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Medieval Scotland - Scratchpad for research progress & work in progress

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  • Robert Mudie (1590 - 1666)
    Jordbok 1652 . Robert Moddi forpaktet i 1650 Giskegods i Senja for 50 riksd. årlig. To år senere ber han om 10 riksd. avslag i prisen da halvparten av gårdene lå øde....
  • Duncan of Atholl, Mormaer of Atholl (c.949 - c.990)
    NOTE: The title of Mormaer designates a regional or provincial ruler in the medieval Kingdom of the Scots. "Mormaer" is not a place. ATHOLL: A mediaeval Scottish province, successively a mormaerdom, ...
  • Mcbeth / Mcbrath (MacBethe/McBeth) McCausland, 6th Laird of Buchanan (c.1165 - d.)
    Succession of Clan Buchanan Chiefs The first six Clan Chiefs are poorly represented in historical records and are included by some Clan historians and omitted by others. Buchanan of Auchmar and Guthr...
  • George Buchanan (1506 - 1582)
    ) Please see Discussion for re-configurement of his parents, erroneously presented as Patrick and Margaret. [Sharon June 2013]
  • Crínán of Dunkeld (c.976 - 1045)
    CRINAN "the Thane", son of --- (-killed in battle 1045). Abthane of Dule. Lay abbot of Dunkeld. Steward of the Western Isles. Mormaer of Atholl. He was killed fighting King Macbeth. m ([1000]) BETHOC ,...

Scratchpad dumping place for the teamwork in progress updating the Scots Medieval Tree.

All welcome and encouraged

We're having difficulty with using inbox messaging to keep track of possible useful sources, sites etc to use in trying to decide on a template tree for some of the more disputed / vaguely sourced lines through this area.

So, this project is an experiment in co-ordinating a research team in a way that can store:

  • rough thoughts,
  • findings,
  • good internet links or other sources
  • discussions
  • problem profiles to watch out for etc

so that others can come back to them at a later stage, without losing the messages to attrition in their inboxes.

Don't worry about formatting - this is a sketch pad page, somebody else will jump in and format it after if you can't. More important is to log the questions and the subsequent research, however it looks

Post Geni Profile links to the profiles under review below:

*Christian Stewart ; Robert Stewart 1st Earl of Orkney



Apparently her father emigrated to Norway and her first name is constantly being changed to Christina and back again, hence I've now found it necessary to ask a Curator to MP the profile. Info cited from Moodie book 1906, internet open library. Also It was actually her son Robert Mudie / Moody / Moddy / Muderius who emigrated to Norway, most probably first to Bergen and later on to North Norway. Local stories tell of "Lairds / Lords" among his ancestors, and that his grandfather beging the Jarl (Earl) Robert of Orkney, which fits perfectly.



*Ethelred / 'Aed?' / 'Heth?' mac Máel Coluim, Lay Abbott of Dunkeld



Curator Note from Sharon Doubell (8/11/2012): Ethelred, son of Malcolm III and Margaret of Wessex. NB: Do NOT mix with his brothers Edgar, Edward or Edmund. Was he aka Aed & was he the husband of Lulach's daughter?



*NN, mother of Angus (daughter of Lulach; sister of Mael Snechta)



Curator Note from Sharon Doubell (8/11/2012): This is the daughter of Lulach and sister of Mael Snechtai. She is definitely the mother of Angus, possibly of Gruaidh, & Malcolm (unless Malcolm is Angus's son) Busy dis-entangling! Help welcome.



*James Dunbar 4th Earl of Moray

See Discussion


According to (whose main sources are quoted as: The Scots Peerage (Moray), Burke's Peerage 1934 (Dunbar of Mochrum), Burke's Peerage 1934 (Dunbar of Northfield), and Burke's Peerage 1934 (Hope-Dunbar)) [James Dunbar, 4th Earl of Moray James Dunbar] the 4th Earl was the son of Alexander Dunbar, who married Matilda/Maud Fraser, and was therefore the cousin of Thomas the 3rd Earl.

However, according to ( , whose sources are Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition; and Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy) James the 4th Earl and Thomas the 3rd Earl were brothers, the sons of Thomas the 2nd Earl.

