The unfortunate demise of Uhtred of Galloway

King Henry I

Uhtred of Galloway, born in 1128, was the grandson of King Henry I. His mother married to Fergus of Galloway was one of the king’s illegitimate daughters. The alliance on the northern edge of England would have helped to secure the border through an extended kinship network. The same pattern of marriage to strategic border barons and lords can be seen across Henry’s domains. He married one daughter, called Alice, to Matthew of Montmorency. On that occasion the king’s ploy proved ineffective as Matthew later became the Constable of France. Rather than invading and maintaining an army in hostile territory Henry sought to absorb local nobles into a wider affinity of kinship to create a buffer zone. There is also the element of assimilation to consider in the case of Elizabeth Fitzroy, Uhtred, the grandson of a king was part of the Anglo-Norman aristocracy which led to resentment in the border region of Scotland.

As a boy Uhtred was sent to the court of Malcolm IV as a hostage. Malcolm’s mother, Ada or Adeline, was a great-grand daughter of the king. By 1157 Malcom did homage for his possessions in England at Peveril Castle in 1157. At the time Malcolm was granted the earldom of Huntingdon in exchange for Cumberland which he claimed by right of his father and grandfather.

At some point Uhtred married Gunhilda of Dunbar and became a father of a family of five sons and daughters. Through their father they were descended from the Normans and from their mother they were descended from the House of Dunkeld One of his daughters, Christina born about 1170, became the wife of William de Brus, the 3rd Lord of Annandale , making her the two times great grandmother of Robert the Bruce – assuming I’ve counted back up the family tree correctly.

In 1160 Fergus of Galloway died and Uhtred became a co-ruler of Galloway with his brother Gilla Brigte. The fought alongside William the Lion in the Scottish invasion of Northumbria in 1174. The result was a disaster for William the Lion but also for Uhtred. The Galwegians took the opportunity to rebel against the Anglo-Normans. Uhtred’s brother and nephew blinded and castrated him before killing him. Gille Brite took control of all of Galloway and allied himself with Henry II.

2 thoughts on “The unfortunate demise of Uhtred of Galloway

  1. Thanks for this!
    He’s my your 22nd great grandfather (mother’s side) AND my 15th great grandfather’s wife’s third great grandfather (father’s side)

    I’m mortified that Gilbert mutilated his brother in such a horrible way. Urgh.

    • If it’s any consolation they weren’t full siblings. Gilbert appears to have had a different mother so far as I can work out.

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