High Stewards of Scotland (c.1124)


1st High Steward, Walter fitzAlan, b.?, a.c.1124, d.c.1177


Alan fitzFlaald was a Norman knight, descended from the hereditary stewards of Dol in Brittany, who was given lands in Shropshire by William the Conqueror. His eldest son William remained in England and was the ancestor of the earls of Arundel. However his other sons, Walter and Simon, accompanied David I to Scotland and fought on the Scottish side at the Battle of the Standard in 1138. He was made Seneschal or Steward of the Royal Household by David and obtained substantial areas of land in Renfrewshire, founding a house of monks of the Clunaic Order brought from Shropshire that eventually became Paisley Abbey.


2nd High Steward, Alan fitzWalter, b.?, a.c.1177, d.c.1204


Son of the 1st High Steward and Eochnya de Molle. He went on crusade with Richard the Lionheart and was influenced by the Knights Templar.


3rd High Steward, Walter Stewart, b.?, a.c.1204, d.c.1241


Son of the 2nd High Steward and probably his second wife Alesta, daughter of Morggan, 1st Earl of Mar, and was the first to use Steward as an actual surname. As well as his hereditary post he was made Justiciar of Scotland by Alexander II. We now see the Stewarts begin their strategy of infiltrating the nobility of Scotland by intermarriage. Three of his daughter married earls, those of Dunbar, Carrick and Lennox, one married Donald, Lord of the Isles, while his youngest son Walter Stewart married the Countess of Menteith and became earl de uxoris.


4th High Steward, Alexander Stewart, b.c.1214, a.c.1241, d.c.1283


Son of the 3rd High Steward and Beatrix, daughter of Gilchrist, 4th Earl of Angus. He married Jean Macrory, the daughter of James Macrory, Lord of Bute, and through him a descendant of Somerled of Argyll. In her right he seized Bute and Arran, forcing the Ruari of Bute, brother to Donald, Lord of the Isles, to appeal to the King of Norway for support, which is reputed to be one of the reasons for the Norwegian invasion force that was defeated at the Battle of Largs. His younger son, Sir John Stewart of Bonkyl (b.?, d.1298), was the progenitor of those branches of the Stewart family that became the Earls of Lennox, Galloway, Buchan and Atholl and Lords of Lorn, and his daughter Elizabeth Stewart (b.?, d.b.1288) married William Douglas, 4th Lord of Douglas and was the mother of the Good Sir James.


5th High Steward, James Stewart, b.c.1243, a.c.1283, d.1309


Son of the 4th High Steward and Jean Macrory. On the death of King Alexander II he became one of the six Regents of Scotland. He fought alongside William Wallace before having to swear fealty of Edward I of England in 1306 under threat of excommunication. In spite of this, however, he pledged himself to Bruce.


6th High Steward, Walter Stewart, b.1292, a.1309, d.1327


Son of the 5th High Steward and Cecilia de Dunbar, daughter of Patrick, 7th Earl of Dunbar. He was one of the commanders, under his cousin James Douglas, of the left wing of the Scots army at the Battle of Bannockburn, after which he was granted leave to marry Princess Marjorie Bruce, daughter of King Robert I. She died shortly after providing him with a son. While the Bruces were in Ireland, he and Douglas were responsible for managing the country. He spent most of the remainder of his life in the Borders fighting off the English alongside Douglas and Randolph.


7th High Steward, Robert Stewart, b.1316, a.1327, d.1390


Son of the 6th High Steward and Marjorie Bruce (b.c.1297, d.1316). Briefly heir-presumptive in 1318 after the death of Edward Bruce in Ireland, before Robert I had another child, Robert Stewart as a youth was thrown straight into the defence of the realm, commanding a division of the Scots army at the disastrous Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333. After the battle he sought refuge in Bute while the English overran Scotland. The following year, with David II safely in France, he began the long process, along with John Randolph, 3rd Earl of Moray, of winning back the country, helped by the timely appearance of Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell and Avoch, son of that other Andrew de Moravia who fought alongside William Wallace. Moray had recently returned from captivity in England and conducted a fierce campaign in central Scotland, taking back castles that had been fortified by the English or supporters of Edward Balliol. By the time he died in 1338, most of Scotland had come back to the Bruce cause and Robert Stewart took over as Guardian, continuing the process of destroying English garrisons. In 1341, David returned to Scotland and there was a temporary truce. However in 1346, Edward III of England turned his attention to the French, who sought aid from the Scots according to the Auld Alliance, and David led an army southwards only to be captured at the Battle of Neville’s Cross, at which Randolph was killed. Stewart escaped the battle and resumed as Guardian. There followed a period of negotiations to obtain the King’s release, with the English pressing for his heir to be a member of the English Royal family. Stewart as Guardian continued to reject these efforts and it was not until the Treaty of Berwick in 1357 that David was set free, although the terms of the treaty were never completely honoured. At this time Stewart, as heir to the throne, was created 1st Earl of Strathearn. When David died in 1371, Stewart was crowned as King Robert II, beginning the era of the Stewart kings.


For a continuation of this most royal line, please consult the page on Scottish Monarchs.


(Last updated: 28/08/2009)