Stewarts of Blairgarry and the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid
“. . . the oldest branch of the family of Gartnafuara . . .”
By Jared Linn Olar and Belinda Dettmann
Updated February 2007
According to Duncan
Stewart’s 1739 genealogical history of the Stewarts, the Stewarts of
Blairgarry (which was located on the north bank of Loch Vennachar in
Callander parish, Perthshire) were descended from John Stewart, younger son of Andrew Stewart, 1st of
Stewart referred to John as the “Predecessor to Blairgary,” but he did not
trace John’s descendants – nor have researchers previously attempted to reconstruct
the history of the Stewarts of Blairgarry.
It is not even known how long this family held Blairgarry, though we can
get a general idea of the length of their tenure there. This study is offered merely as a preliminary
survey of what we currently know about this obscure family.
Oldest cadet branch of Gartnafueran?
Stewart shows Blairgarry as the first and oldest cadet branch of the Stewarts
of Gartnafueran, it seems likely that the Stewarts of Blairgarry are the same
as the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid 2
who were mentioned in Stewarts of the
South (written circa 1815) as the “Second Branch” of Gartnafueran and “in
ancient times the oldest branch of the family of Gartnafuara.”3 This is what Stewarts of the South has to say about this branch:
“Second Branch, commonly called
‘Stuiartich a’ Bhaid,’ in ancient
times the oldest branch of the
family of Gartnafuara. Was Ground
Officer to the Earl of Moray in the district of Doune.
“There was one Andrew Stewart, tenant in Cuil-n-togle,
left two sons, William and John.
William is Ground Officer to
Earl of Moray in the town of Doune – has one son in a very respectable
affluent way in the West Indies.
John is a tenant in ?Enapach
Callander, part of Burrel Drummond’s estate, who had four sons: only
two are alive – one Robert
the oldest, in good circumstances, is a Spirit
dealer in Glasgow, and Alexander,
who went to the East Indies some
years ago, and is in a prosperous way there.
“This spirit dealing business
is a mystical one to me. I much
doubt that they are a good deal indebted to Arnswell in Glasgow, with
vitrol and other combustibles which are unknown to me.
“This Rob would at one
time have been glad of a kiltful of
potatoes or porridge, although he now affects all the splendour at his
table that would serve a lord’s son.
He is a man of some abilities if he
were moderate in his manner, was sometime a traveler to a house in
Glasgow and had all the assurance of a highwayman’s horse, and might
pass for Capt. Plume or Sgt. Kitt in The Recruiting Officer.
Though I have
marked him out, there is many of his sort in Glasgow in that line. He is
said to be worth nine or ten pounds.
He has three sons under age.
“James Mor Stewart,
formerly tenant in Grodich Glenfinglas,
removed thence to Monavrechie, Port parish, Menteith, a famous hardy
soldier, who left three sons, viz., Alexander, cottar to the present Alexander
Stewart, tacksman of Leanchoille, Port parish, who has no family; James, his
brother, a founder in Glasgow, has three sons; Walter, a tailor in Glasgow,
who has two sons under age.
“This finishes the
account of ‘Stuiartich a’ Bhaid’ as they are called.”4
a’ Bhaid in Parish Registers?
Here is Belinda
Dettmann’s tentative reconstruction of part of the genealogy of the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid as found in Stewarts of the South, incorporating
information found in old Scottish parish registers.
Descendants of Andrew Stewart
1. Andrew STEWART; married Katrin Murdoch 19 March
1750 in Kincardine by Doune, Perth. This
Andrew seems to be the same as “Andrew, tenant in Cuil-n-togle, [who] left two
sons William and John.”
Children of Andrew Stewart and Katrin Murdoch
were as follows:
2. i. John,
born 28 Mar 1751 Callander,
ii. William; No date information on the
“William is Ground Officer to the Earl of
Moray in the town of
has one son
in a very respectable affluent way in the
2. John STEWART; born 28 March 1751 Callander,
Perth; married Janet Buchanan 8 Jan 1773 Callander, Perth. This John seems to be the “John is a tenant
in ?Enapach near Callander, part of Burrel Drummond’s estate, who had four
sons: only two are alive, one Robert,
the oldest, in good circumstances, is a Spirit dealer in Glasgow, and
Alexander, who went to the East Indies some years ago, and is in a prosperous
Children of John Stewart and Janet Buchanan were as follows:
born 28 Oct 1773 in Culntogil, Callander, Perth.
born 16 Mar 1779 in Culintogle, Callander, Perth.
twin; born 14 Dec 1780 in Culntogle, Callander, Perth.
twin; born 14 Dec 1780 in Culntogle, Callander, Perth.
born 12 Feb 1783 in Cullintogle, Callander, Perth.
born 25 Jul 1785 at Calliveag of Cullintogle, Callander.
