James Stewart, 5th High Steward of Scotland

James Stewart (died 16 July 1309) was the 5th hereditary High Steward of Scotland and a Guardian of Scotland during the First Interregnum.

James Stewart
5th High Steward of Scotland
Bornc. 1260
Died(1309-07-16)16 July 1309
Noble familyStewart
FatherAlexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland
ReligionRoman Catholic

Birth and ancestry

James was a son of Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland; the identity of Alexander's wife is unknown.[1] The date of his birth is not certainly known and some sources have placed it, on no good evidence, as early as 1243. This is now thought to be unlikely. Firstly, James's father is known to have planned a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James of Compostella in 1252 or after, so that James would probably have been born after this. Secondly, James's Christian name was an unusual one, uncommon in Scotland in the 13th century and not a traditional name in the Stewart family where Walter and Alan were favoured. It is therefore quite possible that he was not Alexander's eldest son, but rather the eldest surviving son. For these reasons, and also the fact of his son and successor Walter Stewart being described as a "beardless lad" around 1314 in John Barbour's The Brus, it is proposed that James was born around 1260.[2]

Early years

In 1286 James was chosen as one of the six Guardians of Scotland. He subsequently submitted to King Edward I of England on 9 July 1297, and was one of the auditors for the competitor, Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale. However, during the Wars of Scottish Independence he joined Sir William Wallace. After Wallace's defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, he gave his support to Robert Bruce, later King Robert I of Scotland, grandson of the competitor.

Marriages and children

James was married several times. His first wife was Cecilia, daughter of Patrick, Earl of Dunbar (died 1289). James' second wife appears to have been Muriel (born 1244), daughter of Malise, Earl of Strathearn (died 1271). His third wife was Egidia, daughter of Walter de Burgh, Earl of Ulster (died 1271), and sister of Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster (died 1326).[1] Children of James include:

Later years and death

In 1302, with six other ambassadors including John Comyn, Earl of Buchan, he was sent to solicit the aid of the French king against Edward, to whom he was once again compelled to swear fealty at Lanercost on 23 October 1306. To render his oath if possible secure, it was taken upon the two crosses of Scotland most esteemed for their sanctity, on the consecrated host, the holy gospels, and certain relics of saints. He also agreed to submit to instant excommunication if he should break his allegiance to Edward. Convinced that his faith was to his country in spite of all, he once again took up the Scottish patriotic cause and died in the service of The Bruce in 1309.[7]


  1. MacEwen, ABW (2011). "The Wives of Sir James the Steward (d.1309)". Foundations. 3 (5): 391–398.
  2. Barrow, G. W. S.; Royan, Ann (1985), "James, Fifth Stewart of Scotland, 1260(?)1309", in Stringer, Keith (ed.), Essays on the Nobility of Medieval Scotland, Edinburgh: John Donald, pp. 166–167, ISBN 1-904607-45-4.
  3. Simpson, David, The Genealogical and Chronological History of the Stuarts, Edinburgh, 1713
  4. Burke, Messrs., John and John Bernard, The Royal Families of England Scotland and Wales, with Their Descendants, London, 1851, volume 2, page xlvi.
  5. Clay, John W., FSA., editor, The Visitation of Cambridge, 1575 and 1619 by Henery St.George, Richmond Herald, Harleian Society, London, 1897, pps: 7 - 11, where he is described thus: "Andreas Stuard filius capit in uxorem filiam Jacobi Bethe et a Johanne Francor' Rege militario ringulo condecoratus est"; translation reads: Andrew Stewart younger son, married the daughter of James Bethe (Beith) and was decorated with a military swordbelt by John (II), King of France ('The Good', reigned 1350-1364).
  6. East Anglian Stewarts by G.M.S.Lauder-Frost, FSA Scot., in The Scottish Genealogist, vol.LI, no.4, December 2004, pps:151-161, ISSN 0300-337X
  7. Anderson, William, The Scottish Nation, Edinburgh, 1867, vol.ix, p.513.
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Alexander Stewart
High Steward of Scotland
Succeeded by
Walter Stewart
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