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1. HUGH-

m. ______, d. of Herbert the Chamberlain of Kinneil

The information on the Giffard family is from the wonderful research done by Bruce & Barbara Morrison of Lexington, Kentucky which can be found at:

"Hugh Giffard, the first lord of Yester, appeared in Scotland by the mid 1150's along with his brothers William and Walter Giffard. The Giffards certainly evidenced a close connection with the retinue of Ada de Warrene, Countess of Huntington. Ada was the widowed mother of King Malcolm IV, King William I, and David, Earl of Huntington. Hugh Giffard had a close association with each of these figures, and possessed a social status which made him one of the most favored of the Anglo-Normans in the royal court of Scotland in the mid 12th century.

The origins of Hugh Giffard of Yester indicate that he and his brothers are the first of the Giffards in Scotland. Given the standing of Hugh with the Huntington retinue, it is very likely that he is a descendant of the well known Norman family of Giffard who held the honor of Longueville-la-Gifart in France. These Giffards were companions of William I, and received large land holdings in England after the conquest. Hugh Giffard appears to have no land holdings in England other than a portion of Potton which was granted by the Huntingtons circa 1160. This makes it most difficult to trace his Anglo-Norman origin in England. It has been suggested he was a son of Osbert Giffard of Brimesfield, but proper dating shows this to be impossible. The father of Hugh Giffard would have had to be born circa 1100, and no viable candidate of that generation of English Giffards emerges to date. I have found a few minor clues which may point toward the line of Osbern Giffard, who was the ancestor of the Brimesfield Giffards. As Hugh Giffard seemed to have no appreciable land holdings in England, it is likely that his father would be a second or unknown younger son of a major line. Speculating that Hugh may have been connected to the Brimesfield (Gloucestershire) line, his father possibly could have been a younger son of Elias Giffard I considering the known date parameters.

Hugh Giffard married the daughter of Herbert the Chamberlain. Herbert was the chamberlain for both King David I and his grandson King Malcolm IV. He was granted the lands of Kinneil in Scotland by an act of King David I, and also had holdings in Lincolnshire, England. Herbert the Chamberlain likely had as many as four sons including Stephen and William.

The relationship of Hugh, William, and Walter Giffard as brothers may be found in documents of the period 1160-1174. These include a charter of Bernard Balliol done at Bywell, Northumberland circa 1166, and another pertaining to Draughton, Northamptonshire circa 1170. In addition, the three brothers are also found as co-witnesses in a charter of Ada de Warrene granting lands to Alexander St. Martin (Laing Charters). Alexander St. Martin as well as the Giffards would appear to have been vassals of Ada Warrene, Countess of Huntington. Brother William Giffard also appears as a witness along with Hugh Giffard in a charter of William, brother of the King of Scotland, done at Jedburgh dated 1157-1165 (1). William Giffard is described as a clerk in the court of Ada de Warrene in two of her Northumberland charters. Brother Walter Giffard is found as a witness in charters of King William I, David, Earl of Huntington, Ada de Warrene, and Bernard Balliol. He also accompanied Hugh Giffard on the military invasion of England in the army of David, Earl of Huntington during 1174. No references to brother Walter Giffard have been discovered after the year 1174.

Yester Writ No. 1 gives the most important and vital information regarding Hugh Giffard. It provides an accurate dating of when he is an adult and the time of his marriage. He has been put in the wrong generation in some previous studies which has led to errors in dating and lineage. This writ was issued by King William the Lion in 1166 as a confimation of an earlier writ of his deceased brother Malcolm IV (d. 1165). In the writ, Herbert the Chamberlain is giving his daughter in marriage to Hugh Giffard along with the land of Borrowstoun in his estate of Kinneil. Herbert was Chamberlain to King David the Saint and his grandson King Malcolm IV from 1136 to 1159, and is known to have died in 1161. This indicates that Hugh Giffard received the estate of Yester and other holdings, along with his marriage grant, by 1160 or earlier in the original charter of Malcolm IV and his mother Ada de Warenne. This original charter shows that his birth would likely to have been circa 1130, as he certainly appears to be an adult by the mid 1150's. Hugh Giffard first appears as a witness in a charter of William, Earl of Northumberland (the future King William I of Scotland). The date was 1152-1155 and the charter was done at Edinburgh. (2). Ada Warrene, mother of William, was also a witness to this charter.

Earliest writ (ca. 1166) concerning Hugh Giffard and Yester in a charter of King Malcolm IV being confirmed by King William the Lion:

Willemus . Rex Scottorum . Omnibus probis . homnibus tocius terre sue . Clericus . laicis . Francis . Anglis . Scottis . et Galweiensbus salutem . Sciant presentes et futuri . me concessisse . et hac carta mea confirmasse hugoni Giffard . et heredibus suis . in fewdo et hereditate . omnes terras et teneuras quas idem hugo habet ex donacione Regis Macolmi . fratris mei . et Ade Comitesse . matris mee . et Herberti Camerarij . scilicet Jhestrith per Rectas diuisas suas . et illam partem de laftidune . quam Edolf filius Ginel tenuit . et terram more hadingtun per diusas per quas perambulata . et unum plenarium toftum in linlidqu . scilicet toftum quod toke tenuit . Et Berewaldestune per Rectas diuisas suas quam herbertus Camerarius cum filia sua ei dedit . Et quatuor libratas terre in pottum sicut Walterus de lindesi . te Engelramus clericus ilias ei perambulauerunt . et Aldekathin per rectas diusas suas . Volo itaque et prcipio . ut idem hugo et heredes sui terras . et teneuras prenominatas hereditarie trneant et habeant . ita libere . et quiete et honorifice . sicut Carte Regis . Malcolmi . fratris mei . et Ade Comitisse matris mee et . Herberti . Camerarij . testantur . et confirmant . Testibus Nicolao Cancellario . Richardo de Morevilla constabulario Dauid Olifar . Willelmo de ueteri ponte . Bernardo filio brien Gilberto filio Richerij. Roberto de Costentin . Apud Dunelmum.

William, King of Scots, to All good men of his whole land, clerics and laymen, French and English, Scots and Galwegians, Greeting. Be it known to those present and to come, that I have granted, and this my charter confirmed to Hugh Giffard and his heirs in fee and heritage all the lands and holdings, which the said Hugo holds by grant from King Malcolm, my brother, and Ada the Countess, my mother, and Herbert the Chamberlain, namely, Jhestrith by its right marches, and that part of Lafditune, which Edolf son of Ginel held, and the land of the moor of Hadingtun by the marches, which were perambulated for him, and a full toft in Linlidqu, namely, the toll which Toke held, and Berewaldestune by its right marches, which Herbert the Chamberlain gave to him with his daughter, And four librates of land in Pottum, as perambulated by Walter de Lindesi and Engelram the clerk, and Aldekathin by its right marches. I will therefore and charge that the said Hugh and his heirs do hold and have in heritage the above-named lands and holdings, as freelv, quietly, and honourably as the Charters of King Malcolm, my brother, and Ada the Countess, my mother, and Herbert the Chamberlain do testify and confirm. Witnesses, Nicholas the Chancellor At Durham. [H.) (3)

Hugh Giffard I, the first Lord of Yester, appears in over 40 acts and charters during a span of 35 years commencing in 1155. At least 31 of these are as a witness to acts of King William I, King Malcolm IV, Ada de Warrene, and David, Earl of Huntington. He appears in numerous other charters as the recipient of land grants from the four members of the Huntington entourage mentioned above. The acts and charters in which Hugh Giffard appeared can be found in the preserved records of Neubotle Abbey, Incheffray Abbey, Yester Writs, Regestrum Regum Scottorum, Acts of David, Earl of Huntington, Northumberland Deeds, and the Finch-Hatton muniments.

Earliest of the lands and tenements granted to Hugh Giffard by Countess Ada and Malcolm IV include: Yester; part of Lethington; muir of Haddington; 1 toft in Linlithgow (all East Lothian); Auldcathie; Borrowstoun (from Herbert the Chamberlain), both in West Lothian; and 4 librates in Potton, Bedfordshire (later forfeited as part of the Treaty of Falaise). All these were granted in the first of the preserved Yester writs mentioned earlier. Included in the Lethington and Haddington portions were Cressewelle, which has later genealogical significance, and the road to Nungate which precipitated a 300 year long dispute with the Nuns of Haddington. Subsequent lands which came to Hugh Giffard included Tealing in Angus; Powgavie in Perthshire; another portion of Yester for one fifth of a knight's service; and Fintry in Angus including pit and gallows for a knight's service. The latter granted by David, Earl of Huntington in 1174.