Now, it should be noted that Stewarts of the South says Robert, son of John, was the oldest son, with Alexander younger than Robert. The parish register, however, shows Robert as the third son, with Alexander as the oldest. Stewarts of the South is almost certainly in error on this point, as it occasionally is in error on other matters. It is all but certain that the family of John, son of Andrew, found in the parish register is the same as the family mentioned in Stewarts of the South, as can be seen not only by the matching given names but also the placenames of Cuil-n-togle and Doune.
So far no likely candidates for “James Mor Stewart, formerly tenant in Grodich Glenfinglas, removed thence to Monavrechie, Port parish, Menteith, a famous hardy soldier, who left three sons,” have been found in old Scottish parish registers.
Stewarts of the South never hints that the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid ever had any connection to Blairgarry. It is merely the statement that they were the oldest branch of Gartnafueran that would lead one to conclude they are identical with the Stewarts of Blairgarry, since Blairgarry is the first and oldest cadet of Gartnafueran that Duncan Stewart mentioned. However, the Scottish genealogical researcher Gordon MacGregor has expressed doubts about Duncan Stewart’s statement that Blairgarry was descended from a younger son of the first laird of Gartnafueran.
Robert Stewart in Blairgarry
a privately published genealogical history5 that was compiled by
Major John Stewart, 14th of Ardvorlich, a few references to this
family can be found in the chapter entitled, “A History of the Stewarts in
Glenfinglas.” The first such reference
is as follows:
“Actually there is mention of Robert
Stewart in BLAIRGARRY in
the Exchequer Rolls of 1502-7: BLAIRGARRY
though not in Glen
Finglas is adjacent to it.”
In a communication of 5 Oct. 2004 from MacGregor to fellow Stewart researcher Rev. Ryk Brown, MacGregor announced discoveries he had made at the National Archives in Edinburgh pertaining to the early history of the lands of Blairgarry. MacGregor wrote:
“It appears that the traditional descent of Blairgarry is incorrect,
as I found that these lands comprised part of the crown lands in Strathgartney
and were rented to Elizabeth Ardincaple and Robert Stewart, her son, in
1502-3. This implies that the father of Robert was then dead, or had no legal
interest in these lands, and either way therefore cannot have been the John
Stewart, son of Andrew Stewart, 1st of Gartnaferran, previously ascribed, but a
younger cadet of the Balindoran family.
fling another spanner in the works, at this same time a Patrick
Stewart and Robert, his son, get the rental of the crown lands of
Ardkinknockane, also in Strathgartney, which lands later were possessed by
the Annat Stewarts.
“The other explanation is that Elizabeth Ardincaple was heiress of a
previous crown tenant of Blairgarry and that this was only heritable to her heirs
(and not jure uxoris) hence the reason why only she and her son are mentioned as
having rights to these lands, which would make the said Robert Stewart, son of
Patrick Stewart in Ardkinknockane, identical with the Robert in Blairgarry.
“It seems quite apparent given the chronology that the above Patrick
Stewart is contemporary with Andrew in Gartnaferran, and certainly not with his
son Alexander, 2nd of Gartnaferran, which would imply that Patrick was a brother
of Andrew, 1st of
Gartnaferran, and therefore another younger son of James
Stewart, 1st of Balindoran. The appearance of the Christian name of Patrick
amongst the children of James, 1st of Balindoran, is only natural given that his
wife’s father was Patrick Buchanan of that Ilk. If Patrick is not a son of this
James, then he must descend from a brother, as there are simply no other possible
ancestors of the Balindoran family from whom he can be descended from.”
