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Stewart of Darnley was a notable Scots family, a branch of the Clan Stewart, who provided the English Stuart monarchs with their male-line Stuart descent, after the reunion of their branch with the royal Scottish branch, which led to the ultimate union of the two main kingdoms of Great Britain: England and Scotland.
In 1565 the House of Stewart of Darnley was re-united with the Royal House of Stewart when Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley married his first cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, both being grandchildren of Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII of England, and hence both having claim to the English throne. The son of this union James VI of Scots succeeded to the throne of England as James I.
The later English kings of the House of Stuart, from James I and Charles I onwards, were more properly members of the Stewart of Darnley branch, and all drew upon their feudal heritage in Lennox.
The Stewarts of Darnley were descended from Sir John Stewart of Bonkyll, the second son of Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland. Their name is derived from Derneley, a barony in Eastwood parish, Renfrewshire. It was located 1.5 mi (2.4 km) east of Barrhead, present day Darnley, within the city of Glasgow. In 1356, Robert Stewart, High Steward of Scotland granted the barony to Sir John Stewart.
Like the Royal Stewarts, the Stewarts of Darnley used both the Stuart and the Stewart spelling of their surname.
Sir John Stewart of Darnley (d.1429) fought in the Hundred Years' War under his namesake and distant cousin John Stewart, 2nd Earl of Buchan in the army of Charles VII of France. For his services he was rewarded with the lands of Aubigny-sur-Nere and Concressault which were given to the second son in the family so they could live in France to strengthen the Auld Alliance. Important members of this branch were:
The eldest son of Alan Stewart of Darnley (d.1439) was John Stewart, Lord Darnley, head of the House of Stewart of Darnley, who was created Earl of Lennox. He died in 1495 and was succeeded by the following descendants:
In 1580 the head of the House of Darnley King James VI of Scots granted the title Duke of Lennox to Esmé Stewart, 1st Duke of Lennox a cousin and a member of a French branch of the Royal Stewarts.
The following English members of the House of Stewart of Darnley were styled Earls of Lennox by the English Crown, although the King of Scots, in whose Kingdom the Earldom of Lennox lay, did not recognize their title.
In 1544 Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox married Margaret Douglas, the granddaughter of Henry VII. Their sons Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and Charles Stuart, 1st Earl of Lennox, were held by contemporaries to have a credible claim to the throne of England.
Margaret Douglas was the fruit of the 1514 union of Margaret Tudor, Dowager Queen of Scots and elder daughter of Henry VII with Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Born in England and raised at the court of her uncle Henry VIII, Margaret was Henry's officially recognized heir between the disgrace of Anne Boleyn and the birth of the future Edward VI.
In 1565 Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley married his cousin Mary Queen of Scots, like him a descendant of Margaret Tudor and Henry VII. Mary's descent from Margaret Tudor's first marriage to James IV of Scots also placed her in line for the English throne, but many argued that Margaret Douglas's claim was superior as Margaret and her sons Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and Charles Stuart, 1st Earl of Lennox had been born in England. According to English custom it is desirable that the monarch be naturalized or born in England.
By marrying Darnley, Mary neutralized a dangerous rival claim to the throne of England whilst strengthening that of her own house. In 1603 Mary and Darnley's son, James VI of Scotland, succeeded Elizabeth I as King of England, thereby uniting the crowns of England and Scotland and laying the basis for the future United Kingdom.
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. From his marriage in 1565, he was king consort of Scotland. He was created Duke of Albany shortly before his marriage. Less than a year after the birth of his and Mary's only child, King James VI of Scotland and I of England, Darnley was murdered at Kirk o' Field in 1567. Many contemporary narratives describing his life and death refer to him as Lord Darnley, his title as heir apparent to the Earldom of Lennox, and it is by this appellation that he is known in history. On his mother's side he was a great-grandson of King Henry VII of England.
Lady Arbella Stuart was an English noblewoman who was considered a possible successor to Queen Elizabeth I of England. During the reign of King James VI and I, she married William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset in secret. King James imprisoned William Seymour and placed her under house arrest. When she and her husband tried to escape England, she was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London, where she died at age 39.
Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was the daughter of the Scottish queen dowager Margaret Tudor and her second husband Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. In her youth she was high in the favour of her uncle, Henry VIII of England, but twice incurred the King's anger, first for her unauthorised engagement to Lord Thomas Howard, who died in the Tower of London in 1537 because of his misalliance with her, and again in 1540 for an affair with Thomas Howard's nephew Sir Charles Howard, the brother of Henry's wife Catherine Howard. On 6 July 1544, she married Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, one of Scotland's leading noblemen. Her son Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, married Mary, Queen of Scots, and was the father of James VI and I.
The House of Stuart, originally Stewart, was a royal house of Scotland, England, Ireland and later Great Britain, with historical connections to Brittany. The family name itself comes from the office of High Steward of Scotland, which had been held by the family scion Walter fitz Alan. The name "Stewart" and variations had become established as a family name by the time of his grandson, Walter Stewart. The first monarch of the Stewart line was Robert II whose descendants were kings and queens of Scotland from 1371 until the union with England in 1707. Mary, Queen of Scots was brought up in France where she adopted the French spelling of the name, Stuart.
Duke of Richmond is a title in the Peerage of England that has been created four times in British history. It has been held by members of the royal Tudor and Stuart families.
Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, 1st Duke of Lennox, of Goodwood House near Chichester in Sussex, was the youngest of the seven illegitimate sons of King Charles II, and was that king's only son by his French-born mistress Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth. He was appointed Hereditary Constable of Inverness Castle.
Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox was a leader of the Catholic nobility in Scotland. He was the paternal grandfather of King James VI of Scotland and I of England. He owned Temple Newsam in Yorkshire, England.
The Earl or Mormaer of Lennox was the ruler of the district of the Lennox in western Scotland.
Charles Stewart, 3rd Duke of Richmond, 6th Duke of Lennox, KG, of Cobham Hall in Kent and of Richmond House in Whitehall, London, 12th Seigneur d'Aubigny in France, was an English nobleman of Franco-Scottish ancestry and a 4th cousin of King Charles II of England, both being descended in the male line from John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Lennox.
Esmé Stewart, 1st Duke of Lennox, 1st Earl of Lennox of the Château d'Aubigny at Aubigny-sur-Nère in the ancient province of Berry, France, was a Roman Catholic French nobleman of Scottish ancestry who on his move to Scotland at the age of 37 became a favourite of the 13 year-old King James VI of Scotland, of whose father, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, he was a first cousin. Despite his conversion to Calvinism he was never trusted by the Scots and returned to France where he ended his days. Sir James Melville described him as "of nature upright, just and gentle". He was the first to popularise the firstname Esmé in the British Isles.
Esmé Stewart, 3rd Duke of Lennox, KG, lord of the Manor of Cobham, Kent, was a Scottish nobleman and through their paternal lines was a second cousin of King James VI of Scotland and I of England. He was a patron of the playwright Ben Jonson who lived in his household for five years.
Duke of Aubigny is a title in the Peerage of France created in 1684 by King Louis XIV of France for Louise de Kérouaille, the last mistress of King Charles II of England, and to descend to Charles's illegitimate issue by her, namely to the descendants of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, 1st Duke of Lennox (1672-1723) of Goodwood House in Sussex. King Louis also granted her the Château de la Verrerie, a former secondary seat of the Stewart Seigneurs d'Aubigny, Franco-Scottish cousins of the Stewart monarchs, seated from 1422 to 1672 at the Château d'Aubigny in the parish and manor of Aubigny-sur-Nère in the ancient province of Berry in France.
Bernard Stewart, 4th Seigneur d'Aubigny was a French soldier, commander of the Garde Écossaise, and diplomat belonging to the Scottish family of Stewart of Darnley.
John Stewart, 1st Earl of Lennox was known as Lord Darnley and later as the Earl of Lennox.
Lord George Stewart, 9th Seigneur d'Aubigny was an Anglo-Scottish nobleman of French descent and a third cousin of King Charles I of England. He supported that king during the Civil War as a Royalist commander and was killed aged 24 at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642.
Sir John Stewart of Bonkyll of Bonkyll Castle in Berwickshire, Scotland, was a military commander during the First Scottish War of Independence.
Sir John Stewart of Darnley, 1st Comte d'Évreux, 1st Seigneur de Concressault, 1st Seigneur d'Aubigny was a Scottish nobleman and famous military commander who served as Constable of the Scottish Army in France, supporting the French against the English during the Hundred Years War. He was a fourth cousin of King James I of Scotland, the third monarch of the House of Stewart.
Bonkyll Castle was a medieval fortress situated in the historic Scottish county of Berwickshire, from 1973 the Scottish Borders. It is situated 4 miles north of Duns and 4 miles south of Grantshouse. Few traces survive and the site is protected as a scheduled monument. It was the seat of a junior branch of the Stewart family, known as "Stewart of Bonkyl", from which was descended in another junior branch "Stewart of Darnley", the paternal family of King James I & VI of Scotland and England.
The Château de la Verrerie is a château in Oizon, in the ancient province of Berry in France. It is an historic ancestral seat of a junior branch of the Scottish House of Stewart, known by the territorial title Seigneur d'Aubigny. It is situated about 14 miles south-east of Aubigny-sur-Nère, and the Château d'Aubigny, the original seat of its owners.
Cobham is an historic manor in the county of Kent, England, largely co-terminous with the ecclesiastical parish of Cobham. The surviving grade I listed manor house, known as Cobham Hall, is one of the largest and most important houses in Kent, re-built in the Tudor style by William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham (1527–1597). The central block was rebuilt 1672–82 by Charles Stewart, 3rd Duke of Richmond, 6th Duke of Lennox (1639–1672). Today the building houses a private boarding school for girls, known as "Cobham Hall School", established there in 1962, which retains 150 acres of the ancient estate. St Mary Magdalene Church, The parish church of Cobham, contains famous monumental brasses of members of the de Cobham and Brooke families, lords of the manor, which are reputedly the finest in England. William Belcher in his Kentish Brasses (1905) stated: No church in the world possesses such a splendid series as the nineteen brasses in Cobham Church, ranging in date between 1298 and 1529. In the church also survives the sumptuous chest tomb and alabaster effigies of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham (1497–1558) and his heiress wife Ann Bray. To the immediate south of the church is the building known as Cobham College, now an almshouse, which originally housed the five priests employed by the chantry founded in 1362 by John Cobham, 3rd Baron Cobham, who also built nearby Cooling Castle on his estate at Cooling, Kent, acquired by his ancestors in the mid-13th century. In the former deer park survives the Darnley Mausoleum, a pyramid-topped structure built in 1786 as ordered by the will of the 3rd Earl of Darnley. Several of the holders held the office of Constable of Rochester Castle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, the holder of the latter office being ex officio Constable of Dover Castle. The lords of the manor of Cobham were Hereditary High Stewards of nearby Gravesend and held the right to charge that town pontage in relation to the use of the landing stage, bridge or causeway on the River Thames, on the ceremonial route from the Palace of Westminster to Dover.