

The House of Stewart or Stuart, from whom William and Mary and our present Queen Elizabeth II are ultimately descended, had its origins  in Alan fitz Flaald (born 1070, died in 1114)  Alan was of the Breton or Old British nobility and held the feudal barony and castle of  Oswestry in Shropshire, from which the Wallace family also came. He was descended from the ancient British who had fled to Armorica in France under the pressure of the invading Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century AD, transferring the name Little Britain to that area rather than  Ireland. His duties as a “valiant and illustrious man” included supervision of the Welsh border. Alan was the son of Flaald, who was in turn a son  of an Alain, a crusader (in 1097) who was dapifer to the Ancient Diocese of Dol in Dol-de Bretagne. The area of Dol which is near Mont-St-Michel and has figured in the history of the Kingdom and then Duchy of Brittany since at least the rule of Nominoe. “Alan, dapifer” is found as a witness in 1086 to a charter relating to Mezuoit, a cell of St. Florent, near Dol.

Flaald and his son Alan had come to the favourable notice of King Henry I of England who, soon after his accession, invited Alan to England with other Breton friends, and gave him forfeited lands in Norfolk and Shropshire, including some which had previously belonged to Ernulf de Hesdin and Robert de Belleme. Robert had proved a threat to Henry in both the Wesh Marches and in Normandy, so the king was determined to insert reliable supporters to counterbalance or replace his network of supporters. Alan received more land as he proved his worth. A large portfolio of lands in Shropshire and around Peppering, near Arundel in Sussex, was taken from the holdings of Rainald de Bailleul, ancestor of the House of Balliol, who were later to provide a king of Scotland.

The FitzAlan family quickly established themselves as a prominent Anglo-Norman noble house, with some of its members serving as High Sheriff of Shropshire. It was the great-grandson of Alan named Walter FitzAlan  who became the first hereditary High Steward of Scotland, while his brother William’s family would go on to become Earls of Arundel.The name Stewart derives from the political position of office similar to a governor, known as a steward. It was originally adopted as the family surname by Walter Stewart, 3rd High Sreward of Scotland, who was the third member of the family to hold the position. Prior to this, family names were not used, but instead they had patronyms defined through the father; for example the first two High Stewards were known as FitzAlan and FitzWalter respectively.

The sixth High Steward of Scotland, Walter Stewart (1293–1326), married Marjorie, daughter of Robert the Bruce, and also played an important part in the Battle of Bannockburn gaining further favour. Their son Robert was heir to the House of Bruce, the Lordship of Cunningham and the Bruce lands of Bourtreehill; he eventually inherited the Scottish throne when his uncle David II died childless in 1371.During the 16th century the French spelling Stuart was adopted by Mary, Queen of Scots  when she was living in France. She sanctioned the change to ensure the correct pronunciation of the Scots version of the name Stewart, because retaining the letter ‘w’ would have made it difficult for French speakers, who usually render “w” as “v”. The spelling Stuart was also used by her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley; he was the father of James VI and I , so the spelling Stuart for the British royal family officially derives from him. Both Mary, Queen of Scots, and Lord Darnley had strong claims on the English throne, through their mutual grandmother, Margaret Tudor.

In total, nine Stewart monarchs ruled just Scotland from 1371 until 1603. After this there was a Union of the Crowns  under James VI and I who had become the senior genealogical claimant to The Crown holdings of the  ancient British House of Tudor.. Thus there were six Stewart monarchs who ruled both England and Scotland as well as Ireland (although the later Stuart era was interrupted by an interregnum lasting from 1649–1660, as a result of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms). Additionally, at the foundation of the Kingdom of Great Britain after the  Acts of Union, which officially united England and Scotland politically, the first monarch was Anne, Queen of Great Britain. After her death, all the holdings passed to the House of Hanover, under the terms of the Act of Settlement (1701).

