Freedom Chain


Brent Hinze, Ph.D.

Afterword in A Pawn for a King

By Sarah Hinze

The Freedom Chain

   I am blessed to be in my 51st year of marriage with Sarah. We are further blessed with nine children, thirtytwo grandchildren and several foster children. Sarah reaches out to an even larger family as an avid genealogist in pursuit of family history. It has been heart-warming to witness her learn of ancestors, many from the British Isles. Recently Sarah discovered her 24th great grandmother, Ada de Warenne, born some 900 years ago, 1123 A.D., in Surrey, England. Ada became Countess of Huntingdon, Princess of Scotland, Queen-Mother of Scotland, and I add to her titles “Twelfth Century Advocate for Freedom and Women’s Rights.” My dear wife loves this relative we now affectionately call “Grandma Ada.”

   Sarah and I have walked the grounds of Reigate in Surrey, England, where Ada played as a child. While standing high on Haddington’s scenic Nungate Bridge of stones we have delighted in the grace of swans swimming on Scotland’s River Tyne. Guided by our dear Scot friend, historian Helen Robertson, we have hiked the nearby countryside to locate remnants of foundation stones of a nunnery Ada contributed to house Cistercian Nuns who came to serve in East Lothian. We have stood before the Haddington Court House on the site where some claim stood Ada’s palace home. Helen and others feel more likely the palace was on the outskirts of town near the palace garden now called St. Mary’s Pleasance. We have attended Sunday services in the nearby magnificent cathedral-like St. Mary’s church supported by Ada and where she likely worshipped. 

   In addition to helping us experience the above sites, Helen also drove us north to the quaint fishing village of Crail on the northeastern coast of the Firth (Bay) of Forth where Ada owned a second palace. 

   It has been rewarding to witness Sarah’s joy at each of these sites, as well as while writing Pawn for a King: Ada de Warenne, Queen Mother of Scotland. Occasionally Sarah tears-up as though sensing Ada’s spirit near, radiating reciprocal love. Sarah has bonded with Ada as a beloved family member and has every expectation of embracing her when it is our time to cross over.

   As I have learned about Ada and the times in which she lived, I would be pleased to share observations of three generations, including Ada, that form what I view as links in a Freedom Chain leading to the increase of freedoms we enjoy in our world today.  


The Dark Ages

   Our story grows out of what has been called the Dark or Medieval Ages, defined as European history of roughly a thousand years from the 5th to the 15th centuries A.D. The first half of this period is heavily marked by wars and oppression, in the second half we see a quest for greater individual freedoms.  

   It has been said, “When God wants to bring about a change for the better, He sends a baby into the world.” Obviously this was so when He sent His Son. In our story He sends several babies in succession who, through an improbable series of events, steer the tiny island nations of Scotland and England onto a path that changes our world. 

   Let us remember, history depends on the information available, its accuracy and our interpretation. What follows is my interpretation of the links in a historical chain I have identified.

Freedom Link One: St. Margaret, Queen of Scots

   We pick up our saga in the 11th century with the first link in our freedom chain being Scot Queen Margaret, the grandmother of Ada’s husband, Prince Henry. (Also Sarah’s 26th great grandmother.) Queen Margaret, although by bloodline an English princess, was born and raised as royalty in Hungary. To learn how this came to be we step back into history two more generations to a most intriguing story of survival. 

   Twenty-nine years before Queen Margaret’s birth her grandfather, King Edmund Ironside, was defeated by Canute the Great of Denmark who took control of the English crown on Christmas day 1016. King Canute was described as an exceptionally tall, strong and vicious Viking who ruled over the North Sea Empire of Denmark, England, Norway and part of Sweden. 

   That same year Margaret’s father Edward, heir to the English crown, was born. King Canute—manifesting typical paranoia of monarchs fearing potential rivals who might usurp and steal their throne (a throne that in many cases they themselves have usurped and stolen), this King Canute had months-old Edward and his fledgling brother Edmund sent to the Swedish court of King Olof Scotkonung, a distant relative. The legends are sketchy here, but apparently King Canute directed King Olof to kill the small boys to eliminate any future rivalry.  

