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Where did our motto come from?

In 1424 King James I of Scotland commanded Sir John Colquhoun, the Laird of Luss, Loch Lomond, to seize possession of the formidable and well-fortified Dumbarton Castle from the Earl of Lennox, who had become too powerful for the King's comfort.


Sir John replied to the King's command in French (the accepted universal language of the time) "Si Je Puis - I will if I can". He carefully laid his plans.

dumbarton castle

 

The Highland chieftain gathered a group of his men and, under cover of darkness, hid them in the woods outside the castle's gates. When morning came he set loose nearby a large stag which he had previously captured, chased by hunting dogs. The starving garrison in the castle saw the hunt and, unsuspecting, opened the gates to join in. The Chief's clansmen then stole into the castle, successfully securing it and returning it to the King, without a drop of blood being spilled on either side.

 

In gratitude, the king bestowed on the Chief of Colquhoun a coat of arms with a crest showing a stag's head and two deer-hounds as supporters, bearing the motto "Si Je Puis".

 

A true story? Who knows. But what is certain is that although that early chief could have had no idea that, many generations later, one of his descendants would found a school, he would have approved of its adoption of his motto - the essence of the spirit of Northcote Lodge.

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