Outlaw King – and a crazy connection

We were at TIFF last week – Toronto International Film Festival – which is always a fantastic event. We choose a range of films from various countries and genres with the added bonus of hearing from directors, actors and producers after the films screened.

One of this year’s films was Outlaw King – directed by David Mackenzie of Hell or High Water fame and with Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s king during the early 14th century. It will come as no surprise to you that I love films with historical settings and this was no exception. The battle scenes and Scottish countryside alone were worth it!

So what’s the crazy connection?

Well, it turns out that I’m descended from Robert the Bruce (aka Robert I). I knew my grandmother on my father’s side always claimed that we were descendants, but I have to admit I always assumed it was one of the family myths that have little to do with reality.

I have a folder containing some family genealogy research my father did a long time ago (he died in 1981, well before Ancestry.com!), so after seeing the film, I decided to examine it more closely. The challenge was to figure out how all the different family trees he had in the folder were connected. One tree begins in 1806 with the 5th Duke of Buccleuch, another shows the Stewart tree beginning with Robert the Bruce (sometimes spelled Bruys). Then there are trees for the Douglas clan, the earlier Buccleuch clan, and another for the Dukes of Queensberry.

Tracing the peerage of Scotland is a difficult task. Dad did it well, but he left no roadmap for those of us who might wish to understand the labyrinthine connections.

Now that I’ve scrutinized the details and checked various Internet sites for clarification, I think I’ve figured it out.

  • a grandson of Robert the Bruce (Robert I) through his daughter Marjory was Robert II
  • Robert II has many children including Isabel (also found spelled as Isabelle)
  • Isabel married James, 2nd Earl of Douglas
  • following the Douglas line down through the centuries, we find Jane, daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Queensberry and 1st Duke of Queensberry (now isn’t that confusing)
  • Jane marries Francis, 2nd Duke of Buccleuch
  • following the Buccleuch line we come to Walter Francis, 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensberry and Walter’s son Lord Francis Scott
  • Lord Francis Scott has a daughter Hester Anna Scott
  • Hester marries George W Shields of Ireland; they have a daughter also Hester Anna, who marries Herbert Francis Thomas my great-grandfather

So there you have it … I’m connected to Scottish royalty!

By the way, I highly recommend Outlaw King.


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.