An Account of Sir Christopher Seton
Sir Christopher Seton succeeded his
unfortunate but gallant father in the troublous times of the War of Independence. He was
knighted by King Robert Bruce, and for his courtesy and valor was called by the common people,
with whom he was a favorite, Good Sir Chrystell. He is mentioned by Lord Hailes (Annals, II.,
2) as one of the twenty "chief associates of Bruce in his arduous attempts to restore the
liberties of Scotland." He is there styled Christopher Seton of Seton; for with the more
perfect amalgamation of races in that kingdom, and the consequent decline of Norman influence
with the Norman language, the French de--the particule nobiliare of feudal possession--fell
into disuse, and a new mode of appellation arose. When a family and the estate bore the same
name, and, as was usually the case, the place gave its name to the owner, the Scottish manner
of expression is of that ilk; as, for instance, "Fawside of that Ilk," i.e., of that same
place; but when the estate, on the contrary, derived its name from the surname of the owner--a
more unusual case--the Scottish manner was to use both names together, as "Seton of Seton."
This was more distinguished; and Lord Hailes, as above, shows his perfect acquaintance with
these little points of Scotch etiquette and pride. At the disastrous battle of Methven, near
Perth, on June 19, 1306, soon after Bruce's coronation, the Scottish chiefs were defeated by
Aylmer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, and "the king was thrice unhorsed, and once so nearly
taken, that the captor, Sir Philip De Mowbray, called aloud that he had the new-made king, when
Sir Christopher Seton felled Mowbray to the earth and rescued his master." (Tytler: History,
I., 207) The large two-handed sword, wielded on this occasion is now in the possession of
George Seton, Esq., of Edinburgh, Representative of the Setons of Cariston. It has been several
times engraved and publicly exhibited. After many and notable acts against the English,
Chrystell was taken prisoner at last, in the Castle of Loch Doon, near Dalmellington, in
Ayrshire, through the treachery of one of his retainers named MacNab. Barbour says, in his
antiquated style of English:
And worthy Christoll of Seytoun
In to London betresyt was
Throw a discipill of Judas,
Maknab, a fals tratour that ay
Was off his duelling nycht and day.
-- The Bruce.
This account is confirmed by a tradition current in the neighborhood of Loch Doon that a portion of land, at the lower end of the lake, which is still known by the name of Macnabston, was given to the traitor as the price of his crime. (Paterson, Ayrsbire, III., 9.) The ruins of the ancient Castle of Loch Doon are on a rocky islet, at the head of the lake whose waters, still famous for fish, are embosomed in hills that are now bare and bleak, but were once covered with primeval trees forming part of the Forest of Buchan. Sir Christopher was immediately conveyed to London to be exhibited to the king, and then brought back to Dumfries and executed there, because he had been present and consenting (?) to Bruce's killing of the Red Comyn in a sudden quarrel in the Greyfriars' Church in that town on February 10, 1305.
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