Monday, June 18, 2012

Family Feud that Lasted a Century!

Before there were the Hatfields and the McCoys there were the Johnstones and the Maxwells. In the 16th century, the two families vied for control. The feud lasted nearly a century and was one of the bloodiest family feuds in British history.

Sir. James Johnstone of Dunskellie was the leader of Johnstone clan and John was Lord Maxwell, the chief of the Maxwells. He was the West Marsh Warden, which meant he was responsible for the whole March. This position could change hands between warlords. The frequent change of the Wardenship was part of the animosity between the two clan leaders.

In early 1593, Willie Johnstone stole a black horse from Lord Crichton. Once Willie was caught, Lord Crichton ordered Willie to be hanged. He was caught “red hand” the summary was written in the Border Law.

In revenge, the Johnstones of Wamphray, led by Willie Johnstone of Kirkhill, burned their way through Lord Crichton’s land. They stole household goods and they killed fifteen of Lord Crichton’s tenants.

Crichton demands The Maxwell to address the matter, but Lord Maxwell didn't want to further the hostility between the two clans. Crichton was furious and rode to Edinburgh to petition the King.

The king decided that John, Lord Maxwell should demand that Johnstone give himself up to the Warden and be brought to Edinburgh . Crichton brought the widows and mothers of all fifteen men killed. They paraded the bloodied shirts of their loved ones and gained the peoples sympathy. They wanted the Johnstones brought to justice.

The Johnstones refused to give up the men responsible for the bloodshed and the two clans prepared for war. The Johnstones had four hundred men who followed him . The Maxwells had two thousand at their disposal. The two clans met at Dryfe Sands. Lockerbie on December 1593. The Maxwells had to cross the river Annan. The Johnstones concealed themselves in the hills and when the Maxwells crossed,  they were ambushed immediately. The Maxwells couldn’t turn around or they would run into their own men. 

Lochwood Tower
In the battle, The Maxwell was struck from his horse and died. His head and hands were cut off and hung on the walls of Lochwood Tower. Vestiges remain their today.

The battle lasted only two hours with the rest of the Maxwell retreating from the disaster. The youngest Johnstone to fight and live was Robert Johnstone of Raecleuch who was only eleven years old.

The Devil's Wolf (Historical Romance)

     When Archie Maxwell is accused falsely of killing a Johnstone, his brother, Waylon, known as the Devil's Wolf, sets out to save him. His bargaining tool is the Johnstone's daughter, Catrione. He plans to ransom her for his brother's release, but once he lays eyes on her, his plans take another turn.

Lady Catrione Johnstone knows of the Devil’s Wolf and his ruthless exploits. Catrione vows she will fight him to the end. However, the myth is nothing like the man. In his arms, she forgets he is her enemy.

Will the magic of love finally bring peace to these two feuding clans or will it only inflame the hostility to a bloody end?


Mae Clair said... Best Blogger Tips

Ooooh, I'm intrigued. Sounds like a wonderful read!

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks Mae for coming by this morning.

The Reivers are an interesting bunch. Something like the outlaws of the Wild West in the US. :)

Debra St. John said... Best Blogger Tips

Gotta love feuding clans. Sounds like the perfect backstory for a romance!


Nancy Jardine said... Best Blogger Tips

Interesting... story Karen. My husband's Jardines were probably egging them on. They were border reivers-or so I'm told!

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips


I do love history. Thanks so much for stopping by,

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips


So, the Jardines were rascals, too. lol Or so he says.

The reivers could claim to be of either nationality, describing themselves as Scottish if forced, English at will and a Reiver by grace of blood. :)

Thanks so much for coming by.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Real history can be more shocking that fiction--cutting off hands and such. You gave a fascinating historical account. Your books are always fantastic. I love your covers, too...Miss Multitalented.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips


History gives us a fountain of ideas for our stories, too. Thanks so much for stopping by. So glad you liked the cover. Thanks for the compliment, too. :)