of the family of



At the turn of the last millennium, the medieval Balliol family that played such an important part in the history of Scotland, lived in Bailleul-en-Vimeu in Picardie near Armentieres (Somme), from whence the name Balliol derives, and where they owned estates and castles. Their main castle (no longer in existence), was in the Bois de Bailleul south of Bailleul-en-Vimeu, and now part of the Chateau Coquerel estate. 7

This family was granted land in England after the landing of William the Conqueror, whom they had supported in his quest for the English throne. 8

William the Conqueror

William reputedly confiscated the land of rebels to his cause, and gave these to his Norman supporters. The original land grants to the Balliols were in Northumberland and they subsequently made their principal base in England at Barnard Castle, built by Barnard de Balliol, where its imposing ruins survive at the Teesdale town of Barnard Castle near Durham. 7,2,12 Bernard de Balliol, who was born in Picardie in 1105, was the first of his family to receive lands in the lowlands of Scotland. This was at the time King David Ist distributed large estates in Scotland to his Anglo-Norman Friends, such as the de Brus (the Bruce family), Fitz-Alan (which became the Stewart Clan) de Bailleul (the Balliol family) de Comines (the Comyn family) and many others who thus became landowners on both sides of the border. 5, 17


The Balliol's were an influentual family, and the marriage of John de Balliol to Devorguilla in 1233, brought together two substantial families. She was a direct descendant of David I, King of Scotland, and daughter of Lord Allan de Galloway (the last Celtic Lord of Galloway) 3,2 John served as guardian to the young Scottish king Alexander III 1251-55. His loyalty to King Henry III of England in the Baron's War of 1264-67 cost him the temporary loss of his lands and a period of imprisonment after his capture in the Battle of Lewes (May 14th. 1264). About that time he began to support some poor students in a rented house in Oxford as an act of charity, apparently as penance for a quarrel with the Bishop of Durham. His wife Devorguilla continued with this charity after his death, and Balliol College was formally chartered in 1282. This great College is the oldest College in Oxford where the members lived communually as they still do today. 7,2, 5

John de Balliol

His eldest son, also John, born cir. 1240 became King of Scotland through his Mothers direct descent from David I, King of Scotland, and the influence of Edward I of England, known as Longshanks, in the following interesting circumstances:

Edwards involvement in Scotland had far reaching effects. The country had developed a feudal kingdom similar to England in the Lowlands, the Celtic tribal culture having dispersed to the Highlands. After the death of the Scottish King, Alexander III, Edward negotiated a treaty whereby Margaret, Maid of Norway, granddaughter of Alexander and legitimate heir to the Scottish crown, would be brought to England to marry his oldest son, the future Edward II. Margaret, however, died in 1290 reputedly on one of the North Sea islands off the Scottish coast. She had been en route to England by ship. This left a disputed succession in Scotland which led to the first interregnum (a situation with no King). There were thirteen different claimants to the Scottish throne, among whom was John Balliol who designated himself as "Heir to the Kingdom of Scotland". His claim derived from his mother Dervorguilla, daughter of Margaret, eldest daughter of David Earl of Huntingdon, brother to Kings Malcolm IV and William I the Lion. His main rivals for the throne were Robert de Bruce (father of king Robert the Bruce I), and John Comyn. Edward claimed the right to intercede as feudal lord of the Scottish Kings through their Anglo-Norman roots and arbitrated between the claimants. Edward, after a years discussions with his court accepted Balliol's claim, and on November 17th 1292, John Balliol became King of Scotland and acceded to the Scottish throne at Scone Abbey, Perthshire. 3, 5