As MacGregor says, there is no doubt that “Robert Stewart in Blairgarry” cannot be identical with Duncan Stewart’s “John, predecessor of Blairgary,” younger son of the first laird of Gartnafueran. MacGregor could well be correct that the traditional account of the origins of the Stewarts of Blairgarry is wrong. However, it is probably too soon to say whether or not Duncan Stewart was mistaken. After all, Duncan Stewart did not say that John was himself ever in possession of Blairgarry, or even a tenant on all or part of the lands of Blairgarry. He only said that John was “predecessor” (i.e., ancestor) of the Stewarts of Blairgarry. It seems possible that Robert Stewart in Blairgarry may not have been the male-line ancestor of the later Stewarts of Blairgarry. Robert may have belonged to a different (though closely related) Stewart branch, and perhaps Robert’s branch died out and/or left an heiress who intermarried with John’s descendants, thus causing Blairgarry to come to John’s family. Because we currently know nothing about the Stewarts of Blairgarry from circa 1503 to circa 1620, there is just no way to tell at this time whether or not Duncan Stewart was mistaken on this point.6
More recently, in a communication of 8 Feb. 2007 with Rev. Ryk Brown, Gordon MacGregor offered this appraisal of the possible theories of the origin of the Blairgarry family:
“There may well have been heiress involved in conveying these lands
to other Stewart families, but it must be considered that we are dealing with
merely short-term tacks of what were initially Crown lands, and these had
a tendency to be passed around for all sorts of reasons. At some stage they
became separated from the Crown and passed to a larger landholder, in this
it was the Earl of Moray, and they disappear from the Exchequer records in
the early 16th century, so presumably this is when the ownership from Crown
to Moray was shifted, and is in line with the period in time when King James
IV was pushing for his subjects to transfer from holding tacks of the Crown
to feus, to give them greater security and less obligation from the Crown (of
family were not listed as holding Blairgarry or
it is doubtful that the Stewarts obtained any right via inheritance or even
jure uxoris. Given that Elizabeth Ardincaple was named as joint rentaller
with Patrick, her husband, it is only natural that she would continue there
even after his death, as the
original agreement also included her, and the
“My opinion, for
what it’s worth, is that it is probable that there is
that when the feu of the land was obtained by the Earl of Moray, he simply
supplanted one probably pretty small and ineffectual family unit for
someone far more favourable who came with very close links to a much
stronger family of standing and some prowess, thus giving him a better
quality of tenant. Such a change may also have come about by the failure
of the line of Robert when the lands would become vacant and to which
there would be quite a number of members of the same family expressing
an interest. Anyone landholder who did not allow the lands to stay within
an extended family unit would be an idiot, and so a younger son of an already
well-appointed landholder would be a very good choice indeed for many
the best I can do, as there are so many different
come to light which will clarify the situation.”
Andrew Stewart of
In a communication of 19 Dec. 2005, Scottish ancestry researcher Malcolm S. Gray transcribed from a Buchanan genealogy that was first published in 1723 by William Buchanan of Auchmar.7 In that genealogy, there is a reference to an Andrew Stewart of Blairgarry, as Gray quotes (emphasis added):
“George Buchanan 3rd in
Auchmar, married in his brother’s lifetime Janet
Stewart, daughter to Andrew
Stewart, who had a beneficial tack [esteemed
in these days, equivalent to
heritage] of the lands of Blairgarie, and some
other lands, from the Earl of
Murray, in Strathgartney, and in the Parish of
Callander; he was also the Earl’s Baillie in these parts. That family is now
represented by Alexander Stewart of Gartnafuaroe in Balquhidder parish;
and is, with the families of Ardvorlich and Glenbuckie, [from which are sprung
most of the Stewarts in the southern parts of Perthshire] lineally descended of
James Beg, or little James, son to James Stewart, youngest son to Murdoch,
Duke of Albany, and governor of Scotland, James Beg was married to Annabella
Buchanan, daughter to Patrick Laird of Buchanan, as testifies a charter, in his and
the said Annabella’s favour, of the lands of Baldorrans in Stirlingshire, in the
reign of King James II. I find also this James witness in a charter, by Isobel,
Duchess of Albany and Countess of Lennox, of a testament of land in Drymen, in
the year 1443, being designed in that charter the duchess's nephew. James’
successor was Walter Stewart of Baldorrans, as is clear by charter, in his favour,
by Janet Boquhuanan, of a wadset-right the said Janet had upon a part of the lands
of Straithyre, of date in the year 1528.”
