Ragman Rolls of 1296
Ragman Rolls refers to the collection of instruments
by which the nobility and gentry of Scotland subscribed
allegiance to King Edward I of England.
After the death of Queen
Margaret in 1291, there were a number of claimants to the
Scottish throne. At that time, due to several marriage
alliances, Scotland and England had a diplomatic
Only later would King Edward of England become
notorious known as the ‘Hammer of the Scots’.
When it became obvious that
Scotland couldn't make the decision without an all out clan
war, King Edward of England offered to hear their cases and
decide who had the most valid claim. When the Noblemen who
were involved met with Edward at Norham on Tweed, Edward
insisted in having them sign oath of allegiance to him,
partly because he was afraid of making an unpopular choice
and causing a riot among the Scots. The document signed by
most of the noblemen is called the first and smallest of the
King Edward recognized John Balliol as King of Scotland as
he was the male primogeniture heir to the Crown of Scotland.
This shocked many Scots as Robert the Bruce was one of King
inauguration of John Balliol in 1292, over whom Edward I had
great influence, led to a great deal of unrest.
The newly enthroned king acknowledged King Edward of England as his
feudal superior (pictured left)and thus sowed the seeds of his demise.
King Edward repeatedly humiliated the new king of Scotland
at every opportunity.
King Edward I of
had a set of standing orders drawn up by his attorneys for
the hearing of Scottish appeals of a character unheard of in
history of appellate justice.
By these rules the King of
Scotland in person was required to attend in England the
hearings of every appeal against him and if the English
court adjudged a miscarriage of justice, he was to be held
personally liable for damages, both to the appellant and to
his lord superior (King Edward himself!).
The climax of this measured harassment was reached in
October 1293 when King John was summoned to appear in person
before the English parliament to hear an appeal against him
by John Macduff, younger son of Malcolm, Earl of Fife.
When King John presented himself as requested, he was
treated with deliberate discourtesy and made to stand at the
bar like a private malefactor.
After refusing to testify on the basis that he was
King of Scotland and that the court had no jurisdiction in
Scottish affairs, the court declared him guilty of extreme
contempt, and that he should not only pay all damages to the
claimant, but also hand over to King Edward I of England
three principal castles in his realm together with their
attendant towns until he had purged his contempt.
In a bit a
tête-à-tête, King Philip the Fair of France had observed the
arbitrary manner that Edward had treated the Scot’s King.
With ironic malice, he decided
to follow Edward’s example.
Edward, in his capacity of Duke
of Aquitaine (France), owned Philip fealty.
Claiming that English seamen
had attacked French ships without provocation, Philip cited
Edward I to appear in person before the parliament in Paris
and there submit to the judgment of his lord superior.
When Edward failed to attend,
King Philip seized Edward I’s lands in Gascony
On 24 June, 1293,
Edward I of England
retaliated by renouncing his homage as duke and dispatched a
formal declaration of war.
Edward then demanded that King John send
Scottish troops for his war with France in 1294, and shortly
thereafter summoned King John Balliol himself to fight.
The King of Scots to do military service for the King of
England - - it was unthinkable.
King John Balliol
of Scotland rebelled, not only by
refusing to supply military service to Edward, but also by
making a treaty with France: should England attack France,
Scotland would in turn march on England.
In return, the French promised support should Scotland be
May 1295, the Scots had elected four bishops, four earls and
four barons to manage the government of Scotland in King John Balliol’s
With this information, King Edward subsequently decided that
the conquest of Scotland had priority over that of
Glascony (France), and began gathering his forces.
The Scottish Council in the name of King John issued
a national call to arms.
When Edward went to War with France in 1296, the Scots duly
marched into England.
30 March 1296, King Edward sent an army
30,000 strong north into Scotland (the largest army ever to
invade Scotland). The first stop was Berwick Upon
Tweed. The English forces quickly overwhelmed the Scots
timber fortifications, and for two days streams of blood
from the massacred Scots filled the River Tweed. Men,
women and children were slain... 7,500 soles of both sexes
were ordered massacred by Edward despite the surrender of
the local garrison. The slaughter was finally stopped
when local Catholic Clerics pleaded with Edward to show some
English forces under the Command of
Edward next fought the
Scots at the Battle of Dunbar (1296). Contrary to Hollywood
motion pictures, William Wallace and Andrew Moray were not
supporters of Robert the Bruce, but instead ardent supporters of King John Balliol's claim to the Throne of
The Scots forces were lead by Wallace and
Moray in Dunbar. Unfortunately, the Scots at Dunbar were
quickly overwhelmed and capitulated. Thereafter
resistance buckled. Castle after castle fell.
Castle - - the seat of the Earl of Mar. Most of
the Scots nobility were captured and imprisoned. After
Edwards defeat of the Scots forces, he then turned his
attention on Balliol.
