Sir Robert Graham of Kinpont

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Robert Graham, Knight

Also Known As: "Robin de Grahame of Killpont", "Robert Graham of Kinpunt"
Birthplace: Kincardine, Perthshire, Scotland
Death: April 1437 (58-66)
Stirling Castle, Scotland (Tortured to death for killing King James l)
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Patrick Graham, Earl of Strathearn and Egidia (Euphemia) Stewart, of Ralston
Husband of Mariota Oliphant of Aberdalgie & Kellie and NN NN
Father of Walter Graham; Patrick Graham; Umfrid Graham; SIr Robert Graham of Cessfurd, Kt. and Thomas Graham
Brother of David Graham; Alexander Graham; Patrick Graham of Kincardine, Earl of Strathearn and Euphemia Vauss
Half brother of Matilda Graham and Sir William Graham of Kincardine-in-Menteith and Montrose

Occupation: Landowner, regicide
Managed by: Elizabeth Ellen Prince
Last Updated:

About Sir Robert Graham of Kinpont

Sir Robert Graham

  • died April 1437. Executed for the assassination of King James I of Scotland on 20 February 1437; "said to have delivered the fatal blow"
  • Father: Sir Patrick Graham, Lord Dundaff, Knight-Banneret d. 1400
  • Mother: Euphemia (Egidia) Stewart1 d. a 1430
  • Married: Marion Oliphant

" ... Yet I do not doubt but that you shall see the day and time that you shall pray for my soul, for the great good that I have done to you, and to all in this realm of Scotland, that I have thus slain and delivered you of so cruel a tyrant..." Sir Robert Graham of Kinpont [4]

From From The Handbook to English Heraldry by Charles Boutell, p243

Seal of Robert Graham of Kinpoint, 1433

  • Blazon: (?) on a chief three escallops
  • Supporters: Two lions rampant
  • The crest appears to be a stag’s attire.



  1. unknown partner
  2. by contract dated 1399 to Marion (Mariot) Oliphant, daughter of John Oliphant of Aberdalgie (TSP page 214, below)

Children by unknown partner 

  1. Thomas Graham

Children by Mariot Oliphant

  •   1. Robert Graham, of Cessfurd
  •   2. Walter Graham
  •   3. Patrick Graham
  •   4. Umfrid Graham


family notes

Sir Robert Graham He was married and left issue.1 He was born at of Kilpont, Scotland.1 He died in 1437 at Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland; Executed for assassinating King James I at Perth.1

From The Scots Peerage: Page 214:

" .. An indenture of the date 1399 between Sir Patrick Grahame of Kincardine and Sir John Oliphant of Abergaldie that Robin de Grahame son the said Sir Patrick, shall wed to wyfe, God willand, daughter of the said Sir John. ..."

brief biography

Robert Graham was the third son of Patrick Graham of Kincardine. He attended the University of Paris in the 1390s, potentially in preparation for entering the priesthood. In 1399 he married Marion Oliphant, daughter of John Oliphant of Aberdalgie.[2] Robert's brother Sir Patrick Graham (died 1413) acquired the Earldom of Strathearn through his 1406 marriage to Euphemia Stewart, Countess of Strathearn. Robert became tutor to his nephew, Malise Graham.[3]

He is described as "a grete gentilman... a man of grete wit and eloquence, wounder suttilye willyd and expert in the lawe".[3]

An unfortunate episode began in 1413 after his brother, Patrick , was murdered by the Drummonds. He had been created Earl Palatine of the royal Earldom of Strathearn after marrying the grand-daughter of Robert III, and had acquired the vastly rich estates.

He had left his infant son in the care of his younger brother, Sir Robert. In 1427 King James I seized the wealthy earldom and gave the boy only the poor Highland parish of Aberfoyle and the empty title of Earl of Menteith. He also sent the unfortunate child as a hostage to England where he was imprisoned for nearly twenty five years.

The Grahams always resented injustice and Sir Robert Graham of Kilpont protested loudly. He tried to arrest the king in Parliament, and then publicly renounced his allegiance to a tyrant.

. . . Comment: However, more recent historians have doubted that the deprivation of Malise Graham was such a strong motivation for Sir Robert's actions.[7]

On February 21, 1437, Sir Robert led a band of Highlanders to Perth where they trapped the King in the cellar of the Blackfriars Monastery and stabbed him to death. For this crime Sir Robert and his sons were tortured and executed in a most horrible manner at Stirling.

historical context of the King's assassination

From The King's Tragedy (James I of Scots - 20 February 1437) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Born in 1394, James I became heir to the throne of Scotland after the murder of his older brother at the hands of a rival political faction. Fearing that James might suffer the same fate, his father, Robert III, attempted to send the prince to France in secret. But James was intercepted by the army of Henry Bolingbroke (Henry IV), which spirited him off to England where he remained in captivity (alternating between stints at court, in the Tower, and in military service) until 1424. While he was thus immured, James wrote The Kingis Quair, which speaks of his love for Joan Beaufort, whom he married shortly before his return to Scotland. After James's return to Scotland, he attempted to implement a number of sweeping reforms that served to strengthen his own central authority through the often violent suppression of an unruly and rebellious feudal nobility. The strong opposition to these efforts eventually led to James's murder by rebel lords in late February 1437, six months after the failed campaign at Roxburgh.

Katy, bar the door!