A significant period in the life of Hugh Giffard I began during the years of 1173/1174. This was a result of the war between King William I ( the Lion) of Scotland and King Henry II of England over control of Northumberland. King William I had led an invasion of England which resulted in his capture and being held as a hostage at Falaise in Normandy. Hugh Giffard, as a Scottish baron and knight, was with the military force during the invasion of Northumberland under the command of David, Earl of Huntington, who was King William's younger brother. King Henry II of England demanded harsh terms of the Scots for the release of their King in the 1174 Treaty of Falaise. Included in the treaty terms were the surrendering of Scottish land holdings in England and the loss of a number of strategic Scottish castles. To secure his release, King William had to provide hostages to the English King to guarantee the terms of the treaty be carried out. These hostages included David, the King's brother, Hugh Giffard, and 18 other earls and barons of Scotland. Hugh Giffard, along with the other held barons and earls, in turn had to provide a legitimate son as a hostage for their respective releases. Which son of Hugh Giffard became the hostage is not known. These second hostages were to be held until all terms of the Treaty of Falaise had been met. Another result of the English provisions was that Hugh Giffard had to forfeit his land in Potton, Bedfordshire, which had been granted to him in the first Yester charter.

As found in the charters of Neubotle Abbey, Hugh Giffard had his own sheriff during this period of his life. This individual was Alexander de St. Martin, another of the early Anglo-Normans closely connected to Countess Ada de Warenne. 150 years later would see the marriage of their respective direct descendants, Sir John Giffard and Euphemia Morham.

Hugh Giffard is often found in charters and acts from 1175 to 1190. By 1185 these often include his son William who would be of adult age. The last apparent charter made by Hugh Giffard is one granting the land of Cressewelle to Neubotle Abbey about 1190. His son William confirms the Cressewelle grant of his father at the same time. Hugh Giffard is not found in any records that can be dated later than the early 1190's, and it is very likely that he has died by the year 1195."


2I. WILLIAM- b.c. 1165, d.c.1207

II. John- of Powgavie, Perthshire. Hugh Giffard of Yester held lands at Powgavie prior to the year 1185. John Giffard of Powgavie is found as the principal in a charter of Coupar Angus Abbey written circa 1210. Probably the John Giffard who witnesses a Lindores charter c. 1195. Although little information has been found concerning this John Giffard, it seems likely that he may have been a younger son of Hugh Giffard.

III. ?Jonet- m. Adam de Seton. She is said to have been a daughter of Hugh Giffard I. We believe dating of this couple and their children suggests that Hugh Giffard was more likely to have been her grand-father, and that she was probably the daughter of his son William Giffard.


(1) Regesta Regum Scottorum- No. 5
(2) Ibid- No. 3
(3) Calendar of Writs preserved at Yester House 1166-1503- Charles C. Harvey, Ed., Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1916- No.1



"William Giffard begins to appear in preserved records by 1190, and he is found to be stated in three charters as the son and heir of Hugh Giffard. The apparent earliest of these is one of Hugh Giffard and his son William concerning the grant of Cressewelle to Neubotle Abbey circa 1190. Shortly after this date he appears as a witness to and recipient of numerous charters which confirm that he has succeeded his father as lord of Yester by the mid 1190's. As another early example, William Giffard appears as a witness to a charter of Lindores Abbey dated between 1191-1194 as a co-witness with King William the Lion. From these facts it must be concluded that he had come of age by 1190 or before, making his probable birth period circa 1165. As some sources estimate his birth year as circa 1192, it is important to establish his correct period of birth and age in following the chronology of succeeding Giffard generations.

William Giffard, as heir to his father's holdings, is to provide one knight's service for Lethington and Yester (East Lothian), and one knight's service for Tealing (Angus) and Powgavie. These facts are found in grants from King William the Lion which can be dated in the period 1195-1205.

William, by the grace of God, King: of Scots To the Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Barons, Justiciars, Sheriffs, Bailiffs, Ministers, and all good men of his whole land, clerics and laymen, Greeting : Be it known to those present and to come that I have given and granted, and by this my charter confirmed to William Giffard, son of Hugh Giffard, Thelin by its right bounds and with all its just pertinents ; and Polgavethin by its right bounds by which Ferthnauh held that land, and with all others he held with that land, and all justly pertaining thereto : To be held by him and his heirs of me and my heirs in fee and heritage, in wood and plain, lands and waters, meadows and pastures, moors and marshes, fishings and sheihngs, stanks and mills, and everything else justly pertaining thereto, with pit and gallows, soc and sac, tol and them and infangenthef, as freely and quietly, fully and honourably as my other Barons hold their lands and feofs of me ; Rendering for the foresaid lands the service of a knight : Wit- nesses, etc.(1)

William Giffard is granted further holdings by King William including one full toft in each of the following: Burgh of Forres; Cullen; Banff; Kintore; Cowie; Kincardine; Castle of Alyth; and Clunie. These to be held in feu and heritage as any other of the King's barons hold their tofts.(2) The King also grants Strachan in Mearns to William Giffard for an annual rent of 9 merks in a charter done at Forfar between 1189 and 1195. Between 1191 and 1206 William Giffard witnesses many acts and charters. He is found acting as a witness for twenty charters of King William I done during this period. Three witness appearances can be dated in 1206, but none are found after the years 1206/1207.

Willam Giffard was sent to London in 1200 as an envoy of King William of Scotland to arrange a time and meeting place for the Scottish King and King John of England. He was accompanied on the journey by two other appointed envoys, namely: Henry, the Abbot of Arbroath, and William Comyn.

The following is an original charter of King William I to Inchaffray Abbey which William Giffard witnessed in 1202. William Giffard's name appears on the 2nd line up from the bottom in the center portion to the left of the name of Thomas de Colville.

After his return from London in 1200, William Giffard is again very active in witnessing charters of King William I including ones done at Edinburgh, Stirling, and Forfar. Shortly after 1200, he receives confirmation from the King of all his father's holdings which were originally granted by Malcolm IV and Ada de Warrene. In a charter of Neubotle Abbey (3) circa 1205, he was referred to as William Giffard of Lethington. This indicates that his principal residence may have been at Lethington rather than Yester. Lethington is near Haddington, and lies about four miles north of Yester. Known today as Lennoxlove, Lethington remained a Giffard property until sold to the Maitland family by Sir John Giffard in the first half of the 14th century. The great castle at Yester was built by his grandson Hugh Giffard circa 1250, and the early Giffards likely made Yester their major residence closer to this date. As there is no evidence of William Giffard found in any charters or writs after 1207, it seems probable he may have died not long after this date. The Neubotle Abbey confirmation charter of the land of Cressewelle, which was done by his son John Giffard circa 1220-1225, gives further evidence to place the time of his death between 1207 and certainly before 1220."


3I. JOHN- b.c. 1190

II. ?Jonet- m. Adam de Seton

III. William- A possiblity exists that a second son named William may account for some information found in the 1240's. However, it is more likely that this individual could be a grandson.


(1) Calendar of Writs preserved at Yester House 1166-1503- Charles C. Harvey, Ed., Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1916- No. 6, 8
(2) Ibid- No. 5
(3) Liber Sainte Marie de Neubotle- No. 84



"The charters of Yester house normally provide absolute proof of all the direct Giffard generations, clearly stating the father to son and inheritance relationships. The one exception to this is found in the charters occurring in the early 13th century period now being discussed. It has been generally accepted that William Giffard was the father of the well known Hugh Giffard II, the "wizard of Yester". Dating of this possible father to son succession raises a number of doubts when considering the likely birth years of the above named individuals and the available charter information. It was felt that an intermediate and more obscure generation is indicated between William Giffard and Hugh Giffard II. A study of the available writs and charters in the period between 1206 and 1250 shows the existence of such a generation. The Registrum S. Marie de Neubotle (Newbattle Abbey charters) provides the major evidence of this missing generation in John Giffard, son of William and stated grandson of Hugh Giffard I.