   Now we know that kings are more accustomed to giving commands than taking them, so Olof secretly refused the order of fratricide and sent the infant boys to his daughter Ingigerd, Queen in Kiev, Ukraine. Thus young Edward avoided the death threat and ended up growing to adulthood in Hungary where he became known as “Edward the Exile.” Eventually Edward married Agatha, a German princess. They had three children, Margaret, the middle child, entered the world in 1045.

   So that is how Margaret was born and raised in the decorum of the royal courts of Hungary. She was well educated and also a very devout Roman Catholic. As her faith grew, so did her concern for and sensitivity to the needs of the poor, a trait that would distinguish her all her life.

   When Margaret reached age twelve (astonishingly the legal age of marriage for girls in that era) King Edward the Confessor regained the throne of England. Having no heirs he invited Edward the Exile back to England as his heir to the throne. The invitation was accepted but Edward the Exile would never be king. Suspiciously, within days of the family’s return to England in 1057, he died. Poisoning was not ruled out.

   Margaret, with her brother, sister and now widowed mother remained in England the next thirteen years when—surprise—the monarchy changed again. William the Conqueror, from Normandy France, invaded and seized rule of England in 1066 by winning the famous Battle of Hastings. Earl William l de Warenne, Ada’s grandfather, was awarded the Earldom of Surrey for defending William the Conqueror in this battle, thus becoming one of the wealthiest of Englishmen. 

   Back to Margaret, within two years she, her mother and younger sister, Cristina, no longer felt safe in England and moved north near the Scottish border in Northumberland. Younger brother, Edgar, considered a threat to King William’s throne, was exiled to Normandy. Conditions worsened so Margaret, mother and sister determined it was time to return to Hungary for safety.  

   As Margaret’s ship attempted crossing the English Channel a mighty storm arose driving the ship northward up the Channel all the way to middle Scotland where they were propelled from the North Sea into the Firth of Forth. They reached land at a site on the northern shore that today is known as “Margaret’s Hope.”

   What happened next led to an unlikely union that would alter the future of Scotland. Scot warrior-King Malcolm lll shows up on the seashore to greet the survivors in person…one suspects the reputation of Margaret’s great beauty may have had something to do with this personal welcome by the king himself. In spite of the battering the three storm-bedraggled women survived, Malcolm is instantly attracted to Margaret and offers her, her mother and sister asylum in his castle. The hungry, exhausted and homeless women see no other options so they gratefully accept the king’s invitation. 

   Thus beautiful Margaret, driven to King Malcolm’s very shores by a ferocious tempest, became virtually a captive in his castle…what are the odds?

   A version of “opposites attract” is at play here. Malcolm has been referred to as a warrior king who gained the throne by war and killing. He was a warrior’s warrior who presided over a kingdom of clans of similar rough and tumble nature whom he personally led into battle on his powerful steed with sword at the ready. On the other hand, it is said he lacked formal education, could neither read nor write, nor was he particularly refined in royal gentility.

   By contrast, Margaret was highly educated, a devout Catholic follower of Christ, a faithful student of the Latin Bible, a daily patron of Mass, one who prayed and fasted often and regularly served the poor. She was trained in the etiquette and arts of royalty, but had actually considered becoming a nun.  

   Well, as it turned out, Margaret would never be a nun. Nor, so far as we know, did she ever make it back to Hungary. In spite of their differences, she and Malcolm found love together and married after about two years in Malcolm’s castle. Thus by age twenty-five Princess Margaret of England became Queen of Scots. She would reign twenty-three years. So beloved was she for her good works as to be labeled the “Pearl of Scotland.”

    Margaret brought a degree of sophistication to Malcolm and his realm. It is said that he frequently asked that Margaret read to him from the Bible. He helped her build and support churches and establish Queen’s Ferry across the Firth of Forth for the poor. When not out warring, King Malcolm joined Margaret in distributing food to the needy on the castle steps each morning. Following this tradition, Margaret invited hungry children into the banquet hall for breakfast, some whom, it is said, she literally took upon her lap and fed from her own spoon. 

