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Brus [Bruce], Robert de, earl of Carrick and lord of Annandalelocked

  • A. A. M. Duncan

Brus [Bruce], Robert de, earl of Carrick and lord of Annandale (1243–1304), magnate, was the elder son of Robert (V) de Brus (d. 1295) and Isabel de Clare (d. in or after 1264), and was probably born at his father's manor of Writtle in Essex in 1243. He ransomed his father in 1264 and evidently shared in his father's speculations in the lands of English rebels by 1268. In 1270 he belatedly offered to join the Lord Edward's crusade, but was in England in 1271, so he clearly did not go. He had hitherto remained unmarried but, possibly during his father's absence, he married the widowed Marjory, countess of Carrick. John Fordun has a pleasant tale that he met her while hunting, and that she took him back to Turnberry, where after fifteen days' pressure he married her, much to the fury of Alexander III (r. 1249–86), who briefly seized her lands; the lack of royal consent is likely enough. Of their fruitful marriage there survived five sons: Robert I, king of Scots; Neil; Edward [see Bruce, Edward, earl of Carrick]; Alexander, dean of Glasgow; and Thomas. There were also five surviving daughters: one who married Gartney, earl of Mar; Isabel, queen of Eric II of Norway; Mary, wife of Sir Neil Campbell and Sir Alexander Fraser; Christian Bruce, wife of Sir Christopher Seton and Sir Andrew Moray; and Maud, wife of Hugh Ross, earl of Ross. In addition Robert had a daughter Margaret, who was probably illegitimate. Countess Marjory died before 1293 and Robert married a second wife, Eleanor, of unknown lineage.

Earl Robert attended the Westminster parliament of 1278, where he swore fealty to Edward I on behalf of Alexander III, an occasion on which some attempt was made to extract homage for Scotland. In 1281 he was one of a Scottish delegation of sixteen to Guy, count of Flanders, to arrange the marriage of the Lord Alexander (d. 1284) to Guy's daughter, a delegation which bravely defined the custom of succession to the throne of Scotland. In 1284 he acknowledged Margaret, the Maid of Norway, as heir presumptive, but in 1286 joined in the Turnberry band and helped his father in their revolt of 1286–7; then, retreating from opposition to the Maid's succession, he was among those Scottish nobles who confirmed the treaty of Birgham in 1290. He swore fealty to Edward I as overlord of Scotland on 13 June 1291 and witnessed his father's deal with Florence, count of Holland, on 14 June 1292. He would also be party to the deal with King Eric of Norway, who undertook to marry Robert's daughter, and he had leave to sail with her to Norway on 28 September 1292, though he may not have gone until the following spring. After the Great Cause went against his father, the latter resigned to him the family claim to the throne; at the same time Carrick resigned his earldom to his own eldest son, the future king, leaving himself with English lands, the claim, and no need to do homage to John, king of Scots. These transactions were antedated to 7–9 November 1292.

With the death of his father in 1295, Brus inherited Annandale, but probably refused homage to King John for it. In the winter of 1295–6 he also refused to answer a summons to the Scottish host, and Annandale was given by King John to John Comyn though Brus was certainly in possession again from 1297. In England he had been made constable of Carlisle Castle on 6 October 1295, and when Edward I enforced his overlordship of Scotland in the spring of 1296 Robert and his son, the new earl of Carrick, were in his army. After the victory of Dunbar, at which Brus fought, ‘Fordun's’ annals claim that Robert asked Edward to fulfil his promise and give him the kingdom, to which Edward replied 'Have we nothing else to do but win kingdoms for you?' (Chronica gentis Scottorum, 1.326). This answer caused Brus to withdraw to England, never to return to Scotland. The same source claims that 'Robert de Brus who became king' (ibid., 1.330) fought for Edward I at Falkirk in 1298, and turned the Scottish flank, hence ensuring an English victory. It is possible that Robert (V) de Brus was there, for his son, who would have been called Carrick, was certainly not. But Brus did not serve Edward in France and seems to have lived quietly at Writtle. In February 1304 the Scottish leaders submitted to Edward; Robert set out forthwith for Annandale, but died on the way very soon after Easter (29 March) and before 4 April 1304. He was buried at Holmcultram Abbey, in Cumberland. His eldest son at last inherited his claim to the Scottish throne.


  • A. A. M. Duncan, ‘The Bruces of Annandale, 1100—1304’, Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 3rd ser., 69 (1994), 89–102
  • G. W. S. Barrow, Robert Bruce and the community of the realm of Scotland, 3rd edn (1988)
  • GEC, Peerage, new edn, 3.55–6
  • Johannis de Fordun Chronica gentis Scotorum / John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish nation, ed. W. F. Skene, trans. F. J. H. Skene, 1 (1871), 326, 330


  • casts of seals, BM, 15652, 15865–15866, 15868–15869
G. E. C. [G. E. Cokayne], , 8 vols. (1887–98); new edn, ed. V. Gibbs & others, 14 vols. in 15 (1910–98); microprint repr. (1982) and (1987)