GALLOWAY, Dervorgilla of, (Dervorgilla Balliol), born Galloway c. 1213, died Barnard Castle 28 January 1290. Heiress, religious patron. Daughter of Margaret, daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of William the Lion, and Alan, Lord of Galloway.
Dervorgilla was the younger daughter of Alan of Galloway's second marriage and his third surviving legitimate child. The death of their legitimate brother made Dervorgilla and her two sisters heiresses to a landed inheritance centred on Galloway but scattered from Lothian to Northamptonshire. That prospect, and their royal blood, secured Dervorgilla and her sister, Christiana, important marriages. In 1233, Dervorgilla married John Balliol (before 1208—68), lord of Barnard Castle in Teesdale. Following her father's death in 1234, Dervorgilla and John received one third of the Galloway inheritance, despite a rebellion in favour of her illegitimate brother. After 1237, she and her sister fell heirs to the earldoms of Chester and Huntingdon on the death of their uncle, and after 1246, Dervorgilla acquired most of the inheritance of the childless Christiana. By c. 1260, she possessed properties from Aberdeenshire to Middlesex, making her one of the greatest landholders of the day.
Deeply pious, Dervorgilla expressed her faith through conspicuous religious patronage. In the 1260s, she founded convents in Dundee and Dumfries (Franciscan) and Wigtown (Dominican). Following John's death in 1268, she founded in 1273 the Cistercian abbey of Sweetheart, where she was later buried, and in 1282 she issued statutes that formally instituted Balliol College, Oxford. Several devotional books from her own collection, which she gave to Sweetheart, survive.
Dervorgilla and John Balliol had several children. Their youngest son, John, succeeded to the Balliol lands in 1278. Following the death of Alexander III in 1286 and of *Margaret, Maid of Norway, and his mother in 1290, John Balliol emerged as a competitor for the Scottish throne by virtue of Dervorgilla's descent from David, Earl of Huntingdon, and in 1292 was awarded the kingdom. RO
• Salter, H. E. (ed.) (1913) The Oxford Deeds of Balliol College. Brooke, D. (1994) Wild Men and Holy Places, pp. 140—9; Huyshe, W (1913) Dervorgilla, Lady of Galloway. . .; ODNB (2004); Oram, R. (1993) ‘A family business? …’ Scot. Hist. Rev., 72, (1999) ‘Dervorgilla, the Balliols and Buittle’, Trans. Dumf and Gal. Nat. Hist. and Antiqu. Soc, 73.