Buchanan of Auchmar’s statement that the Stewarts of Gartnafueran “now represented” the Stewarts of Blairgarry is in agreement with Duncan Stewart’s statement that the Blairgarry family was a cadet of the Gartnafueran. That is, it shows that there was some kind of close genealogical relationship between the Gartnafueran Stewarts and the Blairgarry Stewarts. The “Alexander Stewart of Gartnafuaroe” mentioned above is Alexander Stewart, 8th of Gartnafueran. Apparently by 1723 the main branch of the Stewarts of Blairgarry had died out in the male line, and their lands had passed, whether by purchase or inheritance, to their cousins, the senior line of the Stewarts of Gartnafueran. Although the Stewarts of Blairgarry were no longer extant by the early 1700s, there are female-line descents from that family that can be traced through the Buchanans of Auchmar.
George Buchanan, 3rd of Auchmar, was the son of William Buchanan, 1st of Auchmar, who was married in 1560. George Buchanan and his wife Janet Stewart had children who were married around 1630. That indicates that Janet’s father Andrew Stewart of Blairgarry would have been born, say, around 1545. Chronologically, it is very possible that Janet’s father Andrew was the son of John Stewart, son of Andrew Stewart, 1st of Gartnafueran. Onomastically, it also makes sense to suggest that Janet’s father was the grandson of the first laird of Gartnafueran. As we shall see, the name “Andrew” will remain popular in the Stewarts of Blairgarry for some time to come.
If the hypothesis is correct that this family inherited Blairgarry from Robert Stewart in Blairgarry, and that there was an heiress involved, then it is possible that this Andrew Stewart had married a daughter of Robert Stewart in Blairgarry. Another possibility is that John Stewart, predecessor of Blairgarry, married a daughter or sister of Robert Stewart in Blairgarry.
Andrew Stewart of Blairgarrie
The next generation of this family is “Andrew Stewart of Blairgarrie,” who is listed as a co-signatory of a bond of Jan. 1622, which was found by Gordon MacGregor in a search of Scottish archives:
“Bond by Alexander Stewart in Ardvorlich, James Stewart, his
son, Alexander Stewart in Portnellan,
Andrew Stewart of
Blairgarrie, Duncan Stewart in Monochyle, Alexander Stewart
in Glenogle, John Dow Stewart in Glenfinglass and Walter Stewart
his brother german, for all their kin in Strathgartney and
Balquhidder, to William, Earl of Menteith. Dated in January of
Andrew apparently was the son of the previous Andrew Stewart of Blairgarry. As we shall see, this Andrew Stewart is apparently mentioned after his death in a later sasine that names Andrew’s son and heir James.
James Stewart of Blairgarry
In a sasine of 1656 that Gordon MacGregor found in Scottish archives, the next generation of this family is named as “James Stewart of Blairgarry.” In fact, the sasine names three successive generations of this family:
“Sasine to Andrew Stewart,
eldest lawful son of James Stewart of
Blairgarry, for the lands of Blairgarry to which Andrew Stewart in Chapel
of Lanrick is bailie, and which lands had previously been held by the now
deceased Andrew Stewart of Blairgarry, father of the said James. Dated
20 December, 1656. The reference to the document is RS51/4/f.131r
(National Archives of Scotland).”
Here is Gordon MacGregor’s analysis of this sasine and its very important implications for reconstructing the genealogy and chronology of the Stewarts of Blairgarry:
“The deceased Andrew of Blairgarry is obviously the same guy as
named in the 1622/23 Bond of caution etc., which I sent you previously.
It is not unreasonable to presume that Andrew in Chapel of Lanrick was
an uncle. At any rate, he was certainly close enough family to be entrusted,
and I would be happy to call him a brother of James at this stage. Generally,
lands were conveyed from father to son when the son became of marriage age,
as he was required to be able to demonstrate independent income to
prospective fathers-in-law, so I would place the age of Andrew, son of James,
at about 21 in 1656, placing his [probable] brother at around 1635 if not a little
before. James would have therefore been born in the first few years of the 17th
century, and Andrew, his father, probably in the late 1570s or 1580, which is
consistent with Andrew Sr.’s being of rank and standing in 1622 if he were in
mid-late 40's or even early 50s.”