During the reign of the Stewarts, Scotland developed from a relatively poor and feudal country into a prosperous, fairly modern and centralised state. They ruled during a time in European history of transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Monarchs such as James IV were known for sponsoring exponents of the Northern Renaissance such as the poet Robert Henryson and others, the great Makars of the Scots language, which we have inherited as Ullans or Ulster-Scots. After the Stewarts gained control of all of Great Britain, the arts and sciences continued to develop; many of William Shakespeare’s best known plays were authored during the Jacobean era, as was the Authorised version of the Bible, while institutions such as the Royal Society and Royal Mail were established during the reign of Charles II, Uncle of both William and Mary. During the reign of William and Mary,  the National Debt was commenced, the Bank of England established, the modern system of finance instituted, ministerial responsibility recognised, the standing army transferred to the control of parliament, the liberty of the press secured, and the British Constitution established on a firm basis.

Principal members of the house of Stuart following the 1603 Union of the Crowns.

The Macnaghtens, last of the Caledonian Cruthin (Pictish) Kings and Robert Quigg VC.

The Macnaghtens (MacNaughtons or MacNachtens ) are descended from the eighth century Caledonian Cruthin or Pictish King Nechtan.The earliest reference to the MacNaghtens is in connection with great Pictish Rulers of Moray. The name ‘Nechten’ which means “pure” or “clear” was popular in the Pictish royal line. The originator of the clan is believed to have been “Nechtan Mor” who lived in the 10th Century.

By the time of the Renaissance, the Mcnaghtens had developed four distinct branches, or “septs,” each recognized by the Crown with its own coat of arms. The senior line, Macnaghten of Argyll, is assumed to descend from Sir Gilchrist MacNaughtan, who was granted land in Argyll in the early 13th century by Alexander III, King of Scotland. Parchments from 1247 and 1267 bearing the seal of Sir Gilchrist MacNaughtan are among the oldest existing charters in Scotland. They took up residence on an island in Loch Awe called Fraoch Eilean, which name they used as a battle cry. Also in this century the sept MacNaught broke away from the main clan and moved to Galloway and Ayrshire although they kept a strong connection with the main clan for protection.

During the 14th Century the Macnaghtens were opposed to Robert the Bruce and his claim to the throne of Scotland; however, he did eventually become King Robert I of Scotland. As a result, the Macnaghtens forfeited many of their lands. Clan Macnaghten also fought against Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Dalrigh in 1306. The fortunes of the clan were restored, however, when King David II of Scotland granted them lands in Lewis. The MacNaughts were on Robert the Bruce’s side because they lived in part of his lands.

In the sixteenth century during the Anglo-Scottish Wars the Clan Macnaghten led by Chief Alistair Macnaghten, who was knighted by King James IV of Scotland and fought at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513. However the Chief was killed during the course of the battle. The MacNaghtens did not put their faith in the Stewarts and opted more for the freedom that the presbyterian church offered.

In the 17th century during the Civil War Chief John MacNaghten and his clan were Royalist supporters. The MacNaghtens had a strong force and joined King James VII’s general the Viscount Dundee and is said to have taken a leading part when the Clan Macnaghten were victorious at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. By this point the MacNaughts had a lot of septs such as MacKnight (which is the direct translation of the name into English), MacNeight, MacNett, MacNitt and MacNutt.

The Macnaghtens were one of the families brought in by the McDonnells of the Glens of Antrim. Black John Macnaghten (known locally as Shane Dhubh) became The Earl of Antrim’s Chief agent. Black John was buried in the family burial ground at Bonamargy Friary near Ballycastle, County Antrim The MacNaughts were also moved to Ulster and Roy McNett gave me my first job on a building site in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Ulster Volunteer Force members, who volunteered to join the British Army in 1914, formed the bulk of the 36th (Ulster) Division . Thousands of its members volunteered for active service. One such volunteer was Robert Quigg. In September 1914, he enlisted in the 12th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles (Mid-Antrim Volunteers). His service number was 12/18645. He held the rank of Rifleman. His Platoon Officer was Harry Macnaghten, the heir to the Macnaghten Estate at Dunderave. Sometime earlier, Robert had worked on Dunderave Estate; he had first become familiar with Harry Macnaghten while employed there.

