Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Capture at Robroyston
Wallace’s capture took place on the third of August in the year 1305. It happened in Robroyston, a small town outside Glasgow. I think it a good idea to explain that Robroyston has nothing to do with Rob Roy MacGregor, seeing as this was for before his time, but it comes from the name “Ralph Raa’s town”. Who Ralph Raa was, I don’t know. but this became the place known for Wallace’s capture.
It happened at about midnight on August 3rd. William Wallace had been on his way down south, for what reasons we can only guess at. It is thought that he was drawn south after he got a letter from Robert the Bruce, saying that he wanted to meet with him. Weather or not this story is true, it is almost positive that Bruce did not have anything to do with Wallace’s betrayal. That was all from the side of a man named John Menteith.
Menteith was actually a Steward and earl of Menteith. The name comes from a corruption of the “mounth of Teith” mounth being the high ground that separates two rivers. The Menteith family was came from north of the lake of Menteith near Callander in Perthshire. It’s still called a lake to this day. No one knows weather it is because of John Mentieth’s horrible betrayal, or weather it was just a cartographer’s mistake. Menteith was one of the many earls who was captured by the English in the Battle of Dunbar in 1296 and was released when he agreed to fight got Longshanks in France. He eventually was set free and came back to Scotland sometime between 1297 and 1298 where he apparently joined up with Wallace. After Wallace went on his journey to France, it seems Menteith had, like most Scottish earls, swore fealty to Longshanks. He was recruited to capture Wallace by one, John Seagrave, who was asked by Longshanks to find someone who could bring him William Wallace. They arraigned to meet at the church of Rutherglen where Seagrave paid Menteith for the capture of England’s greatest enemy and he set off with a few chosen men to do the filthy deed.
It was said that Wallace was with his companion Kerlie when he was captured. Kerlie was killed in the process and Wallace was taken, though I doubt it was with ease. It is hard to believe that a man as strong and determined as William Wallace would be taken without a fight. I imagine him starting to fight them off as they came to accost him while he slept and I’m sure he gave them a run for their money. But Menteith, knowing Wallace personally and more then likely knowing his full capabilities, must have taken precautions because he was eventually brought down and chained to head off to Dumbarton Castle, where Menteith was sheriff. He was kept their the night and then Menteith had him escorted to a rendezvous with Seagrave who was to take Wallace to London for his trial and, untimely, his execution.
Even to this day, John Menteith is scorned and hated as the man who betrayed Scotland’s greatest hero. There is a monument at Robroyston now to commemorate Wallace’s capture is the barn there. The only problem with the plaque though, is that it says Wallace was captured on the 5th when he was really captured on the 3rd. There are several plaques around Scotland that have anachronisms on them. The barn that Wallace was captured in is long gone now, but Sir Walter Scott had a chair name out of the rafters and it is still at Abbotsford house along with all of his other artifacts.
The saddest part of this whole thing was that, not only was Menteith a good friend of Wallace, thus making the betrayal all the more painful, but it is thought that Wallace was also the godfather to two of Menteith's children. There’s no wonder Menteith has gone down in history as one of the most hated villains Scotland has ever known.
Here’s a website the Robryston monument
And here’s a link to a video David R. Ross showing us around the place and telling a little about the history of Wallace’s capture
I will be back later with another post talking a little bit about Wallace’s journey to London.