Rev. Ryk Brown has also suggested that Andrew Stewart in Chapel of Lanrick could be the ancestor of the above-named Andrew Stewart in Cuilntogle of the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid. There is, of course, little evidence for that suggestion except the onomastic argument, but it is at least a possibility. Another possible origin of the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid is discussed in footnote 2.
Andrew Stewart of Blairgarry
As mentioned in the 1656 sasine, the next generation of this family was Andrew Stewart, son of James Stewart in Blairgarry. Nothing else is known of this Andrew except the fact that he is probably the ancestor of the later Stewarts of Blairgarry.
Walter Stewart in Blairgarry
In Major Stewart of Ardvorlich’s genealogical history, there is a reference to “Walter [Stewart] in Blairgarrie and Margaret MacGregor” in 1673. Evidently Margaret MacGregor was Walter’s wife. Unfortunately we do not know the document Major Stewart where found this reference, and nothing is known at this time about Walter’s genealogical relationship to the other Stewarts of Blairgarry. Walter may have been a younger son of James Stewart of Blairgarry. In any case, it is interesting that, as the given name of Andrew was popular among the Stewarts of Gartnafueran, so too the name of Walter was another typical Gartnafueran name. On the other hand, that may not mean anything, because the name of Walter was a very popular name among all Stewarts. As discussed in footnote 2, this Walter Stewart in Blairgarry could be the ancestor of the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid, if that family’s name means “the Stewarts of Wat (Walter).”
Patrick Stewart in Blairgarry, son of Andrew Stewart
The next reference to this family in Major Stewart’s
genealogical history is from 1705, when there is a notice of “James lawful son of
dec’d Patrick MacAndrew Stewart in Blairgarvie.” The spelling “Blairgarvie” is either a
mistake for “Blairgarrie” or else is an older, alternate spelling. Again, we do not know what document it was in
which Major Stewart found this, but it is very valuable reference, because it
again shows the name of Andrew in connection with this family. It is also interesting to find the name
Patrick in this family, especially in light of the likelihood, mentioned above,
that Patrick was the name of the father of Robert Stewart in Blairgarry, the
earliest known Stewart in Blairgarry.
and onomastically, Patrick’s father Andrew is almost certainly the Andrew
Stewart of Blairgarry mentioned in the 1656 sasine, son of James Stewart of
Blairgarry. Patrick was deceased in or
by 1705, so James seems to have been his heir by that time. The 1705 document mentioned by Major Stewart
could well be Patrick MacAndrew’s testament.
Stewart, son of Patrick Stewart in Blairgarry
as Major Stewart mentioned the 1705 reference to Patrick and his son James, so
he also included a 1708 reference to “Patrick in Blairgarrie and James his
son.” Once again, the Major’s source for
this reference is unknown. Since we know
Patrick was already dead by 1705, it’s unclear just why Patrick would still be
referred to as “in Blairgarrie” but not his son James. Could it be that James had lost or had sold
the lands in Blairgarry, or for some reason had not yet obtained the Blairgarry
lands? But perhaps there is no such
significance to the late Patrick being referred to as “in Blairgarrie” but not
the son James. Maybe in the 1705 and
1708 documents, it was simply implied that James was the heir of his father and
possessed the lands in Blairgarry.
Whatever the case, the above reference to Alexander Stewart, 8th of Gartnafueran, as representative of the Blairgarry family circa 1723 would indicate that this family was no longer in possession of Blairgarry by that time – so they either had sold their lands by then, or had lost their lands, or the main branch of the family died out (leaving the Stuiartich a’Bhaid as probably surviving cadets of this family). What became of the Stewarts of Blairgarry? At this point in time, we just don’t have the answer to that question. The fact that Blairgarry had passed to the main line of the Gartnafueran family is further indicated by the fact that in the 1700s, the two youngest sons of James Stewart, 9th of Gartnafueran, were born in Blairgarry, Callander parish: Robert was born 15 June 1743, and Malcolm was born 28 March 1747.
