William Wallace was born in around 1270, probably near Ellerslie (now Elderslie), in Ayrshire, Scotland. His father was Sir Malcolm Wallace, Laird of Elderslie and Auchinbothie, a small landowner and little-known Scottish knight. [Note: in 1999 the seal of Sir Wallace was translated from the archaic latin. On his seal it says he is the son of 'Alan'.] His mother is believed to have been the daughter of Sir Hugh Crawford, Sheriff of Ayr, and he is thought to have had an elder brother, also called Malcolm. Because he was the second son, William did not inherit his father's title or lands.
While Wallace was still young he became the leader of a company of patriots who used harassing tactics against the English and won support of many Scottish nobles. Wallace's military genius made him "hated and feared" by King Edward I of England.
During the Wars of Scottish Independence William Wallace and Andrew de Moray won a great and stunning victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. Wallace was also in command at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, but there he was defeated. Unfortunately for the Scots, Wallace was eventually captured at Robroyston near Glasgow and delivered to Edward Longshanks of England by a senior Scottish law officer - Sir John Mentieth. Wallace was subjected to a show trial, in which he was found guilty of treason and hung, drawn, and quartered at Smithfield, London in 1305.
Wallace had two brothers: Malcolm (elder) and John (younger), and a sister whose name has not come down. She married into the Bailies of Lamington.
The earliest surviving comprehensive portrayal of William Wallace’s life is the epic poem by Blind Harry known today simply as “The Wallace.” Blind Harry lived and wrote in the last half of the 1400s, about 150 years after Wallace’s death. He wrote down many of the popular stories about Wallace’s life and legend, performing at the court of James IV to great appreciation. The poem was written down in about 1477. It was one of the first books published in Scotland around 1508, under the title: The Acts and Deides of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campion Schir William Wallace. Current historians tend to challenge the veracity of much of this epic, but the work continues to provide the framework for William Wallace’s life and draws its credibility as the narrative closest to the time that William Wallace actually lived (abt. 1270-1305).
Marrion Braidfute of Lamington was, according to Blind Harry, a maiden whom William Wallace courted and married. She was killed by Sir William Heselrig, the English Sheriff of Lanark. Wallace avenged her death by killing Heselrig and then dismembering his corpse.
There is no historical evidence to corroborate her existence.
As one might expect, William Wallace did not sign the 1296 Ragman Roll of fealty and submission to Edward I, although two Ayrshire Wallaces did : Adam and Nicol. In original documents extracted in Bain's "Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland Preserved in Her Majesty’s Public Record Office", William's family name was written Waleys. William's relationship to Adam and Nicol, if any, is unknown.
An adaptation by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield was published in 1722 as The Life and Heroick Actions of the Renoun’d Sir William Wallace, General and Governor of Scotland. Hamilton’s version of the poem has been widely circulated over the last several hundred years -- as popular in Scottish homes as the Bible. This work is also the source of most of what is known of Wallace’s Crawford connections. Wallace’s mother Margaret Crawford and his uncle Reginald (or Ranald, according to Blind Harry) Crawford, 4th Sheriff of Ayr and Lord of Loudoun appear prominently.
Just a tiny correction, Margaret Crawford was the Aunt of William Wallace and had some input into his upbringing after his father was killed. Margaret Crawford married Alexander Kneeland, (an early version of Cleland). I am a descendant of Alexander and Margaret Kneeland via the Frew and Cleland family.