Comyn, John (d.1300?) (DNB00)

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COMYN, JOHN, the elder (d. 1300?), of Badenoch, 'claimant to the Scottish throne,' was the second son of John Comyn, justiciar of Galloway [q. v.], and succeeded to the estates of his branch of his family on the death of his elder brother, William Comyn, without issue. His lordship of Badenoch came from his uncle, Walter Comyn, earl of Menteith [q. v.] In 1281 he was present at the convention of magnates at Roxburgh, when the marriage was settled between Margaret, daughter of Alexander III, and King Eric of Norway (Fœdera, i. 595). In 1284 he was one of the nobles who agreed to uphold the title of Margaret to the throne on Alexander's death. In 1286 he became one of the six guardians of the realm, being one of the three to whom the lands south of the Forth were entrusted (Fordun, i. 310). At Michaelmas 1289 he, with the bishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow, his fellow regents, and others, signed at Salisbury the treaty by which the young Queen of Scots was to be married to the eldest son of the English king (Stevenson, Documents, i. 106). In March 1290 he was at the parliament of Brigham, which confirmed the treaty of Salisbury (ib. i. 129). In August of that year Comyn and others signed a new agreement with Edward at Northampton which confirmed the treaty of Brigham (ib. i. 173). But the death of Margaret at once gave Scottish affairs a new aspect. The regency was for a time continued, even although Comyn himself became one of the claimants for the vacant throne. His somewhat fantastic claim was derived from Donaldbane, whose granddaughter Hexilda was the mother of Comyn's great-grandfather (Fœdera, i. 776). Along with the other competitors he made his submission to Edward I as liege lord of Scotland (ib. i. 755), as the only condition of obtaining him as arbitrator (June 1291). But though his claim was presented, it was hardly seriously urged. During the protracted negotiations which preceded and accompanied the great trial he appears as one of the guardians of Scotland rather than as a pretender to its throne. He and the other guardians were compelled to surrender their trust into Edward's hands, but almost immediately a new commission of regency, in which one fresh name only was added, restored them to power. But while previously styling themselves the elected of the commons of Scotland, they were now ' custodes regni per Edwardum supremum dominum Scotiae constituti' (Stevenson, Documents, i. 243, 278). In the contest for the succession Comyn used all his great influence in favour of his brother-in-law, John Baliol; and the whole Comyn family took up the same side (Wyntoun, bk. viii. line 1903). He was associated with Baliol in naming forty arbitrators to join with the forty appointed by Bruce and the twenty-four Englishmen of Edward's choice, in the further proceedings of the suit ('Magnus Rotulus Scotiae,' in Fœdera, i. 762 sq.) But he soon practically withdrew his own claims, and was ultimately neither present himself at the court nor represented by attorney. The decision which in November 1292 made John Baliol king of Scots brought his seven years' regency to an end. On 28 Nov. Comyn and his son were exempted from the common summons to attend common pleas in the liberty of Tyndale. After King John's accession to the throne Comyn adhered to his royal brother-in-law, and incurred the hostility of Edward by continuing his friend even after the Scottish king had broken from his grasping overlord. His eldest son, John Comyn, the younger [q. v.], took a prominent part on the patriotic side, and was taken prisoner at Dunbar. The elder Comyn made his submission to Edward in July 1296 at Montrose (Stevenson, Documents, ii. 63), and was sent with other Scottish magnates to live in England south of the Trent until quieter times came. In his exile at Geddington his family was allowed to join him, and permission to hunt in the- royal forests was given him (ib. ii. 113). But the revolt of Wallace soon induced Edward to release Comyn, in the hopes of his exerting his great influence against the turbulent patriot. In June 1297 Comyn received a safe-conduct to proceed to Scotland, and his estates were restored (Rotuli Scotiæ, i. 43 5). In July he acted as a surety for his son, then set at liberty. He was alive in November 1299, but died soon after at his castle of Lochindorb Wyntoun, bk. viii. line 1167). He married Marjory or Margery, daughter of John Baliol of Barnard Castle and Devorguilla, his wife, by whom he had one son, John Comyn [q. v.], his successor (Fordun, i. 316), and one daughter, who married David, earl of Atholl. He was surnamed the Black Comyn (Wyntoun, bk. viii. line 1221).

[Stevenson's Documents illustrative of History of Scotland, 1286-1306; Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, vols. i. and ii.; Rymer's Fœdera, Record edit., vol. i. pt. ii.; Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. i.; Acts of Parliament of Scotland, vol. i.; Fordun's Scotichronicon, ed. Skene; Wyntoun's Chronykil, ed. Laing; Rishanger, Rolls Series; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, i. 162; Mrs. Gumming Bruce's Bruces and Comyns, pp. 407-9.]

T. F. T.