The Neubotle Abbey charters #81, 82, and 83 which concern the land of Cressewelle, (a portion of Lethington), show the sequence of the Giffards holding lordship in the period 1190 to 1130. In # 81, done prior to 1192, Hugh Giffard I makes his grant to Neubotle Abbey of the land of Cressewelle. In # 82, William Giffard attests to the grant of his father Hugh, this being done the same day with the same witnesses. In #83, John Giffard confirms the original grant of his grandfather Hugh Giffard of the Cressewelle land. Witnesses suggest the date of this document to be circa 1220-1225. In the document, John Giffard clearly states that Hugh Giffard was his grandfather, thus proving an intermediate generation did exist between William Giffard and Hugh Giffard II. John Giffard is certainly of age on or before 1220, and has become the heir of William Giffard and lord of the family holdings at this time. This would place his likely birth date in the period 1190-1195, when his father Willam Giffard is known to be of age.

John Giffard is found as a witness to a charter of King Alexander II done on November 8, 1222. This was a charter concerning the son of the Earl of Dunbar and the monks of Coldingham done at Roxburgh. In a Neubotle Abbey charter of William Vallibus, #117, John Giffard appears as a co-witness along with Bernard Fraser and Adam Fraser, son of Udardi Fraser. This document can be likely dated in the period 1230-1235.

The Yester charters contain no mention of the Giffards during the period 1206 to 1240 and provide no other clues concerning this generation. A Yester charter of 1250 done by Godfrid Tyndale, concerning the return of early lands to Sir Hugh Giffard II, states that William Giffard was the ancestor (not father) of Sir Hugh Giffard. The birth date of Hugh Giffard II appears to be circa 1220, as evidence shows that he could not have been of adult age much before 1245. The fact that Hugh Giffard II names his eldest son and heir John also suggests that the John Giffard discussed above would likely be his father. We suspect that John Giffard dies at a relatively early age, perhaps circa 1235, while son Hugh was in his minority. The only written evidence of a Yester Giffard found between 1206 and circa 1244 is John Giffard, who was an adult and the apparent lord in the 1220's. Again, this period (circa 1220) is seen to contain the likely birth year of Hugh Giffard II, the next lord of Yester.

A William Giffard appears as the probable lord of Yester in four documents all found in the early to mid 1240's. This William Giffard is likely one of the 39 Scots who are guarantors for the Earl of Dunbar's treaty with King Henry III in 1244, and one of the Scottish knights who swear for King Alexander II in a 1244 treaty with King Henry III of England. This also appears to be the William Giffard who witnesses an act of Alexander II concerning Coldingham in 1245. In addition, one Yester charter has this William Giffard acting as a principal. The document can also be dated to the same approximate time period as the preceding three. This William is sometimes considered to be the original William Giffard, son of Hugh I, but age considerations (nearly 80) and evidence cited earlier indicate he died before 1220. William Giffard (circa 1240-1245) has not been found in any earlier documents including the period Hugh Giffard II would have been born, and seems to be lord for a very short time span. Perhaps the most probable identification of this William Giffard, considering all date perameters, would be an older brother of Hugh Giffard II. William Giffard appears to die sans progeny before 1250. Less likely, but possible, he may have been a younger brother of John Giffard I and the uncle of Hugh II.

In summary, we suggest that John Giffard I was the father of the well-known Sir Hugh Giffard II,"the wizard", and that William Giffard the earlier 2nd baron was in actuality the father of John Giffard I, and thus the grandfather of Sir Hugh who becomes lord between 1245 and 1250."


I. William- d.s.p. before 1250 See above.

4II. HUGH- d. after 1278


d. after 1278

"In coming to Sir Hugh Giffard II, we discuss the best-known and most famous of the Lords of Yester. Hugh Giffard is described and known in Scottish lore as a wizard, a necromancer, and a magician. Further legends describe his ability to muster a ghostly army through a pact with the devil, and the endowing of wondrous powers to the "Colstoun Pear". Sir Hugh was immortalized by Sir Walter Scott in his 1808 publication of Marmion. In Canto III, he vividly describes Hugh Giffard being summoned by King Alexander III to join in the battle against Haco of Norway's invasion of Scotland in 1263. "Hugo Gifford", as he was described in sections of Sir Walter Scott's Marmion: "A clerk could tell what years have flown since Alexander filled our throne third monarch of that warlike name, and eke the time when here he came to seek Sir Hugo, then our lord: A braver never drew a sword, a wiser never, at the hour of midnight, spoke the word of power; the same, that ancient records call the founder of Goblin hall... Lord Gifford deep beneath the ground heard Alexander's bugle sound, and tarried not his garb to change, but, in his wizard habit strange, came forth, a quaint and fearful sight: His mantle lined with fox-skins white; His high and wrinkled forehead bore a pointed cap, such as of yore Pharoh's Magi wore; His shoes were marked with cross and spell, upon his breast a pentacle... and in his hand a naked sword without a guard".

Yester Castle in 1814

From Marmion- third Canto:

The Host's Tale

'A Clerk could tell what years have flown
Since Alexander fill'd our throne,
(Third monarch of that warlike name,)
And eke the time when here he came
To seek Sir Hugo, then our lord:
A braver never drew a sword;
A wiser never, at the hour
Of midnight, spoke the word of power:
The same, whom ancient records call
The founder of the Goblin-Hall.
I would, Sir Knight, your longer stay
Gave you that cavern to survey.
Of lofty roof, and ample size,
Beneath the castle deep it lies:
To hew the living rock profound,
The floor to pave, the arch to round,
There never toil'd a mortal arm,
It all was wrought by word and charm;
And I have heard my grandsire say,
That the wild clamour and affray
Of those dread artisans of hell,
Who labour'd under Hugo's spell,
Sounded as loud as ocean's war,
Among the caverns of Dunbar.


'The King Lord Gifford's castle sought,
Deep labouring with uncertain thought;
Even then he mustered all his host,
To meet upon the western coast;
For Norse and Danish galleys plied
Their oars within the Frith of Clyde.
There floated Haco's banner trim,
Above Norweyan warriors grim,
Savage of heart, and large of limb;
Threatening both continent and isle,
Bute, Arran, Cunninghame, and Kyle.
Lord Gifford, deep beneath the ground,
Heard Alexander's bugle sound,
And tarried not his garb to change,
But, in his wizard habit strange,
Came forth,--a quaint and fearful sight;
His mantle lined with fox-skins white;
His high and wrinkled forehead bore
A pointed cap, such as of yore
Clerks say that Pharaoh's Magi wore:
His shoes were mark'd with cross and spell,
Upon his breast a pentacle;
His zone, of virgin parchment thin,
Or, as some tell, of dead man's skin,
Bore many a planetary sign,
Combust, and retrograde, and trine;
And in his hand he held prepared,
A naked sword without a guard.


'Dire dealings with the fiendish race
Had mark'd strange lines upon his face;
Vigil and fast had worn him grim,
His eyesight dazzled seem'd and dim,
As one unused to upper day;
Even his own menials with dismay
Beheld, Sir Knight, the grisly Sire,
In his unwonted wild attire;
Unwonted, for traditions run,
He seldom thus beheld the sun.--
"I know," he said,--his voice was hoarse,
And broken seem'd its hollow force,--
"I know the cause, although untold,
Why the King seeks his vassal's hold:
Vainly from me my liege would know
His kingdom's future weal or woe;
But yet, if strong his arm and heart,
His courage may do more than art.


'"Of middle air the demons proud,
Who ride upon the racking cloud,
Can read, in fix'd or wandering star,
The issue of events afar;
But still their sullen aid withhold,
Save when by mightier force controll'd.
Such late I summon'd to my hall;
And though so potent was the call,
That scarce the deepest nook of hell
I deem'd a refuge from the spell,
Yet, obstinate in silence still,
The haughty demon mocks my skill.
But thou,--who little know'st thy might,
As born upon that blessed night
When yawning graves, and dying groan,
Proclaim'd hell's empire overthrown,--
With untaught valour shalt compel
Response denied to magic spell."--
"Gramercy," quoth our Monarch free,
"Place him but front to front with me,
And, by this good and honour'd brand,
The gift of Coeur-de-Lion's hand,
Soothly I swear, that, tide what tide,
The demon shall a buffet bide."--
His bearing bold the wizard view'd,
And thus, well pleased, his speech renew'd:--
"There spoke the blood of Malcolm!--mark:
Forth pacing hence, at midnight dark,
The rampart seek, whose circling crown
Crests the ascent of yonder down:
A southern entrance shalt thou find;
There halt, and there thy bugle wind,
And trust thine elfin foe to see,
In guise of thy worst enemy:
Couch then thy lance, and spur thy steed--
Upon him! and Saint George to speed!
If he go down, thou soon shalt know
Whate'er these airy sprites can show:--
If thy heart fail thee in the strife,
I am no warrant for thy life."

