Learn more about Andrew Moray
Andrew Moray, also called Andrew of Moray (La: Andreas de Moravia), Andrew Murray or simply Moray (d. 1297), was a key military and political leader in Scotland during the Scottish Wars of Independence.
 De Moravia
The Murrays are a family of Flemish descent, who settled in the northern district of Moray during the reign of David I. Along with other familes of French and Norman descent, they were used to establish royal authority in the outlying Gaelic districts, which in the past had enjoyed their own semi-independent traditions. In this regard they occupied the same military, political and administrative role as the Old English along the Gaelic frontiers of Ireland; and like the Old English time wore away any cultural and linguistic difference between them and the native peoples.
By the outbreak of the Wars of Independence the Morays were well-established in both the north and south of Scotland. Andrew was the son and heir of Sir Andrew Moray of Petty, whose extensive lands were managed from Avoch Castle in the Black Isle, overlooking the Moray Firth to the east of Inverness. Landed wealth inevitably brought a degree of political influence, but Sir Andrew's connections went to the very top of the realm. His second wife-Andrew's step-mother-was Euphemia Comyn, the sister of John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, nephew of King John Balliol. In the south of the country Sir William Murray, Sir Andrew's brother, held extensive lands in Lanarkshire. Known from his wealth as le riche, at Bothwell overlooking the River Clyde he was to build one of the first stone castles in Scotland.
 Rebel and warchief
By the spring of 1296 Scotland was at war with England. Andrew, together with his father and uncle, joined the host assembled at Haddington to meet the anticipated English invasion. It had been many years since the cranking Scottish war machine had seen a full-scale mobilization, and at the Battle of Dunbar it was overwhelmed in matter of minutes by John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey. Edward I, the English king, went on to depose John Balliol in a military progress that took him all the way to the Moray Firth. In the meantime those captured at Dunbar were taken south in chains, with the more important prisoners such as Sir Andrew going to the Tower of London. His son, considered to be of less significance, was imprisoned in Chester Castle, the northernmost stronghold to which the Dunbar captives were taken. During the winter, Andrew managed to escape and return to Scotland, though it is not known how or by what means. What is certain is that he was back at Avoch by May 1297, one of the most important months in Scottish history. "In the month of May of the same year", the Hemingsburgh Chronicle notes, "the perfidious race of Scots began to rebel." William Wallace was already stirring in the South; Andrew began his own rebellion in the North.
Given the speed with which the people of Moray rose to greet Andrew it seems clear that his return and presence was an inspiration. Though his father was still in prison-never to return-the vassals of Avoch, Croy, Alturlie, Boharm and other places all joined his son in arms. He was also joined at Avoch by Alexander Pilchie and the burgesses of Inverness, and now had sufficient strength to begin a serious campaign. By July William Fitzwarren, the constable of Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness, was writing to King Edward that "Some evil disposed people have joined Andrew de Moravia at the castle of Awath in Ross."
 Urquhart attacked
The situation became so dire that Sir Reginald Chen, Edward's chief Scottish supporter in Moray and the sheriff of Elgin, wrote to the king asking for help. Chen also summoned his subordinates, including Fitzwarren, to a meeting at Inverness to discuss the crisis. On his way back to Urquhart, Fitzwarren was ambushed by Andrew's men, making it to the safety of his castle with some difficulty, where he soon found himself under siege. Among those summoned to his assistance was the Countess of Ross, whose husband was another of the Dunbar captives. Her intervention was set to provide a moment of comic relief in an otherwise grim situation.
The important thing to remember about the English occupation of Scotland after 1296 is that it was virtually inconceivable without the active co-operation of large sections of the Scottish nobility: the English state simply did not have the manpower and resources to install a completely alien regime. This is why time and again Edward was to pardon men who had proved themselves to be inveterate rebels. The Countess of Ross would have had the manpower to challenge Andrew; she clearly did not have the will. However, with an eye on the well-being of her husband, she had to do something. She managed to get a message through to Fitzwarren expressing her sympathies for his predicament and advising him that the best course of action would be to surrender. He refused. The Countess eventually managed to get some supplies through to the garrison-presumably by way of Loch Ness-and was later warmly commended for her actions with no sense of irony.
In the end Andrew, with no siege equipment, was forced to abandon the attempt on Urquhart after a failed night attack. His campaign continued, though, throughout the summer of 1297. Sir Reginald was a particular target: his lands were wasted, his goods despoiled, his castle burned and he himself eventually taken prisoner. To Edward it was reported that "a very large body of rogues swept through the province of Moray towards the Spey, destroying the lands of Duffus, laid waste and captured the castle."
 Edward reacts
Such was the problem in Moray that Edward authorised some of the leading local nobility, who had been released from their English prisons on the understanding that they would serve in his war against France, to return to Scotland to restore order. Among these were Henry Cheyne, Bishop of Aberdeen, Sir Gartnait of Mar, heir to the earldom of Mar, and John Comyn, Earl of Buchan, kinsman and namesake of the Lord of Badenoch, together with his brother, Alexander. With their entourage they advanced north to Aberdeen. Andrew, learning of their presence, marched to towards them. The two sides finally met on the banks of the Spey, on the eastern edge of the province of Moray. What happened then essentially replayed the earlier dance with the countess of Ross. No details have survived, but the two sides seem to have reached some understanding: the rebel army simply withdrew without pursuit. Buchan and his colleagues excused themselves in a letter to Edward, saying their horses could be of no service in a "very great stronghold of bog and wood," a highly uninventive explanation when one considers the Comyn family had been settled in the area for over a century. Hugh de Cressingham, the chief English agent of the occupation, was quick to recognise the insincerity behind these manoeuvres, writing to Edward that the Scots nobles were playing a double-game.
