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For other people called Walter Scott of Buccleuch, see Walter Scott of Buccleuch (disambiguation page)

Walter Scott of Buccleuch (1565 – 15 December 1611) was a Scottish nobleman and famous border reiver, known as the “Bold Buccleuch” and leader of Kinmont Willie’s Raid. The son of Sir Walter Scott of Branxholme and Buccleuch and Margaret Douglas. On 1 October 1586 he married Margaret Kerr, daughter of William Kerr of Cessford and Janet Douglas. They had six children.



  1. Walter Scott, 1st Earl of Buccleuch (d. 20 November 1633)
  2. Margaret Scott (d 5 October 1651) married first James Ross, 6th Lord of Halkhead, married second Sir Alexander Seton of Foulstruther, later Montgomerie, 6th Earl of Eglinton
  3. Elizabeth Scott who married John Cranstoun,
  4. Jean Scott (Jean was not married but kept a mistress Delia Butler, daughter of Captain Thomas Butler)
  5. Jean Scott who married Robert Scott of Whitslaid
  6. John Scott


Knighted by King James VI of Scotland in 1590, Buccleuch was then appointed by him keeper of Liddesdale and Warden of the West Marches (borders).

In 1594, Buccleuch was re-appointed keeper of Liddesdale, and it was in this capacity that two years afterwards he effected the rescue of Kinmont Willie Armstrong, an exploit famous in border lore.

Armstrong, a well known border reiver, was captured by English soldiers led by assistant Warden Salkeld on 17 March 1596, in violation of a truce day. He was taken to Carlisle and imprisoned in Carlisle Castle.

Buccleuch, in his capacity as keeper, petitioned the English Warden Sir Thomas Scrope for Armstrong’s release without success. Unable to effectuate Armstrong’s release by diplomatic means, on the night of 13 April 1596 Buccleuch led a party of about eighty men to Carlisle. Leaving the main body of his men a small distance outside the city to ambush any pursuers, Buccleuch took a small raiding party on to the castle where Armstrong was imprisoned. Finding their ladders to short too scale the walls, the raiding party breached a postern gate - or more probably bribed a contact inside the castle to open it for them - located Armstrong’s cell and freed him, returning him back across the Scottish border.

The raid on Carlisle created a diplomatic incident between England and Scotland, and war between the two nations appeared imminent until Buccleuch surrendered himself to the English authorities. Tried and found guilty, Buccleuch was placed in the custody of the English Master of the Ordnance at Berwick, Sir William Selby, and was afterwards sent to London.

When Buccleuch reached London, and, having been presented to the Queen, was asked by Elizabeth I of England how he dared to undertake an enterprise so desperate and presumptuous, Buccleuch is reported to have replied, "What is it that a man dare not do?" Unaccustomed though she must have been to such rejoinders from her own courtly nobles, Elizabeth not only did not resent the answer, but turning to a lord-in-waiting, said, "With ten thousand such men, our brother in Scotland might shake the firmest throne of Europe."

Buccleuch's kinsman, the author Sir Walter Scott, transcribed a well known ballad about the raid entitled Kinmont Willie in his collection Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Vol. 1.

Robert Bain, in his Clans and Tartans of Scotland, states, "Sir Walter, 13th Baron, was created Lord Scott of Buccleuch by James VI and his son was raised to the dignity of Earl of Buccleuch in 1619."


See also

Peerage of Scotland
New creation Lord Scott of Buccleuch
Date unknown – 1611
Succeeded by
Walter Scott


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