George I, Earl of March

George I, Earl of March

George de Dunbar, 10th Earl of Dunbar and March [ Brown, Peter, publisher, "The Peerage of Scotland", Edinburgh, 1834: 145, where he is stated to be the 10th earl.] [ Anderson, William, "The Scottish Nation", Edinburgh, 1867, vol.iv, p.74, where he is given as the 10th earl] (1338 – 1420), [ Anderson (1867), vol.iv:74, where it is stated "he died of a contagious fever in 1420, aged 82] 12th Lord of Annandale and Lord of the Isle of Man, [ Angus, William, 'Miscellaneous Charters 1315-1401' in "Miscellany of The Scottish History Society" volume five, Edinburgh, 1933:27 where he is described as "Georgius de Dumbarr comes Marchie et dominus vallis Annandie et Mannie" in a charter dated 30th July 1372] was "one of the most powerful nobles in Scotland of his time, and the rival of the Douglases." [ Anderson (1867), vol.iv:74]


Pitscottie states that this George is a son of John de Dunbar of Derchester & Birkynside, by his spouse Geiles (or Isabella), daughter of Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray (d. 1332). [ Bain, Joseph, FSA (Scot), editor, "Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland" 1357 - 1509, Edinburgh, 1888, vol.iv: xx - xxv] John was the brother of Sir Patrick de Dunbar, 9th Earl of March. George succeeded his uncle Sir Patrick in his honours and estates, and appears in a charter dated June 28, 1363; and is second witness, styled 'cousin' of Sir Patrick and his wife 'black' Agnes, in another charter signed at Dunbar Castle on May 24, 1367. [ Bain (1888),pps: xx - xxv] "Robetus de Lawedre, consanguineus noster" (a cousin) witnessed a charter of "Georgii comitis Marchie" relating to Sorrowlessfield, a still extant property on the (A68) road south of Earlston, Berwickshire, in the reign (1390-1406) of Robert III, [ Young, James, "Historical References to the Scottish Family of Lauder", Glasgow, 1884, p.19] indicating both his extended family and that he was active in the management of the Dunbar family estates during Robert's reign.

Campaigns & intrigue

March accompanied the James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas in his incursion into England, and after the battle of Otterburn (1388) he took command of the Scots, whom he conducted safely home. His daughter Elizabeth was betrothed by contract to David Stewart, Duke of Rothesay, son of King Robert III and heir to the throne, but Archibald Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas, 'The Grim', protested against the match, and through the influence of the Duke of Albany had the contract annulled, and the prince as married to his own daughter Marjory, instead. [ Anderson (1867), vol.iv:74]

Exile to England

In consequence of this slight upon his family's honour, George renounced his allegiance to Robert III and retired into England, placing himself under the protection of King Henry IV. On June 28, 1401, Henry granted, by Letters Patent, to "George de Dunbarre earl of the March of Scotland and Cristiana his wife" the lordship of Somerton in Lincolnshire, and the heirs male of their bodies, to be held by homage and military service. On the same day Henry gave "George de Dunbarre earl of the March of Scotland" £100 sterling per annum "of his special favour" and in October granted him 'costs' of £25/9s/7d; and granted his wife "Cristiana countess of Dunbarre" £40/19s/3d "for her charges and expenses coming from the North at his command, to prosecute certain matters touching her husband, herself, and their heirs". [ Bain (1888), vol.iv, pps:125 & 130, nos.602 & 623.]


In 1401 he made a wasteful inroad into Scotland, and in June 1402 he was victorious against a small Scottish force at the Battle of Nesbit Moor. At the subsequent battle of Homildon Hill he again fought on the English side. [ Anderson (1867), vol.iv:74]

In the summer of 1403 the Percies declared open revolt again King Henry IV and raised their Standard of revolt at Chester. A plan was hatched to seize the King's son, the young Prince of Wales, at Shrewsbury. The plan was foiled by the extreme speed with which Henry IV moved once he heard details of the revolt. "Egged on by his very competent and energetic ally, the renegade Scotsman, George Dunbar", he drove his men across the Midlands towards Shrewsbury, raising more troops as he went. [ Earle, Peter, "The Life and Times of Henry V", London, 1972, p.56-7, ISBN 0297 994828-X ] The Battle of Shrewsbury took place on July 21, 1403, with Dunbar fighting on the side of Henry IV. [ Dunbar, Sir Alexander H., Bt., "Scottish Kings", Edinburgh, 1899, p.177] It was a Royal victory and the revolt was, for the moment, over.


