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With the passage of time there has been a loss of the historical record pertaining to the life of Sir William Wallace, the patriot and Guardian of Scotland. With that has come numerous traditions and stories which may contain glimpses of the truth, but are for the most part completely fictional. What little is known can be found in a few surviving documents and published works.
William Wallace is believed to have been born at Elderslie, Renfrewshire, to Malcolm Wallace and Margaret Crauford. There are no surviving records of his birth, but it is commonly accepted that he was born sometime between 1270 to 1275 and that his mother was the daughter of Hugh Crauford. (See Research Notes)
Purported Marriage and Child
Tradition holds that he had a relationship with, or was possibly married to Marion Braidfute.There is no surviving record of such a marriage. (See Research Notes)
John (or Arnold) Blair left the monastery to become the Chaplain for Sir William Wallace, at Wallace's request, sometime between 1290 and 1297, and is the most likely to have presided over a marriage ceremony.
The Baillie family claims to be a direct descendant of Sir William Wallace through a child, in most cases unnamed, but who is called Elizabeth in some sources.(See Research Notes)
The Patriot and Guardian of Scotland
In 1296, it appears that Sir William Wallace first shows up in the historic record when he killed the Sheriff of Lanark. It is traditionally said that he killed the Sheriff for murdering his wife, however, there is no evidence to support this.
In June of 1297, Wallace was believed to be hiding in Selkirk forest. Sir William Douglas, Robert Bruce and other nobles deserted Wallace and gave homage to King Edward I of England at Irvine, on 9 Jul 1297, effectively abandoning Wallace's cause. On 11 Sep 1297, Wallace fought the English at Stirling Bridge. He and his men spent the winter months in England, raiding and causing trouble for the English.
On 29 Mar 1298, Sir William Wallace granted a charter to Alexander Skirmeschur Scrymgeour, for the lands near Dundee and the office of the Constable of the Castle of Dundee.
In 1298, at the Battle of Falkirk, William Wallace and his men were abandoned on the field by the nobles of Scotland. Not long after this defeat, he resigned the office of Guardian.
Branded an outlaw by the English king, Sir William Wallace travelled to France seeking the assistance of King Phillip IV. King Phillip, in turn, sent him to Rome to see Pope Boniface VIII, in 1299. After his return, while still in hiding, he and his mother travelled from near Dundee to Dumfermline, in disguise.
John Comyn was asked to capture Sir William Wallace and give him to the King of England in exchange for the removal of Comyn's banishment, to which he was sentenced 9 Feb 1303-4. He did not succeed in this task.
In 1305, William Wallace was captured by Sir John Menteith and turned over to the English king. An Inquest was held 1 Sep 1305 pertaining to William de Mowat being held against his will by Sir William Wallace and his men. Sir William Wallace was tried, found guilty, and executed; his body drawn and quartered, with the pieces hung from towers across England and Scotland, on the order of the King of England.
Blind Harry identifies his mother as daughter of Ranald Craufurd, Sheriff of Ayr.
Source: The Life and Acts of Sir William Wallace ~Henry the Minstrel (Blind Harry); (Translated and critiqued by John Jamieson; Published by Maurice Ogle; Glasgow; 1869); Pg. 406
William Robertson outlines the Crauford lineage connected to Sir William, which seems to clear up the confusion of the identity of his mother.
It is most likely that she is the daughter of Hew (Hugh) and granddaughter of Reginald Crauford. Pg 219
Killing the Sheriff of Lanark
It is often claimed by non-contemporary authors that William Wallace killed William Hesilrig (sheriff of Lanark) in retaliation for the death of his purported wife, Marion. The Schøyen chronicle, however, indicates that this act was perpetrated by Wallace, and another William (of Lundie) on 3 May 1297 and makes no known mention of a wife. (Source - See Also section)
Sources To Be Found
Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 530
Nicholsons Scot. Hist. lib. pp. 248, 249
Langloft's Chronicle, p. 322
Life of Sir William Wallace, Written by John (or Arnold) Blair in Dunfermline Monastery
Relationes Qucedam; Arnoldi Blair, Monachi de Dimfermelen & Capellani, D. Willidnii Wallas, Militis" &c. (Vide Cottonian MSS. Brit. Museum ; Nicholson's Scot. Historical Library, pp. 248, 249; Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. pp. 397, 531.
↑ 1.01.1 The Life and Acts of Sir William Wallace ~Henry the Minstrel (Blind Harry); (Translated and critiqued by John Jamieson; Published by Maurice Ogle; Glasgow; 1869); pg 406
↑ 2.02.1 Rogers, Charles; The Book of Wallace; (Edinburgh, Printed for the Grampian Club, 1889); Vol II, pg 89
↑ 4.04.1 Rogers, Charles; The Book of Wallace; (Edinburgh, Printed for the Grampian Club, 1889); Vol I, pg. 20
↑ 5.05.1 Balfour Paul, James; The Scots Peerage; (Douglas, D; Edinburgh, 1904-1914); Vol v, Pg. 490; citing: Margaret, married Malcolm Wallace of Elderslie and had issue: William Wallace, Scottish Patriot.
↑ Robertson, George; A genealogical account of the principle families of Ayrshire; (1823); Pg. 167
↑ The Society of William Wallace; website; Biography
↑The life and acts of Sir William Wallace ~Henry the Minstrel (Blind Harry); (Translated and critqued by John Jamieson; Published by Maurice Ogle; Glasgow; 1869); Pg 375-6
↑ Rogers, Charles; The Book of Wallace; (Edinburgh, Printed for the Grampian Club, 1889); Vol I, Pg 21
↑ Henderson, Ebenezer; The annals of Dunfermline; (Tweed, J; Glasgow, 1879); Pg. 105
↑ Fordun, John; Annals of the Scottish Nation; (Edmonston and Douglas; Edinburgh, 1871); Pg 321
Gray, D. J., William Wallace: the king's enemy, London: R. Hale, 1991.
Barrow G.W.S. Kingdom of the Scots. New York: St Martin's Press (1973), pp. 324–325. [edit: these pages do not seem to contain any information pertinent to William Wallace; he is, however, referenced in passing on pp. 238,245,254,353]