Patrick V, Earl of March

Patrick de Dunbar, 9th Earl of March, [ Tytler, Patrick, "The History of Scotland", new edition, Edinburgh, 1866, vol.ii, alternates between calling him the Earl of Dunbar and the Earl of March] [ Miller, James, "The History of Dunbar", Haddington, 1830: 35] [ Brown, Peter, publisher, "The Peerage of Scotland", Edinburgh, 1834:145] [ Bain, FSA (Scot), &c., Joseph, editor, "Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland", vol.iv, 1357-1509, Edinburgh, 1888, p.608] [ Anderson, William, "The Scottish Nation", Edinburgh, 1867, vol.iv:74] ["Dictionary of National Biography" (1903), Compact Edition, Oxford University Press, 1975, p.585, ISBN 0-19-865102-3 erroneously lists him as 10th Earl of March] [Fiona Watson also gives him an incorrect numbering as "Dunbar, Patrick, 8th Earl of Dunbar or of March, and Earl of Moray (1285–1369)" in the "Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, October 2005 [ , accessed 6 Sept 2007] . It seems the DNB are askew with the numbering.] ( c1285 - 1369) was a Scottish magnate prominent during the reigns of the Bruce kings, Robert I and David II.

Early years

The earldom, located in East Lothian, and known interchangeably by the names Dunbar and March (so-called Northumbrian or Scottish March), was one of the successor fiefs of Northumbria, an Anglo-Saxon Kingdom and later Earldom. The Dunbar family descended from one branch of ancient Earls of Northumbria, specifically from a branch which also had Scottish royal blood.

He is said to have been aged 24 in 1309 at the death of his father, Patrick, 8th Earl of March [ "The Scottish Nation", 1867, vol.iv:74] , who had been one of the Competitors for the Crown of Scotland in 1291. His wife, Marjory, daughter of Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan was also descended from King Donald III.

Bannockburn to Durham

After the Battle of Bannockburn, Patrick de Dunbar gave sanctuary and quarter to the English King Edward II at the fortress of Dunbar Castle, on the east coast of Scotland between Edinburgh and Berwick, and managed to effect the king's escape by means of a fishing boat whereby that monarch was transported back to England. The earl afterwards made his peace with his cousin Robert the Bruce, and was present at the parliament held at Ayr on April 26, 1315, when the succession to the Crown of Scotland was settled.

In 1318 he assisted in retaking Berwick-upon-Tweed from the English, at which time he is noted as Sheriff of Lothian. In 1320 he was one of those nobles who signed the Letter to the Pope asserting the independence of Scotland.

Laing relates a charter of a Precept originally written in Norman-French by Patrick de Dunbar, Earl of March, to Sir Robert de Lawedre, younger - 'le fitz', for heritable sasine of the reversion of the lands of Whitelaw within the Earldom of Dunbar, plus 10 livres yearly from the mill of Dunbar, and the farms and issues of the granter's said town ('ville') of Dunbar, according to the terms of charters to the grantee. Dated at Berwick-upon-Tweed, October 20, 1324. [ Laing's "Calendar of the Laing Charters, A.D. 854 - 1837", p.10, number 32]

Sometime after 1331 the Bishop of Durham complained to the Regency in Scotland that the village of Upsettlington, on the Scottish side of the Tweed west of Norham, belonged to the See of Durham and not the Earl of Dunbar, who had seized it. The King of England now became involved also and it appears the lands were restored to the Bishop.

In 1332 the Earl of Dunbar was appointed by the assembly of the estates (Parliament) at Perth, joint Guardian of the Crown, upon the death of the Regent, Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray.

He opposed, in several battles and skirmishes following Dupplin, Baliol. Following the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333, the Earl of Dunbar and several others of the nobility paid fealty to King Edward. [ Anderson, William, "The Scottish Nation", Edinburgh, 1867, vol.iv:74] The Earl attended Edward Balliol at the parliament held at Edinburgh in February 1334 when they ceded to England Berwick, Dunbar, Roxburgh, and Edinburgh, as well as all the southern counties of Scotland. Earl Patrick had had his castle levelled to the ground, but Edward III now compelled him to rebuild the fortress at his own expense and garrisoned it with English troops. [ Anderson, William, "The Scottish Nation", Edinburgh, 1867, vol.iv:74] Dunbar castle was not restored to the Earl until 1338.

In 1335 when King Edward III of England and Baliol had made another attack upon the Scots, the Earl cut of a body of archers on their return southward, and afterwards assisted the Earl of Moray in defeating the Count of Namur on the Burgh Muir of Edinburgh.

In 1339 the Earl of Dunbar assisted Lord Robert Stewart, Guardian of the Kingdom, in the reduction of Perth, where he led the second division of the army. In 1340 he and the Earl of Sutherland were routed by Lord Grey and Sir Robert Manners, assisted by John Copeland and the English garrison of Roxburgh Castle, during border skirmishes. Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, had a Safe-Conduct dated March 24, 1342, from Westminster, in order to travel to England.

Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, commanded the right of the Scottish army in the battle of Nevilles Cross, near Durham. From this disaster the Earl escaped, with considerable losses, which included his wife's brother, John Randolph, 3rd Earl of Moray. [ Anderson, William, "The Scottish Nation", Edinburgh, 1867, vol.iv:74]

In 1355 with Lord William Douglas and Sir William Ramsay of Dalhousie, the Earl of Dunbar again invaded Northumberland, and subsequently recovered Berwick-upon-Tweed, although not the castle. In 1337 he was one of the Scottish ambassadors who met at Berwick to discuss the liberation of King David, who had been taken prisoner at Neville's Cross. He was subsequently one of the hostages for David until the ransom was paid, although it would appear from Safe-Conducts that he was out and about thereafter. Following this his town of Dunbar was erected into a Royal Burgh.

In 1366 he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of St.Thomas á Becket at Canterbury. In May 1367 he confirmed to the monks of Coldingham by charter to the Prior and Convent of Durham, the church and manor of Edrom, and Nisbet, with the agreement of his wife.

In June 1368 the King was advised by parliament at Scone to consult with the Earls of Dunbar and Douglas on the security of the Eastern marches. He was not present at the Coronation of King Robert II in 1371 so it is assumed that he died before then. Brown gives a year of death as 1368. [ Brown, Peter, publisher, "The Peerage of Scotland",1834] If that is so it would probably be 1368/9.


Patrick Dunbar is not as well remembered as his second wife Agnes Dunbar, 4th Countess of Moray, also known as Black Agnes of Dunbar who died just a few months before him. From her brothers she obtained by inheritance the Isle of Man, the Lordship of Annandale (which she brought to her marriage), and the feudal baronies of Morton and Tibbers in Nithsdale, Mordington (where she is buried), Longformacus, and Duns, in Berwickshire; Mochrum in Galloway, Cumnock in Ayrshire, and Blantyre in Clydesdale. [ Miller, James, "The History of Dunbar", Dunbar, 1830: 44 - 60]



* Bain, Joseph, "Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland", 1357 - 1509, Edinburgh, 1888, vol.iv, pps: xx - xxiv ("Introduction") for further mention of her and relationships in the Dunbar family (with other references in the main sections of the volume).
* Burke, Sir Bernard, Ulster King of Arms, "Burke's Dormant, Abeyant, Forefeited, and Extinct Peerages", London, 1883, p.606.

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