Countess Ada de Warenne

Countess Ada founded the Cistercian nunnery near Haddington. She was the daughter of The Earl of Warenne and Surrey, and the wife of Prince Henry (they married in 1139). Henry was the eldest son of King David I. As part of her wedding dowry the king gave Ada the burgh of Haddington and neighbouring lands. Henry and Ada had three sons and two of them became kings of Scotland, Malcolm IV and William the Lyon. Prince Henry died in 1152. His father, King David, survived him by almost one year and the crown passed to Malcolm on the king’s death.
In a charter by King David I, confirming a grant of the lands of Athelstaneford to Alexander St Martine (sheriff of Haddington), Ada is referred to as “Ada Comitissa, Mater Regis Scotorum” (Ada, the Countess, mother of the King of Scots.) About the same time Ada gave the lands of Baro, Duncanlaw and Banglaw to Alexander St Martine (St Martine was also sheriff to Hugh Gifford of Yester.) St Martine had a daughter named Ada, presumably named after the Countess.
The nunnery Ada was responsible for founding was built sometime between the death of her husband (1152) and her own in 1178. It was dedicated to The Virgin Mary and Ada endowed much of the surrounding land to the nunnery. It stood for centuries about a mile east of Haddington on the north bank of the River Tyne. On the 7th July 1548 a parliament was held in the nunnery and this parliament agreed that the young Mary Queen of Scots should be educated in France in preparation for a marriage to the French Dauphin, Francis II.

2 thoughts on “Countess Ada de Warenne”

  1. Derek Miller says:

    Is there no record at all of how the nunnery may have looked or are there similar structures to compare it to?
    Incredible that this amazing piece of history has been largely forgotten about and abandoned.

    1. HanitaR says:

      Hi Mr Miller,
      Thank you for your enquiry. We think that the nunnery would have possibly looked like other Scottish medieval nunneries. Unfortunately, we could not locate even a sketch of the nunnery in the history books within our collection. Here is a link that provides some sort of description:
      Best Wishes.

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