The Lieutenancy of Dunbartonshire

Brief History of Dunbartonshire

The Lieutenancy of Dunbartonshire encompasses the old county boundary and underlies the district of Dumbarton, the district of Clydebank, the district of Bearsden and Milngavie, the district of Strathkelvin, the district of Cumbernauld and Kilsyth and the South Lenzie/Waterside district ward in electoral division 46 (Chryston) of Strathclyde region.

The Lieutenancy of Dunbartonshire – why are parts so far from Dumbarton? (Written by Jim Walker)

To answer the question above, we have to delve deep into Scotland's history.   As deep as the 12th Century in fact!

During the 12th Century the Kings of Scotland had watched the successful rise of Feudalism in England and decided to adopt the same practice within Scotland.   As a deliberate policy therefore, they invited the younger sons of established Norman and Flemish Families in England to settle in estates in Scotland. Such was the success of the policy that it continued and feudalism came to Scotland.

The main purpose of feudalism was as a means of running and governing the country in a way that maintained law and order and, above all, loyalty to the King.

Lands known as Fiefs or Fiefdoms, later known as Baronies, were allocated to loyal supporters of the King.   The obligations of these Feudal Grants were that the holders were responsible to the King for Law and Order, any necessary military support, and an annual rent.

In the 12th and 13th Centuries the Barony of Kirkintilloch lay within the County of Stirling.   The holder of the lands and title were the Comyn Family whose motte castle was within the area in Kirkintilloch known today as Peel Park.   The Barony stretched eastwards as far as Castlecary and so the Comyns decided, as a further security, to build a second motte castle at Cumbernauld. The remains of this castle can still be seen within the grounds of Cumbernauld House.

In 1286 the untimely death of Alexander III at Kinghorn led to one of the most unsettled and blood-thirsty periods in Scotland's history.   Alexander had died without an heir and so began the dispute to the succession to the Scottish Crown.   By invitation, Edward I of England, arbiter, and John Balliol (Edward's puppet) was appointed King of Scots.

Edward misread the character of the Scottish people however and many of the Scottish Nobles rose in defiance of England's interference in Scotland's affairs while others, including the Comyns of Kirkintilloch, supported Edward.

Enter William Wallace!

Wallace and his supporters carried out a sustained attack on the English-supporting Scots Noblemen.   His eventual arrest and subsequent execution merely added fuel to the fire of anti-English feeling that was raging throughout Scotland.

Enter Bruce!

The Bruce family took up the cause following the demise of Wallace and led Scotland to victory at Bannockburn in 1314 where Edward II was defeated by Robert De Bruce.

Following Bannockburn, those so called 'noble' Scots who had supported Edward II, by way of punishment, had their lands confiscated and their titles forfeited.   The Comyn family had supported Edward and so the Barony and the lands of Kirkintilloch were forfeited and given to Malcolm Fleming, son of the Lord of Biggar.   Some time later, Malcolm was rewarded further by being given the Sheriffdom of Dunbarton along with the Guardianship of Dumbarton Castle.

Malcolm now found himself with his Sheriffdom in Dunbartonshire and his Baronial title and lands in Stirlingshire and so he petitioned the King for an equal exchange of acreages between the two and so came into being Dunbartonshire and Dunbartonshire Easter Annex (detached).   Hence the reason the east side of Loch Lomond as far south as Drymen is in Stirlingshire!

Government and Council reorganisations have come and gone, but still Dunbartonshire as it was in the 14th Century remains – at least as the Lieutenancy.