THE AUTONOMOUS GRAND PRIORY OF SCOTLAND
SCOTTISH KNIGHTS TEMPLAR

Christina of Balantrodach ( Temple )

A lady called Christiana, daughter of Robert Scot of Esperston (Temple, Midlothian) married a certain William son of Geoffrey of Halkerstoun, to whom she bore three sons. William was given to indolence, and conveyed his wife's lands to the Templars for life in return for his maintenance, and lived in the house of the Templars while his wife and their children lived in a house on their property until William's death.

William was said to have been a lazy person and did not want to carry out Farmwork so he approached the Templars at Temple, he said that he was unwell and if the Templars took him in and looked after him until he died then he would gift them the land and Farm at Esperston.

There was a clause that allowed the Templars to do this and so he moved in to the Commanderie and was looked after, this as you will read below caused nothing but problems for Christina.

The master of the Temple, brother Brian le Jay, claimed to have been given the property and sought to expel Christiana; but she claimed that it was hers by right and that her husband had no right to alienate it. The Templars, however, expelled her by force, cutting off her finger as she clung to the door-post. She appealed to the king, ( unnamed, though probably Alexander III ) at Newbattle, and he had her restored to possession, in which she remained for a long time in peace, until the outbreak of war (1296). Then the Templars came and expelled her once more.

Brian le Jay, now Master of the Templars in England, came to Balantrodach on 18 July 1298 with a band of Welsh mercenaries to take part in Edward I's campaign against Wallace, and Christiana's eldest son, Richard Cook, came and sought justice from him. Brian asked him to act as a guide for the Welshmen between Balantrodoch and Temple liston, but as Richard was leading them the following day they turned on him and murdered him -- clearly on le Jay's inspiration.

Another sinister account of Brian's character was given by  the surrendered fugitive Thomas Tocci, who said that brother Brian le Jay repeatedly denied that Jesus Christ was true God and true man, and asserted that a single hair of a Saracen's beard was worth more than Christ's whole body. He added that he had seen some poor men come begging to Brian, asking for alms in the name bf Our Lady, and that Brian had replied "What Lady? Go and be hanged with your Lady! " He then threw down a farthing and made the poor folk grovel for it in the ice and snow, as it was the dead of winter at the time.

Brian le Jay, for all his faults, was conspicuously loyal to Edward I. He swore homage to him at Edinburgh on 29 July 1291, just six weeks after the prorogation of the Great Cause at Norham, and as a reward for his loyalty had a grant'of timber from the king's forester of Clackmannan two weeks thereafter.
In December of the same year he had letters of protection without limit, and may soon thereafter have taken up the post of master of the Templars in England.
On 1 September 1296 he appointed brother John de Sautre, master of the Templars in Scotland (another Englishman) as his attorney in Scotland.
Finally in 1298 Brian returned to Scotland in the service of Edward I, where he died fighting bravely at the Battle of Falkirk, one of few English casualties, and winning the admiration of contemporary English chronicles.

 

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