Sir John Menteith of Ruskie & Knapdale

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Sir John Menteith of Ruskie & Knapdale (Stewart)

Also Known As: "Fause Menteith", ""Menteith the treacherous"", "of rusky &knapdale"
Birthplace: Possibly Inchtalla, Lake of Menteith, or?, Loch Rusky, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Death: circa 1323 (39-57)
Menteith, Perthshire, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of Walter "Bailloch-Freckled" Stewart, Earl of Menteith and Mary of Menteith, Countess of Menteith
Husband of Marjorie de Strivelyn and Elyne de Mar, of Rusky & Knapdale
Father of Sir Walter Menteith of Rusky; Alexander Menteith; Joan Menteith and Christian Menteith of Arran
Brother of Alexander, Earl of Menteith and Elena Stewart, of Menteith

Occupation: Governor of Dumbarton Castle
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir John Menteith of Ruskie & Knapdale

"I. -SIR JOHN MENTEITH. Second son of Walter Stewart, fifth Earl of Menteith, appears first in 1286 as a party to an agreement with Bruce. He was, in 1297, a prisoner in the castle of Nottingham, and was liberated in the month of August,on condition of accompanying King Edward to France. At the same time he received a regrant of all his lands, goods, etc., in Scotland, which had been forfeited. In 1301 he is, in a letter to King Edward, called the King's "adversary." In1303 he is named as a negotiator for peace. In 1304 he was appointed custodier of Dumbarton Castle, and in 1305 he was a Scots representative at Westminster to treat for the settlement of the kingdom. In1307 he was summoned, by Edward the Second, under the title of Earl of Lennox. In1308 he signed a letter from the barons of Scotland to the King of France. In 1320, as guardian of the earldom of Menteith, he signed the letter from the nobles of Scotland to the Pope. Between 1308 and 1323 he witnessed numerous charters by King Robert the First. In 1323 he was a conservator of the truce between England and Scotland. He died shortly after that date, leaving issue two sons and two daughters."

Source: Page 460 of the Red Book of Menteith. this page begins the Pedigree of the Menteiths of Rusky, Kerse, Etc. chapter in the book. All lineages pertaining to the surname Monteith (whatever the spelling) should probably be checked against this pedigree and connect to it as we are all descended from him.
The book is available here:

The Earl left two sons, who dropped their paternal surname of Stewart, and assumed that of Menteith. The younger of the two, Sir John Menteith of Ruskie, is the ‘false Menteith’ who is branded by Scottish tradition and history as the betrayer of the patriot Wallace. Lord Hailes, who sometimes carried his scepticism respecting the statements of the old Scottish historians a great deal too far, discredits the story, which he asserts rests only on tradition and the allegations of Blind Harry. Sheriff Mark Napier, a descendant of Sir John Menteith, has made an elaborate defence of his ancestor from the charge of betraying Wallace; and Mr. Burton designates it as a part of the romance of Wallace’s career that he was betrayed by a fellow-countryman and an old companion in arms. ‘Menteith,’ he adds, ‘held the responsible post of Governor of Dumbarton Castle, and it seems likely that he only performed a duty, whether an agreeable one or not.’

There is conclusive evidence, however, afforded by documents recently discovered that the charge brought against Menteith is not without foundation. Mr. Fraser, who has discussed this question very fully and impartially in the ‘Red Book of Menteith,’ and has carefully examined all the documents bearing on the subject, is of opinion that the accusation that Menteith basely betrayed Wallace as his friend rests upon evidence too insufficient to sustain such a charge. But the documents which Mr. Fraser has examined show that Sir John Menteith fought on the patriotic side at the battle of Dunbar in 1296, where he was taken prisoner along with his elder brother; that he afterwards made his peace with Edward I., and supported the claims of that monarch; that he again returned to the patriotic party; that he once more submitted to the English king, and obtained from him the sheriffdom of Dumbarton and the custody of the castle to which Wallace was conveyed after his capture, and that he obtained a share of the reward which Edward had promised to the persons who should be instrumental in delivering the Scottish patriot into the hands of his enemies. It is impossible to speak with certainty as to the extent of friendship that may have existed between Wallace and the vacillating turncoat noble, but there can be no doubt that they must have had ‘intercourse and familiarity.’ In the ‘Relationes Arnaldi Blair,’ it is mentioned that in August, 1298, Wallace, Governor of Scotland, with John Graham and John de Men/el/h, and Alexander Scrymegour, Constable of Dundee and Standard-bearer of Scotland, acted together in an expedition into Galloway against the rebels who adhered to the party of Scotland and the Comyns.

