James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn
James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn (c.1383–c.1451) was a Scottish nobleman.
The Black Knight of Lorn was born at Innermeath, Scotland. His father, Sir John Stewart (d. 26 Apr 1421), was ambassador to England and was married to Isabel MacDougall (d. 21 Dec 1439), heiress to the House of Ergadia, the senior line descending from Somerled, King of Mann and the Isles. He was a direct male line descendant of Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland, through his second son Sir John Stewart of Bonkill, who was killed at the Battle of Falkirk. His mother was also a descendant of Robert I of Scotland through his second marriage to Elizabeth de Burgh.
James was a younger brother of Robert Stewart, 1st Lord Lorne (1382-1449), whose descendants bore this title. He was an ally of the Black Douglases, Earls of Douglas. After the murder of James I of Scotland in 1437, power was held by Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Douglas as regent for the underage James II of Scotland. The Stewarts of Lorne were amongst his most trusted supporters, and their power greatly increased while the Douglas family controlled Scotland and the king was a mere 7 years of age. However the unexpected death of the 5th Earl of Douglas from a fever in 1439 saw power now being uneasily shared between William, 1st Lord Crichton, Chancellor of Scotland and Sir Alexander Livingston, Governor of Stirling Castle.
Stewart and his Douglas allies now plotted to overthrow the new government. They planned to kidnap the young James II who was being held by Livingstone in his stronghold of Stirling Castle. Their intentions if the plan succeeded is not known, but it was during this time that Stewart married the Dowager Queen, Joan Beaufort, and became stepfather to James II. Whether or not he intended to merely become regent or he intended to usurp the crown through his own legitimate descent from Robert the Bruce is one of the more interesting questions of this period in Scottish history. However, Livingston arrested Lady Joan on 3 Aug 1439, imprisoning her in Stirling Castle, while throwing Sir James and his brother Sir William into its dungeon. They were later released on good behaviour. He was given safe conduct to England in 1445, 1447, and 1451. He was supposedly captured at sea by Flemish pirates and put to death after 1451.
He married, before 21 Sep 1439, Joan Beaufort, Dowager Queen of Scotland and widow of James I of Scotland. They had a papal dispensation for both consanguinity and affinity. She was a daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset (son of Katherine De Roet/Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the son of Edward III of England) by his wife Lady Margaret Holland, daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent and Joan 'The Fair Maid' of Kent.
James Stewart and Joan Beaufort had 3 children:
- John Stewart, 1st Earl of Atholl
- James Stewart, Earl of Buchan, d. 1499. Married 27 Mar 1459, to Margaret Ogilvy, daughter of Alexander Ogilvy of Auchterhouse.
- Andrew Stewart, c. 1443-1501. The Bishop of Moray from 1483-1501.
- Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 230. Hereinafter cited as Britain's Royal Family.
- Bruce A. McAndrew, Scotland's Historic Heraldry (Woodbridge, Suffolk, U.K : Boydell Press, 2006) page 205
- Edward Kimber & John Almon, The Peerage of Scotland (London, U.K: Piccadilly, 1767), page 340.