Robert Quigg was awarded the Victoria Cross for his “Most Conspicuous Bravery” at the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916. Prior to the major offensive, his unit had been placed in the French village of Hamell, located on the north bank of the River Ancre. On 1 July, the Mid-Antrim Volunteers were ordered to advanced through the defenses towards the heavily defended German lines. During the advance, they encountered fierce resistance from heavy machine-gun and shell fire. Quigg’s platoon made three advances during the day, only to be beaten back on each occasion by German fire. The final evening assault left many hundreds of the 12th Battalion lying dead and wounded in “no man’s land”.

In the early hours of the next morning, it was reported that Lieutenant Harry Macnaghten, the platoon commander was missing; Robert Quigg volunteered to go out into “no man’s land” to try and locate him. He went out seven times to search for the missing officer, without success. On each occasion, he came under machine gun fire, but he managed to return with a wounded colleague. It was reported that, on one of his forays, he crawled within yards of the German position in order to rescue a wounded soldier, whom he dragged back on a waterproof groundsheet. After seven hours of trying, exhaustion got the better of him; Robert had to rest from his efforts. The body of Lieutenant Harry Macnaghten was never recovered.

On 8 January 1917, Robert received his Victoria Cross from King George V, at York Cottage, Sandringham.Queen Mary was also in attendance. Upon his return to Bushmills, the people of the town and district turned out in force to welcome him home, including the Macnaghten household. Lady Macnaghten presented him with a gold watch in recognition of his bravery in attempting to find and rescue her son, Lieutenant Harry Macnaghten. Robert reached the rank of seargeant before retiring from the army in 1926 (after he was badly injured in an accident). Later, in 1953, two years before he died, he met the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II. Robert Quigg died on 14 May 1955 at Ballycastle, County Antrim. He was buried in Billy Parish Churchyard, with full military honours. His statue now stands in Bushmills town centre.

The Russians also presented Robert Quigg with the Medal of the Order of St George (Fourth Class), the highest award of the Russian Empire. The First and Second classes were only given on the personal decree of the Emperor. The Third and Fourth classes were only awarded by the approval of the Georgevsky Council, a group of St George Knights. The Third Class was for senior officers, and the Fourth Class was the highest award of the Russian Empire for non-senior officers. His Victoria Cross and Order of St. George (fourth class) are on display at the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum, Waring Street, Belfast.

In 2016 Queen Elizabeth II celebrated the 64st year of her accession to the British throne, making her one of the longest reigning monarchs in British history and the longest serving since the death of Queen Victoria, her great, great grandmother in 1901. In the early 19th century, with fear of revolution and counter-revolution, there was also the knowledge that the monarchical system was well entrenched throughout most of the world, as was evident in the funeral cortège of King Edward VII. But the First World War was to change all that. Monarchies and empires were to fall like ninepins, to be replaced by the ghastly 20th Century dictatorships of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. If Verdun and the Somme were the price of victory, Auschwitz and Dachau were the price of defeat. The Royal Family saved us from all that.

In the 21st century, although constitutional monarchies continue to exist in Europe and Asia, there has been a steady if gentle decline in their significance and they seem to have less and less relevance to young people. Nowadays, demands of the monarchy are not measured in the mystery and magic of history and heritage, but in best value and media hype over family problems. Gone are the days of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Few are there left to stand with Cuchulainn against the mighty Maeve and fight the Morrigan. Few weep for Deirdre and the Sons of Usna. Few follow Finn and the Fianna or hear the poems of the great Oisin. These heroes are nothing if they have not the romance of royalty. The very idea of a republican form of government would have been repugnant to their Old Irish system of law.

Princess Elizabeth, the elder daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York (later GeorgeVI and Queen Elizabeth), was born at 2.40am on 21st April 1926 at 17 Bruton Street, the London home of her mother’s parents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. The Princess was brought up at the family home at 145 Piccadilly and Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park. It was at the latter that she had her own small house, called in the ancient British tongue Y Bwthyn Bach (The Little Cottage) which was presented to her by the people of Wales in 1932 and installed at Windsor in December that year.

