Sir William Borthwick

Male Abt 1370 - Abt 1458  (~ 88 years)

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  • Name William Borthwick 
    Title Sir 
    Born Abt 1370  Gorebridge, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Lochorwart Castle
    Gender Male 
    Reference Number 1972 
    Title Sir 
    Died Abt 24 Jun 1458  Gorebridge, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Borthwick Castle
    Person ID I1972  Thompson-Milligan
    Last Modified 12 Apr 2018 

    Father William Borthwick,   b. 1355, Borthwick, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1439, Gorebridge, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Moriota Hay,   b. Abt 1355, Gorebridge, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Relationship natural 
    Family ID F1334  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Rachel Hay,   b. Borthwick, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Janet Borthwick,   b. Abt 1388, Hailes, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 5 Jun 1464  (Age ~ 76 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 12 Apr 2018 
    Family ID F1821  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • William Borthwick, 1st Lord Borthwick, so created 12 June 1452, knighted vp. 1430, one of the magnates who according to contemporary records habitually plundered the Customs. [Burke's Peerage]
      1430 Built Borthwick Castle by expanding Lochorwart Castle.
      Borthwick Castle
      [ANSEL Import : either musical flat or copyright symbol]1995-2002 Gazetteer for Scotland
      A twin towered castle on the E flank of the village of Borthwick in Midlothian, Borthwick Castle lies 2 miles (3 km) south east of Gorebridge. It was built by Sir William Borthwick in 1430 on the site of an earlier tower and is noted for its exceptionally strong walls which are up to 4.3 (14 feet) thick. It is said that prisoners, with their hands tied, were invited to jump the 4m (12 foot) gap between the massive towers of this U-plan keep. Those who succeeded were freed, those who did not would no longer be in the need of the hospitality of the house!
      Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), visited the castle in 1567 soon after her unpopular marriage to James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell (1536-78). The couple were besieged by a force of 1000, led by some of Mary's most senior nobles, who implicated Bothwell in the murder of her second husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (1545-67). Mary was able to negotiate with the force, allowing Bothwell to slip away, and she escaped the following day dressed as a page-boy. The opposition quickly caught up with Mary who, within days, was forced into compromise and captivity at Carberry Hill.
      The Parliamentarian army of Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1654) attacked Borthwick in 1650 and brought about its swift surrender. Damage to the stone-work, caused by cannon, can still be seen. The castle was abandoned not long after the visit of Cromwell's forces but was fully restored between 1890 and 1914. During World War II Borthwick was used as a secret repository for various national treasures. In 1973 this fine castle was converted into a hotel.
      Brief History
      Borthwick Castle is one of the most important historic buildings in Scotland. It is a twin towered baronial keep, built by the first Lord Borthwick (conflicting sources say that is was built by Sir James Borthwick,later Lord Borthwick, in 1420, or by Sir William Borthwick in 1430. Further research is required but I think it was probably built by Sir William, who later became the first Lord Borthwick.)
      One history says that the castle was built on the site of an earlier motte castle known as Lochorwart, granted to Lord Borthwick by James I. Another states that in about 1378 the Borthwicks acquired the Lothian lands of Catcune, but before long they won from the Hays the much richer property of Locherworth and there built about 1430 the majestic Borthwick Castle. Whether the "winning" of the land from the Hays was through James I taking it from them and granting it to the Borthwicks I know not at this stage!
      Here are some reported events relevant to the romantic history of the castle, and the Borthwicks themselves:
      1420: In 1409 Margaret, daughter of William Hay, married William the 'Red' Douglas, 2nd Earl of Angus in an attempt to bring the 'Red' Douglases back into the fold of the 'Black' Douglas camp. With the death of William Hay in 1420, his son Thomas took over as Lord of Yester and started a dispute with the Borthwicks of Borthwick castle, Mid Lothian also 'Black' Douglas vassals. This led to local Lothian violence with the 'Red' Douglases delighted to help the Hays in their attacks, because they were protecting their 'in laws'. This minor civil war continued until Prince James, now King James I (1406-1437) returned to Scotland in 1424.
