Fifty percent of those with Stewart surname are descended from royalty


04 February 2014
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imports_CESC_0-bjsz1o4b-100000_71606.png Fifty percent of those with Stewart surname are descended from royalty
A study from ScotlandsDNA has revealed that fifty percent of men who carry the surname Stewart or Stuart are directly descended from royalty. ...

A study from ScotlandsDNA has revealed that fifty percent of men who carry the surname Stewart or Stuart are directly descended from royalty, and in a ground-breaking study, ScotlandsDNA have for the first time identified a historical character with the beginning of a single male DNA lineage.

Sir John Stewart of Bonkyll was killed in 1298 fighting alongside William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk but recent ancestry testing has shown that he left a fascinating royal legacy. ScotlandsDNA’s Chief Scientist, Dr Jim Wilson, sampled the DNA of descendants of Sir John’s two sons, Richard and Angus, and descendants of his brother, James in the male line.


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The modern descendants of both sons carry the Y chromosome marker S781+ but the descendants of his brother, James, did not have it. By a straightforward deduction, that means that the marker arose in Sir John Stewart of Bonkyll, and not in his father. If it had, the descendants of James would also carry it. And they do not.

A ROYAL LINEAGE

The second part of the study has revealed that fifty percent of all men who have the surname of Stewart or Stuart are the direct descendants of Scotland’s long-lasting royal dynasty (who also came to rule over Britain and Ireland). This data has been derived from sampling of the general population by ScotlandsDNA. About twenty percent of all men who carry the famous surname share Sir John’s lineage while thirty percent are descended from Sir John’s brother, James, the 5th High Steward of Scotland. His son, Walter, married Marjorie Bruce, the daughter of Robert I, having helped him win the great victory at Bannockburn (pictured right), and their son became Robert II, the first Stewart king (pictured above).

Dr Jim Wilson said: 'These findings arose from a combination of deep pedigrees and DNA data. We can then use DNA alone to determine if people are descended in the male line from Sir John of Bonkyll and in time other historical individuals – whether noblemen or commoners. This is the start of a new era in genealogy, where we will be able to draw family trees without paper records.'

There are about 70,000 carriers of the surname in Britain which means that about 17,500 men are of direct royal descent and for the first time, DNA sampling has been able to distinguish clearly between different cadet branches of the royal Stewarts. There are four:

* The Appin Stewarts who fought at Culloden
* The Lennox Stewarts who were direct ancestors of James VI and I,
* The Albany and Moray Stewarts who acted as regents. 

For more on the work of ScotlandsDNA, visit the website.
 

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