The following websites have similar discussions: - 4th Earl and 3rd Earl were brothers. (Ref: Scots Peerage VI:301 ) - 4th and 3rd Earl were cousins. - 4th and 3rd Earl were brothers (this also includes a section which, confusingly, uses different ordinals for the Earls where Thomas the 3rd is referred to as the 7th Earl, and James the 4th Earl is referred to as the 8th Earl !). (Ref: Complete Peerage IX:176-7) says that the 4th Earl was "brother and heir", but (Ref: The Scots Peerage VI:304-306) also states that "James, fourth Earl of Moray, who is always stated to be the son of Alexander Dunbar and Matilda Fraser".

How do we resolve this data conflict? Posted by Shelia Tolbutt in this discussion.


Not hard, I don't think. These are all secondary sources citing other, presumably more reliable secondary sources. It's clear there is some doubt or room for argument, but reading all together it seems there was formerly some confusion that made the 4th Earl a cousin rather than brother of the 3rd Earl.

Both Complete Peerage and Scots Peerage are competent compilations, but both are known to have many problems. Despite these problems, I think CP has it right, and SP supports rather than contradicts CP.

All the other sources cited here seem to draw ultimately on either CP or SP.

Genealogics says the 4th Earl was a son of the 2nd Earl (brother of the 3rd Earl, not cousin). Genealogics is a compilation by Leo van de Pas, an excellent researcher. However, his cited sources are conspicuously missing SP. Also, he is active at SGM and often draws on the discussions there to improve his data. No evidence he has done that here. Instead, he is citing only the cursory stuff. also says the 4th Earl was a son of the 2nd Earl. This site is another good compilation, by a team working primarily from secondary sources. It is known to have many, many problems. Notice that it cites Alison Weir, a good but not deep researcher. IMO, citing is about as authoritative as citing says the 4th Earl was a cousin of the 2nd Earl. This site is simply a compilation by someone. We don't know who. Comparing to Scots Peerage, we see that the 4th Earl "is always stated to be the son of Alexander Dunbar and Matilda Fraser, the heiress of James Fraser of Frendraught, though no charter evidence is adduced, not even by Macfarlane." So no surprise if an anonymous compilation follows the "party line". This is a DNA site, so their primary interest is likely to be identifying men in the Dunbar male lineage, not in sorting out disputed 15th century lines. says the 2nd and 4th Earls were brothers (not father and son). This is another anonymous compilation. I see no evidence here that this is anything more than a quick narrative overview. No research, no citations except to "antiquarian books published in the 1800's." Notice that this material was cribbed from, a site that has a lot of general un-sourced info drawn from many published clan and tartan books.

BTW, I have a shelf full of these clan and tartan books. They rarely deal with genealogical detail. The idea is rather to give a brief and exciting history of the various clans. One of these, Frank Adam's _Clans, Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands_ does actually go into detail once in a while. It says the 4th Earl was son of the 2nd Earl.

Finally, the site is an amateur compilation, valuable here only because it quotes the CP and SP entries.

So, except for CP and SP, these secondary sources are all just static. None of them add anything.

Alex Maxwell Findlater's post at SGM is different. He is a highly competent researcher specializing in exactly this area. He has actually looked deeper, and is able to discuss the underlying documentation and relationships.

SP says, "James, fourth Earl of Moray, who is always stated to be the son of Alexander Dunbar and Matilda Fraser, the heiress of James Fraser of Frendraught, though no charter evidence is adduced, not even by Macfarlane. When he succeeded his father or grandfather is not certain ..." So, we clearly see the doubt. SP isn't actually rejecting the idea that the 4th Earl was a cousin of the 3rd Earl, but it suggests they might have been brothers.

Findlater takes this and expands. He offers a plausible explanation for the confusion: "There was indeed an Alexander Dunbar who was a second son and the father of a Dunbar Earl, but he was in a much earlier generation."

And, he offers a plausible scenario for the 1432 re-grant: "The naming of Thomas [3rd] Earl of Moray as heir in the 1432 regrant seems likely because James [his younger brother, later 4th Earl] had only daughters and they wanted to keep the lands in the Dunbar family, so effectively an enforcement of a tailzie to heirs male. After all, if this scenario is correct, Earl Thomas [3rd Earl] would have been a party to his mother’s [the heiress of Frenraught's] demise to his younger brother [the 4th Earl]." Justin Swanström


Bottom line: everything so far shows that the 3rd and 4th Earls were brothers, sons of the 2nd Earl. In my opinion, Findlater is almost certainly correct when he says the confusion that made the 4th Earl a cousin of the 3rd Earl almost certainly results from an "over-reading" of another relationship.


Sources and Internet Links that we've found to review

Encyclopedia Brittannica - the paper version: my own 1960s copy! Huge section on this subject