(AD1272 - AD1305)
The English authorities were now hunting for William Wallace after the Governor of Dundee, Sir Alan Fitz-Alan, branded him an outlaw. Therefore William Wallace together with his mother and younger brother departed Kilspindie for Ellerslie, disguised as pilgrims travelling to the shrine of St. Margaret at Dunfermline.
Having reached Ellerslie, William Wallace's uncle, Sir Reginald de Crauford, the Sheriff of Ayr (succeeding the sheriffdom and title from his father) advised him that it's safer to stay at Riccarton with another uncle, Sir Richard Wallace. William Wallace took his uncle's advice and stayed at Riccarton from February 1292.
On 23 April 1292, William Wallace encountered five English soldiers of the Ayr garrison while fishing at Irvine Water. The soldiers demanded all of William Wallace's catch but he only offered them half; therefore one of the soldiers dismounted and seized all of Wallace's catch. The catch is eventually returned to William Wallace when he implied it was for an elderly English knight, but Wallace's apparent manner and subsequent comment angered the soldier. The soldier withdrew his sword, but William Wallace disarmed him using only a fishing rod; then Wallace quickly picked up the discarded sword and killed him. By now the four other soldiers had already dismounted, and they immediately made for William Wallace; only for one to be killed; another injured and the rest fled on foot.
On William Wallace's return to Riccarton, his uncle, Sir Richard Wallace was angered by another of his nephew's incursions against the English. Out of concern for William Wallace's safety his uncle sent him into the care of another relative, Wallace of Auchincruive, and he concealed William Wallace in Leglen Wood till the situation quietens down.
On 6 November 1292, acting as the Lord Paramount of Scotland, King Edward I ruled in favour of John Balliol against Robert Bruce 'the Competitor' for the Scottish Crown. Then King Edward I goes about to consider the claims of the eleven other contenders against John Balliol.
One day after King Edward I's ruling, Robert Bruce 'the Competitor' retired from the Scottish political scene to his Annandale estate and later dies on 1 April 1295. Two days after the ruling, Robert Bruce's 'the Competitor' eldest son, Robert Bruce, 1st Earl of Carrick resigned his earldom to his eighteen years old son, Robert Bruce (the future king of Scotland), and then goes on an extended European tour.
Finally on the 17 November 1292, King Edward I declared that John Balliol as the rightful heir to the Scottish Crown. Two days later as a token gesture King Edward I ordered that twenty-three of the leading Scottish castles to be placed under the charge of John Balliol. Then as a token of English supremacy the Great Seal of Scotland (used by the Guardians of the Peace since the death of Alexander III) was broken up and sent to the English Treasury in Westminster, London.
At Norham on 20 November 1292, John Balliol swore an oath of allegiance to King Edward I as his Lord Paramount.
On St. Andrew's Day 1292, John Balliol was crowned as the King of Scotland on the Stone of Destiny, at Scone. King John Balliol presided over a technically English occupied nation even though he was in charge of the twenty-three leading Scottish castles. But these twenty-three Scottish castles were still effectively under English control because they still had an English constable and garrisoned by English soldiers.
At Newcastle on 26 December 1292, John Balliol had to repeat his oath of allegiance to King Edward I, but this time as the crowned King of Scotland. Therefore King John's action denounced Scotland as nothing more than a region of England.
Meanwhile William Wallace was bored after lulling about Leglen Wood; therefore he decided to visit the nearby market town of Ayr in disguise. Of the many street entertainers William Wallace encountered, there was one that stood out from the crowd. It was a large burly Englishman, which for one groat (a silver coin worth four old pence) dared anybody to strike him with the pole he was carrying. William Wallace couldn't resist the temptation and offered three groats for the privilege; Wallace whacked the oaf so hard that it sent him sprawling across the street and broke the oaf's back in the process. This single act of defiance by William Wallace would have sent the oppressed locals into an uproar, then a patrolling group of English soldiers made for Wallace. After the English soldiers were dispatched William Wallace escaped back to Leglen Woods, amid the confusion and chaos that ensued.
In another excursion into Ayr, William Wallace came to the aid of one of his uncle's (Sir Reginald de Crauford) servants who was being bullied by one of Sir Henry de Percy's (the Captain of Ayr) stewards. The steward's answer to William Wallace's intervention was to lunge at Wallace with his hunting staff. In self-defence William Wallace grabbed the steward and plunged his dirk into the steward's heart, killing him instantly. Suddenly the mass of the English garrison at Ayr converged at William Wallace's location. William Wallace offered stiff resistance and slaughtered a considerable number of English soldiers, but by their shear force of numbers Wallace was eventually cornered; then captured and finally thrown into gaol.
Due to the injuries sustained during his capture and mistreatment in gaol, William Wallace succumbed to a fever, and on the day of his trial he had lapsed into a coma. The gaoler assumed that William Wallace had died from his fever and disposed of his body on the refuse tip outside the gaol, to rot with the other carcasses. Having heard the news of William Wallace's untimely demise his former nanny sought permission from the English authorities to give the corpse a decent burial. Having retrieved William Wallace's body, the former nanny noticed that there was a weak sign of life; therefore she and her daughter slowly nursed Wallace back to health, whilst they kept up the pretence of Wallace's death.
While visiting St. Mary's monastery at Faile near Mauchline, Sir Thomas Rymour of Ercildoune 'True Thomas the Rhymer' heard the rumour of William Wallace's death. Sir Thomas Rymour sent a servant to Ayr to see if the rumour can be substantiated, on hearing that the rumour was false he declared:
This prophecy from Sir Thomas Rymour (a widely regarded soothsayer and prophet) predicted that William Wallace was the one that will drive the English out of Scotland.
William Wallace was by now fully recovered from his near death experience, sent his former nanny and her daughter into the care of his mother in Ellerslie, because of potential reprisals from the English authorities once it becomes apparent that she had aided him. Then armed only with a rusty old sword William Wallace walked towards Riccarton to visit his uncle, Sir Richard Wallace.
During William Wallace's trek to Riccarton he was stopped; then interrogated by an English soldier called Longcastle and two Yeomen. Longcastle became even more suspicious during William Wallace's interrogation and therefore wanted to further detain Wallace in order to verify his story at Ayr. Suddenly William Wallace revealed his concealed sword; he dispatched Longcastle and then the two Yeomen. William Wallace then mounted one of the horses and resumed his journey, together with the other spoils from his little escapade: - two horses, provisions and weapons.
On his return to Riccarton William Wallace was once again reunited with his uncle, Sir Richard Wallace, who only had just been grieving his nephew's death. While convalescing at Riccarton William Wallace heard Sir Thomas Rymour's prophecy and would have contemplated its meaning - was he really destined to deliver Scotland its freedom. The combination of William Wallace's exploits against the English; the biblical connotation of resurrection from his near death experience; Sir Thomas Rymour's prophecy; inspired many of his kinsmen, closed friends and other sympathetic Scots to rally to him, as the leader that will liberate Scotland. Some of William Wallace's kinsmen which joined the ranks at this stage were:-