      1430: In 1420 Sir William Borthwick was Captain of Edinburgh Castle and in 1430 he granted lands by King James and built the castle. (Possibly these were the lands lost by the Hays in the battles referred to above.) Sir William Borthwick's son was created Lord Borthwick in 1454. He died some time before 1458 and is commemorated by a splendid tomb in the old church of Borthwick. From 1430 onwards the Lords Borthwick had immense possessions and great influence in Midlothian.
      1513 - The Battle of Flodden: In 1478 John Hay was created Baron Yester of Yester. In 1513 Baron Yester and his kinsman Hay Earl of Erroll of Slains castle, near Aberdeen gathered their forces together and marched south with King James IV of Scots (1488-1513) to harry the north of England. The King was also joined in this venture by several other noble Lairds, the aged Archibald 'Bell-the-cat' Douglas of Tantallon castle, Lord Borthwick of Borthwick castle (the King's cannon commander) , Lord Lyndsay of Byres castle, near Haddington and the Border veteran Lord Home of Home castle.
      The Scots crossed the river Tweed at Coldstream, stormed Wark castle, bombarded Norham castle with 'Mon's Meg' (great bombard held today at Edinburgh castle) into surrender, seized Etal castle and burnt down Ford castle after the King spent several days dallying with Lady Heron of Ford. This was a ploy on Lady Heron's part, by detaining the Scots King in her bedchamber it allowed the English Borders time to assemble their forces at Newcastle and Alnwick. As the Scots sat inactive encamped at Flodden hill, Archibald Douglas suggested the Scots army should either advance further into England or withdraw altogether. The King insisted that Douglas leave if he was too old to fight. Furious, Douglas departed leaving his two sons George and William to fly the Douglas colors at Flodden When the English did arrive they began filing across the valley towards Branxton ridge cutting off the Scots retreat route. Lord Borthwick pleaded with the King to let him fire a barrage on the English before they reached the other ridge. King James dismissed this suggestion as unchivalrous and insisted a salute was fired to acknowledge their arrival. Interestingly this salute was viewed as incompetence by the English who assumed the Scots gunners were firing over their heads unable to gauge their position. Lord Lyndsay begged the King to allow him to charge with his horsemen down the hillside to divide the English before they could assemble. Once again the King refused the sound guidance of his men and threatened to hang Lord Lyndsay from the gate of Byres castle on his return to Scotland if he did not hold his position. See Douglas History.
      William, 4th Lord Borthwick, was killed in the Battle of Flodden in 1513, after which his son, William (d.1543), took responsibility of the young King James V in Stirling Castle.
      18 November 1650: the Borthwicks adhered to the royalist cause during the civil war, and their castle was besieged after the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. Oliver Cromwell, leader of the Roundheads in the Civil War, attacked the castle, but it was spared from the inevitable destruction when Cromwell offered John, the royalist 10th Lord Borthwick, honourable terms of surrender, which he accepted. First Cromwell sent a letter to Lord Borthwick, requesting the surrender of the house ' shall have libertie to carry off your armes and goods and such other necessitate as you have.. ... You have harboured such parties in your house as have basely and inhumanely murdered our men: if you necessitate me to bend my cannon against you, you may expect what I doubt you will not be pleased with.' Borthwick initially resisted, but Cromwell's cannon quickly demonstrated that the castle walls were not the impregnable form of defence they had once been, creating the damage to the eastern wall and parapet still visible today, and Borthwick quickly came to terms, exchanging his castle for the lives of its defenders. Cromwell's letter hangs today, 350 years later, in the Great Hall of Borthwick Castle.
      The Civil War resulted in the dethronement, trial and beheading of a Stuart King, Charles 1.
      Oliver Cromwell 1599 - 1654 Soldier and statesman. Born in Huntingdon (England), Cromwell was staunchly Calvinist in his religious principles and was regarded as a gifted and forceful general. He led the Parliamentarian army which over-threw King Charles I. Although Charles had surrendered to the Scots, he was handed over to Cromwell who executed him in London (1649). Cromwell brought about an enforced Union between Scotland and England by appointing himself as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. When King Charles II signed the National Covenant, he regained the support of Scotland, causing Cromwell, supported by General Monk, to invade (1650). Monk crushed Scotland within a year, forcing Charles II to flee the France and causing much hunger and poverty. It was only after Cromwell's death and the Stuart restoration in 1660 that conditions improved.