Yester Castle today

"Upon a peninsula, formed by the water of Hopes on the east, and a large rivulet on the west, stands the ancient castle of Yester. Sir David Dalrymple, in his annals, relates that 'Hugh Gifford de Yester died in 1267; that in his castle there was a capacious cavern, formed by magical art, and called in the country Bo-Hall, i.e. Hobgoblin Hall.' A stair of twenty-four steps led down to this apartment, which is a large and spacious hall, with an arched roof; and though it hath stood for so many centuries, and been exposed to the external air for a period of fifty or sixty years, it is still as firm and entire as if it had only stood a few years. From the floor of this hall, another stair of thirty-six steps leads down to a pit which hath a communication with Hopes-water. A great part of the walls of this large and ancient castle are still standing. There is a tradition that the castle of Yester was the last fortification, in this country, that surrendered to General Gray, sent into Scotland by Protector Somerset." (5) In 1737, the Goblin Hall was tenanted by the Marquis of Tweedale's falconer, as given in a poem by Boyse, entitled "Retirement," written upon visiting Yester. It is now rendered inaccessible by the fall of the stair.

"Hobgoblin Hall"

The vaulted ceiling in "Hobgoblin Hall"

Sir David Dalrymple's authority for the anecdote is in Fordun, whose words are:--"A. D. MCCLXVII. Hugo Giffard de Yester moritur; cujus castrum, vel saltem caveam, et donglonem, arte daemonica antique relationes ferunt fabrifactas: nam ibidem habetur mirabilis specus subterraneus, opere mirifico constructus, magno terrarum spatio protelatus, qui communiter BO-HALL appellatus est."(6) Sir David conjectures that Hugh de Gifford must either have been a very wise man, or a great oppressor.

Sir Hugh Giffard was the builder of the original Yester Castle. The castle is mentioned by name in a Yester charter of Adam de Morham, in which he cedes some adjacent land to his neighbor Sir Hugh Giffard. This charter (#16) is dated between 1250 and 1267, showing the castle was built and completed before the year 1267. Adam de Morham was the direct ancestor of Euphemia Morham, wife of Sir Hugh Giffard's grandson John Giffard. King Alexander III was at Yester Castle on May 24, 1278, where he wrote a letter to King Edward I of England. The only portion of the original castle remaining is the subterranean level, famous today as the haunted "Hobgoblin Hall". When the castle was destroyed and re-built in the early 14th century, this legendary lower chamber was the only feature retained. The village of Bothans was located on the grounds of the Yester estate in this period. Bothans was razed and moved to the modern site of the nearby village of Gifford in the 17th century. St. Bothans, the church of Yester, was consecrated by Bishop David de Burnham in 1241.

St. Bothans- Yester

May those present and to come know that I, Adam de Morham, have given, and granted, and by this my present charter confirmed to Sir Hugh Giffard for the formation of his park all the side of my wood which is beside the Castle of Yester with the land and all contained therein without any retention as the formation of the said park is designed by the said Sir Hugh : namely from the ford of the burn called Yester as the Kilnunrodes descend by that ford towards Duncanlaw and thus ascending northwards by the right side of the Kihiunrodes until opposite Berndene and thus going or crossing by Berndene and ascending through Berndene to the very top of the cultivated land of the Chapel of Duncanlaw and then between the said cultivated land and the wood to Welldene and thus crossing Welldene for a space descending and icrosshm (?) through the left side until it comes to the bottom of Welldene and then mounting to the very top of Maistercroftes between the cultivated land of Maistercroftes and the wood as far as the eastern summit and then ascending northwards beyond the wood to the cultivated land and then between the cultivated land and the wood to the ford of the burn of Yellowpath which is between my land and that of the Nuns of Haddington : Farther I give to the said Sir Hugh and his heirs three feet of land beyond the wall of his said park towards the north lying close beside the wall from the start of the wall in length to the end of the said wall to make a fosse of all or part of the said three feet of land to protect the wall of the said park from water coming from above ; provided that the said Sir Hugh and his heirs do not try to hold anything without the said wall by reason of this grant except the said three feet above-named : The foresaid tenement to be held and had to the said Sir Hugh Giffard and his heirs of me and my heirs freely, quietly, well, heritably, honourably, and peaceably in wood and plain, roads and paths, and all other things pertaining to the said tenement : Paying yearly therefor he and his heirs to me and my heirs five pence at Pentecost for all services, aids, suits of court, wards, reliefs, and all other secular and royal exactions ; and if it happen that the said payment be not made at the stated term, whereby arrears may be due, I the said Adam and my heirs shall distrain the goods of the foresaid Sir Hugh Giffard or his heirs in Nether Vester for the foresaid payment, but not the wall of his park nor anything else contained within it nor the fosse nor any part thereof nor waste land, if any there be, between the fosse and the wall, nor any land stretching from the start of the wall and fosse to the end nor anything contained or which can be contained in the future from the north side of the fosse to the wall of the said park nor anything else contained or possibly contained within the said tenement thus contained in my feof : And it is to be known that the said Sir Hugh and his heirs will render me and my heirs no homage for the said tenement nor take the oath of fealty : And I the foresaid Adam de Morham and my heirs shall warrand and defend and acqmt against all people all the said tenement with its pertinents as above-written, to the foresaid Sir Hugh Giffard and his heirs : In testimony whereof I have appended my seal to this present writ : Witnesses(7)

By the year 1255, Sir Hugh Giffard had become prominent in the political affairs of Scottish government. During the minority of the young King Alexander III and his wife Margaret, daughter of the English King Henry III, a council of regents had been formed to manage the government and act as guardians for the young couple. Two strong factions emerged as rivals for these positions. One was heavily represented by the powerful Comyn family and included Gamelin, Bishop-elect of St. Andrews. This group had remained in control until 1255.

The rival political faction favored by King Henry III included: Alan Durward; Alexander Stewart; Robert Brus (the grandfather of the future King Robert the Bruce); the Earls of Carrick, Fife, Strathern, and Dunbar; the Bishops of Dunkeld and Aberdeen; Walter de Moravia; David de Lindsey; William de Brechin; Robert de Meyners; Gilbert de Hay; and Hugh Giffard. King Henry III addressed this group of 15 individuals as his "beloved friends" and bestowed his protection and support for their aims on Aug. 10, 1255. (1). These 15 barons, including Sir Hugh Giffard, were appointed the new regents and guardians for seven years in an act of Alexander III on Sept. 20, 1255. Alexander III, with the support of his father-in-law King Henry III, on the same date removed the previous Comyn faction regents from his council and their offices. In the Patent Rolls of 39 Henry III, in a document dated Sept. 24, 1255, Hugh Giffard of Scotland was issued letters of protection for seven years by the King of England.

The next year, Bishop-elect Gamelin, one of the deposed Comyn supporters, went to Rome to meet with Pope Alexander IV. Pleading abuse by the new regents, Gamelin asked for excommunication of his enemies. In 1257 the Pope passed a sentence of excommunication on the regents appointed in 1255. Also in the year 1257, William Comyn seized King Alexander III and forced him to depose the 15 excommunicated 1255 regents. Nearing open warfare, a new compromise regency was formed in 1258 which was weighted to the advantage of the Comyn faction and included Gamelin. The political anymosity of these opposing groups will extend through their descendants well into the 14th century. Sir Hugh Giffard was one of the eleven former members not included in the new 1258 regency. Presuming the excommunication sentence would have included Hugh Giffard, perhaps this may have been the original source of the legends concerning his dealings with the Devil and his skills in the black arts.

A charter of Sir John Giffard confirms that his grand-father Sir Hugh Giffard had made a gift to the Monks of Melrose Abbey of one toft and croft plus two oxgangs of land in his town of Yester.(3) Sir Hugh Giffard is found as a witness to two charters of Neubotle Abbey, this was the same Abbey that contained numerous charters of his Giffard ancestors. The earlier of the two Neubotle charters likely can be dated to the late 1240's, the second charter, where witness Hugh Giffard is titled "Lord", is certainly post 1250. Sir Hugh Giffard made a gift of his land of Snoc in the town of Berwick to his servant Richard Soylard. Sir Hugh describes Soylard as his merchant, and that he buys and conducts business for him between Yester and the town of Berwick. Hugh Giffard also makes provisions of lodgings, a groom, and two horses for Richard Soylard during the travels necessitated by their tradings. Evidence shows that Richard Soylard was in the service of the Yester Giffards at least as early as the year 1244.