   Malcolm once exclaimed, “I could not understand why my shirts kept disappearing. Then I caught my wife giving them to the poor. I should have had her thrown in prison…but how could I?”

   In an era when girls of noble birth were often destined to enter arranged (and sadly often loveless) marriages, Margaret and Malcolm achieved a great love. Together they had eight children, two daughters and six male heirs to the throne. Daughter Matilda became queen of England through marriage. Four of the sons became kings of Scotland, the other two entered the priesthood. The remaining daughter became a countess. 

   Although Margaret is said to have “tamed” Malcolm in some ways, he never lost his “warriorness.” After all, a king has to defend his throne and his people. During the Middle Ages some border lands passed back and forth between Scotland and England. In attempt to regain those lands for Scotland, battles were fought and lost. In 1093 King Malcolm, at age sixty-four, raised yet another army and led an attack against northern England in effort to recapture the lost lands. On 13 November Malcolm and his eldest son Edmund were killed at war. Third son Edgar escaped and fled north to report the tragedy to his mother Margaret. 

   I admit to being a romantic, so the rest of this story I find touching. It is said that Margaret experienced a foreboding at the very time the lethal arrow pierced King Malcom’s armor and entered his heart. I interpret that this very different pair had built such a deep love between them that Margaret, by virtue of her spiritual sensitivity, could sometimes sense things happening to her husband even from a distance. Margaret had been ill and with her foreboding the illness worsened. Within three days of her son Edgar returning and confirming Malcolm’s death, Margaret’s spirit left her body to join her beloved husband in the realms beyond. Could it be this good woman could endure widowhood only three days before rejoining the love of her life. Margaret was forty-eight.

   Prior to Margaret’s storm-driven arrival, Scotland was described historically as divided, clannish, barbaric, illiterate, battle-torn. Margaret tempered King Malcolm’s reign. Together the couple altered the future of Scotland. Joined by similar freedom quests in other nations, human rights and quality of life were evolving out of the Dark Ages. 

   So famed was Margaret for her kindness, fairness, compassion, charity and faith that in 1250 A.D., about a century and one-half after her death, she was canonized by Pope Innocent lV. St. Margaret’s name is now seen on churches, hospitals and schools in various nations of the world. Her memory is celebrated on an annual Feast Day, 16 November, the date of her passing.


Freedom Link Two: David l, King of Scots

      St. Margaret raised exceptional children who emulated her admirable traits. Several sons became Scot kings. David, the youngest, was the last son to become king. He has been labeled one of Scotland’s greatest, known for his wisdom, fairness and negotiation skills by which he at times resolved differences to avoid war and advance peace.

   An interesting twist occurs here in our study of the remarkable people in our Freedom Chain.  Nine hundred year old timelines can be hazy, but it appears David was about twenty-eight when he married the older widow Maud. At sixteen Maud, great niece of William the Conqueror, had been assigned to an arranged marriage with a wealthy forty-six year old noble, Earl Simon de Senlis. Maud bore Simon two sons and a daughter. Two generations later during the Baronial Rebellion one of their grandsons, Saer de Quincy, was among the twenty-five original signers of the Magna Carta. 

   After twenty-one years of marriage Simon died, leaving Maud a wealthy widow, Countess of Huntingdon at thirty-seven. A year later Maud married David, creating another unusual pair in that she was about ten years his senior. None the less, they enjoyed a happy, loving marriage that produced four children in spite of Maud’s age. Some of those children died young. Son Henry survived to become husband of Ada de Warenne and heir apparent to the Scot throne following his father King David l. 

   Obeying the male favored laws of the era, when David married Maud in 1112 he acquired her lands and holdings and became Earl of Huntingdon, greatly increasing his wealth, influence and reputation. The couple became Scot king and queen some twelve years later. Dates are unclear, but it appears Queen Maud passed on before her younger husband, King David. So we have here another improbable couple in the Freedom Chain who became soul mates. The depth of their love is attested in that David outlived his beloved wife by thirteen years and chose never to remarry.

