The Making and Breaking of a Comital Family: Malcolm Fleming, First Earl of Wigtown, and Thomas Fleming, Second Earl of Wigtown, Part 2: The Breaking of an Earldom: The Decline of Earl Malcolm and Failure of Earl Thomas
Citation Oram R (2017) The Making and Breaking of a Comital Family: Malcolm Fleming, First Earl of Wigtown, and Thomas Fleming, Second Earl of Wigtown, Part 2: The Breaking of an Earldom: The Decline of Earl Malcolm and Failure of Earl Thomas. International Review of Scottish Studies, 42, pp. 36-58. http://www.irss.uoguelph.ca/index.php/irss/article/view/3559; https://doi.org/10.21083/irss.v42i0.3559
Abstract This second part of a two-part study of the 14th-century Fleming earls of Wigtown explores the consequences of the Battle of Neville's Cross for the career of Earl Malcolm. It analyses the progressive dismantling of his powerbase by Robert Stewart and the effective collapse of his lordship in western Galloway and Carrick. Increasing marginality is a recurring theme, with the ageing and apparently infirm Malcolm emerging only briefly into the political arena during the tortuous ransom negotiations for David II. Malcolm's decline could not be offset against the emergence of his heir as the new focus for Fleming political fortunes for, not only was his grandson and heir, Thomas, to serve as a hostage for payment of David's ransom in England, but, it is argued, he appears to have been either physically or mentally incapble of providing the leadership that the Flemings' following required. Following Malcolm's death, Earl Thomas played no part in the political life of the kingdom and appears as a helpless by-stander as more powerful men dismantled his heritage. The suspension of his regality jurisdiction over Wigtown ended any pretense of power in the region and he eventually sold his residual interests in the earldom to Archibald Douglas. Crippled by debt, Thomas progressively alienated his remaining properties, forcing his Biggar Fleming kinsmen to step in to preserve some remnants of the once-extensive territorial lordship of their senior kinsmen. Thomas ended his days in utter obscurity, a remarkable instance of the brief efflorescence and equally rapid fall of a family of 'new men' in the service of the Bruce kings.
Keywords Wars of Independence; Bruce family; Stewart Family; Fleming family; King David II; Robert the Steward; Wigtown; regality jurisdiction; wadset; following; incapacity.
Journal International Review of Scottish Studies: Volume 42