The Mystery of William Wallace

      For William Wallace to be such a famous historical figure little is known about his life.  Maybe that mystery is what gives this Scottish hero a sort of mythical quality.  In the following articles on this page we will tell you all we really know about Sir William Wallace.

A Short Biography

     We don’t truly know the date of William Wallace’s birth, but it is projected that he was born sometime in 1272 in Ellerslie, Scotland.  He was the second of three sons born to Sir Malcolm Wallace and Margaret de Crauford (daughter of the Sheriff of Ayr).  Wallace was first schooled at home by his mother, but he later studied at the Paisley Abby.  While studying here he learned to read and write but he was more interested in activities like swordplay and horsemanship.  Wallace also became interested in the church.  At one time he even had thoughts of becoming a priest.  At the approximate age of 18 William traveled to Dunipace to further his studies, and to stay with his uncle who was a cleric at the local abbey.  About a year later William left his uncle for Kilspindle where he would live with his mother and attend a church school.

      During these next several years (Wallace’s 20’s) William was constantly in trouble with the English, and he moved around a lot.  Wallace became an outlaw in England at a young age because he killed the son of a constable, named Selby, during a quarrel.  Along with Selby he also killed several of the young man’s friends before escaping to Kilspindie.  The motivation for this killing was not only that the constable’s son was poking fun at Wallace, but a short time before a group of English soldiers had ambushed and killed Wallace’s father.  While hiding in Kilspindle English authorities started a hunt for Wallace. Upon hearing of the hunt Wallace, his mother, and younger brother went to back Ellerslie.  While in Ellerslie William’s uncle suggested that he would be safer in Riccarton.  While staying Riccarton Wallace was involved in another altercation with the English authorities.  Five English soldiers came upon Wallace while he was fishing and demanded for him to give up his fish.  William resisted and one of the soldiers drew his sword.  Taking this as a threat William beat the soldier with a fishing rod and stole his sword.  He then proceeded to kill several of the other soldiers.  Upon hearing of his nephew’s crimes Wallace’s uncle sent him to live in Leglen Wood till things calmed down.  William would from time-to-time become bored in the woods and travel to a nearby market in disguise.  Each time he did this he got into trouble.  One such time he killed a steward of Henry de Pearcy who was bullying a friend of his uncle.  All of these run-ins with the English were in a way foreshadowing to what Wallace would do in the future.

Wallace the Leader

      Scotland had always been a fairly wealthy and prosperous place, but from the very late 1200’s it had been in a state of turmoil.  The country was in the midst of an English takeover.  By around the year 1290 William Wallace had established a great hatred of the English, and was turning his back on his life in the church to fight for the good of Scotland.  However, Wallace was already seen as a murderer in the eyes of the English so he really didn’t have a choice.  William now had to fight to stay alive.
     In 1296 John Balliol, the Scottish King, was deposed by England’s King Edward I. Edward declared himself ruler and thought he had added Scotland to his empire. This is when Wallace decided to take action.  Signs of minor resistance had started springing up across Scotland due to the unpopular actions of Edward, but the most noticeable single resistance was William Wallace and his army of 30 men who killed the English sheriff of Lanark.  Soon after this event hordes of Scots began to join Wallace and his cause. The army stormed across central Scotland killing Englishmen and driving them from Scotland.  In the summer of 1297 Wallace joined his army with the army of his good friend Moray in the city of Perth.  The united army then prepared to meet the approaching army of the Earl of Surrey (who represented Edward I in Scotland).

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