Main characters in Turn of the Tide

The Munro Family
(All members of this family are fictional.)
Munro: a minor laird whose family have had close connection to the Cunninghame clan since the 14th century. They live at Broomelaw, a tower house near Renfrew, gifted to Munro’s father by the Cunninghames.
Kate: his wife.
Robbie and Anna: his 3-year-old twins.
Archie: Munro’s younger brother.
Mary Munro: his mother.
Sybilla Boyd: a family friend.

All the other main characters are real unless specified otherwise. By convention Earls were often referred to by their title rather than family name and lesser nobles by their place of residence. This avoided confusion among the many branches of one clan.

The Cunninghame Faction
Earl of Glencairn
: The head of the Cunninghame clan, ranked 11th in the order of precedence among the Scottish earls. These rankings were often a matter of dispute, with earls petitioning the King to raise their ranking. His primary residence is Kilmaurs in the bailliewick of Cunninghame in Ayrshire.
Lady Glencairn: his wife.
John: his brother.
William, his eldest son and heir: Master of Glencairn.
Clonbeith, Robertland and Waterstone: other prominent members of the Cunninghame clan in Ayrshire, owing allegiance to the Earl of Glencairn.
Patrick Maxwell of Newark: a cousin of the Cunninghames.
Lady Margaret Langshaw: a Cunninghame by birth, but married into the Montgomerie clan.

The Montgomerie Faction
Earl of Eglintoun
: The head of the Montgomerie clan, ranked 12th in the order of precedence among the Scottish earls. His primary residence is now Ardrossan, Eglintoun castle having been razed to the ground by the Cunninghames.
Robert Montgomerie: brother to the earl and Master of Eglintoun.
Jean Montgomerie: Robert’s wife.
Adam Montgomerie of Braidstane: a Montgomerie laird, close kin to Eglintoun
Hugh, his eldest son: Master of Braidstance
George, Adam’s second son: a cleric at the court of Elizabeth Ist.
Patrick, Adam’s third son: a cavalry officer in the Scots Gardes in France.
John, Adam’s fourth son: a physician in Padua.
Grizel, Braidstane’s daughter. (Fictional): Though evidence exists of Adam having (un-named) daughters, few records remain.
Alexander Montgomerie: a poet and favoured courtier to King James VI, who is later accorded the title of ‘Master Poet’.

The Shaw Family
James Shaw
: a merchant with many connections to Europe, and laird of Greenock; his tower house is prominently situated above the port of Greenock.
Jean, his wife: a Cunninghame by birth.
John, his eldest son: Master of Greenock.
Elizabeth (marries Hugh, Master of Braidstane), Christian and Gillis: his daughters.
Sigurd Ivarsen, (Fictional): a Norwegian merchant regularly trading into Edinburgh, charged with transporting Queen Anne’s carriage from Norway, following her marriage to James VI.

A wee note about the characters. 

The first draft of Turn of the Tide had Hugh Montgomery as the main character, but 70,000 words in a friend suggested that Munro, who was at that time a two-bit messenger boy, and appeared only briefly in chapter 3, would make a fabulous mc and would free me to write about both factions from an outsider perspective.

It was a bit of a wrench to ditch 67,000 of those 70,000 words and start again with chapter 3 as the opening, but I am so glad I did.

Munro is a man of much more integrity than his superiors, who cannot reconcile committing murder with his conscience, and his wife, who in common with Elizabeth Montgomery has no patience with blood feud, is instrumental in the choices he finally makes.

I had fun writing about his whole family, from his mother, who has a strong Christian faith which Kate Munro envies, to the children who squabble and play together like children throughout the ages. I had most fun working out how to incorporate a 16th century ‘babywalker’ into the story – they did exist and looked very like the one I had for my own children, only of course it was wooden, with a cambric seat, rather than the metal and cotton of the one I had.

The Cunninghames, especially Glencairn and William are cast as the villains of the tale. Although this was my choice rather than a reflection of documented fact, there are several reasons why it was reasonable to make this choice. William, who was heir to the Cunninghame Earldom did not become earl until the last year of his life – aged c 60, so he had spent most of his life ‘ in waiting’ for a status that came too late for him to enjoy it. In an age when many died young – through illness or murder- this was highly unusual and must have been frustrating.

The on-going ill-feeling between William and Hugh Montgomery is documented and it can’t have helped that Hugh becomes Laird of Braidstane as a result of the murder of his father by the Cunninghames.

Alexander Montgomery was indeed James VI’s ‘master poet’ and it is likely that he helped Hugh to gain the ear of the king.

Grizel Montgomery is my invention, but only because although it is documented that Hugh had sisters, I was unable to find any detailed records of them, not even their names.

The fate of those members of the Cunninghame faction who appear briefly in the opening chapters and who are involved in the massacre at Annock in 1586 is as documented – real life (as so often the case) just as interesting as any fiction could be.

Not much is known of Elizabeth Shaw at this period of her history but when she later accompanies her husband to Ulster she is very forward-thinking in the way she manages his extensive estates and is instrumental in developing linen trade, in establishing water mills in every parish for the convenience of her tenants and in ensuring that they have good housing and enough ground to enable them to grow vegetables etc. A model landowner in fact, so my depiction of her as someone with an interest in the plight of lesser folk is in keeping with the evidence we do have of her character.

In real life Patrick Maxwell was much more unpleasant than I have painted him, being noted for two things – an over-weaning pride and the abuse of his wife – she sought an injunction from James VI to keep him away, a staggeringly brave thing to attempt at this time.

It was a challenge to write a story using primarily historic characters – and of course the motivations / thoughts / and many of their actions are of my invention, but I have sought to remain true to what is known and to restrict myself to what is plausible in the light of known facts.

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