There is abundant contemporary evidence to prove that Sir John Menteith was the chief agent in the capture of Wallace. In the ‘Chronicle of Lancaster,’ written in the thirteenth century, it is stated that ‘William Wallace was taken by a Scotsman, namely, Sir John Menteith, and carried to London, where he was drawn, hanged, and beheaded.’ In the account of the capture and execution of Wallace contained in the Arundel manuscript, written about the year 1320, it is stated that ‘William Wallace was seized in the house of Ralph Rae by Sir John Menteith, and carried to London by Sir John de Segrave, where he was judged.’ Fordun, who lived in the reign of King Robert Bruce, when the memory of the exploits of Wallace must have been quite fresh, says: ‘The noble William Wallace was, by Sir John Menteith, at Glasgow, while suspecting no evil, fraudulently betrayed and seized, delivered to the King of England, dismembered at London, and his quarters hung up in the towns of the most public places in England and Scotland, in opprobium of the Scots.’ Wyntoun, whose ‘Metrical Chronicle’ was written in 1418, says—

‘Schyre Jhon of Menteith in tha days

Tuk in Glasgow William Walays;

And sent hym untill Ingland sune,

There was he quartayrd and undone.’

The English chronicler, Langtoft, states that Menteith discovered the retreat of Wallace through the treacherous information of Jack Short, his servant, and that he came under cover of night and seized him in bed. A passage in the ‘Scala Chronica,’ quoted by Leland, says, ‘William Walleys was taken of the Counte of Menteith, about Glasgow, and sent to King Edward, and after was hanged, drawn, and quartered at London.’ But the most conclusive evidence of all that Menteith took a prominent part in the betrayal and capture of Wallace is afforded by the fact that while very liberal rewards were given to all the persons concerned in this infamous affair, by far the largest share fell to Menteith: he received land to the value of one hundred pounds.

John Menteith, guardian of the earldom of Menteith - crest

Notes ◦1 - For centuries, the name Menteith was used as a title. The early Earls of Menteith were Stewarts (or at least married to a Stewart) and the later ones were Grahams. The first to adopt the surname Menteith was Sir John Menteith of Rusky, brother of Alexander, Earl of Menteith and the second son of Lady Mary Menteith and Walter Stuart. P. Dun, in his book A summer at the Lake of Menteith, asserts that all who bear the surname Monteith, however spelt, are descendants of this Sir John.

An examination of the family trees of the two families, which in turn held the title Earl of Menteith will lend support to this statement. None of the Grahams ever adopted the surname, and even if they did, most of them died childless or without male heirs.
The only member of the Stuarts to adopt the name Menteith was Sir John Menteith and he had three sons who used it. If they had male heirs, then it is possible that Sir John may be the progenitor to all who bear the name Monteith.
Sir John is credited with the betrayal to the English in 1305 of Scotland's most popular hero, William Wallace As a result of this treacherous act, Wallace was taken to London where he was tried, found guilty of treason and cruelly put to death.
It seems that a loaf of bread was turned with its bottom side or flat side uppermost as a signal that all was in readiness for the capture of Wallace. Because Sir John was an important figure in the plot, if not the actual betrayer as Lord Hailes asserts, Sir Walter Scott in his book Tales of a Grandfather asserts, "In after times it was considered ill breeding to turn a loaf when a Menteith should be in the company."

2 - In THE RED BOOK OF MENTEITH, by William Fraser (1880), at page 460, it is stated that, in addition to Joana, who married two of the Earls of Strathearn, there was another unnamed daughter who married Archibald (Sir) Campbell of Lochaw. John (Sir) Menteith should be identified as of Rusky, since his being the keeper of Dumbarton Castle, to which he was appointed in 1304, leading to his role in the capture of Wallace in 1305, was only one of the activities in his career. He no longer commanded the fortress after 1307, and became a firm supporter of King Robert I. In 1320, he joined other Scottish nobles in the famous letter to the Pope in which they defended the right of their king and sought the Pontiffs support on behalf of peace with England. Later, he was sent to England as one of the envoys who, in 1323, negotiated a treaty of peace with England, which endured for 13 years, and under which England recognized Scotland as an independent kingdom.

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3 - Signed Declaration of Arbroath 1320. [5, 6]
Sources 1.[S265] Colquoun_Cunningham.ged, Jamie Vans

2.[S289] Betty and Dick Field's Family History, Richard Field

3.[S733] International Genealogical Index - submitted, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 4.[S280] Stirnet Genealogy, Peter Barns-Graham

5.[S260] Burke's Landed Gentry of Great Britain 2001, Peter Beauclerk Dewar,, (2001.)

6.[S301] History of the Lands and their Owners in Galloway, Vols III, IV and V, P. H. McKerlie, (James Bell, Kirkcudbright)

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Sir John Menteith of Ruskie & Knapdale's Timeline

Possibly Inchtalla, Lake of Menteith, or?, Loch Rusky, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Loch Rusky, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Perth, Perthshire, , Scotland
Rusky, Perthshire, Scotland
Mar, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom
Age 48
Menteith, Perthshire, Scotland
Sheriff of Dumbarton