Battle of Dryfe Sands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Battle of Dryfe Sands
Part of Clan Johnstone-Clan Maxwell feud
Johnstone arms.svgArms of Robert Maxwell, Earl of Nithsdale.svg
Coats of arms of the chief of Clan Johnstone (left) and chief of Clan Maxwell (right)[5][6]
Date 1593
Location Skipmyre, Scotland
Result Clan Johnstone victory
Clan Johnstone[1] Clan Maxwell[2]
Clan Grierson[3]
Clan Pollock[4]
Commanders and leaders
Sir James Johnstone Unknown
600-800 2,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Dryfe Sands was a battle between the clans of Clan Maxwell and Clan Johnstone in Scotland, in 1593.


About 3 kilometres to the west of Lockerbie on 7 December 1593, Clan Johnstone fought Clan Maxwell at the Battle of Dryfe Sands. The Johnstones nearly exterminated the Maxwells involved in the battle, leading to the proverbial expression "Lockerbie Lick."[7]


Sir James Johnstone had been warned by Johnstone of Cummertrees about the size of Maxwell's army, he gathered a mix of English, Elliots, Irvines, Murrays, Scotts, Carruthers and Grahams.


Captain Oliphant, leading an advance Maxwell party, was beaten near Lochmaben by the Johnstones. In the skirmish, Oliphant was killed, the remainder of his forces sheltering in Lochmaben Kirk. However, some Johnstones set fire to the building, forcing the Maxwells to surrender.

Lord Maxwell's main army camped near Skipmyre, on a hill. A day later, he took up the left bank of the River Dryfe. However, Sir James Johnstone's men were on higher ground, and provoked Maxwell's men, with the result of some of Maxwell's men getting ambushed. This enabled Johnstone's main force to attack Maxwell's main army, which confused them. The Lairds of Drumlanrig, Closeburn and Lag rode off of the battlefield, presumably followed by many of their men. Maxwell's army was destroyed, and Maxwell himself was killed by William Johnstone of Kirkhill, or possibly by Sir James Johnstone.

John Pollock of Clan Pollock was killed supporting the Maxwells.[4]


  1. ^ Way, George and Squire, Romily. (1994). Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). pp. 178 - 179.
  2. ^ Way, George and Squire, Romily. (1994). pp. 429 - 430.
  3. ^ Way, George and Squire, Romily. (1994). pp. 152 - 153.
  4. ^ a b Way, George and Squire, Romily. (1994). pp. 446 - 447.
  5. ^ Crichton-Stuart, Marquess of Bute, John Patrick; Stevenson, John Horne; Lonsdale, H. W. (1903). The Arms of the Baronial and Police Burghs of Scotland. Blackwood. p. 418. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  6. ^ Nicolas, Nicholas Harris (1828). The Siege of Carlaverock ... with the Arms of the Earls, Barons, and Knights, who Were Present on the Occasion. Nichols. p. 25. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  7. ^ "Battle of Dryfe Sands" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 June 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 

External links[edit]