Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stewart, John (1457?-1479?)

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STEWART, JOHN, Earl of Mar (1457?–1479?), third and youngest son of James II of Scotland, by Mary of Gueldres, was born after October 1456, his name not occurring in the list of the king's sons in the comptroller's account of that date. James III [q. v.] and Alexander Stewart, duke of Albany [q. v.], were his elder brothers. Between 21 June 1458 and 23 June 1459 he was created Earl of Mar and Garioch (Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vi. 516). He sat in the parliament of March 1478–9 (Acta Parl. Scot. ii. 120), but between that date and October 1479—for he was not present at the parliament which met in the latter month (ib. p. 124)—was arrested by James III at the instance of Cochrane, the king's favourite. The traditional story is that he was accused by Cochrane of using magical arts against the king; but the probability is that Cochrane and the king dreaded a combination against them. Mar was confined in Craigmillar Castle, and, according to one story, an incision being made in one of his veins, he was allowed to bleed to death; while those who desired to absolve the king of blame asserted that his death was the result of misadventure while he was being bled by a physician for fever. ‘The Earl of Mar,’ says Lindsay of Pitscottie, ‘was ane fair lustie man, of ane great and weill proportioned stature, weill faced and comelie in all his behaviours who knew nothing but nobilitie. He used meikle hunting and hawking, with other gentlemanlie exercise, and delighted also in interteaming of great and stout hors and meares, that thair of spring micht florisch, so that he might be served thairwith in tyme of warres’ (Chronicle, p. 178). He was unmarried, and his honours became extinct.

[Exchequer Rolls of Scotland; Acta Parl. Scot.; Histories of Lesley and Buchanan; Lindsay of Pitscottie's Chronicle.]

T. F. H.