Sir Alexander MacCulloch of Myretoun (c1440-1532)

Coat of Arms of Clansfolk of Clan McCulloch
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"Sir Alexander is much the most illustrious of all the old McCullochs," writes Walter Jameson McCulloch in A History of the Galloway Families of McCulloch, "and on the tale of his exploits every young McCulloch is still nurtured." He was knighted by 1488 and gifted the estate of Cardoness by James IV in 1509. A favourite of the King and his father before him, Sir Alex became the Keeper or Captain of the Palace of Linlithgow in 1505 and was the King's Falconer , being allowed money from the Exchequer to make journeys to Orkney for procuring hawks. In this later activity, being married to Lord Sinclair of Orkney's daughter Margaret could have only have made this duty much easier.

It is recorded that in 1504, James IV granted a charter to Sir Alexander elevating Myretoun Castle, his principal seat, into a Burgh of Barony. It was specially noted that this royal favour was done in recognition of the hospitality the King had received from the Knight of Myretoun on the occasion of him passing to and fro on royal pilgrimages to Whithorn on the coast. This intimacy also led to the King appointing Sir Alex as Sheriff of Wigtoun from 1498 to 1501, an important office in those days, the administrative and financial functions of which were more important than the judicial.

Sir Alexander is usually identified as the Cutlar (or Collard) McCulloch, whose exploits against the Isle of Man are such a feature of Galloway history.

At the beginning of the 16th century, Thomas, Earl of Derby, a young, fiery warlike chief, was Lord, or rather, King of Man. In 1507, he made a furious descent upon the coast of Galloway, and nearly destroyed the town of Kircudbright. For several years afterwards, many of the houses in the burgh remained uninhabited and in ruins.

This successful assault was so skillfully directed and so bravely executed that it called forth the most enthusiastic strains of the Manx bards in praise of "The Earl with the golden crupper" as they termed their young sovereign and his heroic followers. But however gratifying this successful expedition might have first appeared to the inhabitants of Man, it proved afterwards to be the source of much suffering to follow. Cutlar McCulloch, being a brave and resourceful seaman, speedily equipped a predatory flotilla and, assembling his retainers, sailed over the Isle of Man, and repaid the visit with interest, carrying off everything which was "not too hot or heavy" for removal.

Cutlar McCulloch returned again and again, to the point that terrified Manxman made it a habit to eat their meat first and finish with the soup so at least to make sure of something substantial before they were disturbed by the ubiquitous McCullochs. Their constant prayer in the 16th century was:

God keep the house and all within
From Cut McCulloch and from sin.

Or as it was sometimes rendered:
Keep me, my good corn, and my sheep and bullocks
From Satan, from Sin, and those thievish McCullochs.

Tradition tells that one night, a grey haired patriarch had just uttered the above invocation when an ironical voice answered from outside his window:
Gudeman! Gudeman! Ye pray o'er late!
McCulloch's ship is at the Yate
[a landing place on the north of the island].

It has been asserted that Sir Alexander fell at Flodden Field but he would have been 70 years old and records show he survived the battle by some 16 years. It was his son-in-law, Alexander McCulloch, who was killed at Flodden with his King. Sir Alexander died peacefully in bed after a colourful and less than peaceful life, 30 August 1523.

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