Balliol did homage to Edward as his Lord, but most other Scot's resisted Edward's demands for military service and Bailliol was unable to unite his people, and became rebellious. In June 1294 Edward demanded military aid from Scotland for his projected war in Gascony. The Scottish reaction was to conclude a treaty of mutual aid with the French. In January 1296 the Scots under Balliol raided northern England. Edward reacted quickly; he took Berwick on March 30th , Castle after Castle fell, and in the Battle of Dunbar, Balliol was defeated. John resigned his kingdom to Edward at Montrose. He was stripped of his arms and knightly dignity in a ceremony which later earned him the name of "Toom Tabbard" or Turncoat. He was forced to abdicate, leading to the second interregnum and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for treason, along with his supporters, John, Earl of Athol, John Comyn, and Sir John de Montieth. Balliol's ruin was complete and final, It involved the confiscation of his estates, excommunication and eventually exile. 4,5,14,15

Edward removed the Stone of Destiny, on which the Scottish kings were crowned, and took it to England where, until recently, it was kept under the throne in Westminster Abbey.

Meanwhile William Wallace (Brave Heart in the film of that name) continued against the English and incited a rebellion in 1297, defeated the English army at Stirling Bridge, and harassed England's northern counties. The next year Edward defeated Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk but encountered continued resistance until Wallaces' capture in 1304. He had been betrayed by de Monteith, to earn his freedom from the Tower and to become the Earl of Lennox for this betrayal. 5

After three years imprisonment Balliol was eventually released from the Tower in 1299 on the intercession of the Pope, and was banished to France in exile. He died at the Chateau Galliard in France in 1313 and is buried in the Church of St Waast, Normandy. 4,5

William Wallace

William Wallace was not so lucky, he and five of his supporters were imprisoned in the Tower of London after de Monteith's betrayal. Wallace was hanged at Tyburn on 24th August 1305, disemboweled and quartered. Quarters were displayed at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Berwick, Stirling and Perth. His head was impaled on London Bridge. All of the remaining five were hanged or beheaded in 1306. 5,14

Robert the Bruce, a cousin of John Balliol, and son of a claimant to the throne in 1290, instigated another revolt in 1306 and ultimately defeated the army of Edward II at Bannockburn, freeing Scotland from English rule. Robert Bruce I became King of Scotland in 1306. 5

Edward I's campaigns in Scotland were ruthless and had aroused in the Scots a hatred of England that would endure for generations.

During the reign of John Balliol, a William de Balliol lived and owned lands in Berwick upon Tweed. Claimed by some historians to be the cousin of King John Balliol of Scotland, and brother of Alexander Balliol of Cavers. This contention is supported by a brass plaque in Brabourne church, and by Balliol College's web page devoted to their founders. 2,3,6,7,9

Other historians, the Scot's Hall scrolls, and James Renat Scott's publication all claim he was the younger brother of King John, which would make him the fourth son of John Balliol and Dervoguilla. This interesting controversy is compounded by the probability that the English Royalty did not want another Balliol contender for the Scottish throne after the death of Edward Balliol (John's son, who died childless). Also, Balliol College openly admit that they were never burdened with the duty of giving financial privileges to its founders kin. 2. 3. 6. 7. 9. In this history and in the family tree I have used the latter version, as I have found no other record or evidence that I am able to use.

Whichever is correct, William de Balliol changed his name to William de Balliol le Scot after the defeat of John Balliol. With the tragic loss of Scotland through the ineptitude of King John, and the resultant wrath of Edward I is probably reason enough for this change of name. This was the practice of the time on the part of survivors; the object being to avoid not only the penalties but also the civil and social disabilities which attached to any one bearing an outlawed or proscribed name. He had had his lands confiscated by Edward I, but these were eventually returned to him. The line of Scotts which descended from William were also the eventual heirs of John le Scot, the last independent Earl of Chester, by descent from Margaret, his elder sister and co-heir; from whom the Scotts of Scot's Hall eventually descended. 3.

During this time William de Balliol le Scot disposed of his lands, quitted Berwick-on-Tweed, and moved to Kent where he is believed to have lived in Brabourne Manor. About the same time Sir Alexander Balliol (brother or cousin ?) became Baron Balliol of Chilham Castle in Kent. 3.

The generations which descended from this William, gradually dropped the Balliol, and retained the Scot. The Balliol family name was extinct in England and Scotland by 1400. 3

Seal of Sir Alexander Balliol
of Chilham Castle