Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Declaration of Arbroath and the Butler of Scotland

The letter sent by 38 Scots Lords to the Pope in 1320, contains a certain amount of whimsical stuff about the Pillars of Hercules and the Tyrrhenian Sea, but its ringing declaration of nationhood bears repeating:

"Yet if he (King Robert, 'The Bruce') should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."

Amongst the names on the document we find 'Walter, Steward of Scotland; William Soules, Butler of Scotland; Gilbert Hay, Constable of Scotland; Robert Keith, Marischal of Scotland.
The hereditary titles of Steward, Constable and Marischal to the crown continued in use until the 18th century. But the title Butler of Scotland quickly fell out of use.

I became interested in the de Soulis family when I was doing a little research on Hermitage Castle. Whilst there are plenty Stewarts, Hays and Keiths living in Scotland today, I can discover no record of anyone called Soules or de Soulis - at least not one with a telephone. Kilmarnock boasts a Soulis Street and a Soulis Cross (left) but no living Soulises! If anyone out there can tell me more about this family who were once so prominent in the Scottish court, whose ancestor was one of 38 Scots Lords who signed the famous Declaration of Arbroath, I'd be delighted to hear more!


Anonymous said...

Four hundred years later, the passion and committment to freedom embodied in the language of the Declaration of Arbroath would inspire another declaration of independence. And so it was that in 1998, the US Senate declared April 6th as National Tartan Day.

"Extract from US Senate Resolution 155 (passed unanimously 20th March 1998):
"Whereas April 6 has a special significance for all Americans, and especially those Americans of Scottish descent, because the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, was signed on
April 6, 1320 and the American Declaration of Independence was modelled on that inspirational document . . ."

Alastair Cunningham said...

Many thanks for this. It's a pity that between us we bracketed April 6.

I'll try to hit the button next year!

Graisg said...

link in Alastair, best wishes