  King David mimicked the good works of his mother, Queen Margaret. With Queen Maud at his side, the pair practiced Christian values and continued to improve conditions in Scotland. David became known as the “Angel King.” David and Maud were champions of freedom, worthy forerunners of the Magna Carta. Their son, Henry, was carefully groomed to carry forth the righteous reign of his father, but fate intervened.

Freedom Link 3: Ada de Warenne, Queen Mother of Scots

   Our book has attempted to portray the life of Ada de Warenne, 24th great grandmother of my wife Sarah. Her story illustrates how Ada represents another miracle in our Freedom Chain in that she avoided her childhood fear of being married off as “a pawn for a king” into a loveless politically arranged marriage to some stranger. Yes, her marriage was arranged, but by the grace of God it was a marriage of happily shared love and mutual devotion to doing good. Ada’s marriage to Prince Henry of Scotland in 1139 made her a Scottish princess. After only thirteen years of wedded happiness, Henry sadly died before becoming king. What a shock to Ada, their children and Henry’s aging father, King David. Most Scots lamented Henry’s premature passing, for they had looked forward to his reign as a great king.

   Ada, after losing her beloved husband while still a young and beautiful woman, never found anyone to measure up as a love replacement—by choice Ada braved twenty-six years of widowhood during which she served as a mother, a grandmother, and a Queen Mother, to her family and to her adopted people of Scotland whom she, like the Biblical Ruth “made her own people” in their march toward improved quality of life through greater rights, greater opportunities and greater freedoms for all. 


     We have reviewed the improbable stories of three related couples from the small island nation of Scotland—Margaret and Malcolm; David and Maud; Ada and Henry. In my judgment, these persons are among those to whom we are indebted for the quality of life we enjoy today. As if guided by the hand of Providence, these couples overcame obstacles to join together. In an era when marriages were often arranged among the nobility for political purposes, each of these couples was miraculously blessed with loving companionship. When royal power was often exercised for personal luxuries and pleasures, these couples used their royal influence to advance rights and freedoms for others.

     Perhaps Grandma Ada’s most potent link in the Freedom Chain was her impact on the legal system. Initially invited to witness and sign charters by her father-in-law, King David l and husband Prince Henry, and later by her sons King Malcolm and King William, Ada de Warrene was one of the first women to be recognized as a legal witness. Previously legal documents and rights of ownership were largely male dominated. Once the legal door opened other women joined Ada not only being recognized as legal witnesses, but also establishing the right for women to own property independently protected by charters (documents) signed and verified by legal witnesses…both men and women. Within thirty-seven years of the death of Ada de Warenne, the growing Freedom Chain led to the Magna Carta, that “Great Charter of Liberties” established at Runnymede, England, 15 June, 1215 A.D., identified by historians as the cornerstone of the British Constitution, and later the American Constitution. Lord Denning called the Magna Carta “the greatest constitutional document of all times—the foundation of freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot….” 

   What are the odds that the island nations of England and Scotland would have such a favorable impact on our world? Indeed, Ada de Warrene and others like her have led us to a greater vision for humankind…from monarchies to democracies…from oppressions to freedoms. May Ada’s story inspire in us the wisdom to protect our freedoms while teaching our children to do the same. And may we do our part that the Freedom Chain may one day extend to all peoples and all nations around our globe.

Historical Fiction Book

Finding my 24th great-grandmother, Ada de Warenne

Here's the timeline I used in writing A Pawn for a King:

My journey to know Countess Ada de Warenne began several
years ago when my good friend Charlene, a professional genealogist, agreed
to my request and took my old box of family history to her home to put it into
some reasonable order. She returned several weeks later, having done extensive
research into my family line. With additional data she located on and other websites, she
turned my old box of notes into ten notebooks of family genealogy.

Thank you, Char Hobbs, here with me and my dog, Winnie. Char gave me the gift of my genealogy. Learning about my family history brings me joy. Simply stated and oh, so true.

With great wonder, I followed one of those direct lines from
myself down the centuries to my 24th great-grandmother, Ada De
Warenne. When I saw her name on the paper, I cried.  What reasonable
person cries at the name of an ancestor?  It was an emotion I could
not explain, but it was an instant love for her, as well as a deep longing to
learn everything about her life.

