Stewart, Alexander (1493?-1513) (DNB00)

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STEWART, ALEXANDER (1493?–1513), archbishop of St. Andrews, was the natural son of James IV by Margaret, daughter of Archibald Boyd of Bonshaw. In succession to James Stewart (1476–1504) [q. v.], he was before 23 July 1505 appointed archbishop of St. Andrews, being so styled in the Stirling account of that date (Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, x. 334). He is usually stated to have obtained the primacy at the age of eighteen; but in a letter of James IV to Julius II regarding the appointment he is referred to as being below the age of puberty (Gairdner, Letters of Richard III and Henry VII, ii. 179); and as, moreover, Erasmus states that he was twenty years of age when he was killed at Flodden, he was probably born about 1493. In his earlier years his education was entrusted to Dr. Patrick Panter [q. v.]; but he was sent to the continent, probably in 1506, under the guardianship of Sir Thomas Halkerston, and, after visiting the Low Countries and France, he settled in 1508 at Padua, where he studied rhetoric and logic under Erasmus, who in his ‘Adagia’ highly extols his character and scholarship. ‘Heavens,’ wrote Erasmus, ‘how quick, how attentive, how eager he was, how many things he would undertake together!’ In July 1509 James IV wrote a letter of thanks to the pope for reserving to his son, the archbishop of St. Andrews, his primacy and legateship, and confirming the liberties of the chapel royal (Cal. State Papers, Henry VIII, i. No. 379), and the same year he also wrote to the pope, proposing that the priory of Coldingham, hitherto attached to Durham, and then vacant, should be annexed and made canonically subject to the abbey of Dunfermline, then held by the archbishop of St. Andrews (ib. No. 774). In these and similar schemes of aggrandisement the archbishop himself displayed all the quickness and eagerness which Erasmus noted in the scholar. His ambition was further gratified by his appointment, some time before 2 April 1510, to the office of lord chancellor of Scotland (Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, xiii. 358). It is in fact very evident that the youthful archbishop was as resolutely bent on worldly preferment as any churchman of his time, and probably had he lived the reformers would have fared as hardly at his hands as they did at those of Beaton. At the same time he was an enlightened patron of learning. In 1512 he augmented the stipends of the professors of the pedagogium, of the foundation of Bishop Henry Wardlaw [q. v.] (afterwards St. Mary's College), and gave them the fruits of the church of St. Michael of Tarvat, near Cupar, and he also rebuilt the chapel of St. John the Evangelist, in the same pedagogium, after it had fallen. In the same year, along with Prior John Hepburn [q. v.], he was founder of the college of St. Leonard's, endowing it with the tithes of that parish, and of the hospice for pilgrims who came to visit the see at St. Andrews.

The archbishop joined his father in the fatal inroad into England which ended in the disaster at Flodden. While his father dallied in the company of Lady Ford, he is said to have amused himself with an intrigue with the daughter; but the only foundation for the story may have been the fact that he remained in attendance on his father. He was killed at Flodden on 9 Sept. 1513.

[Exchequer Rolls of Scotland; Gairdner's Letters of Richard III and Henry VII; Letters and State Papers of Henry VIII, vol. i.; Martine's Reliquiæ Divi Andreæ; Keith's Scottish Bishops; Crawford's Officers of State.]

T. F. H.