Clan Stewart

Clan Stewart (Gaelic: Stiùbhart) is a Highland Scottish clan. The clan is recognised by Court of the Lord Lyon; however, it does not have a Clan Chief recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. Because the clan has no chief it can be considered an armigerous clan; however, the Earls of Galloway are now considered to be the principal branch of this clan,[2] and the crest and motto of The Earls of Galloway's arms are used in the Clan Stewart crest badge. The Court of the Lord Lyon recognises two other 'Stewart' clans, Clan Stuart of Bute and Clan Stewart of Appin. Clan Stuart of Bute is the only 'Stewart' clan at present which has a recognised chief.[3]

Clan Stewart
Crest: Due to a lack of a Chief, members sometimes use the badge belonging to the Earl of Galloway. A pelican Argent, winged Or, in her nest feeding her young, Proper.
MottoVirescit vulnere virtus (Courage grows strong at a wound)[1]
RegionLowlands and Highlands
DistrictRenfrewshire, Teviotdale and Lauderdale.
Plant badgeThistle[1]
Pipe musicBratach Bhàn nan Stiùbhartach (The white banner of the Stewarts)[1]
Clan Stewart has no chief, and is an armigerous clan
CommanderThe Earl of Galloway is considered to be the senior cadet, but is not chief. The senior cadet is Randolph Stewart, 13th Earl of Galloway.


Origins of the Clan

The Stewarts who became monarchs of Scotland were descended from a family who were seneschals of Dol in Brittany, France.[4] After the Norman conquest of England the Stewarts acquired estates in England as the FitzAlan family, also Earls of Arundel.[4] Walter Flaad or Walter fitz Alan, the Steward came to Scotland when David I of Scotland claimed his throne.[4] It is from their office as Stewards that the surname Stewart came.[5] Walter was created High Steward of Scotland and was granted large estates in Renfrewshire and East Lothian.[4] Walter was one of the commanders of the royal army which defeated Somerled of the Isles (ancestor of Clan Donald) at the Battle of Renfrew in 1164.[4] (See: Walter fitz Alan).

Wars of Scottish Independence

During the Wars of Scottish Independence, James Stewart, 5th High Steward of Scotland swore fealty to Edward I of England.[4] However, he later sided with Robert the Bruce and William Wallace in the struggle for Scottish independence.[4]

Royal House of Stewart

Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland married Marjory, daughter of king Robert the Bruce.[4] When Robert's son, David II of Scotland died, he was succeeded by Walter Stewart's son, Robert II of Scotland.[4] King Robert II had many sons, the eldest, John, succeeded to the throne of Scotland as Robert III of Scotland.[4] The royal line of male Stewarts was uninterrupted until the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots.[4] As a family the Stewarts (Stuarts) held the throne of Scotland and later England until the death of Anne, Queen of Great Britain in 1714.[4]

Albany Stewarts

The Dukedom of Albany is a peerage title that was bestowed on some younger sons in the Scottish and later the British royal family, particularly in the House of Stuart. Robert II's third son was Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, who was Regent of Scotland during part of the reigns of his father, brother, and nephew James I of Scotland.[4] Robert II's fourth son was Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, who was famed as the Wolf of Badenoch and was responsible for the destruction of Elgin Cathedral.[4]

Stewart of Stewart Stuart of Albany Stuart, Earl of Buchan
Stewart of Barclye Stewart of Garlies Stewart of Minto
Stewart of Physgill Stewart of Bute Stuart of Bute
Stuart, Earl of Moray Stewart of Atholl Stewart of Rothesay
Stewart, Earl of Carrick Stewart, Duke of Ross Stewart, Earl of Strathearn
Stewart, Earl of Galloway Stuart of Darnley Stuart of Lennox
Stewart of Ardvorlich Stuart, Lord Avandale Stuart, Lord Ochiltree

When James I of Scotland came of age, he curbed the power of his cousins, the Albany Stewarts.[4] He beheaded Murdoch Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany, eldest son of the former regent Robert Stewart.[4] Two of Murdoch's sons, Walter and Alexander (Alasdair), were both executed as well.[6][7]

Main branches of the Clan

As the Chief of the Stewarts was also the occupant of the Throne, the relationship between the various branches or members of the family differed from the usual ties between clansmen and their Chief.[8] The family did however have their own badge and tartan to distinguish them.[8] Apart from the royal house of Stewart, the three main branches of the clan that settled in the Scottish Highlands during the 14th and 15th centuries were the Stewarts of Appin, Stewarts of Atholl and Stewarts of Balquhidder.[4] Today the Earls of Galloway are considered the senior line of the Clan Stewart.[4]

Stewarts of Appin

The Stewarts of Appin descend from Sir John Stewart of Bonkyll, son of Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland.[4] Sir John's younger son, James Stewart, was killed in 1333 at the Battle of Halidon Hill.[4] His grandson married the heiress of the Lord of Lorne (chief of Clan MacDougall).[4] He was the first Stewart Lord of Lorne.[4] The Stewarts of Appin supported the royalist cause during the Civil War of the 17th century and also supported the deposed Stuart monarchs during the Jacobite rising of 1715 and Jacobite rising of 1745.[4]

Stewarts of Atholl

The Stewarts of Atholl are descended from a son of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan (the Wolf of Badenoch).[4] James Stewart built a strong castle at Garth where he settled at the end of the 14th century.[4] Queen Joanna, widow of James I of Scotland married the Black Knight of Lorne who was descended from the fourth High Steward.[4] Their son was John Stewart of Balveny who was granted the Earldom of Atholl by his half-brother, James II of Scotland.[4] He supported his brother, commanding the royal forces that opposed the rebellion by the Lord of the Isles.[4] The fifth Stewart Earl of Atholl died with no male issue and his daughter married William Murray, second Earl of Tullibardine, who succeeded as Earl of Atholl.[4] Many Stewarts continued to live in the Atholl area with many claiming descent from the Wolf of Badenoch.[4] They were mainly transferred by allegiance to the Murray Earls of Atholl and were known as Atholl men.[4] This is maintained today with the Atholl Highlanders, Europe's only legal private army.[4] General David Stewart of Garth, an Athollman, was an officer in the Black Watch regiment and his book, Sketches of the Highlanders and Highland Regiments, popularized his homeland in Victorian England.[4]

Stewarts of Balquhidder

Stewarts came to Balqhidder in about 1490 when William Stewart, grandson of the only son of the Duke of Albany to escape the persecution of James I, was appointed ballie of the Crown lands of Balquhidder.[4]

Stuarts of Bute

The chiefs of the Clan Stuart of Bute are descended from Sir John Stewart, illegitimate son of Robert Stewart who reigned as Robert II of Scotland by Moira Leitch (according to tradition).[9]



The usual tartan for the Stewarts or Stuarts is a red coloured pattern known as the Royal Stuart Tartan.[8] According to historian Henry James Lee the effect of a large body of men crossing a hill in the red Stuart tartan, contrasting with the dark coloured heath has been described "as if the hill were on fire".[8]

Tartan image Notes
Clan Stewart tartan, as published in 1842 in the dubious Vestiarium Scoticum.

See also


  1. Clan Stewart Profile Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  3. Nelker, Gladys P., The Clan Steuart, 1970
  4. Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 459 - 461.
  5. Clan Stewart Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  6. Walter Stewart Archived 4 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  7. Alexander Stewart Archived 4 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  8. Lee, Henry James. (1920). History of the Stewart or Stuart Family. p. 35.
  9. Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 330 - 331.
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