Thomas Randolph

Thomas Randolph (died 1332) Earl of Moray and nephew of The Bruce. Regent of Scotland (1329-1332). Signed the Declaration of Arbroath for the sake of independence. Commander of the left wing of 500 spearmen at Bannockburn. He became ill and died on a march to stop another English invasion.

Thomas Randolph

 

Thomas Randolph the Earl of Moray was the nephew of Robert the Bruce, known also as the knight of Strahdon. The son of the lord chamberlain, he held some influence with Scottish nobles and was present at King Robert the Bruce's crowning at Scone in 1306. Soon after there was a skirmish against the English at Methven, where ambush tactics led to the capture of Scottish nobles including Randolph. Forced by threat of execution to fight for the English king, he was tasked to hunt down his own uncle, surrounded always by English guardsmen. Thomas was sent to ambush Sir James Douglas in the Ettrick Forest, near Selkirk, but Sir James was Scotland's finest guerrilla warrior and watched Randolph's men set camp for the night before launching his own assault. Sir James scattered the English soldiers and recaptured Randolph, who he then led back to his uncle, King Robert. Thomas rejoined his uncle's forces after being assured that a true battle with the English was coming; he had grown sick of Sir James' ambush tactics and dreamt only of a "proper" military conflict. This set him at odds with Sir James who felt that any tactic was a good one as long as it helped set Scotland free.

This began a rivalry between the men who would be commanders of the Scottish forces for years to come.

 

Capture of Edinburgh

King Robert now officially named his nephew the Earl of Moray and sent him to capture Edinburgh castle while Sir James was sent to capture the fortress at Roxburgh. While launching his attacks on the well defended castle, Earl Thomas heard that Sir James had already captured Roxburgh by a clever strategy, not a strong army. Randolph realised he must do the same and so at night he employed a local man, William Frank, to climb the forbidding castle walls and lead the Earl and thirty men, by rope ladder, over the walls. Quickly overcoming the guards and slaying the Governor, Randolph and his men secured the castle and accepted the surrender of the confused English soldiers.

 

 

Bannockburn

The Earl of Moray was given command of the left wing of the Scots' army (500 spearmen) and ordered to hold the road to Stirling, stopping the English sending reinforcements to their men in the castle. Meanwhile the English king had sent Sir Robert Clifford and Sir Henry de Beaumont’s eight hundred cavalry with this very plan in mind. Randolph positioned his men in a close circle directly in the path of the oncoming English charge and soon his men were surrounded and outnumbered. However, the English knights could not break through the Scottish spears and were dying in great numbers, the bodies of men and horses providing a barricade to the Scots. Seeing that the Scottish troops could not be beaten, the English survivors turned and ran back to the safety of their army. The Earl of Moray then returned to his king to face the might of England for Scotland's freedom.

 

 

Aftermath

On the 26th of April 1315 a parliament was held in Ayr. Where it was decided that in the event of King Robert and his brother Edward dying, Thomas Randolph “Earl of Moray” would hold the throne until their children were of age. Sadly for Thomas this duty fell upon him in June 1329 when King Robert breathed his last at his Manor House in Pillanflait, now the village of Renton. Randolph became Regent for his young cousin, King David II of Scotland, until his death from illness on the 20th of July 1332 in Musselburgh, leading a Scots army against another English invasion.