Sir Alexander de Seton (2)

He succeeded his good father, and was knighted by King Robert Bruce. He was employed both in civil and in military affairs, for in January, 1302, he had a safe conduct into England, and three years later the Scottish king applied for another one for him to treat of a peace with the English. In 1306 there was a mutual indenture made between Sir Gilbert Hay of Erroll, Sir Niel Campbell of Lochaw, and Sir Alexander Seton of Seton, knights, at the Abbey of Lindores, to defend King Robert Bruce and his crown to the last of their blood and fortune. "Upon sealing the said indenture they solemnly took the Sacrament at Saint Mary's altar in the said abbey church" (Balfour, Annals). "Seton," says Alexander Laing (History of Lindores Abbey, p. 93), "came of a race that fought bravely and suffered much for the independence of Scotland." On the 9th of September, 1308, he again bound himself in the most public manner, in the same company, on the high altar of the Abbey Church of Cambuskenneth, near Stirling, "to defend till the last period of their lives the liberties of their country and right of Robert Bruce, their king, against all mortals, French, English, and Scots."( Collins's Peerage, VII., 419). Sir Alexander Seton shared in the glorious victory of Bannockburn, June 24, 1314. Sir Thomas Gray, on the testimony of his father, who was then a prisoner in the Scotch camp, tells us that Sir Alexander Seton rode to Bruce's tent in the wood the evening before the battle with important information, and advised him to take the offensive, and attack the English next morning with vigor. A rare and curiouslittle book, an English poem on King Robert, by Patrick Gordon, first published at Dort, in Holland, in 1615, and reprinted at Edinburgh in 1718, in describing the gathering of the Scottish hosts from every quarter of the kingdom for the crowning effort of Bannockburn, exclaims:

Three thousand more came forth of Lothian fair.
All Princes, Lords, and Knights, and men of Fame,
Where Seton's Lord, e'en Winton's Earl, did bear
Not meanest Rule, with others of great Name.
--Ch. XV., 172.

Sir Alexander got from his royal uncle important grants of land for services rendered by his father, and also certain honorable and uncommon additions to his paternal coat-of-arms. A little later he received another grant--this time of the Barony of Barnes, in East Lothian, for his own services, particularly in Ireland, whither he had accompanied the king's brother, Edward Bruce. The appeal of the Irish chieftains for deliverance from their English conquerors, the Scottish expedition to Ireland, the crowning of Edward Bruce as King of Ireland (1316), his victorious march at the head of a small army of Scotchmen, with very little native assistance, from Carrickfergus to Limerick, his unsuccessful siege of Dublin, his retreat northward, and his final defeat and death with nearly all his followers at the battle of Dundalk, on October 5, 1318, is one of the most chivalrous episodes, as it was one of the most ill-advised measures, in the history of Scotland. The best of these grants was that of Tranent, on the highroad between Edinburgh and Berwick-on-Tweed, because it was one of the oldest towns in East Lothian. It remained for four hundred years in the family and gave it a secondary title--Lord Tranent--which even now figures among those of the Earl of Eglinton and Winton. There were many barons attached to the English Court who had possessed vast estates in Scotland, a state of affairs causing oscillations in allegiance sadly calamitous to the weaker kingdom; but Scottish independence being now an assured fact, there was, fortunately, at the crown's disposal the property of these disinherited barons to equalize things in some measure, and compensate loyal Scots for the losses of their own English estates. Robert de Quincy, a Northamptonshire baron, acquired Tranent in 1165 from William the Lion.  His oldest son, Sayher, Lord of Tranent, was created Earl of Winchester in England, and set out, in 1218, with other English knights for the Crusade.  He died at the siege of Damietta, in Egypt.

The great seal register contains a charter of King Robert I, Alexander de Seton, militl, dilecto et fidele nostro, pro homagio et servicio sue, totamillam torram uim portin queue suik quondam.  Mani la Suche tenemento de Travernent, una cum torres husbandorum quarfuerunt dicti quondam Alani in villa et tenemento de Nodref,  to be held in a free barony, cum carbonarius et nativis hominebus,  faciento indemedielatim sorvcii unis militis.  Sir Alexander de Seton had many grants from the same Monarch of the lands of Barnes and place Moylin, near Haddington; of the lands Gogar in the county of Edinburgh; of the lands of Seton in a free burgh of Barony; of the lands of Fawsyde, forfeited by Allan la Suche; of the barony of Travernent (Tranent), forfeited by William Ferraris; of the lands of Elphingstoun, Mylyis, and the commonly of Tranent, fortiefied by the Earl of Buchan; and of the superiority of the lands of Dundas and Westercraigs, and some lands in Queensburg; this, last charter is dated 13 April 1322.  Sir Alexander de Seton had, from Patrick, Earl of March, a charter of the lands of Halsyngton in Berwickshire. 

