Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sir John Graham

Sir John Graham (not to be confused with John Graham of the 17th century, who I usually refer to as Dundee to avoid confusion!) was the lad who fought alongside William Wallace and would have gone with him all the way, to the Smithfield itself if it had not been for his untimely death.

John Graham was born in Dundaff Ayrshire. His exact birthdate, as usual for common people of this time period, was not known. I also do not know when he met Wallace, I personally like to think that they met somewhat early on, seeing as they grew up about forty miles apart from each other. This was a long distance back in the 1300s, but at the same time, if hardship came up, families would get together so they could make a stronger stand. Nigel Tranter, the famous Sottish novelist, had Wallace and Graham become friends not long before his campaign after John's father refuses to help the young patriot. As a lot of Wallace's life, much is speculation. That is why, though I love William Wallace, he is a very hard person to write about accurately. Everyone seems to have their own ideas and stick to them until death!

However, their friendship started, it was very strong. They were true comrades in arms and they stood shoulder to shoulder in the many fights of Wallace's campaign for freedom. After the death of Wallace's other companion, Andrew Murray, I believe that Graham worked even harder.

Not much more is known about John, except that he died on the fields of Falkirk in that fateful battle where Edward Longshanks beat the Scots back using brute force. John Graham was left for dead, when Wallace found him and it is well known that he wept over the body of his dear friend.

In Blind Harry's epic, The Wallace, there is a segment for Wallace's lament for John Graham. I remember reading it a while ago, but I was not able to find a link for it on the internet, so if you want to look for it, be my guest. After John's death, he was taken to the churchyard of Falkirk and buried there. The gravestone on his tomb, bears this inscription:

Here lies Sir John the Grame, baith wight and wise
And of the chiefs who reschewwit (rescued) Scotland thrice
Ane better knight not to the world was lent
Nor was gude Grame of truth and hardiment

There's an area in Falkirk called Grahamston and it is named after Sir John Graham. There's also a monument to him at Victoria Park, with a block of granite at the base and a Lion Rampant on the top of it. This was put there in 1912 and paid for by Robert Dollar. The inscription says that John Graham fell in the spot, but it is unlikely.

So, John Graham was a great hero of Scotland's Wars for Independance and he should be remembered along with all the others as a true son of Scotland!

I'll be back later this month (hopefully before it ends!) to talk about Montrose and Dundee!

Slainte, Hazel

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