Thereafter in the same year "George de Dunbar earl of the March of Scotland" petitioned ("Parliamentary Petitions, No.961") Henry IV stating that he had lost all his castles, lordships, goods and chattels in Scotland on account of his being his liegeman, and asked the King to "ordain in this parliament that if any conquest is made in the realm of Scotland, the petitioner may have restoration of his castles, &c., and also his special protection for all dwelling in the earldom of March who come to his allegiance hereafter". This was endorsed by the King. [ Bain (1888), vol.iv, p.132-3, no.634.]

On January 21, 1403/4 "George de Dunbarre earl of the March of Scotland" received a £100 annuity from Henry IV. [ Bain (1888), vol.iv, p.137, no.650.]

Between August 14 - 18, 1403, King Henry granted George de Dunbar, Earl of March, the ward of the manors and lordships of Kyme and Croftes in Lincolnshire, and a house and chattels in Bishopsgate, City of London, for life, which had previously belonged to the late Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester, and was forfeited by his rebellion. [ Bain (1888), vol.iv, p.133, nos.637, 639.]

Under a Letters Patent, "the King's cousin, George de Dunbarre, Earl of March of Scotland", for "his daily service and great costs" was given the manor of Clippeston in Shirewood by King Genry IV on June 10, 1405. In addition, on 14th of the following month, the King gave him the ward of the lands of the late Thomas Umfraville in Haysille on Humber in York, till the majority of Gilber his heir, or his heirs in succession if he dies in minority. [ Bain (1888), vol. iv, p.142-3, nos.681/685.]

In addition he shared in the forfeited estates of the attainted Thomas Bardolf, 5th Lord Bardolf (who later fell with Percy at the Battle of Bramham Moor in February 1408).However, as the following decree shows, George did not retain them all: "27th April 1407. The King to the sheriff of Lincoln. Referring to the late plea in Chancery between Amicia wife of Thomas, late lord of Bardolf, and George de Dunbarre regarding certain lands in Ruskynton forfeited by Thomas, which had been granted by the King to George, with the manor of Calthorpe, the half of Ancaster (and many others), wherein it was adjudged that Rusynton should be excepted from the grant and restored to her with the rents, etc., from 27th November 1405, drawn by George, - the King orders him to restore the same to Amicia. Westminster. [Close, 9 Henry IV. m.17.] ". [ Bain (1888), vol.iv. p.150, no.732]

Return to Scotland

Through the mediation of Sir Walter Haliburton of Dirleton [ Rogers, Charles,LL.D., "Genealogical Memoirs of the family of Sir Walter Scott, Bt.," with his "Memorials of the Halibirtons", London, 1877: xxx] reconciliation with the Douglases was affected in 1408, and he was allowed to return to Scotland the following year, taking possession of his earldom of March, but said to be deprived of the lordship of Annandale. [ Brown (1834), "Peerage", 145]

In 1411 he was one of the Scottish Commissioners for negotiating a truce with England, but died of a contageous fever, in 1420, at the age of 82. [ Anderson (1867), vol.iv:74]

He married Christine, daughter of Sir William Seton [ Douglas, in his "Baronage", gives him as Sir Alexander Seton] , and had at least eight children, including:

* Sir George, 11th Earl of Dunbar & March
* Columba de Dunbar, Bishop of Moray [ Burke, Sir Bernard, Ulster King of Arms, "Burke's Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages", London, 1883:606 ] [ Lindsay, The Rev., & Hon., E.R., and Cameron, A.I.,"Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1418 - 1422", Scottish History Society, Edinburgh, 1934:37-8, where he is described as "a son of George, 10th Earl of Dunbar and Earl of March" and "of a race of earls of Royal stock", the "Supplication" being dated at Florence,May 1, 1419.]
* Sir Gavin de Dunbar of Cumnock [ Burke, Sir Bernard, Ulster King of Arms, "Burke's Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages", London, 1883:606 ]
* Janet, who married as her first husband, Sir John Seton of Seton, Knt.,(d. 1441) [ Anderson (1867), vol.viii:437] [ Burke (1883),"Dormant":606, where he is called Lord John Seton (presumably after Sir Richard Maitland's "House of Setoun" where he is also called Lord John)]
* Marjory, who married Sir John Swinton, 15th of that Ilk, killed at the battle of Verneuil, France, in 1424 [ Burke, Messrs. John & John Bernard, "The Royal Families of England Scotland and Wales, with their Descendants", London, 1851, volume 2, pedigree XXV]


* Townend, Peter, editor, "Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage", 105th edition, London, 1970, p. 913.
* Cockayne, G.E.,"et al", "The Complete Peerage", under 'Dirletoun'.

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