Black Agnes Randolph

(Countess of Dunbar)

c.1300 - ?

Famed for her bravery in resisting the English siege of Dunbar Castle. Daughter of Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray (d. 1332), and wife of Patrick, Earl of Dunbar and March, she was known as Black Agnes because of her dark hair. When the Earl of Salisbury gave siege to Dunbar Castle for six months in 1338, in the absence of her husband, Agnes took charge. In response to a request to surrender, she is said to have said:

'Of Scotland's King I haud my house,
He pays me meat and fee,
And I will keep my gude auld house,
While my house will keep me.'

She resisted the battering rams and provocatively dusted off the parapets with a handkerchief where English cannon balls had caused damage. Even when her brother, who had been captured by the English, was brought before the walls, she retorted that, if her attackers killed him, that would simply mean she became Earl of Moray!

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