The first castellan Robert de Croc was an archetypical Norman knight and a vassal of Walter, the Hereditary Steward of Scotland. Robert was exactly the kind of knightly landowner who helped to spread the feudal system throughout central and eastern Scotland in the twelfth century. Around the year 1190, he built a wooden motte and bailey castle surrounded by a dry moat and a thorn-hedge, on a hogback ridge three miles south of Paisley. The village that grew up around the motte provided the corrupted name of 'Crookstoun'. The
castle was a well chosen look out spot with long views over the Clyde valley and the fertile fields of Renfrewshire.
In the 14th century, the castle and its lands passed to the Stewarts of Darnley whose most illustrious member, Sir John Stewart, distinguished himself in the Franco-Scottish massacre of the English at Bauge in 1421. As Count of Evreux in Normandy, Sir John became Constable of the Scots in France in 1428. Although he died in the Siege of Orleans, a goodly portion of the ransoms that he won in France were sent home to help complete the transformation of Crookston Castle from a tower of wood into one of stone. The mason's work at Crookston faced its most serious test in 1489 when the holder, now
Earl of Lennox, rebelled against the young King James IV and a price of a thousand merks was put on his head. James took this first test of his authority seriously and a powerful siege train that included the giant Flemish bombard Mons Meg was sent to pulverize Crookston. The castle held out for little more than a day and the king and Lennox were soon reconciled.
Crookston was besieged again in 1544 when Regent Arran sought to weaken the troublesome Lennoxes. The garrison again surrendered before the siege artillery did much damage to the castle's fabric. The Darnleys forfeited Crookston Castle in 1544 but had regained it by 1565 when it was the home of Henry Darnley. Mary Queen of Scots and Darnley are said to have been betrothed under the ancient yew tree at Crookston and they certainly spent some time there after their marriage in July 1565 at Holyrood. After Darnley's assassination, it passed to minor and illegitimate lines of the Stewart clan and was wholly ruined by the 18th century.
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