William Stewart (bishop of Aberdeen)

William Stewart (c. 1490–1545) was a late medieval Scottish prelate. Born around 1490 in Glasgow, he was the son of Thomas Stewart of Minto. Details about his early life are obscure, but it is known that he attended the University of Glasgow before travelling to continental Europe to study theology and canon law.[1] The first benefice he held was the parsonage of Lochmaben, which he was in possession of by July 1528.[2] In the same year he became rector of Ayr,[3] while he had received crown presentation as Provost of Lincluden Collegiate Church in July 1529, a post he would hold along with his new position as Lord High Treasurer of Scotland.[4]

William Stewart
Bishop of Aberdeen
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
SeeDiocese of Aberdeen
In office15321545
PredecessorGavin Dunbar
SuccessorWilliam Gordon
Consecration1533, at St Machar's Cathedral
Personal details
Bornc. 1490
Glasgow, Scotland
Died10 April 1545
Previous postDean of Glasgow
Provost of Lincluden

In 1530 he received a crown presentation to Pope Clement VII for the deanery of Glasgow, a position he held until on 22 March 1532, when he was nominated by King James V of Scotland to succeed Gavin Dunbar as Bishop of Aberdeen.[5] Stewart was consecrated as Bishop of Aberdeen in either March or April 1533.[6] Stewart was an active and important servant of the Scottish king. He led the diplomatic expedition to England which, on 11 May 1534, agreed a peace treaty between James V and King Henry VIII of England. He was sent to France in 1536, where he helped draw up the contract for his king's marriage to Mary of Guise. He went on a further mission to England in December 1541.[1]

As Bishop of Aberdeen, he strongly resisted the emerging protestant heresies, attending condemnations in 1534 and 1540.[1] Bishop Stewart laid down a new series of constitutions for his clergy, constitutions resembling and reinforcing similar such measures previously enacted by Bishop Elphinstone.[7] He completed building work on King's College, Aberdeen, including a new library and sacristy, as well as two new schools for his diocese.[8] Bishop Stewart died at Aberdeen on 10 April 1545, and was buried in the south transept of Aberdeen Cathedral.[9]


  1. Macfarlane, "Stewart, William (c. 1490–1545)".
  2. Innes, p. lvi.
  3. Innes, p. lvi; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 365.
  4. Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 365.
  5. Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 4.
  6. Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, pp. 4, 155.
  7. Innes, Registrum, p. lvii; Macfarlane, "Stewart, William (c.1490–1545)".
  8. Innes, Registrum, p. lviii; Macfarlane, "Stewart, William (c.1490–1545)".
  9. Dowden, Bishops of Scotland, pp. 140-1; Innes, Registrum, p. lviii; Macfarlane, "Stewart, William (c.1490–1545)".


  • Dowden, John, The Bishops of Scotland, ed. J. Maitland Thomson, (Glasgow, 1912)
  • Innes, Cosmo, Registrum Episcopatus Aberdonensis: Ecclesie Cathedralis Aberdonensis Regesta Que Extant in Unum Collecta, Vol. 1, (Edinburgh, 1845)
  • Keith, Robert, An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops: Down to the Year 1688, (London, 1924)
  • Macfarlane, Leslie J., "Stewart, William (c.1490–1545)", in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 , accessed 30 April 2007
  • Watt, D.E.R., Fasti Ecclesiae Scotinanae Medii Aevi ad annum 1638, 2nd Draft, (St Andrews, 1969)
Religious titles
Preceded by
Robert Stewart
Provost of Lincluden
Succeeded by
John Stewart
Preceded by
Robert Forman
Dean of Glasgow
Succeeded by
James Lamb
Preceded by
Gavin Dunbar
Bishop of Aberdeen
Succeeded by
William Gordon
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