Those feelings propelled me to go on my first trip across the pond—accompanied by four of my daughters. Since then my husband Brent and I have visited many of the places Ada resided during her lifetime.

The Highlands. I asked Norman about this building we stopped to see. "Oh my goodness, it looks so old. And why is the roof off?" Norman, a librarian and very weill read in Scottish history, said, "If a roof was off of a building, they did not have to pay taxes. It's not very old. Maybe a thousand years old." That's how they say it there, folks!
Brent and I at the Battle of Hastings battleground. Ada's grandfather William de Warenne fought here alongside his commander, William the Conqueror. For his valiancy in battle, Warenne was given huge land grants in England, including much of Surrey.

The cab rounded the curve of Bridge Street and there it was! The Nungate Bridge.  I had heard that Countess Ada had built the bridge during her residence in the burgh in Haddington. I later learned that the current bridge was built in the 1300’s. That’s how it is over there. So many homes, buildings, statues, walls, etc. are very old and may I say, very beautiful.

Standing near the Nungate Bridge
A different angle of the Nungate Bridge.

From my journal: The trip to Haddington had been the main focus of my visit to Scotland, but traveling with four daughters was described best by our Edinburgh bed and breakfast owner as we noisily burst through his door for our three-day stay, “You are traveling with four daughters!  Is that kind of like herding cats?” he huffed.

Norman, Rachel, Krista, Becky and Anna. Unfortunately, this is one castle whose name I've forgotten. 🙂 Can anyone refresh my memory? 🙂
Anna and Becky with e in front of Edinburgh Castle. I cried the first time I saw it. I did not know then that my ancestors King David, his mother and father King Malcolm and Queen Margaret lived and served the people of Scotland here. Ada served as regent to her son King Malcolm IV here, along with signing charters here with her son King William the Lion. She signed her name on the charters, "Countess Ada, Mother to the King of the Scots".

“Yes,” I responded with frustration while shushing my
girls. “Exactly!”

We had missed the 1:10pm bus from Edinburgh to
Haddington, and at first, I thought all was lost. The trip to Haddington and
back to Edinburgh would be 100 pounds. “But who cares,” I quickly decided.  “I
am so close. I have to see Haddington, if only for an hour or two.”

We flagged down a cab, and we were on our way!

With Anna, exploring someone's garden.
Beautiful Scotland.


Dunfermline Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland.
King David I was buried here, as mentioned in A Pawn for a King.
Hiking a trail in Scotland. Joy. Pure joy!
Beautiful Yester Castle in the hills outside of Haddington, Scotland - great folklore here and mystery. Many important scenes in Yester Castle in A Pawn for a King.

Within a five-minute walk is St. Mary’s Church. History
bears account that it is built on a site where a much smaller church was built
in 1139, the year of Ada’s marriage to Prince Henry. That early church was most
likely built by her father- in- law King David I.  St. Mary’s Church is an impressively large
stone structure with stained-glass windows, originally completed in 1486 , and
restored in the 1970’s.  Upon entering the west end of the church,
Brent and I gaze upon an imposing vista of the largest parish church in
Scotland. The Gothic style of the building is apparent. I attended services
both Sundays we were there, and both Brent and I were moved to tears during the
services.  The message and the music was

Screen Shot 2022-09-12 at 8.37.17 AM

St. Mary's in Haddington. The church joins with the King's Palace and the grounds of the royal palace built by King David I. This is the site of Ada's Haddington Palace. See the research by Helen Robertson at the end of my historical novel, A Pawn for a King.


Beautiful Haddington, Scotland. I am at St. Mary's Pleasance Garden where some researchers have demonstrated that this was the loation of the Royal Palace built by King David I and later given to Countess Ada de Warenne after the death of Prince Henry.

Reigate, Surrey, England: Ada de Warenne's Birthplace

There is nothing left
of the castle in Reigate, Surrey, England, that was the birthplace of Ada de
Warenne (cir. 1120.) But now a beautiful garden and memorial marks the spot.