Edward I deposed King Balliol at Montrose
Castle. Here, kingship and the symbols of he Scottish kingship were
stripped from him, including the ripping of the royal coat
of arms from his surcoat (thereby earning him the enduring
Toom Tabard ('Empty Coat' or 'King nobody')).
Below is a medieval depiction of King
John Balliol stripped, with an empty coat of arms, and a
broken white rod (the rod represents authority, and thus
broken or lost authority). Edward sent the broken and
humiliated Balliol to the Tower of London, then eventually
to exile in France.
Not content to humiliate a man, Edward plundered the
country. King Edward sent about systematically
stripping Scotland of all its important artifacts of
Scottish sovereignty and independence including:
the Stone of Destiny, where Scot Kings had been inaugurated
from the earliest times;
- the Scottish Crown;
- the Black Rood of St. Margaret.
St. Margaret (c 1045-1093), a Saxon Princess of England born
in Hungary, fled to Scotland and married Malcolm III Canmore,
King of Scotland. She is said to have brought the
"Holy Rood", a fragment of Christ's cross, from Hungary to
Scotland with her. It was known as the Black Rood of
Scotland, likely for the black case in which it was
- and the archives of Scottish Records.
King Edward quickly imposed heavy taxes
upon the Scots, bleeding the coffers dry. King Edward also
established an English administration over Scotland, and
thus an English occupation of Scotland including garrisoning
English troops in many Scottish castles and fortifications.
Edward I of England, now as King of
Scotland on August 28, 1296,
again called together the Scots royalty and armies
and asked them to swear allegiance to him as King, Lord and
Scotland and to sign
another Ragman Roll.
The Ragman Roll, heavy taxes, and the
forcing of Scotland to send her troops to support Edward's
war with France would lay the seeds of rebellion in the
years to come. In Edward's efforts to claim the Kingdom and
Crown of Scotland, he grossly underestimated the people of
Scotland. His determination to crush the Scots people
had served only to define for the Scots, who they really
As it pertains to the Chiefly stem of
Clan Strachan, by 1295 they were related to the Comyn
family, who were related to King John Balliol. And, thus
were ardent supporters of King John Balliol and the Comyn
causes. This is confirmed by Nesbit:
”Sir Robert Keith
II (d. 1332,
Keith Earl Marischals) married Elizabeth STRACHAN
, and had a son, Sir Robert Keith III (c. 1262-1346) who
married Elizabeth, the daughter of John CUMMING (aka
a potent man."
There is no evidence to suggest the
Strachans of that Ilk pledged fealty to King Edward of
The Ragman Rolls of 1296 has the
following entries which are often confused with the STRACHAN
Strathawan, William fiz
Roger de (del counte de Lanark). (File No. 1127)
Arms: An ornament of six rays.
According to Garry Strachan, our Clan Genealogist,
the above entries refer to the Barony of Strathaven in South
Lanarkshire, and has no connection to Strachan in the Mearns.
Click to see larger picture
In addition to the Barony of Strathaven in Lanarkshire,
there is also a Strathaven north of the Mar District.
Other entries most likely
associated with the Earl of Strathearn:
click above image to see
Ego de Strathnathe,
PERTHSHIRE (File No. 1208)
Arms: A cross paty cantoned between four stars.
Bain indexes under Strachan.
Ego de Strathnathe is stated to be from Perthshire, and
again not believed to be a relation to the Strachans of that
Ilk (in the Mearns). More likely a derivative spelling of
Stratherne (aka Strathearn), and related to Malise, Earl
Stratherne (e.g., Sir Malis Comes de Stratherne). The
District of Strathearn is in Perthshire.
Robert de Stratherne,
PERTHSHIRE (File No. 1222)
Arms: A chevron between three charges.
RR559 (SHS62608, SAS2742).
From Perthshire, and not believed to be a relation to the
Strachans of that Ilk (in the Mearns). More likely
related to Malise, Earl Stratherne (e.g., Sir Malis Comes de
Stratherne). The District of Strathearn is in
John de Stratherne,
FORFAR in Angus (File No. 3616)
Arms: A bird, rude.
Per Garry Strachan, "He is stated to be of Forfar, which
seems a likely place for John Stratherne to have submitted
his fealty to Edward, who stayed there in 1296.
Per McAndrew, "The surname appears to contain only six
letters, so a contracted version, STR'ERN?, must be
assumed." He further compares this contracted spelling to
that given in the above Robert de Stratherne
(File No. 1222).
It is very difficult given various name derivations to
state with absolute confidence and certainty that these
individuals were not associated with the Strachan family in
the Mearns. However, a high degree of confidence can
be asserted given none of the armorial blazons are even
remotely similar to those of Strachan in the Mearns, which
incorporated a stag (or hart) in one form or another on the
McAndrew, Bruce A., "The sigillography of the Ragman Roll."
Pro Soc Antinq Scot, 129 (1999), 663-752