Belinda Dettmann has found old parish records on two Stewart families who lived in Blairgarry in the mid-1700s. It is not known whether these families were descended from the Stewarts of Blairgarry, but they are shown here, as they may be of interest to other Stewart researchers:
John Stewart, married Isobel McLeran in Callander parish on 25 Feb. 1723. They had four children, all baptised in Callander:
- Duncan, born 27 July 1728 in Turk of Braigh Lenny
- Janet, born 27 Nov. 1730 in Lurgerue
- Allan, born 13 Jan. 1737 in Blargarry
- John, born 13 Jan. 1740 in Blairgarry
Alexander Stewart, married Catherine Stewart in Callander parish on 3 July 1747. They had three children, all baptised in Callander:
- Duncan, born 29 May 1754 in Blargarrie
- Alexander, born 8 Dec. 1758 in Blargarrie
- Archibald, born 10 Sept. 1760 in Blargarrie
1 See page 178 of Duncan Stewart’s A Short Historical and Genealogical Account of the Royal Family of Scotland . . . to Which is Prefixed a Genealogical and Chronological Tree of the Royal Family and the Name of Stewart, Edinburgh, 1739.
2 According to the Gaelic-English dictionary Abair!, the word a’ Bhaid is the vocative form of the Gaelic root bad, meaning “a clump [of dirt]” or “a tuft.” Ryk Brown suggests it was presumably a reference to the appearance of their property, but it may also have had something to do with the ancient Gaelic custom of pulling a tuft of grass or taking a clump of dirt to signify taking possession of land.
Another possibility that Ryk Brown has suggested is that Stuiartich a’ Bhaid means “the Stewarts of Wat,” that is, “the Stewarts of Walter,” referring to the founder of this branch. Interestingly enough, Major Stewart of Ardvorlich’s genealogical history has a reference to a “Walter [Stewart] in Blairgarrie and Margaret MacGregor” in 1673 (Walter and Margaret are discussed above). If Stuiartich a’ Bhaid means “Stewarts of Walter,” perhaps they were descended from this Walter Stewart in Blairgarry of 1673. In any case, the existence of this Walter of 1673 shows the presence of the name “Walter” in association with Blairgarry, making a Stuiartich a’ Bhaid descent from a Walter Stewart of the Blairgarry family possible, even if this branch was not descended from the Walter of 1673. Stewarts of the South shows that the name “Walter” was present among the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid – specifically, there was a Walter, a tailor in Glasgow, third son of James Mor Stewart, a member of this family.
3 Stewarts of the South, p.62.
4 Stewarts of the South, pp.62-63.
5 A lengthy excerpt from this genealogical history can be found at the URL freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~rykbrown/ardvorlich_history_notes_glenfinglas.htm at a website hosted by Ryk Brown. At this time it is not known if other references to the Stewarts of Blairgarry appear in other parts of Major Stewart’s history.
6 The question naturally arises, if Duncan Stewart erred in saying Blairgarry was a cadet of Gartnafueran, whether or not the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid were the same as the Stewarts of Blairgarry. That is, if Blairgarry was not, in fact, the oldest cadet of Gartnafueran, would that family still be the same as the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid? It seems likely that the Stuiartich a’ Bhaid would be the same as the Stewarts of Blairgarry even if Duncan Stewart was mistaken on Blairgarry’s origins, for the author of Stewarts of the South may well have been referring to the Stewarts of Blairgarry even though he followed the perhaps erroneous tradition of their origin as found in Duncan Stewart. Similarly, the author of Stewarts of the South followed the tradition (also found in Duncan Stewart) that the first laird of Gartnafueran was a son of William Stewart of Baldorran, whereas we now know, thanks to MacGregor’s research, that the first laird of Gartnafueran was William’s younger brother, not William’s son.
7 This Buchanan genealogy is entitled, An Enquiry into the Genealogy and present state of Ancient Scottish Surnames with the Origin and Descent of the Highland Clans and Family of Buchanan, 1820 edition, first published in 1723. Some of the Buchanan descendants of Janet Stewart, daughter of Andrew Stewart of Blairgarry, can be found at Gordon MacGregor’s website, www.perthshireheritage.co.uk/auchmar.html.
For the information in this article, we gratefully
acknowledge our debt to our fellow researchers Ryk Brown, Kelsey Williams,
Malcolm S. Gray, and most especially Gordon MacGregor.