Justiciar of Scotia

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The Justiciar of Scotia (in Norman-Latin, Justiciarus Scotie) was the most senior legal office in the High Medieval Kingdom of Scotland. Scotia (meaning Scotland) in this context refers to Scotland to the north of the River Forth and River Clyde. The other Justiciar positions were the Justiciar of Lothian and the Justiciar of Galloway.

The institution has some Anglo-Norman origins, but in Scotland north of the Forth it represented some form of continuity with an older office, a senior version of a Judex, a native Scottish lawman often with province-wide responsibilities. Mormaer Causantín of Fife was styled judex magnus (i.e. "great Brehon") in Scotia, and it is probable that the Justiciarship of Scotia was just a further Latinisation/Normanisation of that position. By the middle of the thirteenth century, the responsibilities of the Justiciar became fully formalised. He supervised the activity and behaviour of royal sheriffs and sergeants, held courts and reported on these things to the king personally.

List of Justiciars of Scotia, to 1400

The following list, going up to 1400, consists of names who appears as Justiciar of Scotia in sources. The sources, especially in the twelfth century, are far from exhaustive, and so many names are doubtless missing. In the earliest period, there could be more than one Justiciar in operation at the same point in time.

Related Research Articles

In early medieval Scotland, a mormaer was the Gaelic name for a regional or provincial ruler, theoretically second only to the King of Scots, and the senior of a Taoiseach (chieftain). Mormaers were equivalent to English earls or Continental counts, and the term is often translated into English as 'earl'.

Earl of Buchan Title of nobility in the United Kingdom

The Mormaer or Earl of Buchan was originally the provincial ruler of the medieval province of Buchan. Buchan was the first Mormaerdom in the High Medieval Kingdom of the Scots to pass into the hands of a non-Scottish family in the male line. The earldom had three lines in its history, not counting passings from female heirs to sons. Today it is held by the Erskine family as a peerage. The current holder is Malcolm Erskine, 17th Earl of Buchan.

Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan Earl of Buchan

Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, Alasdair Mór mac an Rígh, and called the Wolf of Badenoch, was the third surviving son of King Robert II of Scotland and youngest by his first wife, Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan. He was the first Earl of Buchan since John Comyn, from 1382 until his death. Alexander married the widowed Euphemia I, Countess of Ross, but they had no children. He did have a large family by his longtime mistress, Mairead inghean Eachainn. Alexander was Justiciar of Scotia for a time, but not an effective one. He held large territories in the north of Scotland before eventually losing a large part of them. Alexander is remembered for his destruction of the royal burgh of Elgin and its cathedral. His nickname was earned due to his notorious cruelty and rapacity, but there is no proof that it was used during his lifetime.

The Earl of Fife or Mormaer of Fife was the ruler of the province of Fife in medieval Scotland, which encompassed the modern counties of Fife and Kinross. Due to their royal ancestry, the earls of Fife were the highest ranking nobles in the realm, and had the right to crown the king of Scots.

Causantín or Constantine of Fife is the first man known for certain to have been Mormaer of Fife.

Donnchad II (1154–1204), anglicized as Duncan II or Dunecan II, succeeded his father Duncan I as Earl of Fife in childhood. As a child of the previous mormaer, he was entitled to succeed his father through primogeniture, but not to lead his kin-group, Clann MacDuib. That probably fell to his cousin, Aed mac Gille Míchéil. Like previous mormaers of Fife, Duncan II was appointed Justiciar of Scotia. Donnchad's minority also meant that Ferchar, Mormaer of Strathearn, took supreme place as head of the Gaelic nobility and guide for the boy-king Malcolm IV.

Donnchadh III or Duncan was Earl of Fife from 1270/2 to 1288.

Fergus of Buchan was the last native Gaelic Mormaer of Buchan, and only the third to be known by name as Mormaer. Fergus appears to have had strong connections in Fife, and it is possible that his father Colbán was a Fifer. A charter issued by Fergus appears to have survived. The charter is a feudal charter granting lands to a subordinate. The charter had a few witnesses with French names, presumably a phenomenon related to his Comyn connections. Fergus had no male heirs, and married his only daughter Marjory to William Comyn, bringing Gaelic control of the Mormaership to an end. On Fergus' death, Buchan became the first native mormaerdom to pass into the hands of a foreign family

The Mormaerdom or Kingdom of Moray was a lordship in High Medieval Scotland that was destroyed by King David I of Scotland in 1130. It did not have the same territory as the modern local government council area of Moray, which is a much smaller area, around Elgin. The medieval lordship was in fact centred on both the lower Spey valley and the environs of Inverness and the northern parts of the Great Glen, and probably originally included Buchan and Mar, as well as Ross.

