John Stewart, 1st Earl of Atholl

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John Stewart, 1st Earl of Atholl (c. 1440 15 September 1512), also known as Sir John Stewart of Balveny, was a Scottish nobleman and ambassador.

Scotland Country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, with a border with England to the southeast, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.



He was the oldest child of Joan Beaufort, widow of James I of Scotland, and her second husband Sir James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn.

James I of Scotland 15th-century King of Scots

James I, the youngest of three sons, was born in Dunfermline Abbey to King Robert III and his wife Annabella Drummond and reigned as King of Scotland from 1406 to 1437. His older brother David, Duke of Rothesay, died under suspicious circumstances while being detained by their uncle, Robert, Duke of Albany. Fears for James's safety grew through the winter of 1405/6 and plans were made to send him to France. In February 1406, James was forced to take refuge in the castle of the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth after his escort was attacked by supporters of Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas. He remained there until mid-March when he boarded a vessel bound for France. On 22 March English pirates captured the ship and delivered the prince to Henry IV of England. The ailing Robert III died on 4 April and the 11-year-old James, now the uncrowned King of Scotland, would not regain his freedom for another eighteen years.

He was created Earl of Atholl in around 1457, [1] the first earl of the eighth creation of the title. He is believed to have had a hand in suppressing the rebellion of John Macdonald, 11th Earl of Ross, the last of the Lords of the Isles. According to legend, the Earl of Atholl had whisky, honey and oats added to Macdonald's water well, which so entranced or intoxicated him that Macdonald was easily captured. The mixture became a drink named Atholl Brose.

Earl of Atholl

The Mormaer or Earl of Atholl was the title of the holder of a medieval comital lordship straddling the highland province of Atholl, now in northern Perthshire. Atholl is a special Mormaerdom, because a King of Atholl is reported from the Pictish period. The only other two Pictish kingdoms to be known from contemporary sources are Fortriu and Circinn. Indeed, the early 13th century document known to modern scholars as the de Situ Albanie repeats the claim that Atholl was an ancient Pictish kingdom. In the 11th century, the famous Crínán of Dunkeld may have performed the role of Mormaer.

Lord of the Isles Lord title of the Hebrides and its domains

The Lord of the Isles is a title of Scottish nobility with historical roots that go back beyond the Kingdom of Scotland. It emerged from a series of hybrid Viking/Gaelic rulers of the west coast and islands of Scotland in the Middle Ages, who wielded sea-power with fleets of galleys (birlinns). Although they were, at times, nominal vassals of the Kings of Norway, Ireland, or Scotland, the island chiefs remained functionally independent for many centuries. Their territory included the Hebrides, Knoydart, Ardnamurchan, and the Kintyre peninsula. At their height they were the greatest landowners and most powerful lords in Britain after the Kings of England and Scotland.

He became ambassador to England in 1484.

Stewart was buried in Dunkeld Cathedral in Perthshire.

Dunkeld Cathedral Church in Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Dunkeld Cathedral is a Church of Scotland place of worship which stands on the north bank of the River Tay in Dunkeld, Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Built in square-stone style of predominantly grey sandstone, the cathedral proper was begun in 1260 and completed in 1501. It stands on the site of the former Culdee Monastery of Dunkeld, stones from which can be seen as an irregular reddish streak in the eastern gable.

Perthshire registration county in central Scotland

Perthshire, officially the County of Perth, is a historic county and registration county in central Scotland. Geographically it extends from Strathmore in the east, to the Pass of Drumochter in the north, Rannoch Moor and Ben Lui in the west, and Aberfoyle in the south; its borders the counties of Inverness-shire and Aberdeenshire to the north, Angus to the east, Fife, Kinross-shire, Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire to the south and Argyllshire to the west. It was a local government county from 1890 to 1930.

Marriage and children

John Stewart married twice and had several children. However, the exact number, names, and the attribution of his children to their mothers is unclear.

His first wife was Lady Margaret Douglas, Fair Maid of Galloway, daughter of Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Douglas and Lady Eupheme Graham. Margaret had been married already to William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas, and to James Douglas, 9th Earl of Douglas which marriage was annulled by the Pope. She married John Stewart about 1459 or 1460. She died between 1473 and 1475. and they had three daughters:

Margaret Douglas, Countess of Douglas, known as the Fair Maid of Galloway, was a Scottish noblewoman, a member of the Black Douglas family towards the end of the family's position as a major force in Scotland.

Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Douglas Scottish nobleman and general of the Hundred Years War

Archibald Douglas was a Scottish nobleman and General during the Hundred Years' War.

William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas, 2nd Earl of Avondale was a late Medieval Scottish nobleman, Lord of Galloway, and Lord of the Regality of Lauderdale, and the most powerful magnate in Southern Scotland.

Alexander Gordon, 3rd Earl of Huntly was a Scottish nobleman. He was a member of Parliament, a member of the Privy Council, a regent and Lieutenant of the kingdom.

Sometime before April 1475, he married as his second wife, Lady Eleanor Sinclair (died 21 March 1518), daughter of William Sinclair, 3rd Earl of Orkney and Marjory Sutherland. They had two sons and nine daughters:


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Preceded by
New Creation
Earl of Atholl
Succeeded by
John Stewart