Among the orders of Edward I relative to the adherents of Robert I, 1308, are directions for taking into custody: "Mons. Johan de Vaus et Mons, Alexander de Seton, whom they shall return from the voyage they are gone with Mons. Johan Mowbray towards the Isles; for seizing the Castle of Darleton, belonging to Vaus, and the lands, tenements, goods, and Chattels of Alexander  de Seton; and for bringing their persons before the King".

Sir Alexander de Seton (3)

He succeeded to Sir Alexander II, his father, and was truly a noble knight and renowned in Scottish prose and verse.  He was made captain and keeper of Berwick in April, 1333, bringing, as his contribution to the defense of this important town, one hundred men-at-arms and five gallant sons.  Berwick was closely besieged and blockaded by Edward III, but made a stout resistance.  In one of the sorties William Seton advanced so impetuously that he was taken prisoner by the enemy; and another time in a boat-attack at night on the English ships, another son of Sir Alexander "a young and gallant man", was drowned through falling short in a leap he made from one vessel to another.  Soon afterward Thomas Seton, a comely and noble-looking youth, eldest son and heir of the governor, was delivered a hostage to the king for the faithful carrying out of an agreement to surrender the city unless relief arrived before a certain day.  This was in July; but a misunderstanding having arisen, King Edward, who conducted the siege in person, put both the governor's son's to death in a public manner and in a conspicuous place, hoping to influence the governor to save his children by agreeing to the English terms of surrender.  Sir Alexander was unmoved by any such appeal, and Scotch poets and historians have invested this episode with a tragic interest.

His wife was Christian Cheyne of Straloch.  Sir Alexander was one of the witnesses with the Bishop of Saint Andrew's, the Abbot of Lindores, and others, on June 27th, 1331, to a charter of Sir John Dundemore - now Dunmore - conveying in free gift to the monks of Balmerino the right to the water running through the land of Dunderauch for the use of their mill at Pitgornoch.  The bestowal of this gift was apparently made by the hospitable Fathers occasion of a fstive gathering at Dunmore, at which most of the guests were men "who had borne their part in the great struggle for Independence."  Sir Alexander had a safe conduct to pass into England in October, 1337.  His curious old dagger, with a silver-mounted handle capped by a crescent, which besides indicating ownership, formed a rest for the thumb in giving a thrust, is now in the possession of his descendant, William Seton of New York (1899).  He died at a good age, and was buried in his parish church of Seton, leaving two sons: Alexander Seton, who succeeded him; and John Seton, founder of the line of Parbroath.

Sir Alexander de Seton (4)

He succeeded to his patrimonial estate, yet lived to enjoy it only a few years. He was the third, but eldest surviving son of the late Governor of Berwick. Maitland says that he was a wise and virtuous man; and after living honorably, died in peace and was buried in his family vault in the parish church of Seton. He married Margaret, sister to Sir William Murray, Captain of Edinburgh Castle, by whom he left an only child, a daughter, named, for her mother, Margaret; so that in him the direct male line of the family came, partially at least, to an end. Taylor says (Great Historic Families of Scotland, I., 128) that Sir Alexander "sought refuge from his sorrows and troubles in a hospital of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, and his daughter Margaret became the heiress of his extensive estates." It was, no doubt, in that age the most poignant domestic grief for a knight of large landed interest and of long descent to have no sons and to be left with one whom, however good and beautiful, he would love --

"As heiress and not heir regretfully."

Sources: "The History of the House of Seytoun to the Year MDLIX", Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington, Knight, with the Continuation, by Alexander Viscount Kingston, to MDCLXXXVII. Printed at Glasgow, MDCCCXXIX. "A History of the Family of Seton during Eight Centuries" George Seton, Advocate, M.A. Oxon., etc. Two vols. Edinburgh, 1896 "An Old Family" Monsignor Seton, Call Number: R929.2 S495