Sir Alexander Seton, Signator of Arbroath

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 curious little 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.

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.

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