Sir Robert Boyd of Noddsdale

(d:1333) The earliest reference to the Boyd family is in a manuscript dated 1205, where a Robert de Boyd is a witness to an agreement between "the village of Irvine and Ralph of Eglintoun". He was succeeded by his son, also called Robert.

There doesn't seem to be much doubt that the words "Gold Berry", which appear in the Boyd Coat of Arms, refer to a hill where this Robert Boyd fought a crucial engagement during the Battle of Largs in 1263. According to the "History of Rowallane", Acho or Haakon, King of Norway, "landit at Air with 160 schips and 20,000 men", to claim land promised by Macbeth to his predecessors but not yet handed over. The Rowallan account identifies the islands of Arran, Bute and the two Cumbraes as the disputed land. The Scots, under Alexander III, heavily defeated the Norwegians. Sir Robert Boyd of Noddsdale (near Largs) and his company of soldiers put the enemy to flight at Goldberry Hill, south of the main engagement, near Portincross. For his support in the battle Sir Robert Boyd was rewarded with lands in Cunningham.

Around 1290, during the occupation of Scotland by the armies of Edward I, the English committed an atrocity in Ayr by hanging a number of Scottish nobles. It is believed that Sir Robert Boyd, the hero of Goldberry Hill was amongst the murdered men along with members of the Wallace family. As a result of this action Boyd's son (also Sir Robert) joined forces with William Wallace and other Scottish patriots to fight for Scottish independence. Sir Robert took part in a revenge attack on the English known as "The Burning of the Barns of Ayr", where the English forces were either burned alive in the grain barns they were using as barracks, or slaughtered as they tried to escape. He also played a part in an engagement with the English troops at Loudoun Hill near Darvel and is believed to have been present at the Battle of Falkirk where Wallace was defeated. In the epic poem "The Wallace", by Blind Harry, Sir Robert Boyd is mentioned 22 times and is described as being "wys and wicht" (wise and strong). His importance to Wallace's army was such that "he governyt them quhen Wallace was absent."

After Wallace was betrayed, captured and subsequently executed, Sir Robert Boyd was one of the first supporters of Robert the Bruce, and was trusted enough to act as his queen's escort in 1306.  Boyd distinguished himself at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, where he was placed on the crucial right wing of the Scots army so that he could help Edward Bruce, the King's brother, direct his troops.

"Ranged on the right the Southron legions stood, and on their front fiery Edward rode, with him the experienced Boyd divides the sway, sent by the King to guide him thro' the day."

The division withstood the main charge of the English cavalry and helped carry the day. Boyd was rewarded by Bruce, in 1316, with lands including West Kilbride, Portincross (where he strengthened the castle) and the Lordship of Kilmarnock where he began building Dean Castle. Sir Robert was also one of the guarantors of a peace treaty with England in 1323, but after the death of Robert the Bruce in 1329, Boyd was called on again as the English renewed hostilities. In 1333, against Boyd's, and other experienced Scottish commanders advice, the Scots attacked an invading English army at Halidon Hill. The Scots were roundly defeated and Sir Robert Boyd was captured and died soon after. The English however, due to the efforts of Boyd and others like him, were never able to gain a strong foothold in Scotland again.  His son, Sir Thomas Boyd of Kilmarnock probably completed the building of the keep of Dean Castle before being captured with King David II in 1346 and suffering a period of imprisonment in England.  The Boyd family were to live at Dean Castle for the next 400 years.

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