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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dervorgilla De Galloway

My 23rd Great-Grandmother
Dervongilla De Galloway
born 1218 in Galloway, Wigtownshire, Scotland, died 28 Jan 1290 Bedford, England
Married 1233 Galloway, Wigtownshire, Scotland, to John De Baliol he was born 1212 Barhard Castle Durham, England. Died 12 Oct 1269 Barhard Castle, Durham, England. He was the King of Scotland.

Dervongilla (Dervorguilla):


Dervorguilla was one of the three daughters and heiresses of the Gaelic prince Alan, Lord of Galloway. She was born to Alan's second wife Margaret of Huntingdon, who was the eldest daughter of David of Scotland, 8th Earl of Huntingdon and Matilda (or Maud) of Chester. David in turn was the youngest brother to two Kings of Scotland, Malcolm IV and William the Lion. Thus, through her mother, Dervorguilla was descended from the Kings of Scotland, including David I.
Dervorguilla's father died in 1234 without a legitimate son (he had an illegitimate son Thomas). According to both Anglo-Norman feudal laws and to ancient Gaelic customs, Dervorguilla was one of his heiresses, her two sisters Helen and Christina being older and therefore senior. This might be considered an unusual practice in England, but it was more common in Scotland and in Western feudal tradition. Because of this, Dervorguilla bequeathed lands in Galloway to her descendants, the Baliol and the Comyns. Dervorguilla's son John of Scotland was briefly a King of Scots too, known as Toom Tabard (Scots: 'puppet king' literally "empty coat").


The Balliol family into which Devorguilla married was based at Barnard Castle in County Durham, England. Although the date of her birth is uncertain, her apparent age of 13 was by no means unusually early for betrothal and marriage at the time.
In 1263, her husband Sir John was required to make penance after a land dispute with Walter Kirkham, Bishop of Durham. Part of this took the very expensive form of founding a College for the poor at the University of Oxford. Sir John's own finances were less substantial than those of his wife, however, and long after his death it fell to Devorguilla to confirm the foundation, with the blessing of the same Bishop as well as the University hierarchy. She established a permanent endowment for the College in 1282, as well as its first formal Statutes. The college still retains the name Balliol College, where the history students' society is called the Devorguilla society and an annual seminar series featuring women in academia is called the Dervorguilla Seminar Series. While a Requiem Mass in Latin was sung at Balliol for the 700th anniversary of her death, it is believed that this was sung as a one-off, rather than having been marked in previous centuries.
Devorguilla founded a Cistercian Abbey 7 miles south of Dumfries in South West Scotland, in April 1273. It still stands as a picturesque ruin of red sandstone.
When Sir John died in 1269, his widow, Dervorguilla, had his heart embalmed and kept in a casket of ivory bound with silver. The casket travelled with her for the rest of her life. In 1274–5 John de Folkesworth arraigned an assize of novel disseisin against Devorguilla and others touching a tenement in Stibbington, Northamptonshire. In 1275–6 Robert de Ferrers arraigned an assize of mort d'ancestor against her touching a messuage in Repton, Derbyshire. In 1280 Sir John de Balliol's executors, including his widow, Devorguilla, sued Alan Fitz Count regarding a debt of £100 claimed by the executors from Alan. In 1280 she was granted letters of attorney to Thomas de Hunsingore and another in England, she staying in Galloway. The same year Devorguilla, Margaret de Ferrers, Countess of Derby, Ellen, widow of Alan la Zouche, and Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan, and Elizabeth his wife sued Roger de Clifford and Isabel his wife and Roger de Leybourne and Idoine his wife regarding the manors of Wyntone, King’s Meaburn, Appleby, and Brough-under-Stainmore, and a moiety of the manor of Kyrkby-Stephan, all in Westmorland. The same year Devorguilla sued John de Veer for a debt of £24. In 1280–1 Laurence Duket arraigned an assize of novel disseisin again Devorguilla and others touching a hedge destroyed in Cotingham, Middlesex. In 1288 she reached agreement with John, Abbot of Ramsey, regarding a fishery in Ellington.
In her last years, the main line of the royal House of Scotland was threatened by a lack of male heirs, and Devorguilla, who died just before the young heiress Margaret, the Maid of Norway, might, if she had outlived her, have been one of the claimants to her throne. Devorguilla was buried beside her husband at New Abbey, which was christened 'Sweetheart Abbey', the name which it retains to this day. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods have caused both graves to be lost.

Her Husbands Creast

Barhard Castle
Barhard Castle
Ancient building in Scotland gives
one quite the same impression as the "Abbey
of the Sweet Heart" in Galloway. This
is doubtless due not only to the interest
of its architecture and the quiet loveliness of the land-
scape surrounding it, but to the pathos of the story which
its name commemorates. The very atmosphere around
the gaunt tower and the shattered aisles of Dervorgilla's
Abbey seems laden with the fragrance of the spice-
embalmed heart which, in its costly casket, was her com-
panion for twenty years, and in death was placed upon her
breast in her grave, here in her native land of Galloway.
The desecrated choir where Dervorgilla was laid, where, let
us hope, she yet lies, seems still to be sanctified by her de-
votion and her piety; and when the setting sun deepens to
crimson their Scottish red sandstone, the ancient walls seem
aglow with the memory of her burning love and faith.
Sweetheart Abby

Sweetheart Abby

 Sweetheart Abby

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