William II de Soules

William II de Soules (d. 1320/1321), Lord of Liddesdale and Butler of Scotland, was a Scottish Border noble during the Wars of Scottish Independence. William was the elder son of Nicholas II de Soules, Lord of Liddesdale and Butler of Scotland, and a cousin of Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan. He was the nephew of John de Soules, Guardian of Scotland.

Coat of arms of Lord of Liddesdale
Hermitage Castle (in 1814), caput of the small provincial lordship of Liddesdale.

While still a young man, he was received into the peace of King Edward I of England in 1304. He remained in English service in the following decade, and received reward in 1312 with a knighthood and the lands of Sir Robert Keith although by that time those were in the hands of the Scots. After the victory of the Bruce cause at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, he switched to the Scottish side. By 1318 he was Butler of Scotland, and in 1320 he appeared as a signatory to the Declaration of Arbroath with this designation.

Later in 1320 he was involved in a conspiracy against King Robert along with Sir David, Lord of Brechin. Some say that he wanted the Scottish throne for himself, others, that the probable aim was to place Edward Balliol on the Scottish throne. Soules had gathered a few followers when he was arrested at Berwick, and brought before parliament. There he confessed his treason, and was placed in Dumbarton Castle. He is said to have died by 20 April 1321, in mysterious circumstances. He was succeeded by his heiress Ermengarde.[1]

Another William de Soules, about two generations earlier, had married Ermengarde, daughter of Alan Durward by Marjorie, illegitimate daughter of Alexander II of Scotland. A son, Nicholas de Soulis, was one of the Competitors for the Crown of Scotland.

In FolkloreEdit

Scottish Borders folklore maintains that a Soulis was involved with the Black Arts being schooled with Michael Scot, the "wizard of the North".[2][3] Sir Walter Scott made this Evil Lord Soules - Sir William and gave him a familiar called Robin Redcap. In retaliation for a long history of cruelty, locals boiled this Lord Soules alive at Ninestane Rig.[4] The more likely culprit would have been Sir Ranulf (Randolph) de Soules of Liddel (born c.1150 and murdered by his servants in 1207/8)[citation needed]

Soulis is also said to have defeated the Northumbrian giant, The Cout o' Keilder. The giant wore an enchanted armour that was impervious to any weapon but the wizard tricked the giant by knocking him into a river where he drowned. The water is known as the "drowning pool" today. There is a large burial mound near Hermitage Castle said to be the final resting place of the Cout.


  1. ^ McAndrew 2006, p. 164.
  2. ^ Tom Hubbard (1 January 2006). Michael Scot: Myth and Polymath. Akros Publications. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-86142-172-5.
  3. ^ Martin B. Scott (1869). Antiquity of the Name of Scott, with Brief Historical Notes. A paper, etc. [Reprinted from the New England Historical and Genealogical Register.]. Boston, Massachusetts: David Clapp and Son. p. 6.
  4. ^ Elizabeth Lynn Linton (1861). Witch Stories. Chapman and Hall. p. 6. ISBN 9780524019108.


  • McAndrew, Bruce A. Scotland's Historic Heraldry, Boydell Press, 2006. ISBN 9781843832614

Further readingEdit

  • Barrow, G. W. S., The Kingdom of the Scots, (Edinburgh, 2003)
  • Barrow, G. W. S., Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland, 3rd ed. (Edinburgh, 1988)
  • Duncan, A. A. M., "Soulis, Sir John (d. before 1310)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 , retrieved 21 May 2007
  • McMichael, Thomas, "The Feudal Family of de Soulis", in Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History & Antiquarian Society: Transactions and Journal of Proceedings, 3rd series, vol. 26, 1947–48, pp. 163–93
Preceded by
Nicholas II de Soules
Lord of Liddesdale
Succeeded by
Given to:
Robert Bruce,
illegitimate son of Robert I