Scottish Society in the High Middle Ages pertains to Scottish society roughly between 900 and 1286, a period roughly corresponding to the general historical era known as the High Middle Ages.

Scottish legal institutions in the High Middle Ages are, for the purposes of this article, the informal and formal systems which governed and helped to manage Scottish society between the years 900 and 1288, a period roughly corresponding with the general European era usually called the High Middle Ages. Scottish society in this period was predominantly Gaelic. Early Gaelic law tracts, first written down in the ninth century reveal a society highly concerned with kinship, status, honour and the regulation of blood feuds. The early Scottish lawman, or Breitheamh, became the Latin Judex; the great Breitheamh became the magnus Judex, which arguably developed into the office of Justiciar, an office which survives to this day in that of Lord Justice General. Scottish common law began to take shape at the end of the period, assimilating Gaelic and Celtic law with practices from Anglo-Norman England and the Continent.

William Comyn, Lord of Badenoch Scottish noble

William Comyn was Lord of Badenoch and Earl of Buchan. He was one of the seven children of Richard Comyn, Justiciar of Lothian, and Hextilda of Tynedale. He was born in Scotland, in Altyre, Moray in 1163 and died in Buchan in 1233 where he is buried in Deer Abbey.

Walter Comyn, Lord of Badenoch was the son of William Comyn, Justiciar of Scotia and Mormaer or Earl of Buchan by right of his second wife.

Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan Scoto-Norman magnate in 13th century Kingdom of Scotland

Alexander Comyn, 2nd Earl of Buchan was a Scoto-Norman magnate who was one of the most important figures in the 13th century Kingdom of Scotland. He was the son of William Comyn, jure uxoris Earl of Buchan, and Marjory, Countess of Buchan, the heiress of the last native Scottish Mormaer of Buchan, Fergus. He was the chief counsellor of Alexander III, King of Scots for the entire period of the king's majority and, as Scotland's leading magnate, played a key role in safeguarding the independence of the Scottish monarchy. During his long career, Alexander Comyn was Justiciar of Scotia (1258–89), Constable of Scotland (1275–89), Sheriff of Wigtown (1263–66), Sheriff of Dingwall (1264–66), Ballie of Inverie and finally, Guardian of Scotland (1286–89) during the first interregnum following the death of Alexander III. In 1284 he joined with other Scottish noblemen who acknowledged Margaret of Norway as the heiress to King Alexander. He died sometime after 10 July 1289.

Alan Durward 13th-century Scottish nobleman

Alan Hostarius was the son of Thomas de Lundin, a grandson of Gille Críst, Mormaer of Mar. His mother's name is unknown, but she was almost certainly a daughter of Máel Coluim, Mormaer of Atholl, meaning that Alan was the product of two Gaelic comital families.

The Justiciar of Lothian was an important legal office in the High Medieval Kingdom of Scotland.

John Comyn, Earl of Buchan Scottish noble

John Comyn, 3rd Earl of Buchan was a chief opponent of Robert the Bruce in the civil war that paralleled the War of Scottish Independence. He should not be confused with the better known John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, who was his cousin, and who was killed by Bruce in Dumfries in March 1306. Confusion between the two men has affected the study of this period of history.

John Comyn (Cumyn) was Lord of Badenoch in Scotland. He was Justiciar of Galloway in 1258. He held lands in Nithsdale and Tynedale.

St Serfs Inch island in Perth and Kinross, Scotland, UK

St Serf's Inch or St Serf's Island is an island in Loch Leven, in south-eastern Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It was the home of a Culdee and then an Augustinian monastic community, St Serf's Inch Priory.

Gofraid mac Domnaill, was a thirteenth-century Scottish rebel. The son of Domnall, his father's surname was almost certainly MacWilliam though Bane has been proposed.


  1. Barrow, Prof. G.W.S., The Kingdom of Scots, London, 1973, pps:85 & 137, citing Bower & Fordun.
  2. Barrow, 1973, p.137.
  3. Barrow, 1973, p.106.
  4. Barrow, 1973, pps:97 & 106.
  5. Barrow, 1973, p.113.
  6. Barrow, 1973, p.85.
  7. Barrow, 1973, p.85
  8. Barrow, 1973, p.98.
  9. Barrow, 1973, p.138.
  10. Douglas, Sir Robert, Bt., The Baronage of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1798, p.571.
  11. Anderson, William, The Scottish Nation, Edinburgh, 1867, vol.iv, p.62.