      Source: [ANSEL Import : either musical flat or copyright symbol]1995-2001 Gazetteer for Scotland.
      1687 - Mary Queen of Scots: The connection between the castle and Mary Queen of Scots is so famous that I've created a separate section for it below.
      - - - - ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ------
      Mary Queen of Scots & Borthwick Castle
      Mary Stuart, Mary Queen of Scots (1542-87) and James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell (1536-78) visited the castle in 1563 during a progress. Perhaps they liked it - or thought it a safe fortress - as it was in Borthwick castle that Mary and her new husband Bothwell sought refuge in 1567. On that occasion they were besieged here, Mary only escaping disguised as a man.
      Here, with grateful acknowledgement to the excellent Mary Stuart site, is a chronology of Mary's brief but dramatic connection with the castle:
      1 July 1563: Mary travels to Dunipace, Glasgow, Hamilton, Dumbarton Castle, Inveraray Castle, Dunoon, Eglington. Then on to Ayr, Dunure, Ardmillan, Ardstinchar, the Abbey of Glenluce, the Priory of Whithorn, Kenmure Castle, St Mary's Isle, Dumfries, Drumlanrig Castle, Crawfordjohn, Couthalley, Neidpath Castle, Borthwick Castle, Dalhousie and Roslin. She returns to Edinburgh in September 1563 after a visit at Craigmillar Castle.
      1 May 1567: The nobles who had been coerced to put their names to the Ainslie Bond, in support of Bothwell's marriage to Mary, rapidly changed their minds when they saw Bothwell in such a powerful position. On 1 May 1567, they signed another bond whose aims were the liberation of the Queen, securing Prince James and bringing the dictatorship of Bothwell to an end. The ringleaders included Morton, Argyll and Atholl who had signed the Ainslie Bond. Maitland also deserted Mary's cause even though he had previously encouraged her to marry Bothwell.
      15 May 1567: Mary and James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, her third husband, are married in Edinburgh according to Protestant rites at 10 a.m. The nobles were not happy.
      7 June 1567: Bothwell and the queen left Edinburgh on 7 June, and headed for the impregnable fortress of Borthwick (or Botherwick) Castle where they hoped to muster their own forces.
      9/10 June 1567: The Earls of Morton and Hume, with eight hundred of their Borderers, appeared at Borthwick Castle. The nobles demanded Bothwell's head and Mary's renunciation of the Earl and his influence. Bothwell, a suspect in the murder of Queen Mary's second husband, Lord Darnley, just a few months before, fled the castle's sheltering 110-foot towers and the asylum offered by the 6th Lord Borthwick, leaving his wife and queen behind.
      11 June 1567: Mary managed to escape through a narrow window (right) disguised as a pageboy, and rode off to meet Bothwell at Black Castle, stronghold of the Wauchopes, Bothwell's henchmen, at Cakemuir. From there, Mary and Bothwell went to Dunbar to muster an army.
      15 June 1567: The nobles seized Edinburgh. The queen mustered about three thousand men, and marched upon the capital. The forces confronted each other at Carberry Hill near Musselburgh, where, after a day spent in parleying, Mary surrendered to the nobles, and Bothwell was allowed to ride off in the direction of Dunbar. The queen was taken to Edinburgh on 15 June, and on 17 June she was conveyed a captive to Lochleven Castle, which stood on an island in the lake. On 23 June, she was forced to sign her abdication of the throne, and to confirm the appointment of Moray as regent, to govern during the minority of her son.
      Mary Queen of Scots Mary died upon the scaffold at Fotheringay Castle in the North of England in 1587. Bothwell had died nine years earlier in a Danish prison. See Castles site.
      Abbrev: Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosl e y Editor-in-Chief, 1999
      Title: Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley Editor-in-Chief, 1999
      Page: 318
      Quality: 3
      Abbrev: Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley Editor-in-Chief, 1999
      Title: Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley Editor-in-Chief, 1999
      Page: 318
      Quality: 3