William Armstrong of Kinmont was the great grandson of Thomas Armstrong, the 5th Laird of Mangerton.

He was a renowned renegade and reiver, wanted for crimes committed against the English.

It was a Day of Truce when officials from both countries met to exchange grievances and attempt to resolve differences. On that day all where immune against arrest or harassment of any kind, no matter their criminal past.
When the day's business was over the assorted bystanders dispersed, confident that until sundown, all wrongdoers on either side were free from apprehension.

As Kinmont made his way home, he became aware of a body of English officials watching him from across the river. Kinmont rode on, fearing no danger, safe in the knowledge that he was protected on that day by the law.

But the officials seeing their most sought after enemy so near and so vulnerable could not resist the temptation to take this opportunity to secure him. Kinmont was a big man but he was heavily outnumbered and unable to avoid capture.

Kinmont was shackled and taken across the Border into England and thrown into a cell in Carlisle Castle.
The injustice of this act, on a Truce Day, when all could claim immunity against arrest, angered the Scots, and the Warden of the March and his officials set about righting this gross injustice.

 Diplomacy was tried, messages were exchanged but the English were determined not to let go their most wanted brigand.

A more direct solution was planned. 

Hastily gathering a posse of suitable horsemen, composed of Armstrongs, Bells, Grahams and others The Warden, the Duke of Buccleuch, rode through the night in dreadful weather across the Border into England, fording the Eden which was in spate due to the heavy rain, and reached Carlisle Castle unseen. 

They had brought with them scaling ladders but found that they did not reach the battlements. But, forcing the postern door they poured into the castle.

 While a few made for Kinmont's prison, the greater force created a diversion making enough noise to suggest their number was huge. No doubt the English, most asleep in their beds felt their blood curdling in fright and resistance to the Scots was weak and confused. 

Kinmont Willie was released but still shackled. The huge bulk of Kinmont was carried by Red Rowan, a Bell, to the awaiting horses and the party made for home.

They crossed the swollen Eden safely and only halted at a blacksmith's to have Kinmont's shackles removed.

The English were shocked and humiliated by their castle being invaded by the Scots who probably numbered less than a hundred. But the Governor of Carlisle Castle greatly exaggerated the number in his official explanation to Queen Elizabeth.

The Queen was furious and demanded that Buccleuch be surrendered to her for punishment.

After the dust had settled Buccleuch did go to London to make his peace with the Queen. The queen said 'Would that I had in my court......'

Buccleuch's punishment was modest. He was placed under house arrest and chose to stay with the Englishman Robert Cary, deputy warden to Lord Scrope, with whom he was friendly.

They both enjoyed the arrangement, no doubt having much to talk about and many a good laugh.

The Blacksmith's shop where Kinmont had his shackles removed is long gone. It is believed to be Dickstree north of Longtown.

Map ref: 85 371 699

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