Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar

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Alexander Stewart
Alasdair mac Alasdair Mór
Earl of Mar, and Lord of Garioch, Lochaber and Badenoch
ReignMar and Garioch: 1404/8–35
Lochaber: 1424–35
Badenoch: 1427–35
PredecessorIsabel Douglas, Countess of Mar*
*obtained lordship of Mar by this marriage.
SuccessorRobert Erskine, 1st Lord Erskine, de jure 13th Earl of Mar
Bornc. 1375
DiedJuly/August 1435
BuriedBlackfriars, Inverness
Noble familyBadenoch Stewart
IssueThomas Stewart (bastard)
FatherAlexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan
MotherMairead inghean Eachainn

Alexander Stewart (c. 1375 – 1435) was a Scottish nobleman, Earl of Mar from 1404. He acquired the earldom through marriage to the hereditary countess, and successfully ruled the northern part of Scotland.


He was an illegitimate son of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, known as the Wolf of Badenoch, and probably Mairead inghean Eachainn.[1][2]

Heraldic Arms of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar

Alexander held the Earldom of Mar and the Lordship of the Garioch jure uxoris, from 1404 in right of his first wife Isabel Douglas, Countess of Mar (died 1408). According to many sources, Alexander acquired the title by murder of Isabel's husband, Sir Malcolm Drummond, and her rape.[3] Alexander's marriage to Isabel followed his capture of Kildrummy Castle, and Isabel with it, in 1404 after having attacked her husband, Sir Malcolm Drummond, brother-in-law of King Robert III, holding Sir Malcolm captive where he died. Thus, Isabel was forced to marry the man who murdered her husband and live the last four years of her life as a captive. Alexander forced her to execute a charter (12 August) settling the reversion to the earldom on himself and his heirs. This act she is believed to have revoked in September, but on marrying him, on 9 December 1404, she granted him the earldom for life, the king confirming this on 21 June 1405.[4] These events shocked the kingdom and Alexander only escaped punishment because he was a close relation to the Royal Family. His possession of the Earldom was later regularized in 1424 by grant of his cousin, King James I.

He was a strong supporter of his uncle,Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, who was then ruler of the kingdom as regent for his brother King Robert III of Scotland. Robert had been badly injured when he was kicked by his horse. Alexander led the so-called "Lowland" army, in fact that of the north-east and eastern Highlands, against Domhnall of Islay, Lord of the Isles, at the bloody Battle of Harlaw in 1411, which Domhnall fought to gain his inheritance to the Earldom of Ross, by right of his wife, Mariota of Ross.

Unlike his father, Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, aka "the Wolf of Badenoch", who had disturbed the peace in the fractious north-east, Alexander, Walter Bower says, "ruled with acceptance nearly all of the north of the country beyond the Mounth".[5] He achieved this not by using different methods from his father but by his ability to keep his cateran forces in check and to use them to protect his extensive lands when needed; the result was that the areas of Aberdeenshire and Moray were kept under his sway.[6]

Alexander sat on the jury of 21 knights and peers that convicted his first cousin, Murdoch Stewart, Duke of Albany, and two of his sons of treason in 1424, leading to their execution and the virtual annihilation of the Stewarts of Albany.[7]

Marriages and children[edit]

Alexander's first marriage was to Isabel Douglas, Countess of Mar (died 1408). Mar had seized his title by forced marriage to the countess following the murder of her husband and Alexander's capture of Kildrummy Castle in Aberdeenshire in 1404. These events shocked the kingdom and Alexander only escaped punishment because he was a close relation to the Royal Family. His possession of the Earldom was later regularized in 1424 by grant of his cousin, King James I.

Alexander later married Marie van Hoorn, daughter of Willem, Lord of Duffel, in 1410. He died without a legitimate male heir and so the Earldom of Mar reverted to the crown.

He had two illegitimate children:


  1. ^ David Ditchburn, ‘Stewart, Alexander, earl of Mar (c.1380–1435)’,Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005 accessed 1 Aug 2007
  2. ^ Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy p. 220 (London, UK: The Bodley Head, 1999).
  3. ^ Lives of Scottish Worthies by Patrick Fraser Tyrtler, vol. II, at p. 280-281.
  4. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainRound, John Horace (1911). "Mar, Earldom of". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 665.
  5. ^ Grant, p. 157.
  6. ^ Boardman, pp. 265, 266.
  7. ^ George Crawfurd, p.159, A General Description of the Shire of Renfrew (1818) Retrieved November 2010.


  • Boardman, Stephen I.,The Early Stewart Kings: Robert II and Robert III Edinburgh, Reprint 2007. ISBN 978-1-904607-68-7
  • Grant, Alexander, "The Wolf of Badenoch" in W.D.H. Sellar (ed.), Moray: Province and People. Scottish Society for Northern Studies, Edinburgh, 1993. ISBN 0-9505994-7-6
  • Nigel Tranter, The Stewart Trilogy, Dunton Green, Sevenoaks, Kent: Coronet Books, 1986. ISBN 0-340-39115-4. Lords of Misrule, 1388–1396. A Folly of Princes, 1396–1402. The Captive Crown, 1402–1411.