As a last and rather desperate gambit, Edward proposed to release Sir Andrew Moray to serve in Flanders, if his son was prepared to come to London to take his father's place as a hostage. A safe-conduct allowing Andrew to come to England was issued under the king's seal on 28 August 1297. Andrew, whatever concerns he may have had for the well-being of his father, refused to accept the bait. By this time it was far too late in any case for the army of the North had already met up with Wallace and the army of the South.
 Captains and kings
It is not known exactly when and where the two rebel commanders met up; however, it has been established that it was Wallace who came to join Andrew and not Andrew to join Wallace. By the summer of 1297, the rising in the South was close to collapse. Wallace's main sponsors, who included James, the High Steward of Scotland, and Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow, had surrendered to the English at Irvine in July. It is also important to remember that Wallace was at this point considered to his peers as little better than an inspired outlaw, not yet with the reputation he subsequently acquired. Andrew Moray was the one leader left with a national reputation and with all of the right aristocratic connections. In military terms he had also made remarkable progress since the abortive attack on Urquhart: by the end of August he had seized the castles of Inverness, Aberdeen, Balconie, Elgin and Banff. In the same month he and Wallace met, possibly close to the city of Dundee. The two leaders were acknowledged by their men as 'commaders of the army of the kingdom of Scotland and the community of the realm' Together they would fight for John Balliol, worthy subjects of a worthless king.
All too late Surrey, whom Edward had left in overall charge of Scotland, but who seemed to spend as little time in the country as he could manage, awoke to the true depths of the crisis. The army was mustered and marched into central Scotland, where Andrew and Wallace waited north of the River Forth close to the old bridge at Stirling. From beginning to end the whole English campaign was botched and ill-managed: in attempting a crossing of the narrow bridge Surrey's vanguard was cut to pieces at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. What was left of the army retired south, leaving central Scotland to the rebels. There is no information on Scottish casualties in the battle aside from Andrew Moray himself.
 Andrew Moray's death
It is usually argued that Moray was only wounded at Stirling, dying some two months later. However it was recorded at an inqusition into the affairs of Sir William Petty, held at Berwick in late November 1300, that Andrew de Moray was "slain at Stirling against the king." The only evidence that he survived lies in two letters, which both suggest he was still alive-by implication only-in early November. The first was sent from Haddington on 11 October to the mayors of Lübeck and Hamburg, two of the towns of the Hanseatic League, by 'Andrew de Moray and William Wallace, leaders of the kingdom of Scotland and the community of the realm.' The second letter was issued to the prior of Hexham on 7 November by 'Andrew de Moray and William Wallace, the leaders of the army and of the realm of Scotland.' As Andrew's name appears on no document after this date it is deduced that he must have sucumbed to his wounds around this time. Detailed English sources reveal that Andrew de Moray was not at Hexham. To be able to issue a letter from here Wallace must, therefore, have had use of their joint seal.
Despite the success of Stirling Bridge Wallace was still in an uncertain political position. The death of Andrew not only robbed him of a comrade but also of a shield against the jealousies of the traditional elites. Andrew Moray, it is argued, was himself a noble with all of the right connections. Without Andrew, Wallace was dangerously exposed, as much at risk from the political intrigues of his fellow Scots as from military reprisals by the English. The continuing association with Andrew added a measure of political gravitas to his position and office. Once Wallace emerged as Guardian of Scotland, as he did some time prior to March 1298, it was no longer necessary to issue letters in joint names.
Many believe that the death of Andrew Moray robbed Scotland of a great soldier. It has even been suggested that the victory at Stirling owed more to his tactical skill than that of Wallace, though the evidence for this is far from conclusive, resting on no better premise than that of the Guardian's subsequent defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in the summer of 1298. It has to be said in Wallace's defence, though, that he may have lost a battle but, paradoxically, he had already won the campaign. He never meant to fight at Falkirk, and was merely poised to shadow the retreating enemy army. The battle was forced when his location was betrayed.
Andrew's contribution to the campaign of 1297 was so vital that many believe had he lived he would have been appointed joint-Guardian with Wallace. In later years his son Andrew was twice to occupy the position and play his own role in attempting to secure the freedom and independence of Scotland.
Murray is a common variation of the word Moray, an anglicisation of the Medieval Gaelic word Muireb (or Moreb); the b here was pronounced as v, hence the Latinization to Moravia. These names denote the district on the south shore of the Moray Firth. Murray is actually a direct transliteration of how Scottish people pronounce the word Moray.
Murray is no longer used for the geographical area, but it became the commonest form of the surname, especially among Scottish emigrants, to the extent that the surname Murray is now much more common than the original surname Moray.
- Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland, ed. J. Bain, 1887.
- Barron, E. M., The Scottish War of Independence, 1934.
- Foedera, Conventiones, Litterae, ed T. Rymer, 1816.
- The Chronicle of Walter of Guisborough, ed. H. Rothwell, 1957.
- Taylor, J. G., Fighting for the Lion: The Life of Andrew Moray, in History Scotland, Sept/October, 2005.
 See also
- The First War of Scottish Independence (1296-1306)
- History of Scotland
- Timeline of Scottish history
- Kildrummy Castle
- John of Scotland
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