Comyn, Walter (DNB00)

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COMYN, WALTER, Earl of Menteith (d. 1258), was the second son by his first marriage of William Comyn, earl of Buchan, and half-brother of Alexander Comyn, earl of Buchan [q. v.] In 1221 he was at York at the marriage of Alexander II with Joan I of England (Fœdera, i. 161). In 1223 he attended that king's court, and in 1227 witnessed several of his charters (Acts of Parl of Scotland, i. 405 b, 407 b). In 1229 he seems to have got possession of Badenoch, after his father’s suppression of Gi1lesoop's revolt, as in his composition with Bishop Andrew of Moray he is plainly recogised as in full possession of that district (Registrum Episcopatus Moraviensis, pp. 824, Bannatyne Club; the instrument, undated, is referred by Douglas to the period before 1230, Peerage, ii. 223). Comyn also gave the monks of Scone a yearly grant of s stone of wax or of four shillings (Liber Ecclenie S. Trinitatis de Scon, p. 63, Bannatyne Club). About 1230 he married one of the two daughters and coheiresses of Maurice, earl of Menteith, and succeeded in obtaining that earldom. In 1234 he made another composition with the Bishop of Moray, with reference to his lands of Kincardine (Reg. Ep. Morav. pp. as-9). In 1235 he was appointed to keep order in Galloway, and, soon after, his erection of two formidable castles in that county and in Lothian were enough to provoke King Henry to a Scottish expedition, but peace was soon made at York, to which Comyn was himself a party. In 1244 he swore again to keep the terms to that treaty (Fœdera, i. 233; Cal. Scottish Doc. i. Nos. 1358, 1654, 2671; Matt. Paris, ed. Luard, iv. 380, 382; Chron. de Mailros, s. a. 1235). The accession of the infant Alexander III gave the powerful house of Comyn supreme authority in Scotland. It was Monteith's influence that in 1249 procured the young, king’s coronation, despite the sophistlcal objections of Alan Duward. In 1251 he succeeded in overcoming all his enemies, and from then to 1255 he was supreme ruler of Scotland. Fordun gives a black account of his government, but the chronicler of Melrose and Andrew Wyntoun a parently regard the Comyns as the leaders of thepart opposed to the nglish inlluence. In 1255 Henry III appeared at Kelso and upset the rule of the Comyns; but in 1257 Menteith managed to steal the young king from his from and convey him with the great seal to Stirling. The support of the church further strengthened his hands (Chron. de Mailros, 183), though Alan Durward, with England at his back, was still formidable. At last, in 1258, a compromise was agreed upon, and the consent of King Henry obtained to a joint regencdy that included Menteith and llurwar an the other leaders of both Bgrties (Fœdera, i. 378). In the same year nteith died, of a fall from his horse according to Matthew Paris, but the later Scottish accounts accuse his wife of him. But the anxiety of falter Stewart, who had married her younger sister, to obtain the earldcm, and the indignation of the Scottish nobles at her hasty with a low-born English knight, are enough to account for this accusation. Comyn left no direct heirs (Wyntoun, cf. Introd. to Cal. of Documents relating to Scotland, ii. lvi, and No. 466). His lands’ of Badenoch passed to his grand-nephew, John Comyn; but the efforts of William Comyn, another grand-nephew, to obtain the earldom of Menteith failed, and the dignity passed to the Stewarts. Fordun describes Earl Walter as ‘a man of foresight and shrewdness in council,' He was certainly the wealthiest and most powerful Scottish earl of his time.

[Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, vol. i. ; Fœdera, vol. i. Record ed.; Matthew Paris ed.Luard, iv. 380, 382, 384, v. 724; Fordun's Scotichronicon, ed. Skene, i. 293 sq. ; Wyntoun’s Chronykil, ed. Laing, bk. vii. line 3255, bk. viii. lines 1116 sq.; Chronicon de Mailros, Bannatyne Club. pp. 146, 181, 183; Acts of Parliament of Scotland, vol, i. ; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, ii. 223-4, cf. i. 161.]

T. F. T.