To all who see or hear this present writ Richard Soylard Greeting : Wit ye that I have received from Sir Hugh Giffard all the land of the Snoc, which he bought from Peter Brun and Agnes his wife, in the town of Berewich with all liberties and easements pertaining thereto, as more fully is contained in the charter which the said Sir Hugh Giffard gave me of the said land in these words : Wit ye both present and future that I Hugh Giffard have given and granted and by this my charter confirmed to Richard Soylard my servant and his heirs all the land of the Snoc, which I bought from Peter Brun and Dame Agnes his wife, with all liberties and easements pertaining thereto in the town of Berewich : To be held and had of me and my heirs by him and his heirs as freely, quietly, peaceably, and honourably as I the said Hugh Giffard hold or ought to hold the said land : The said Richard Soylard and his heirs rendering for the said land to me and my heirs all the service as faithful merchants of me and my heirs would do daily at any season as we desire within the town of Berewich and beyond for a league as if for their own business : And, if it should happen that the said Richard Soylard and his heirs in purchasing and negotiating for me or my heirs should go, at our directing, more than a league betwixt Iweed and Forth, I the said Hugh Giffard and my heirs become liable to the said Richard Soylard and his heirs for reasonable expenses in their going from and returning to the town of Berewich, namely for one groom and two horses if two they have, or one horse if they have not two : And also we are liable to provide the said Richard and his heirs with sufficient lodgings as we think meet to lodging them in whilst we desire to employ them in our tradings : And I and my heirs do consign to the care of the said Richard and his heirs all my houses, as well those he inhabits as those remaining to us : The said Richard and his heirs to maintain them in as good condition as he and his heirs receive the said houses from me and my heirs unless it befall that the said houses suffer damage by tempest or decay and if any house have fallen the said Richard and his heirs shall save and reserve the timber for my use or that of my heirs : And the said Richard Soylard has surely pledged him and his heirs on his oath to observe all the above-written to me and my heirs faithfully ; And that this my gift and confirmation may stand good and sure I the said Hugh Giffard have authenticated this my charter with my seal ; and the said Richard has confirmed his writ anent the agreements above-written with the impression of his seal, and has freed me and my heirs of him and his heirs : Witnesses, Sir John Grey present Mayor of Rerewich, and Sir John de Dunbar, Sir Adam Phillipson, Thomas de Moray, Matthew de Greenlaw, William Dendor, Ralph Norman and others : And be it known that I the said Richard Soylard and my heirs will keep all the agreements to the said Sir Hugh Giffard and his heirs without fraud or guile as is more fully contained in the writ made anent the foresaid land ; And we shall swear to it on our oaths : And for the greater surety of this matter I have authenticated this present writ with the impression of my seal : Witnesses, etc.(4)

In 1259, Sir Hugh Giffard and four others are accused of interference in land possesions, this would likely have been another part of the on-going political friction of the decade. Sir David Dalrymple in his annals, written in the late 18th century, stated that Sir Hugh Giffard died in 1267. However, in the state papers of King Edward I, a document pertaining to Scotland is found which is dated Nov. 3, 1278 to Jan. 16, 1279. This document contains very strong evidence that Hugh Giffard II of Scotland was still living in the year 1279.

Considering the large amount of documents relating to Sir Hugh Giffard "the wizard", it is surprising that the identity of his wife is never stated. She certainly would have been a daughter of one of the major 13th century Scottish families."


5I. JOHN- b.c. 1255-1260, m. ISABEL _____


III. Ada- b.c. 1255-1260, m. Sir Andrew Gray of Broxmouth. Ada appears to be of the correct generation to have been a daughter of Sir Hugh Giffard II.


(1) Calendar of Rolls Patent- Henry III- 10 Aug. 1255
(2) Ibid- 39 Henry III- 24 Sept. 1255
(3) Liber de Melros- Book II, No. 393
(4) Calendar of Writs preserved at Yester House 1166-1503- Charles C. Harvey, Ed., Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1916- No. 17
(5) The Statistical Account of the Parish of Garvald and Baro- Vol. XIII
(6) Fordun- Lib. x. cap. 21
(7) Calendar of Writs preserved at Yester House 1166-1503- Charles C. Harvey, Ed., Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1916- No. 16


m. ISABEL _____ (d. after 1320)
d. before 1320

Sir John Giffard, son of Sir Hugh Giffard II, appears in the 1296 Ragman Rolls where he is listed as a knight. The information given indicates that he signed the rolls at Berwick upon Tweed. The Ragman Rolls were a document that nearly all the barons and landowners of Scotland were forced to sign pledging loyalty to King Edward I of England.

The proof and documentation that this Sir John Giffard II is the son of Sir Hugh Giffard II and the father of the next Sir John Giffard III, (married to Euphemia Morham), is found in the Yester writs #18 & 22. This generation in the Lords of Yester is often said to have been a William Giffard, but examination of the Yester writs prove this to be erroneous. In Yester writ #18, dated circa 1320, Hugh Fotheringay writes a charter concerning exchange of lands with Sir John Giffard III. Fotheringay states that he is returning the lands of Balnoch in Tealing to John Giffard which his deceased father Sir John Giffard had gifted to him. Hugh Fotheringay also states that Isabel, the mother of Sir John Giffard III, is still living at the time of the charter. Additional confirmation of the line of succession is found in writ #22 where John Giffard III states his grand-father was Sir Hugh Giffard. The date of this document is circa 1327.

Wit ye those present and to come that I Hugh de Foddrygay by staff and baton have surrendered, and resigned, and fully quit-claimed for me and my heirs all the land of Balnoch in the tenement of Telyn without any reservation forever, and all right and claim which I have or can have by any means to the said land, in favour of Sir John Giffard and his heirs with all pertinents within and without the town of Balnoch, which said land I hold by the gift of umquhile Sir John Giffard, father of the said John : And, that I and any of my heirs or anyone else shall not be able to exact nor claim any right or claim by whatever way or chance in future, if any writ or instrument of infeofment in the said land of Balnocht be found with me or my heirs or anyone else, the said writ or instrument will not be produced by me, the said Hugh or my heirs or anyone else to harm the said Sir John Giffard and his heirs : For this surrender, resig- nation, and quit claim the said Sir John Giffard for himself and his heirs has given me and my heirs in excambion all the land which he has in Uchtercoman and Laurenston, except the terce of Dame Isable, mother of the said Sir John, in Little Uchtercoman, as shewn in the writ fully made thereanent to me and my heirs by the said Sir Hugh {sic, should be John) : In testimony whereof I have appended the impression of my seal to this writ : Witnesses, etc.(1)

To all who see or hear this charter John Giffard Lord of Yestir Greeting in the Lord : Wit ye that I, for the weal of my soul and those of my wife Eufamia and all my predecessors and successors, have granted, given, and by this my present charter confirmed to God, and the Blessed Mary, the House of Melros, and the Monks serving God therein forever one toft and croft in my town of Yestir foresaid and two oxgangs of land in the tenement of the said town which they hold by the gift of umquhile Sir Hugh Giffard my grandfather, Lord of the foresaid town : To be held and had by the said religious and their assignees of me and my heirs with all liberties, easements, commodities, and pertinents, named or not, within and without the foresaid town, in free, pure, and perpetual alms without any with-holding : Also I grant for me and my heirs that the said religious and their assignees are to keep within the lordship of the said town, six oxen and four cows with their calves of two years, sixty sheep, and two horses during the whole year : 1 also will that the said religious and then assignees are to grind freely at my mill of the said town without multure of the grain which grows within the said tenement, and that they shall be first after that grain which is being ground whenever they come, unless my grain or that of my heirs happen to come there before the grinding is over, in which case after my grain or that of my heirs, but before all others : Paying nothing for all this to anyone at any time because of their prayers : I the said John and my heirs the said toft and croft, and said two oxgangs of land with all and sundry pertinents to the said religious and their assignees shall warrand, acquit, and defend for ever against all men : In testimony whereof I have appended my seal to this present charter. Witnesses, etc.(2)

Hugh Fotheringay (Fotheringham) is certainly the same Hugh Fotheringay of Perth who signed the Ragman Rolls in 1296 along with Sir John Giffard II. There would seem to be a close connection between these two individuals of the same generation. Sir John Giffard's only known charter is the one making a gift of the Tealing lands to Hugh Fotheringay. Another curious fact is found in the great similarity of the respective coats of arms of the two families. Giffard of Yester being gules, three bars ermine; Fotheringham of Scotland being ermine, three bars gules. (Fotheringham being the later spelling of the Scottish Fotheringays.)

