David, Earl of Huntingdon

David of Scotland (Medieval Gaelic: Dabíd) (1152[1] – 17 June 1219) was a Scottish prince and 8th Earl of Huntingdon. He was, until 1198, heir to the Scottish throne.

David of Scotland
Earl of Huntingdon
Died17 June 1219 (aged 6667)
SpouseMatilda of Chester
HouseHouse of Dunkeld
FatherHenry of Scotland, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon
MotherAda de Warenne


He was the youngest surviving son of Henry of Scotland, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon and Ada de Warenne, a daughter of William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey, and Elizabeth of Vermandois. His paternal grandfather was David I of Scotland. Huntingdon was granted to him after his elder brother William I of Scotland ascended the throne. David's son John succeeded him to the earldom.

In 1190 his brother gave him 'superiority' over Dundee and its port. The same year he endowed Lindores Abbey in Fife and a church dedicated to St Mary in Dundee.[2]

In the litigation for succession to the crown of Scotland in 1290–1292, the great-great-grandson Floris V, Count of Holland of David's sister, Ada, claimed that David had renounced his hereditary rights to the throne of Scotland. He therefore declared that his claim to the throne had priority over David's descendants. However, no explanation or firm evidence for the supposed renunciation could be provided.

Marriage and issue

On 26 August 1190 David married Matilda of Chester (1171 – 6 January 1233), daughter of Hugh de Kevelioc, 3rd Earl of Chester. He was almost twenty years Matilda's senior. The marriage was recorded by Benedict of Peterborough.

David and Matilda had seven children:

Earl David also had three illegitimate children:[3]

After the extinction of the senior line of the Scottish royal house in 1290, when the legitimate line of William the Lion of Scotland ended, David's descendants were the prime candidates for the throne. The two most notable claimants to the throne, Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale (grandfather of King Robert I of Scotland) and John Balliol were his descendants through David's daughters Isobel and Margaret, respectively.

Possible Robin Hood connection

David is a possible inspiration figure for the Robin Hood legend because the legend plays at the same time as David lived in the 1190s. The association of Robin Hood with the Earl of Huntingdon can be traced to ballads of the 17th century, such as A True Tale of Robin Hood. Both David and Robin Hood are said to have taken part in the Third Crusade, and by 1194 David had taken part at the siege of Nottingham Castle where the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derby County was taken captive. His son Robert who died young may also have been a possible inspiration for Robin Hood.

Sir Walter Scott's 1825 novel The Talisman features Earl David in his capacity as a prince of Scotland as a crusader on the Third Crusade. For the majority of the novel, Earl David operates under an alias: Sir Kenneth of the Couchant Leopard. Earl David's adventures are highly fictionalized for this novel.

The television series Robin of Sherwood features Earl David of Huntingdon. The first reference to Earl David (by name only) is in the episode "The Prisoner", in which Prince John states that Earl David is a "dissident" who opposes Prince John's possible succession as King Richard's heir should Richard die without a legitimate heir of his body. The earl himself appears in the first part of "Herne's Son" in which he is not referred to directly as David; his character is the father of Robert of Huntingdon, the second son of Herne to feature in the series adopting the alias of Robin Hood. In the episode "Rutterkin", the earl appears again with a fictitious brother named Edgar, and though he is again not referred to directly as David, it is definitively stated that the earl is the brother of the king of Scotland (as Earl David was the brother of King William The Lion of Scotland). ("The Prisoner", "Herne's Son" and "Rutterkin" were all written by Richard Carpenter.) Earl David was played by Michael Craig.

Earl David features briefly in the 2013 Robin Hood novel The Arrow of Sherwood by Lauren Johnson. He is depicted at the siege of Nottingham Castle in support of King Richard in 1194.


  1. Keith John Stringer, Earl David of Huntingdon, 1152-1219: a study in Anglo-Scottish history, (Edinburgh University Press, 1985), iii.
  2. "Early Dundee - David, Earl of Huntingdon". Friends of Dundee City Archives. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  3. Balfour Paul, vol i, p 4
David, Earl of Huntingdon
Born: c.1144 Died: 17 June 1219
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Simon III of St Liz
Earl of Huntingdon
Succeeded by
John of Scotland
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