Legend has it that during the King's stay at a Dominican chapterhouse in Perth, a group of men led by Sir Robert Graham came to the door searching for the King in order to kill him. The King's Chamberlain, Robert Stewart, Master of Atholl, had removed the bolt from the door of the room in which James and his queen were staying.[1]

James fled into a sewer tunnel as the queen and her ladies quickly replaced the floorboards to hide his location.[2] Catherine sprang to the door and placed her arm through the staples to bar the assassins' entrance.[3] However, they forced the door open anyway, breaking Catherine's arm, and discovered and killed the King. From that point on, according to the story, Catherine took the surname of "Barlass".

The idiomatic phrase "Katy, bar the door!" (a warning of the approach of trouble) may have its origins in the story of Catherine Douglas.[4] Dante Gabriel Rossetti recounted the story of Catherine Douglas in verse in 1881, under the title "The King's Tragedy". This poem contains the line "Catherine, keep the door!"

From Scotland Magazine Issue 41 - The murder of King James 1:

They [the conspirators] threatened, some say wounded, the Queen and her attendants, but of the King there was no sign. They searched the chamber and the search spread to other rooms in the palace. Assuming that the silence above meant that the danger had passed, James called out for assistance in escaping from his refuge. The killers heard and returned to the bedchamber where they found their victim. Two of them went down after him. In the confined space, the King took them by their throats and tried to wrest the knives from their hands. Then Sir Robert Graham joined them and the King was finally dispatched, receiving 16 stab wounds to his body.

From “They don’t like it up ‘em…” Revisiting the sordid deaths of Edmund Ironside, Edward II, Kenneth II and James I of Scotland

"Finally, Sir Robert Graham jumped down into the void ‘with an horribill and mortall weapon in his hand’ – no light decision, given the ease with which it would have been possible to pick up a fatal illness in the pit. Refusing James’s plea for mercy, Grahame ran him through with his sword, and – the first two killers having by now freed themselves from the ordure – the king was finished off by all three men. ‘It was,’ Shirley concludes, ‘reported by true persons that saw him dead, that he had sixteen deadly wounds in his breast, withouten many and other in diverse places of his body.’ [Matheson pp.42-3]"

The conspirators then fled.

More on the assassination:

Sir Robert's capture and death

But they [the conspirators] had miscalculated. They found they had no support and had a vengeful Queen – a chip off the block of Edward I, the Hammer of the Scots – after them. Within a month the leaders were caught. The Earl of Atholl had a red-hot coronet placed on his head before he and his son were beheaded.

Robert Stewart was tortured to death. Sir Robert Graham was found cowering beneath a rock on the edge of Loch Bhac above Blair Atholl, still known as Graham’s Rock.

From A History of Rannoch

James I was assassinated in Perth in 1437 and his murder Sir Robert Graham sought sanctuary in Atholl where he was captured by Robert Riabhach, the 4th Chief of Clan Donnachaidh.  Some accounts give the place of his capture as Glenmore, the wild country south of Schichallion.  Much more likely is the shelter bed where he was supposed to be surprised at the burn that now has his name Allt Ghramaich (Graham’s Burn) which flows into Loch Bhac.  He was said to have fought ferociously but he had determined opponents, for not only did have Robert to contend with but also Stewart of Garth joined in the chase.  John Graham would without a doubt have fought even harder if he had know what his fate was to be.  If he expected mercy from James’ Queen; after all James used to call her his ‘milk-white dove’, he certainly did not get it.  He was nailed to a tree and dragged through the streets; his body was torn with pincers, his son was tortured and beheaded before him, and at length he was put to death.


  • [S147] Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage, 1938 ed., by Sir Bernard Burke, p., 1775.
  • 1. McGladdery, Christine (2001). "The House of Stewart, 1371–1625". In Oram, Richard. The Kings & Queens of Scotland. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-1991-9.
  • 2. Brown, M. H. (2004). "Graham, Sir Robert, of Kinpont (d. 1437)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  • 3. Nicholas, Harris (1842). History of the Earldoms of Strathern, Monteith, and Airth. London: William Pickering. p. 20.
  • 4. Brown, M. H., 'I have thus slain a tyrant' - The Dethe of the Kynge of Scotis and the right to resist in early fifteenth-century Scotland, Innes Review (Glasgow: J.S. Burns & Sons) 47 (SPRING 1996): 24–44, doi:10.3366/inr.1996.47.1.24, ISSN 0020-157X.
  • 5. Campbell, Alastair (2000). A History of Clan Campbell Volume 1. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 120–121. ISBN 9781902930176.
  • 6. Nicholas, Harris. History of the Earldoms of Strathern, Monteith, and Airth. p. 47.
  • 7. Brown, M. H. (2004). "Graham, Malise, third earl of Strathearn and first earl of Menteith (1406x13–1490)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 4 June 2012.


  1. The Scots peerage founded on Wood's ed. of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland; containing an historical and genealogical account of the nobility of that kingdom. Published 1904 by D. Douglas in Edinburgh .  Vol Vl page 214. "Of the second marriage, there were born four sons: Patrick, Sir Robert, David, Alexander ..."


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Sir Robert Graham of Kinpont's Timeline

Kincardine, Perthshire, Scotland
Age 34
Age 35
Age 37
Age 39
Age 41
April 1437
Age 62
Stirling Castle, Scotland