The later adult years in the life of Sir John Giffard and his wife Isabel would have been ones of turmoil and difficulty, owing to the Scottish wars of independence with the English Kings Edward I and Edward II. The period 1296-1315 saw the great battles of Falkirk, Stirling Bridge, and Bannockburn. The rise of the Scottish legendary heros William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Simon Fraser, and James Douglas also occurs in this period. The English invasion of Scotland led to the taking and occupation of Yester Castle in 1306. The fate of Sir John Giffard II and Isabel at this time is not recorded. Scottish families were often split in loyalty to Scotland or England during this period and often changed their allegiance between the opposing armies. In June of 1311, the Scottish forces of Robert the Bruce regained Yester Castle from the English. In order to deny its re-occupation by the English, the castle was leveled to the ground by the Scots. Sir John Giffard's son would rebuild Yester Castle in a newer form and style a decade later."


7I. JOHN- m. EUPHEMIA MORHAM, d.c.1328


(1) Calendar of Writs preserved at Yester House 1166-1503- Charles C. Harvey, Ed., Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1916- No. 18
(2) Ibid- No. 22



"Sir John Giffard III had become the Lord of Yester by 1320. Following the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, which declared the independence of Scotland from English rule, Sir John Giffard restored the fortunes of the Giffard of Yester family. He completed the total rebuilding of Yester castle into it's final and expanded form, and through his marriage to Euphemia Morham added the extensive holdings of Morham, Dunipace, and Duncanlaw to the Yester estates.

Sir John Giffard, during his tenure as Lord of Yester, produced charters to two of the great Scottish border abbeys. Both of these charters can be dated circa 1322-1327. In the charter to Melrose Abbey, John Giffard states that for his soul, and that of his wife Euphemia, he confirms the original gift of his grand-father Lord Hugh Giffard. " To the House of Melros, forever one toft and croft in my town of Yestir, and two oxgangs of land in the tenement of the said town". The other charter is found in the Liber S. Marie de Dryburgh. In this charter to Dryburgh Abbey, Sir John Giffard III pledges a yearly amount of silver money from his village of Bothans to the Abbey. This was from the land in Bothans which Sir John de Leys held of Sir John Giffard and his heirs. In a Yester writ of 1375, decades after the death of Sir John Giffard, a de Leys descendant will be held to continue this pledge to Dryburgh Abbey in the name of the deceased Sir John Giffard, Lord of Yester. The yearly amount stipulated in the 1375 writ was six shillings and eight pence sterling. The present day purchasing power of this 1375 amount would be the equivalent of $308.

A very important charter is found in Yester writs # 19, which was dated on the 18th of May, 1322. It is a confirmation charter of King Robert the Bruce, and witnessed by Sir James Douglas "The Good", Sir Robert de Keith, Walter the Stewart of Scotland, and other prominent Scots. In this charter John Giffard (knight) and his spouse Euphemia receive all the hereditary Morham lands of Morham, Duncanlaw, and Dunipace. Morham and Ducanlaw are in East Lothian near Yester, Dunipace is located in Stirlingshire. These lands are given to Sir John Giffard and Euphemia by the aged Sir Thomas Morham, noted Scottish patriot. From this document it can be deduced that Euphemia is the major heiress and last of the direct Morham line. It should be noted that one clause of reversion in the charter implies that the couple had not produced any heirs as of 1322. Sir Thomas Morham "the elder" of the document is commonly assumed to have been the father of Euphemia, but strong evidence can be produced that he was in fact her grand-father.

Charter to Sir John Giffard of the Lands of Donipas, Doncanlaw and Morham.
In Duplicate.-Robert, by the grace of God, King of Scots to all good men of his whole land Greeting : Wit ye that we have given, granted, and by this our present charter in duplicate confirmed to Thomas de Morhame, senior knight all the lands and tenements with pertinents in the Barony of Donipas which our belove'd nephew Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray Lord of Annandale and Man, lately resigned and quit claimed to us with staff and baton at Glasgow ; also all the lands and tenements with pertinents in the Baronies of Duncanlaw and Morhanie, which the said Thomas de Morhame likewise recently resigned and quit claimed to us with staff and baton at Glasgow : To be held and had by the said Thomas de Morhame of us and our heirs for all the days of his life with the services of freeholders and all and sundry other liberties, commodities, easements, and just pertinents in all and through all things named or not which justly belong or ought to belong in any way to the said lands and tenements ; So that after the death of the said Thomas de Morhame all the foresaid lands and tenements with pertinents are to remain forever wholly and quietly with Sir John Giffard, knight, and Eufamia his wife and the heirs of their bodies lawfully procreated : And should it happen that the said John and Eufamia should die without any heirs lawfully procreated of their bodies we will that all the said lands and tenements, after the deaths of the said John and Eufamia, will revert to the nearest heirs of the said Thomas de Morhame wholly and quietly forever : Rendering to us and our heirs and the other chief lords of the fiefs all services thence due and wont : Further we will that if the said Thomas de Morhame do make an alienation, gift, sale or wadset of the said lands and tenements or any part thereof or by dimission at a later term which is to be in force at the end of the said Thomas's life that then the said Thomas will lose and be wholly removed from right and sasine had in the said lands and tenements by reason of our infeofment, and our infeftment made to him of these loses all strength and virtue, and thereupon the said John and Eufamia and their foresaid heirs will enter to all the said lands and tenements with pertinents freely and quietly and possess them after the tenour of our concession made above : In testimony whereof we have caused our seal to be appended to this duplicate charter : Witnesses, etc.(1)

In a charter dated November of 1327, Sir John Giffard settles a long lasting dispute with the Nuns of Haddington over the Giffard owned access roads to the Nunnery. John gurantees, on the "weal" of his soul and the soul of his wife Euphemia, that they and their heirs will protect and give free access to the roads and paths leading to the Nunnery lands. The dispute with the Nuns of Haddington will re-surface again in the 15th century with the de Hay descendants of the Yester Giffards. In this charter, Sir John Giffard III describes himself as Lord of Yester and the Baronies of Morham and Duncanlaw. Dated at Yester Castle, Nov., 1327. This is the last exact date at which Sir John Giffard is known to be living.

The final charter of this generation is found in Yester writ #24. It is produced by the widowed Euphemia Morham, in which she grants a half carucate of land in her tenement of Barrow to Richard de Dale and his heirs for his faithful service. In addition, she grants de Dale the right to grind his grain at her mill of Duncanlaw, and that she and her heirs will defend the land granted to de Dale. The witnesses to this charter provide a great deal of vital information in being able to date the document. Among the witnesses were Lord James Douglas "The Good"; Robert de Keith; Alexander de Seton; Robert de Lauder; and Henry Sinclair. In the charter, Euphemia states that she is a widow and the spouse of the deceased Sir John Giffard. As Lord James Douglas left for Spain in the spring of 1330, and was killed in battle there in August of that year, this undated charter must have been written in 1328 or 1329. Sir John Giffard was living as of Nov., 1327, and hence Euphemia's charter fixes his death in the 1328-1329 time period. The apperance of Lord James Douglas as a witness in this rather minor charter would seem to be significant. He was also a witness in the 1322 Yester confirmation charter of King Robert the Bruce, but this would be expected as he witnessed a great many of Bruce's documents. Lord James Douglas will be discussed later in relation to the parentage of Joanna Douglas, the future daughter-in-law of Sir John Giffard and Euphemia Morham.

