I Mak Sikker (or ‘Siccar’)
My ancient relative Roger de Kirkpatrick was possibly my 17th great-grandfather. He was born circa 1280 at Closeburn Castle. He died at Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries-shire , Scotland circa 1322. He was involved in the successful quest of Robert the Bruce for the Scottish crown in the later part of the first decade of the 14th century, for which he achieved a degree of fame.
In 1286 Alexander III died, leaving only a three year old granddaughter to succeed him. She died at age 7 on the way to Scotland to marry six-year-old son Edward of Carnarvon, an arrangement designed to solve the succession problem. Some thirteen contenders for the throne emerged. Civil war threatened. The Scots asked Edward I of England to decide the matter, which he did, in favor of John Balliol., passing by the grandfather of Robert, also Robert the Bruce although probably written as Robert de Brus, whose claim came by virtue of his grandfather, David I of Scotland.
Edward undermined John’s subsequent rule. This led to the rebellion by William Wallace, subject of the film “Braveheart,” based on the epic poem The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace. Wallace’s effort ended with his execution, brutal as was then common, leading in turn to Bruce and Red Corwyn becoming Joint Guardians.
Things were going poorly between Corwyn and Bruce aka Brus. The story goes that to resolve matters between them Bruce had proposed an agreement whereby either Bruce turn over his lands in exchange for Corwyn’s support of Bruce’s claims to the throne, or vice versa. Corwyn chose the land over the crown. However he backed out of the agreement, reporting the matter to Edward I. Robert set out for Lochmaben Castle in Scotland, meeting Roger and others there, proceeding to Dumfries, near Kirkpatrick-Fleming, to meet with Comyn.
The meeting took place on February 10, 1306. “Comyn, perhaps suspecting that his treachery had been discovered, appointed the Grey Friars Church in the Convent of the Minorites. Here Bruce passionately upbraided him for his treachery, a violent altercation ensued, Comyn gave him the lie, whereupon he instantly drew his dagger and stabbed him. Hastening from the Church, he met his friends, who seeing him hastening from the Church, and pale, eagerly inquired the cause. I doubt,’ said he, ‘I have slain the Comyn.’ ‘Doubt’ st thou,’ said Kirkpatrick, ‘ I mak sicker’ <sic>’ and rushed into the Church. See Kirkpatrick of Closeburn.
Churches were considered sacrosanct, making them a safe place. Both Roger and Robert were subsequently ex-communicated.
Here’s a slightly different account “Running from the church he <Robert> met his two friends, Sir Roger Kirkpatrick and Sir James Lindsay, who asked ³What tidings?²… I doubt I have slain Comyn,²” whereupon Kirkpatrick cried, ³You doubt, I mak sickar (I¹ll make certain)². Roger ran into the church, killed Comyn with his daggar .<sic> and also Comyn¹s uncle, Sir Robert Comyn, who had come to his nephew¹s rescue. For this act of sacrilege in a sacred church, Pope Clement V excommunicated both Bruce and Kirkpatrick.² In 1306 Robert “…commanded Sir Roger to adopt as his crest a hand grasping a bloody dagger with the words I mak Sickar¹, to commemorate ³his swift vengeance on one who had been a traitor to his country. ” See Tripod.com
Whichever of these two accounts is more accurate, “I mak Sikker” is something they all have in common. This motto was granted to the Kirkpatricks by Robert after he became king, shortly after this event. The motto remains on the coat of arms to this day.
The event is commemorated on a nearby plaque on Castle Street in Dumfries “… to signify the location of the Comyn murder, such a crucial event in the history of Scotland. “See Historyscotland.com
Robert (b 1274) reigned from 1306 until his death in 1329, succeeded by his son David II. Roger served as emissary to Edward during Robert’s Reign.
In the next post I will write about the origins of the de Kirkpatrick family.