Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Strathearn, Malise

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STRATHEARN, MALISE, sixth Earl of (fl. 1281–1315), was descended from a supposed Celtic family of whom Malise, earl of Strathearn, was witness of the foundation of the priory of Scone in 1114, and another, or the same Malise, was present at the battle of the Standard on 22 Aug. 1138. Ferquard, son of Malise, was one of six nobles who in 1160 revolted against Malcolm IV. Gilbert, the son of Ferquard, founded the monastery of Inchaffray in 1198. His son Robert, fourth earl, was a witness to the treaty between Alexander II and Henry III in 1237, and, dying in 1244, left a son Malise, fifth earl of Strathearn, who in 1244 was named by Alexander II as party to an oath not to make war against Henry III (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, i. No. 1654); on 30 Oct. 1250 he gave in his homage to Henry III (ib. No. 1792); on 10 Aug. 1255 he was, with other nobles, received into the protection of Henry III against the enemies of the king of Scots, or gainsayers of the queen of Scots (ib. No. 198); and on 4 May 1259 received a protection ‘going beyond seas’ (ib. No. 2156). This Malise, according to Fordun, died in 1271, and was buried in Dunblane. His first wife was Margery, daughter and heiress of Robert de Muscampis, who is mentioned as his wife 30 Oct. 1250 (ib. No. 1792), although by some writers she is supposed to have been the wife of his grandson. By this wife he had, probably with several sons, two daughters, Murielda (Muriel) and Mariora (Margery or Maria), who became heirs of Isabella de Forde (ib. No. 1978). Another wife, Emma, is mentioned, 13 Oct. 1267. Fordun also states that the relict of Magnus, king of Man (d. 1269), who was daughter of Eugene of Argyll, married Malise, earl of Strathearn. This is abundantly corroborated by documentary references to Maria, queen of Man and countess of Strathearn, and the only question is whether she married the fifth earl or his son Malise. W. F. Skene argued that she was the wife of the sixth earl on the ground that, while this Malise did homage to Edward I at Stirling in 1291, twelve days later ‘Maria regina de Man et comitissa de Stratherne’ did homage in presence of Earl Malise. But had they been husband and wife they would probably have done homage on the same day. They were doubtless son and stepmother. The latter, Maria, regina de Man, retained her title of countess, after she became, as she undoubtedly did become, the wife of William Fitzwarren (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, ii. No. 1117).

Malise, sixth earl of Strathearn, the son of the fifth earl, probably by his first wife, was one of the guarantors of the marriage treaty of Margaret of Scotland with Eric of Norway in 1281; was present at the parliament of Scone on 5 Feb. 1284, when the Scots became bound in the event of the death of Alexander III to acknowledge Margaret, the ‘maid of Norway,’ as their sovereign; and he also attended the parliament of Brigham, 14 March 1290. On the supposition that he was married to that Maria, countess of Strathearn, who was also queen of Man, he must have died before February 1292, for mention is then made of a ‘Maria comitissa de Stratherne, quæ fuit uxor Hugonis de Abernethyn,’ and the former Maria, countess of Strathearn, was still alive, but, as has already been seen, the former alternative is not necessary; and the second Maria, not the first, was probably the wife of the sixth earl. Supposing the sixth earl then to have survived 1292, he was in that year one of the nominees on the part of John Baliol in the contest for the crown, and in November of the following year was present at Berwick, when the claim to the crown was decided in Baliol's favour. He attended Edward I into Gascony, 1 Sept. 1294. As among the widows who were secured in their possessions to the king of England in 1296, mention is made of ‘Maria quæ fuit uxor Malisii comitis de Stratherne.’ W. F. Skene again argues that this Malise died at least before 1296, but the argument of course holds good only on the supposition that he had married the first Maria. In the spring of 1296 Malise took part in an invasion of England. On 25 March he, however, came to peace with the king at Stirling (Documents illustrative of the History of Scotland, ii. 28), and on 7 July gave him his oath of fidelity (ib. No. 66). On 4 March 1303–4 he was commanded to see that the fords of the Forth and the neighbouring districts were guarded with horse and foot to prevent the enemy crossing south (Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, ii. No. 1471), and on 1 Sept. 1305 he is mentioned as lieutenant or warden north of the Forth (ib. No. 1689); but after the slaughter of Comyn by Robert Bruce, he joined the Bruce's standard, and was taken prisoner by the English, probably in June 1306. At all events, he was sent in November a prisoner to Rochester, for a mandate of Edward on 10 Nov. 1306 commands the constable of Rochester Castle to imprison Malise of Strathearn in the keep there, but without iron chains, and to allow him to hear mass and to watch him at night (ib. No. 1854). Shortly afterwards he presented a memorial to the king, stating that he had been compelled to join Robert the Bruce through fear of his life (ib. No. 1862). In November 1307 he was taken by the Earl of Pembroke from Rochester to York Castle (ib. iii. No. 22), and in 1309 he was acquitted of male fame and discharged (ib. No. 118). In 1310–12 Earl Malise, his wife, Lady Agnes, and his son Malise were in the English pay (ib. Nos. 192, 208, 299), a fact inconsistent with the statement of Barbour that the father, while at the siege of Perth on the English side, was taken prisoner. This earl, as shown by W. F. Skene, who, however, holds him to have been the seventh earl, died some time before 1320. By his first wife, Maria, he had a daughter Matilda, married to Robert de Thony, the marriage settlement being dated 26 April 1293 (Documents illustrative of the History of Scotland, i. No. 396). He had another daughter, Mary, married to Sir John Moray of Drumsargad. Of his wife mentioned in the English state papers as Lady Agnes nothing is known, but his last wife was Johanna, daughter of Sir John Monteith, afterwards married to John, earl of Atholl. By her he had a daughter married to John de Warren, earl of Warren and Surrey.

Malise, seventh Earl of Strathearn (fl. 1320–1345), must have succeeded his father before 1320, for in that year Maria, his countess, referred to in his father's lifetime as wife of Malise of Strathearn, was imprisoned for implication in a conspiracy against Robert the Bruce. He signed the letter to the pope in 1320 asserting the independence of Scotland. Along with the Earls of Ross and Sutherland he commanded the third division of the Scots army at the battle of Halidon Hill, 19 July 1333, and is erroneously stated to have been slain there. In the following year he resigned the earldom of Strathearn to John de Warren, his brother-in-law, apparently by some arrangement with the king of England, and in 1345 he was forfeited and attainted for having done so. In a charter of 1334, in which he styles himself earl of the earldom of Strathearn, Caithness, and Orkney, he granted William, earl of Ross, the marriage of his daughter Isabel by Marjory his wife; and the daughter was by the Earl of Ross married to William St. Clair, who obtained with her the earldom of Caithness. Mention is further made of another wife, either of this Malise, or his father, by Lady Egidia Cumyn, daughter of Alexander, second earl of Buchan. The earldom of Strathearn was bestowed by David II in 1343 on Sir Maurice Moray of Drumsagard, nephew of Earl Malise; and after his death at the battle of Durham on 17 Oct. 1346, it passed into the possession of the crown.

[Documents illustrative of the History of Scotland, ed. Stevenson, vols. i. and ii.; Calender of Documents relating to Scotland, ed. Bain, vols. i.–iv.; Chronicles of Fordun and Wyntoun; Barbour's Bruce; the Earldom of Caithness, by W. F. Skene, in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, xii. 571–6; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 557–8.]

T. F. H.