To all who see or hear this charter Eufamia Giffard, spouse of deceased Sir John Giffard, Greeting in the Lord everlasting : Wit ye that I, in my pure widowhood, have given, granted and by this my present charter confirmed to Richard de Dale for his faithful service that half carucate of land with pertinents in the tenement of Barow, which belonged to Alexander Cook, by its right bounds, namely, descending from the hospital to vyndenmyr. thence ascending to the common exit which leads to the west side of Barw, thence to Harlawmore, thence from the west side of the said exit to the ford which leads from Harlawmoie to the road called Fawsyd gait, thence ascending to the site of the bridge called Cachtlamis Brighe, and thence from that road to the land which once belonged to Alexander de Stratum : To be held and had to the said Richard and his heirs and asignees from me and my heirs in fee and heritage as freely and quietly, fully and honourably, as any other fee-firm in the realm of Scotland is held with free entry and exit, common pasture, and all other easements which pertain or ought to pertain in any manner to the said town : I will also and grant that whenever the said Richard his heirs or assignees shall happen to be fined in my court from whatever cause that he shall pay in full for each fine 12 pence : Paying each year the said Richard his heirs and assignees to me and my heirs one penny in the town of Barw at the Feast of S. Kentigern in name of fee-firm, if asked by me or my heirs, for suits of court, ward, relief, and all services, customs, exactions, and demands, and for everything else which can be exacted from the said land : I will also and grant that the said Richard his heirs and assignees may grind their grain at my mill of Duncanlaw in multure, and they shall be next after harvest in grinding : 1 the said Eufamia and my heirs shall warrand and defend the said land with its pertinents to the said Richard his heirs and assignees against all men and women for ever : Witnesses, etc.(2)

Another interesting fact found in Euphemia Morham's charter is that she styles herself as Euphemia "Giffard", adopting the use of the deceased husband's surname was a common practice of widows. In their widowhood, both her daugher-in-law (Joanna Douglas), and her grand-daughter (Joanna Giffard), will follow the similar practice of using the surname of their deceased husbands.

After the Scottish defeat at the battle of Halidon Hill in 1333, the Haddington area including Yester came under the control of the English King Edward III. In the state papers of Edward III, the Haddington Sheriff's report of Oct. 1336 gives the status of the Barony of Yester. No persons in Yester are mentioned in the report, and it appears the Barony was in temporary abeyance. As the next Lord of Yester, Hugh Giffard III, would certainly have still been in his minority at this time, and his lack of mention would be expected. In other Haddington land holdings, widows and adult females are sometimes mentioned in the 1336 report. As Euphemia does not appear by name in the Yester report, it may be an indication that she had re-married and was living elsewere, or that her death had occured prior to 1336."


8I. HUGH- b.c. 1322, m.c.1345 JOANNA DOUGLAS

II. John- He is found as a witness in one of the Yester writs done circa 1365-1370 after the death of Hugh Giffard III. If he were a younger brother of Hugh Giffard, he would not have become Lord of Yester, as Hugh died leaving legitimate heirs. John Giffard may possibly have been the unknown father of James Giffard of Sheriffhall. This James Giffard of Sheriffhall, (born circa 1360), has sometimes been said to be a son of Hugh Giffard III of Yester. This would of course be impossible, as the above mentioned Hugh Giffard III and Joanna Douglas only had the four daughters who became co-heiresses to the Yester estate. Another possible origin may be the Giffards of Berwickshire, the earliest being a James Giffard of Horndean in Berwickshire found in a 1269 charter of Alexander III. Hugh and James Giffard of Berwickshire sign the Ragman Rolls, and a later Sir Hugh Giffard was Sheriff of Berwickshire circa 1335. The relationship of the Berwickshire Giffards to the Yester family is not known.


(1) Calendar of Writs preserved at Yester House 1166-1503- Charles C. Harvey, Ed., Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1916- No. 19
(2) Ibid- No. 24

Liber S. Marie de Melros
Liber S. Marie de Dryburgh


m.c.1345 JOANNA DOUGLAS (m.2. c.1366 Nigel Cunningham, d. after 1400)
d. before 16 Mar. 1366

Sir Hugh Giffard III will become the last Lord of Yester in the male line, which had begun with the first Hugh Giffard in 1166. Hugh Giffard III came of age after 1340, and is first found in a charter dated Oct. 15, 1345. This was a confirmation charter of King David II regarding the granting of the lands of Lethington to Sir Robert Maitland of Thirlestane by "Hugh Giffard, son of the deceased John Giffard of Yester." A second confirmation of King David II was to a charter of Hugh Giffard, Laird of Yester, to John de Douglas son of James, Lord Douglas, concerning lands in the baronies of Yester, Morham, Duncanlaw, Tealing, Polgavie, and Herbertshire. (1). The purpose or intent of this charter remains unclear, and is not mentioned in the Yester writs. The charter is undated, but is very likely to have been done in 1346. The only other charter in which Hugh Giffard III may be found occurs in Yester writ #26, which was dated "Tuesday after Feast of Holy Trinity A.D. 1350". In this writ he is titled Hugh Giffard, Lord of Yester, a noble and discreet man. He grants to the east end construction of the Haddington Bridge two tenements and pieces of land in the north end of the village of Giffardgate. A comparison of the terms of address used for Hugh Giffard in these charters would imply that he was youthful in 1345, and not long into his majority. In addition, considering the evidence previously discussed in the charters of his parents, Hugh's birth must have been very close to the year 1322. Hugh Giffard III was knighted, but this very likely occurred at some time after 1350.

This writ, issued after a compact at Haddington, Tuesday after Feast of Holy Trinity A.D. 1350, bears witness that this agreement was come to between a noble and discreet man Hugh Giffard, Lord of Yester, on one part, and Thomas called Goldharis and Hugh Baker, burgesses of Haddington and tenants of the said Hugh Lord of Yester in the village of Giffardgatis on the other, namely that the said Hugh, Lord of Yester, for the weal of his soul and those of his predecessors and successors gave, granted and confirmed to the foundation, site, and construc- tion of the east end of Haddington Bridge two tenements containing two pieces of land in the north end of the village of Giffardgate lying on the west side : The said tenements to be held and had of him and his heirs and assignees whatsoever for ever for the benefit and upkeep of the said bridge with free entry and ish to all wishing to use the said bridge ; for which grant and free confirmation the said Thomas Goldharis and Hugh Baker are held and firmly obliged by common faith to the said Hugh Lord of Yester to pay twelve silver pennies yearly to him, his heirs or assignees or their servants in their name in equal portions at two terms of the year, at the feasts of Pentecost and Martinmas, without further delay, or other extension, deceit, fraud, or malingine : And if it befalls that the said Thomas and Hugh their heirs and assignees or any other occupiers what- soever of the lands and tenements within the lordship of Giffardgate fail to pay in part or whole the yearly sum of the said twelve pennies, which awanting, they do oblige them that their whole lands and tenements, within the said lordship of Giffardgat and elsewhere, their heirs and assignees and all their movable and immovable goods wherever they will be found within and without the King's realm can be destrained, taken, removed, and sold at the wish of the said Hugh Lord of Yester his heirs and assignees or their servants whatsoever without asking and obtaining the licence of any official until the said Hugh Lord of Yester his heirs or assignees or their servants are fully satisfied of expenses incurred and interest, if any are sustained or incurred by reason of the non- payment of the said money at the foresaid terms and of the principal due no-one offering any obstacle in the contrary : The said Hugh Lord of Yester, his heirs, and assignees will warrand, acquit, and forever defend the said two pieces of land to the site of the said bridge against all people : In testimony whereof the seal of the foresaid Hugh Lord of Yester is appended to the part of the indenture to remain forever in possession of the said Thomas called Goldharis and Hugh Baker and their heirs and assignees : And to the part to remain for ever with the foresaid Hugh Lord of Yester and his heirs and assignees, because the said Thomas called Goldharis and Hugh Baker have no proper seals for the completing of these presents, the Common Seal of Haddington at their instance they caused to be appended : Dated and done, day, place, and year above mentioned. (2)

When Hugh Giffard III was the age of 9, he was entered into a verbal bond of marriage with the 11 year old Elizabeth Mure, daughter of Sir Adam Mure of Rowallan. The date of this agreement was about the year 1331. This marriage was never ratified or consummated, and the bond was dissolved by Papal authority on Oct. 12, 1344. By 1336/1337, Elizabeth Mure had become the mistress of the 20 year old Robert Stewart, the future King Robert II of Scotland. After two Papal dispensations, Elizabeth Mure and Robert Stewart would officially marry in 1349. Their first son, born circa 1337, would become the future King Robert III. Elizabeth Mure died by 1355, and because her husband Robert did not become King until 1371, Elizabeth was never Queen of Scotland.