The family moved into Buckingham Palace on 15th February 1937 and Princess Elizabeth attended the coronation of her parents as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey on 12th May. She enjoyed a happy childhood with loving parents who gave her every opportunity to mix and make friends with other children of her own age. In 1939 she met her third cousin Prince Philip of Greece and by 1944, when she was just eighteen, it was clear that she was in love with him. Following the War, her engagement was announced on 10th July 1947 and her wedding was celebrated at Westminster Abbey on 20th November that year.

On the death of her father her coronation took place on 2nd June 1953 at Westminster Abbey, signifying the hopes of a new Elizabethan age. Against the wishes of her cabinet she insisted that her coronation be televised so that as many as possible should be able to observe the ceremony and from the time of her accession she has worked assiduously at her many constitutional duties.The Queen has been very fortunate during her reign to have been spared the constitutional crisis that so marked the reign of her grandfather King George V.

Speaking on the occasion of her Silver Jubilee on 4th May 1977 she said of nationalist aspirations “I number Kings and Queens of England and of Scotland and Princes of Wales among my ancestors and so I can readily understand these aspirations. But I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Perhaps this Jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings on the inhabitants of all parts of the United Kingdom.”

The Queen has done much to insure that the monarchy has adapted to social change, while remaining a strong force for continuity and stability. She has sought to modernise the monarchy and render it more informal, while at the same time preserving its dignity and its roots in tradition, based as it is on the ancient Brytenwalda, ruler of all Britain and its islands including Ireland and accepted in early, medieval and modern times by the scholar priests of the Vatican.So it is not inevitable that the institution must be dumbed down or made to disappear altogether. There remains much scope for our sovereign to play a significant role in filling the gap left by a modern political system which responds generally to the needs and wishes of a majority of voters while remaining insensitive to the needs of others, particularly ethnic minorities and disadvantaged groups.

There is an acknowledged role for a monarch who can encourage, advise and council with legitimate authority to counteract the excesses of a majoritarian government. Inevitably, the precise role of The Queen in advising her ministers will not be known for some time. Yet consider The Queen in 1976 when she encouraged James Callaghan, as Foreign Secretary, to take an initiative to solve the Rhodesian Problem, or 10 years later when she gave a subtle rebuke to Margaret Thatcher who continued to oppose sanctions against South Africa over apartheid, or the Prince’s Trust which has done so much to help the deprived and alienated youth of our country in a way that the political process never could.

The year 2016 still sees a monarchy held in high esteem throughout the world, imbued with the established wisdom of an ancient civilisation; a monarchy which is the embodiment of the culture and heritage of Great Britain (Albion) and Little Britain (Ireland); a monarchy whose Ulster Scots origins lie deeply in the heartlands of Ireland’s most ancient kingdoms, the hill of Tara, the Ulster realms of Dalriada and Dal Fiatach, and the Cruthin Kingdom of Dalaradia, as well as those of England, Scotland and Wales; an enduring symbol of the shared inheritance and common identity of all the peoples of these British islands, the ancient Isles of the Pretani.

The ancient British ritual centre of Tara is of immense significance. The pre-Celtic Cruthin King of Tara, Congal Clane (Cháech or One-Eye), overking of Ulster and Scotland was one of the Queen’s ancestors. Known to us through the Seventh Century Old Irish Law-Tract on Bee-Keeping Bechbretha, which stated Congal was King of Tara until a bee-sting in his eye put him from his kingship, he was killed at the watershed Battle of Moira in 637AD. So when the Queen visited the Republic of Ireland in May 2011 she was coming home and, as Chairman of the Somme Association, I was honoured to be introduced to her there.

Winnie Duff has written that the Queen’s grandson Prince William’s ancestors have very strong Ulster connections, and he  has one of the most illustrious family trees in History, with much of the Ulster and English aristocracy included in the Spencer family tree, the Scottish in Bowes Lyons, and the whole continent’s in the Mountbattens. Not only is he descended from Stuarts and Tudors, but O’Neill and McAlpine, even Sarsfield and Schomberg.  Although for generations they tended to marry European Royals, most of the British input to the Royal Genes is via the Queen Mother and Princess Diana, whose mother was from a Cork family, her grandmother from County Tyrone.

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