Royal Stewart Descendents Alive and Well

The Seal of Robert II, King of Scots. 1316-1390

The Seal of Robert II, King of Scots. 1316-1390

Half of all men in the United Kingdom with the surname Stewart, or Stuart, can claim ancestry from Scotland’s Royal family. Research released by ScotlandsDNA has revealed for the first time the individual in the 13th century who founded a branch of the Royal Stewart line.

In the United Kingdom alone there are about 70,000 people with the surname, meaning that around 17,5000 men can now claim descent from the royal bloodline. The source of the line is Sir John Stewart of Bonkyll, who met his demise at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 fighting alongside William Wallace. The Stewart family’s well-documented pedigree allowed ScotlandsDNA to carry out tests on his descendants, and those of his brother James, the 5th High Steward of Scotland and the grandfather of Robert II, the first Stewart king.

Dr Jim Wilson, the group’s chief scientist, discovered a marker that originated more than 700 years ago when ancestry tests were carried out on the descendants of  James and Sir John’s sons Richard and Angus. The results show that that the modern descendants of both sons of Sir John carry a Y chromosome marker S781+ that is absent in the descendants of James.

Dr Wilson added: “By a straightforward process of deduction that means that the marker arose in Sir John Stewart of Bonkyll, and not in his father. If it had, the descendants of James would also carry it, and they do not.” Having made the discovery, ScotlandsDNA checked its database of ancestry tests for men with the Stewart surname and found that 20 per cent of them share Sir John’s lineage, while 30 per cent are descended from his brother James.

James’s son Walter, married Marjorie Bruce, the daughter of Robert I, having helped him win the great victory at Bannockburn, and their son became Robert II.

Alistair Moffat, co-founder of ScotlandsDNA, added: “In the year of the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn, thousands of Scottish men can claim to be directly descended from the Stewarts who fought alongside Bruce, and they can directly identify with generations of famous figures who shaped Scotland and Britain.” The Duke of Buccleuch, Scotland’s biggest private landowner, who is directly descended from Sir John, and a long line of Scottish and British kings, said he was fascinated by the DNA detective work.

He added: “My family’s history has always been closely involved with the history of Scotland and Britain, but the fact that the rise of a DNA marker has been identified in an individual brings the past even closer, and makes it more personal.

“I am delighted to have been a guinea pig for the sort of history it is now possible to write thanks to DNA research.” The sampling has also, for the first time, distinguished clearly between different cadet branches of the royal Stewarts.

The four branches are the Appin Stewarts who fought at Culloden, the Lennox Stewarts who were direct ancestors of James VI and I, and the Albany and Moray Stewarts who acted as regents.


About Nadine Lee

Originally from New Zealand, Nadine is a documentary researcher now based in the north east of Scotland.

View all posts by Nadine Lee →

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19 thoughts on “Royal Stewart Descendents Alive and Well

  1. Joyce Stuart (Hyman)

    Our Stuart family came from
    St. Stephens NB Canada and before that we think Ulster would be fun to connect

  2. James Lawrence Stuart

    I’m in search of my family history line, that my grandmother started, but was unable to finish before her death. She stopped at Stuart/Heysworth of Scotland and William Stewart/ Sarah Wright of Dewsbury moor 1776

    Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.
    Best regards

    • Anna Jones

      Recent searching led me to finding out that Mary Stewart’. Mary Queen of Scots is my 5th great grand mother. I am from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. USA. This is very interesting.

      • Regina

        I believe Mary was my cousin. My 12th great grandfather was James Stewart, Earl of Buchan. My ggg grandma was Elizabeth Betty Stuart. She married John Slavin. They are the first of my relatives in America. I traced back to Mary through them. Some fascinating stuff!

  3. Anita Marlene Metzler/Pogen

    My Grandmother a Stewart was brought to McKeesport, the Menzies to watch their children.She said she was related to Mary Queen of Scots.She married my Grandfather,Henry Metzler.She told me there was too much fighting in Scotland.She was divorced later and married Thomas Bourne from Eng.

  4. Luke Stewart

    I’m from Santa Clara, California, USA, just south of San Francisco. My family descends fairly directly from the Stewarts of Appin, but we’re pretty diluted with Swedes and Germans. This is the part of my history I’m most proud of,though.

  5. Graeme Stuart Cleaver

    Hi all. My mother was Eva Stuart daughter of William Stuart son of Charles Stuart who came to New Zealand from Waterdown, Wentworth County, Ontario, Canada. i have book passed onto me that was presented to Henry Stuart by the Board of School Trustees Waterdown on December the 22nd 1870.
    Looking to gather more family info.


  6. William stewart

    We can’t figure out witch exact branch of the stewart clan I’m from I can’t seem to get to Scotland on my family tree I’m stuck in America

  7. Tammy Stewart

    My Stewart’s come from Nova Scotia Canada. Hit a dead end on with my paternal Grandfather William A Stewart. Would love to know if and what clan we came from.

  8. Adam Stewart

    Proud Aussie with Scottish heritage descendant of Adam Thompson Stewart MC son of John Stewart journeyman boilermaker. I believe our family was Royal Stewart clan any info or any distant relatives contact me give us a shout out.

  9. William T Stewart

    Hi Tammy,
    My clan came from Perth Scotland and immigrated into Glengarry Ontario Canada. From there they came to the US and homesteaded in what is now Bottineau North Dakota. Not sure if we are part of the same clan or not but thought I would touch base just in case. My grandfather (William Ezra Stewart) was born in 1888.
    William (Terry) Stewart
    Bozeman MT

  10. Richard Stewart

    I was told as a youngster that my 8th great grandma was Mary the Queen of Scots. Just reaching out from Utah, USA to say hi to all possible relatives out there! Please feel free to contact me.

    Richard Stewart, PhD (abd), MSEd

  11. Dianne Stewart Richardson

    My gr gr grandfather Peter Stewart came from Perth to Ontario then settled at Drayron N.D. I am also connected to the Stewart’s at Bottineau N.D. Have been able to trace back to John Stewart , his father James then hit a dead end .

  12. Jerome Stueart

    Then there are us wily Stuearts who seem to mix things up a bit. I wonder where our DNA would fall. Too bad there isn’t a link to check your DNA for that Scottish marker.


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