Sir Andrew Murray, or Moray, lived from about 1290 to 1338. The son of Andrew Murray, who fought alongside William Wallace at Stirling Bridge, he was Guardian of Scotland for periods of the 1330s and a significant player during the 2nd War of Independence. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
The 1328 Treaty of Edinburgh and Northampton brought to an end the 1st War of Independence, and represented a culmination of everything Robert the Bruce had been fighting for. However, it left considerable bad feeling south of the border, especially among exiled Scottish nobles who had supported the English during the wars and lost their lands as a result: and on the part of Edward III, who felt it a humiliating settlement that had been imposed on him during his minority.
The death of Robert the Bruce, and his succession by his five year old son David II, reopened the prospect of the disaffected Scots regaining their lands, with the support of Edward III. The attack duly came in 1332, by English forces under the command of Henry Beaumont, 4th Earl of Buchan, and Edward Balliol, the son of the former King John Balliol. They defeated the Scots at the battle of Dupplin Moor, near Perth. Amongst those killed on the Scottish side was the Guardian of the Kingdom, Donald, Earl of Mar. On 24 September 1332, Edward Balliol was crowned King of Scotland at Scone, leaving the country with two Kings: Edward Balliol and David II.
The Scots swiftly appointed a new Guardian. Sir Andrew Murray, Lord of Bothwell and Avoch, was the obvious choice. He was the son of Andrew Murray, who with William Wallace had defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. And he was married to Lady Christian Bruce, sister of Robert the Bruce: making him the uncle of the young David II.
Sir Andrew first turned his attention to quelling an uprising in Galloway, the only part of Scotland to openly support Edward Balliol, who was still based at Perth. Balliol and his forces then came south to assist in Galloway. At dawn on 17 December 1332 the Scots under Sir Andrew Murray attacked Balliol's base at Annan. Edward Balliol and his supporters had to flee back to England, with Balliol, it is said, wearing only underclothes and riding a horse without a saddle.
In early 1333, Edward III intervened personally in return for the gift by Balliol of the whole of Lothian, including Edinburgh, and besieged Berwick Castle. The Scots tried to distract Edward III by raiding northern England, and it was at this time that Sir Andrew Murray was captured by the English, and imprisoned in Durham Castle. Under a replacement Guardian, Sir Archibald Douglas, the Scots forces trying to relieve Berwick Castle finally met with Edward III at the Battle of Haildon Hill on 19 July 1333. The outcome was a decisive English victory. In the aftermath, the young David II was sent to France for safety.
In 1334 the English, with a remarkable lack of forethought, allowed Sir Andrew Murray to ransom himself and return to Scotland. Here he once again attacked Edward Balliol, and once again Balliol had to flee to England. Murray then took on Edward's supporters in the North East, notably Henry Beaumont in Buchan, who he captured on 23 December 1334 before allowing him to go to England.
In the summer of 1335, Edward III, with support from Henry Beaumont, launched his largest invasion yet on Scotland, determined to secure Edward Balliol's position as undisputed king once and for all. By September 1335, Edward III had largely taken Scotland. At the end of summer, Edward III and Edward Balliol returned to England, leaving David de Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl, to finish off the remaining pockets of David II's supporters. It was in these circumstances that Sir Andrew Murray was appointed Guardian of Scotland for the second time, after a meeting of supporters of David II at Dumbarton Castle.
Sir Andrew immediately gathered all available forces and headed north to tackle David de Strathbogie, who by now was besieging Kildrummy Castle, which was held for David II by Lady Christian Bruce, Sir Andrew's wife. On 30 November 1335 Sir Andrew defeated Strathbogie's army at the Battle of Culblean, in Aberdeenshire. Although a relatively small-scale conflict compared with others of the Wars of Independence, its outcome had far-reaching consequences, negating the English gains during the summer and leaving Edward Balliol, yet again, without a kingdom.
Sir Andrew went on to defy a further invasion by Edward III in 1336, conducting a guerrilla war in which it was said that much of Aberdeenshire and Angus was turned to desert. From February 1337, Sir Andrew slowly rolled back the English influence, capturing one stronghold after another and securing most of northern Scotland even before the official "campaigning season" had started for the year: and he also recaptured his own castle at Bothwell from the English, despite considerable work by Edward III to strengthen its defences. In May, Edward Balliol went to England to appeal for military support once more, but this time Edward III's attention had turned to pursuing his claim to the Crown of France and he no longer wished to help. Despite some English strongholds remaining north of the border, Sir Andrew was able to mount a series of raids into England. He had effectively seen off the claims to the Scottish throne of Edward Balliol.