|5th High Steward of Scotland|
Coat of arms of the High Stewart of Scotland: Or, a fess chequy argent and azure
|Died||16 July 1309|
|Father||Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland|
He was the eldest surviving son of Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland (d.1283), by his wife of unknown identity. The date of his birth is not known and some sources have placed it, on no good evidence, as early as 1243. This is now thought to be unlikely, for the following reasons. Firstly, James's father is known to have planned a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James of Compostella in 1252 or after, so that James would probably have been born after this, and named in honour of that saint. Secondly, James's Christian name was an unusual one, then uncommon in Scotland and not a traditional name in the Stewart family where Walter and Alan were favoured. It is therefore quite possible that he was not Alexander's eldest son, but rather the eldest surviving son. For these reasons, and also the fact of his son and successor Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland being described in about 1314 as a "beardless lad" by John Barbour in his poem The Brus, it is proposed that James was born in about 1260.
In 1286 James was chosen as one of the six Guardians of Scotland. He subsequently submitted to King Edward I of England on 9 July 1297 and was one of the auditors for the competitor, Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale. However, during the Wars of Scottish Independence he joined Sir William Wallace. After Wallace's defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, he gave his support to Robert Bruce, later King Robert I of Scotland, grandson of the competitor.
In 1302, with six other ambassadors including John Comyn, Earl of Buchan, he was sent to solicit the aid of the French king against King Edward, to whom he was once again compelled to swear fealty at Lanercost Priory on 23 October 1306. To render his oath inviolable, it was taken upon the two crosses of Scotland most esteemed for their sanctity, on the consecrated host, the holy gospels and on various relics of saints and he agreed to submit to instant excommunication if he should break his allegiance to Edward. However, convinced that his faith was primarily to his country in spite of all, he once again took up the Scottish patriotic cause and died in the service of Robert the Bruce in 1309.
He married several times:
His other issue, by wives uncertain, include: