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Stewart Clan has many branches. Here is some information we have found about some of them - we don't claim to be part of any of these families. The history of our family takes up in the 19th Century.
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Origins of the name "Stewart"

The name "Stewart" was taken from the word "steward" - the protector and caretaker of an estate. In this case, the estate was the Kingdom of Scotland. The official in charge of the Scots household and treasury was given the title Steward, which became the name Stewart possibly as far back as the 12th century.

When one branch of the Stewart migrated to live in France, the spelling "Stuart" came about as there is no "w" in the French alphabet. Adopted there by Mary Queen of Scots during her exile, it became fashionable when she returned to Scotland. The variation "Steuart" was a compromise between the two spellings.


The Stewart family records its traditional descent from Banquo, Thane of Lochaber, a character in William Shakespeare’s MacBeth. The true origin is even more interesting.

Their first traceable ancestor was Alan, a Breton noble and hereditary Steward of Dol in the Brittany living about 1045, and appears to have had connections with the Counts of Dol and Dinan, who were a branch of the ancient ruling Dynasty of Brittany. Alan's second son, Flaald fitz Alan, became the hereditary Steward of Dol in the Brittany when his elder brother perished on the First Crusade in 1097. Fitz is the Norman-French word for "son" (French fils)Stewart migrations.

After the Norman conquest and during the time of Flaald's son, Alan fitz Flaald, the family moved to England and acquired lands there. Alan fitz Flaald became Sheriff of Shropshire.

About 1124, at the start of the reign of King David I, the family migrated to Scotland led by Walter FitzAlan.

As Brittany was colonised from Britain, it seems probable that the Stewart family's original ancestors were Ancient Britons of high rank. So it is especially interesting that the first monarchs of United Great Britain should have been the chiefs of the Stewart Clan.

The family were granted large estates in East Lothian and Renfrewshire. During the time of King Malcolm IV the office of High Steward of Scotland was made hereditary to the FitzAlan family, sometime after 1153.

During the struggle for Scottish independence (around 1315), Sir William Wallace and Robert the Bruce was supported by 5th High Steward, James FitzAlan. Sir John Stewart of Bonkyl, a younger brother of James, assisted Edward Bruce to become High King of Ireland 1316.

First Stewart King

The Royal House of Stewart commences with the marriage of William FitzAlan, 6th High Steward, and Princess Marjory Bruce, daughter of Robert the Bruce. William and Marjory's son, Robert II, was heir-apparent as King Robert I had no sons.

Robert Stewart was born in 1317 and lived until 19th April 1390 when he was killed by a fatal blow from a horse kicking him in the head. In 1347, Robert married Elizabeth Mure, and later Euphemia of Ross after Elizabeth's death. Robert became King of Scotland in 1371 after the death of King David II.

James IV (reign 1473-1513) is credited with many advancements and the establishment of national bodies for the Kingdom of Scotland, including the first printing press (in 1507), the Aberdeen University with the College of Surgeons, and a permanent Court of Sessions with professional judges.

In 1502 the Kingdoms of Scotland and England (the Houses of Stewart and Tudor) became joined by blood when James IV married the 13-year-old daughter of Henry VII, Margaret Tudor. James and his son Alexander was killed during the battle of Flodden Edge against the army of Henry VII - much of the aristocracy and army of Scotland died, including nine earls and 13 barons.

On the death of James V, the direct male line of the Royal Stewart failed. But the succession of the house was continued through Mary Queen of Scots' marriage with Henry, Lord Darnley, descended from the second son of Sir Alan Stewart of Bonkyl, Sir Alan. James VI was thus both heir male and heir of the line of the House of Stewart, but it was as heir of the line that he represented the House of Stewart descending through Princess Marjory Bruce and the long line of Celtic and Pictish kings.

James VI (1566 - 1625) came to the Throne of Scotland at the age of one following the abdication of Queen Mary in 1567. The Stewart Clan held the regency for some time through the Earl of Moray, including James Stewart (the illegitimate son of James V) and the Earl of Lennox, Matthew Stewart, both of whom were murdered. Among the mixture Protestant and Catholics in Scotland, James was swayed towards Catholicism partly from the influence of his mother (Mary). To prevent his conversion, James was imprisoned for 2 years by an ultra Protestant faction. Upon his release, James set about excluding and exiling many ultra Protestants, including Francis Stewart, on the charge of witchcraft against the king and attacks on royal residences.

Yet James was well aware of the importance of family relationships in establishing peace and order in his kingdom. One of his first acts an beginning his rule was to settle the differences between his nobles in Edinburgh, and then lead them in a public procession up the High Street from his palace.

More significant, a few months later he had all landowners renew the "general band' of earlier reigns, making them answerable for the good conduct of the followers, with the important addition that chiefs and chieftains became responsible also for their clansmen, whether or not they were their feudal vassals.

United Scotland and England

When Queen Elizabeth I of England died, James became King of England and Scotland. To help join the two countries as the United Kingdom, James declared Scotland a Protestant country and that the Scots Kirk should follow the English model, with some Catholic practices. In the confused politics of the time, the Scots Parliament agreed to the union, the English parliament rejected it, and the Kirk practically ignored the edicts.

With the removal of the Court to London, the rule of the Stewart monarchs became more remote, but the succession continued through Charles I and II, James VII, and Queen Mary and Queen Anne.

Charles followed James VI as King of Scotland and England in 1625, being the eldest son of James and Anne of Denmark.

Two generations later, Scotland deteriorated quickly as James VII was forced to flee with his family for France in 1688 following an Act of Parliament which claimed he had abandoned the throne in favour of ruling England and of being a Catholic. James' attempt to regain the throne through his Jacobite Revolution were supported by the northern highland clans (being mostly Catholic) who helped him defeat the larger army of William of Orange who had claimed the crown. However, the forces of James could not take all of Scotland, and south was held by William and his ancestors. Scotland became part of the United Kingdom in 1707, with control almost entirely in English hands.

When Queen Anne died in 1714, James VIII returned to Scotland from France with the aid of the Earl of Mar, George I. His time in Scotland was only 6 years before he retreated again to France.

The reign of Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stewart) started well in 1745 with his landing in Scotland with a force built from the remainder of his father's (James VIII) army, and troops from Spain and France. A year later he advanced upon Edinburgh to defeat the army of the English General Cope. Despite getting little support from Edinburgh's people, Charles advanced through England to take London. Through the bad advice of his some of his leaders, the army retreated north again, pursued by English forces. Charles' forces were defeated time and again, and eventually after the Battle of Culloden he fed into the highlands and then to France.

From that time on, the middle 18th Century, the English government began to take apart the Scottish identity, again outlawing, 500 years after Robert the Bruce, Scots customs and arms and destroying the clan system.

The Royal Stewarts were an unlucky dynasty: of the fourteen crowned monarchs between 1371 and 1714, four were murdered or executed, two died in battle, one in exile, while seven in succession came to the throne as minors. Between 1406 and 1587 there were nearly 100 years of rule by regents.

To the more powerful among their subjects, these Stewarts were at first merely a noble house raised to kingship by a "lucky" marriage. James I had to overthrow a powerful group of kinsmen, the House of Albany. James II destroyed the power of the Douglases. James III was deep in trouble with sections of his nobility. James IV tried to keep power by exploiting rivalries and enmities. And by sweeping forfeitures James V regained for the crown what the warring nobles had filched from it. But these early Stewarts were monarchs who knew, lived and moved amongst their own people. 

Last Royal Stewart 

In 1807 the Cardinal Duke of York, Prince Henry, (brother of Prince Charles Edward) died, ending the male line of the Royal Stewarts. George III, King of England, was bequeathed the Scottish Coronation Ring, chivalric orders, and other royal and personal heirlooms by Prince Henry. As these orders always report to the King of Scotland, George became heir to the Stewarts' rights to the throne, and was named "Tanist" of the old Royal line.

With her succession to the throne of the United Kingdom, Queen Victoria could claim the right "as Representative of the Family of Bonnie Prince Charlie" and that "no one could be a greater Jacobite than herself".

Though there is no direct male descent of the Stewart family to the current throne of Scotland and England, James VI's daughter Elizabeth was the ancestress of the House of Hanover, and of their successors on the British throne. The heir apparent still bears the ancient title "Prince and Steward of Scotland". So today, Prince Charles is Great Steward of Scotland because he is the female-line descent of Walter FitzAlan, the first Stewart. In the thirteenth century, the 4th Stewart of Scotland (a crusader) married the heiress of the Lord of Bute of the royal House of Isles - another of Prince Charles's dignities is that of Lord of the Isles. 

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