Sir John Swinton of Cranshaws (d.1424) appears in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel’ (1805) for a victorious moment in battle where he slays a high-ranking English nobleman:
'And Swinton laid the lance That tamed of yore the sparkling crest Of Clarence's Plantagenet.'
Scott describes Swinton’s slaying of the Earl of Clarence at the Battle of Baugé, in France, in 1421. Swinton joined Archibald, Earl of Douglas (1369-1424) and many other Scots to join in the French fight against the forces of King Henry V in one of many conflicts of what is known as the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453). King Henry V was part of the House of Plantagenet – French descended rulers of England from 1154 to 1485. The Hundred Years’ War was essentially their fight for the right to rule the French Kingdom.
Cranshaws Castle is a 15th-century tower built for defence in times of conflict. Swinton built the castle on land that he had inherited from his father, who had been given the land by the Earl of Douglas in 1401. Swinton was killed on the battlefield, along with Douglas, at the Battle of Verneuil, in 1424.