Patrick Stewart, 2nd Earl of Orkney

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Patrick Stewart, 2nd Earl of Orkney and Lord of Shetland (c. 1566[1] – 6 February 1615) was the son of Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney, and a grandson of James V of Scotland. He was executed for treason in 1615.


On the death of his uncle, Lord Robert Stewart, junior, in 1581 Patrick was given the gift of the Priory of Whithorn.[2] In his youth Patrick Stewart was a good friend of his relative James VI; however, their relations became strained in the 1590s after Patrick succeeded his father as Earl of Orkney.

In 1599 Earl Patrick began to build Scalloway Castle at Scalloway in the Shetland Islands partly to strengthen his power there against Laurence Bruce, who had been appointed Sheriff of Shetland by his half brother, the deceased Earl Robert. Patrick was also feuding with George Sinclair, Earl of Caithness. In March 1599, James VI ordered Patrick and the Earl of Caithness to furnish their strongholds against the possibility of an invasion by the exiled Earl of Bothwell. This scare was renewed in July 1601. Bothwell was also a grandson of James V.[3] In 1607 Earl Patrick began the construction of the Earl's Palace in Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands.

Patrick joined James VI in a hunting trip in Teviotdale in the Scottish borders in March 1600. The hunting party was shadowed by an agent of the English border warden who noted the earl's presence.[4]

Earl Patrick's financial mismanagement and his brutality against the local population led to opposition from Laurence Bruce and others. According to tradition a force was sent against him in Scalloway and took him prisoner back to Edinburgh. There he was convicted on a charge of treason and beheaded in 1615.

After Patrick's death the earldom was annexed to the crown, but was recreated in 1696 for George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney, the husband of Elizabeth Villiers, recently discarded mistress of King William III.

Robert Stewart's rebellion[edit]

While Earl Patrick was in prison, his illegitimate son Robert Stewart led an armed rebellion in Orkney, first seizing the Palace of Birsay with 30 companions in May 1614, then occupying the Earl's Palace, the castle and St Magnus's Cathedral in Kirkwall. As many as 700 rebels subscribed a band which claimed their action was restoring royal justice in Orkney under the direction of Robert Stewart during the absence of Earl Patrick. Robert was defeated by a force commanded by the Earl of Caithness at the end of September after a five-week siege of the Earl's Palace. The Earl of Caithness battered the Palace with 140 cannon shot. Caithness said the castle was so strong that some of his cannonballs broke in two like golf balls. Twelve of Robert's men were hanged at the castle gate.

Robert was taken to Edinburgh, interrogated on 14 November, put to trial and hanged. Robert and his father denied they had planned the rebellion together but Robert's accomplice, Patrick Halcro insisted he had acted on Earl Patrick's instructions. Evidence was taken in Orkney from a servant Margaret Buchanan who claimed she had read instructions for Halcro written by the Earl. She said that Halcro showed the paper to Robert who tore it into pieces and they both told her it were better so, that it could do no hurt in time coming, and "the Earl of Orkney should not want his head for it."[5]

Marriage and marriage plan[edit]

In 1595 James VI suggested the earl's marriage to Emilia, a sister of Count Maurice of Nassau. An envoy Colonel Stewart proposed the plan to the States to cement a league between Scotland and the Netherlands but objections included the earl's doubtful title to Orkney and Shetland. The English diplomat Thomas Bodley heard the plan was a "labour lost." Emilia told Colonel Stewart she would not dwell so far from her brother and kindred. Patrick had partly funded the Colonel's mission, which was resented by the Scottish resident ambassador-lieger and consul to the States General, Robert Deniston.[6] Emilia secretly married the exiled Manuel de Portugal. Patrick married Margaret Livingstone, the widow of Lewis Bellenden of Auchnole, and a granddaughter of James IV of Scotland.


  1. ^ Peter D. Anderson, Black Patie: the Life and Times of Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney, Lord of Shetland (Edinburgh, 1992), 148-49.
  2. ^ Register of the Privy Seal, vol. 8, (1982), 485, no. 2742.
  3. ^ Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol.13 (1969), 419, 422, 843, 866.
  4. ^ HMC, Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquis of Salisbury at Hatfield House, vol.10 (1910), 47
  5. ^ Ancient Criminal Trials, vol.3 issue 1, (1833), 272-308
  6. ^ HMC, Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquis of Salisbury at Hatfield House, vol.5 (1894), 110, 111, 167


Preceded by
Robert Stewart
Earl of Orkney
Succeeded by

External links[edit]