All evidence points that Hugh Giffard's marriage to Joanna Douglas must have occurred about the year 1345. The couple would have four daughters who become the co-heiresses of all the Yester estates in the latter portion of the 14th century. It is very obvious that Hugh Giffard and Joanna Douglas could not have had any male heirs as sometimes has been suggested. The death of Sir Hugh Giffard III must have occurred before 1366, as his widow Joanna Douglas had a Papal commission dispensation on 16 March 1366 to marry Sir Nigel Cunningham. Evidence in the Yester writs indicates that her second husband, the elderly Sir Nigel Cunningham, would function and be titled as the Lord of Yester for the next 10 or more years. The four daughters, and eventual heiresses of Hugh Giffard, would have been in their minorities at the period of his death and the re-marriage of his widow. With the death of Sir Hugh Giffard III, the seven generations in the male line of the Giffards of Yester would come to a close.

Joanna Douglas is found in three Yester writs, all after the death of Sir Hugh Giffard and her subsequent marriage to Nigel Cunningham. These writs are dated March 10, 1375; Feb. 5 &15, 1398; and the last in 1400. The first writ of Nigel Cunnigham which was placed in the Yester charter chest was dated 1362. Cunnigham family writs are found in the Yester charter chest for about a 20 year period. In the 1375 writ (# 32), Nigel Cunningham identifies himself as Lord of Yester and that Joanna (Jonet) Giffard is his wife. In the writs of 1375 and 1398, her first name is given in the Latin version as "Jonet". The writ of 1400 (#43) was done in English rather than Latin, and in this writ she is found to be termed the more familiar "Johanna". This writ was done by the young Tassy Maxwell, who twice states Joanna "Giffard" the Lady Superior of Yester to be his Grandmother. Tassy Maxwell was the son of Mary Giffard, youngest daughter of Hugh Giffard and Joanna Douglas. Joanna Douglas was still living as stated in the 1400 charter, and must have been near the age of 75. Joanna Douglas had adopted the common practice of using the last name of a deceased husband after his death. Thus the references to her as Joanna "Giffard". Her mother-in-law Euphemia Morham had done this in 1328, and her eldest daughter Joanna Giffard also did the same after the death of her husband Sir Thomas de Hay. This eldest daughter appears to have joined her aged mother Joanna Douglas at Yester after the death of Thomas de Hay at Locherworth c. 1392. Daughter Joanna Giffard is found to have termed herself Joanna "Hay", the widow of Thomas de Hay, and a Lady of Yester in a 1399 document. The term "Lady Superior" seems to have been used to identify the older Joanna Douglas from her daughter Joanna, as both appear to be called Lady of Yester by 1398.

1400. He it Knawyne til al yat yis lettir Heris or seis me Tassy of Maxwellordof ye thrid part of Strathardil til hafgravntytt fullelegyffyne til Dam Johanna gyffart lady of yhest my Eldmodir to by al ye landyis wt ye aptynance qwhilk was vmqwhil John of Statonys lyand wt in ye Barvn'ry of Dvncanlaw ye qwhilk land was haldyn of ye forsaid lady Dam John and for to tvrne it halely in hir oyise and for to gyf it to qwhat kirk of Chapel yat scho likys for ye merytabil heile of hir saule t hir foreldris t ourys and at our yat J conferm be yis my my {sic) lettir hir gyft in ye maner beforsaid t resyngys til hir al my reyth or clame yat I hafe in yat said land or my hafe til it be any maner of secular lauch cevile or canone in tym to come And gyf yat I ye forsaid Tassy or any of my ayris my atturnayis or my assignes agayn callis or agayn standis yis forsaid counand I obliste me my ayris or my atturnayis or my assignes or any in my name or throw me in fourty pvnd of sterlingis to be vpleftyt at the wil of any man lerd or lawyt yat happynys to duele wt ye said land or for to haf it eftir ye dissese of the forneyt lady my Eldmodir or yhit agayne call it in hir lyife or in any tym to come and to ye mar Sekyrnes of ye qwhilk thyngis fermly to be yhemyt t heldyne I haf svorne abodily athe in ye presence of syndry In ye witnese of the qwhilk thyng be cause yat I had na seal redy of my awyn I pcurit the seil of an honabile lady Uam Alice ye lydesay Porese of ye Nunnys of hadyngton t ye coinone seile of ye Pryorese wt ye assent t ye consent of ye cowand of ye forne yt abbay to be set to yis psand lettir in ye absent of my seile Gyffyn at at {sic) Hadyngtone In ye yheir of our lord Jm ccc nynty ye lend (3)

Joanna Douglas has been stated to be the daughter of Sir James Douglas "the good" and also the daughter of Sir James Douglas of Lothian in a few internet sites. Unfortunately, these sites give no sources or any documentation for the statements. (The Scots Peerage does not list Joanna as a daughter of either Sir James Douglas). Both James Douglases would fit the time frame of Joanna's birth, but Douglas of Lothian, who dies in 1323, would seem the less likely from a dating standpoint.

The charter of Hugh Giffard to John Douglas made circa 1346 concerning Giffard lands may provide some clues. This charter would be close in date to Hugh Giffard's marriage to Joanna Douglas, and would likely be a Douglas related to Joanna. John de Douglas is stated as having been the son of James, Lord Douglas in the document. This seems like a reference to one of the above discussed Sir James Douglases, but a contradiction exists as to which. James Douglas "the good" was always referred to as "Lord Douglas", but had no known son John. James Douglas of Lothian had a second son John who was killed in 1349, but was always addressed as Sir James Douglas "of Lothian".

The 1366 papal dispensation given at the time of Joanna's second marriage to Nigel Cunningham could provide a definitive answer, but a critical piece of information is lacking. The dispensation says: "Joanna Douglas is related to Nigel Cunningham in the third degree of affinity". This means she is not related to Nigel Cunningham by blood (consanguinity), but a second cousin to someone who was closely connected to him. In all likelyhood this was his deceased first wife. If her name could be discovered, proof of Joanna's ancestry would be possible. Other connections of Hugh Giffard and Joanna's descendants with the Black Douglas line provide clues and suggestions, but no absolute proof of the Douglas ancestry of Joanna. Joanna Douglas certainly is descended from the Douglases originating with Archibald Douglas in the early 13th century. But whether her descent is through the Black Douglas line of Sir James Douglas "the good", or their cousins the Douglases of Lothian requires more documentation to resolve.

The four daughters of Hugh Giffard and Joanna Douglas represent the end of the Giffard of Yester line. The Giffard properties would be divided and inherited by their respective four eldest sons William de Hay, Thomas Boyd, Eustace Maxwell, and Dougal McDowell.

A major source of error concerning the four Giffard heiresses arises in the interpretation of the 1420 and 1421 charters which created a collegiate church out of St. Bothans Kirk. St. Bothans is better known as the church of Yester. It has been said in some early sources that the Giffard heirs and patrons named in the documents (William de Hay, Thomas Boyd, Eustace Maxwell, and Dougal McDowell) were the husbands of the Giffard heiresses. This has led to ridiculous pedigrees that even would have William de Hay married to his own mother! The Giffard heirs named are the SONS of Joanna, Alicia, Mary, and Euphemia. The only husband living and who was present in the documents may have the very elderly Thomas Boyd Sr. His son Thomas Boyd Jr. is also present, and must give his permission for the Boyd portion of the grant, as he is the true heir of his mother Alicia Giffard. A wealth of other information (charters, dating, etc.) proves that the sons of the four Giffard heiresses are the individuals named in the St. Bothans documents, not their husbands."


I. Joanna- b.c.1345-50, m.c.1369 Sir Thomas de Hay (d. between 1395 & 1399), living in Jan. 1401

9II. ALICIA- m. THOMAS BOYD, Lord of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire (living in 1421)

III. Euphemia- b.c.1355, m.c.1375 ?Uchtred McDowell of Mackerston, living Mar. 1410

IV. Mary/Margaret- m. ______ Maxwell of Strath Ardel, Perthshire


(1) Great Seal of Scotland- No. 1008
(2) Calendar of Writs preserved at Yester House 1166-1503- Charles C. Harvey, Ed., Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1916- No. 26
(3) Ibid- No. 43

Calendar of Writs preserved at Yester House 1166-1503- Charles C. Harvey, Ed., Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1916- No. 32, 53, 54, 55

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