Stewart, John (1531-1563) (DNB00)

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STEWART, Lord JOHN (1531–1563), prior of Coldingham, was a natural son of James V of Scotland by Elizabeth, daughter of John, lord Carmichael, and half-brother of Lord James Stewart [q. v.], ‘the regent Moray,’ and of Lord Robert Stewart, earl of Orkney [q. v.] In a dispensation of Clement VII to James V, dated in 1534, dispensing with ‘the defects of birth’ of the king's three natural sons, on the king's desire that they should ‘be enlisted in the spiritual army,’ John Stewart is stated to be in his third year (Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. p. 670). On 6 Dec. 1546 the queen regent bestowed on him and his convent the lands of Greigston (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1546–80, No. 41). He received letters of legitimation from Queen Mary at the same time as his brother, Lord James Stewart, 7 Feb. 1551–2 (ib. No. 565). In the answer of Maitland to the English privy council, 10 Dec. 1559, he is mentioned as one of the neutrals (Cal. State Papers, For. 1559–60, No. 392), but Knox includes him among those who before the meeting of parliament in August 1560 had renounced popery (Knox, Works, ii. 88). After the celebration of the queen's first mass in Scotland the priests were committed to the protection of Lord John Stewart and his brother, Lord Robert, who, Knox states, ‘were both protestants, and had communicated at the table of the Lord’ (Works, ii. 271). Shortly afterwards the stronghold of Dunbar was committed to his custody (Randolph to Throgmorton, 26 Aug. 1561; Cal. State Papers, For. 1561–2, No. 455). Writing to Cecil, 24 Aug. 1561, Randolph remarks that ‘Lord John of Coldingham hath not least favour’ at court ‘by his leaping and dancing,’ and that he was ‘like to marry the Earl of Bothwell's sister’ (Keith, History of Scotland, ii. 94; Cal. State Papers, For. 1561–2, p. 377). The marriage took place in the following January at Seton, ‘with good sport and many pastimes’ (Randolph to Cecil, 15 Jan. 1561–2, ib. No. 802). Indeed it is very evident that Lord John, though he had ‘communicated at the table of the Lord,’ was a protestant of a very different complexion from his brother, Lord James. Thus in December 1561 he, along with his brother-in-law Bothwell, headed an unseemly riot, which ‘highly commoved all godly hearts,’ when an attempt was made to get hold of one Alison Craik, who, it was supposed, was the mistress of the Earl of Arran (Knox, Works, ii. 315). On 30 Dec. 1562 Randolph also reports to Cecil that ‘this day’ the queen had gone ‘to Dunbar to be merry with the Lord John’ (Cal. State Papers, For. 1562, No. 1375). While holding justice courts in the north of Scotland, he died at Inverness, probably in December 1563. Throgmorton stated (letter to Cecil, 9 Dec. 1563, in Cal. State Papers, For. 1563, No. 1470) he was to have been made captain of a thousand Scots men of arms, which the cardinal of Guise was raising, had he not died. According to Knox it was affirmed that he ‘asked God mercy that he had so far borne with’ the queen ‘in her impiety, and maintained her in her wickedness against God and his servants.’ Knox further expressed the opinion that he had good cause to lament his wickedness, the more especially as he was reputed to have expressed the desirability of sticking Knox in his pulpit, rather than that he should trouble the queen as he was doing’ (Works, ii. 392). By his wife, Lady Jane Hepburn, daughter of Patrick, third earl of Bothwell, he had two sons: Francis Stewart Hepburn, fifth earl of Bothwell [q. v.]; and Hercules.

[Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1546–80; Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep.; Knox's Works; Cal. State Papers, Foreign, reign of Elizabeth.]

T. F. H.