The medieval village's
original name was Churchefelle, the castle being Reigate, but today the town
claims the castle's name. Beautiful modern-day Reigate is rated among the
highest real estate values in the UK.

Ada's father, William de Warenne II, was the Earl of Surrey until his death in 1138, and his son, William, inherited the earldom. The castle stood on a hill, and looked over the village below. There are no ruins, but a memorial stands, and gardens now fills the space--an inviting spot to come and reminisce as times gone past.

Stairs to the right of Boots Pharmacy in downtown Reigate.

To get to the castle yard, find the stairs to the right of Boots Pharmacy in downtown Reigate. They will take you to this delightful memorial arch built in 1777 by Richard Barnes.

Memorial arch built in 1777 by Richard Barnes

The plaque reads:
"To save the memory of William Earl Warren "who in old days dwelt here, and was a loyal champion of our liberties from perishing like his own castle by the ravages of time."

The gardens at the top are as peaceful as one would imagine the Garden of Eden
There is also a cave beneath where the castle stood, known as Baron's Cave, and is open on certain days to the public. Here is the website telling the details.

Crail, Fife, Scotland, UK - Once Home to Ada de Warenne

The medieval royal family of Scotland never had a shortage of castles. Crail, in County Fife, was proclaimed a royal burgh by William the Lion and once was the setting of a castle believed to be often visited by Ada de Warenne. Today there is no castle, only a privately owned tower on the spot where it is thought it stood.

Hill thought to be where the castle stood

Crail is distinctive with its stone wall that creates a safe harbor. A beautiful town, quaint and clean.

Since my picture of the harbor did not turn out, I borrowed this one of a great jigsaw puzzle of Crail.
Looking down from the top of the approx. 10 foot high harbor wall
Looking across the harbor
Cobblestone streets near the harbor

Historical 17th and 18th century buildings are homes and shops of all
kinds, including restaurants, ice cream and souvenir shops, and lobster stands.

The cobblestone streets are well maintained.

Eads Hall, Whitfield, Scotland


Screen Shot 2022-09-12 at 8.40.27 AM

In A Pawn for a King, Ada de Warenne, Eads Hall is Ada de Warenne's first home after she married Henry, Prince of Scotland. The Hall is  in Whitfield, Northumberland.

The mansion was originally a hunting lodge, and when Waltheof, the Prince's maternal grandfather, bought it, he fortified it and added more buildings, making it a proper palace. Waltheof had a sad ending, suffering beheading at the command of William the Conquerer for his part in the Revolt of the Earls.

Chapel of St. John
Looking across the field to the brook

Prince Henry, who inherited the Earldom of Huntington, took over Eads Hall in the late 1130s. The nearby medieval church,  Chapel of St. John, served Eads Hall in those days, and still stands across the brook from where the mansion was located.

After Henry's death, Ada de Warenne made her home in Haddington, Scotland, and gave the Hall to her chaplain, Robert.

She also gave her land in Whitfield to the nuns at Hexham Abbey.
The chaplain and his family took on the name of Whitfield, and it is said that those who go by the surname today are his descendants.

There is nothing left of Eads Hall today, only the field where once it stood. The trees on the right in the photo line the brook, and St. John's church stands just beyond them, surrounded by its impressive old graveyard.

Door to Chapel of St. John

The area known as Whitfield is a very small village now. Just an elementary school and scattered homes through the valley.

It is a beautiful drive to the spot, through the moors from the south, and a lovely walk through the church cemetery. But beware of the pretty, Scottish thistles. A serene place to remember Ada de Warenne and her love, Henry, Prince of Scotland.

Thistles line path to chapel
Highway A69 runs between Carlisle and New Castle. Whitfield is shown almost centerpoint on the map, above.

Have you driven through this area of England/Northumbria? What were your impressions of it?

Edinburg in Medievel Times

Edinburgh in the
1400s, 300 years after Ada's time, and then it was still only a village with a
castle-- a fraction of what the city is today.

Where is your favorite
place to visit in Edinburgh?