1611, Sir Robert Stewart asks for a grant of wood on royal manors

Sir Robert Stewart. SP 14/61 f. 192 (1611)

To the Kinges most excellent majesty

The humble peticion of your servant Sir Robert Stewart.

Whereas your majesty was pleased to restore the benefitt of rootes and stumpes of woodes and trees on your servant, and afterwardes your highnes inlardged the same with like benefitt of your parkes, which he hoped would have satisfied his creditours as alsoe have gyven content to Master Marshall for 800 pounds and Master Lesley 1200 pounds gyven by your majesty out of the same sute:

Yt maie please your majesty uppon much triall made for the space of these fowrten monethes the sute falls soe poore, (as is not unknowen to the Lord Treasurer as your servant nether cane gyve satisfaccion to his creaditors or paie Master Marshall or Master Lesley:

Wherefore most humbly he beseecheth your majesty as yow have byn ever gracious towardes him to graunte unto him only tow trees out of everie hundered of decayed or fewell trees (being not timber) thorowaght your majesties said mannours [etc?] of which your majesty receaveth smale or noe proffitt. To be ordered and sett out by the Lord Treasurer Lord Northampton and the chaunclor of your court of Exchequeor

[paratext:] Sir Robert Steward / Sir Thomas Monson / Lady Southwick

Report by Keith Baldwin

Investigation reveals that Sir Robert Stewart was also known by Stuart or Steward and his full title was Sir Robert Stewart of Middleton.[1] The following mention confirms his ancestry: “1611 May: Sir Robert Stewart, son of the Earl of Orkney and kinsman of the King, takes refuge in the court at Greenwich to escape his creditors.”[2] He was fourth son of Robert Stewart Earl of Orkney an illegitimate son of King James V, half-brother to Mary Queen of Scots and uncle of King James VI of Scotland & James I of England.[3]

Around the turn of the century he had been granted the keepership of the royal park of Bewdley (also known as Tickenhill Park).[4] In 1606 this was rescinded for non-performance.[5] In 1604 he suggested that church records of christening, marriage and burial be recorded in a book rather than loose pieces of paper.[6] In 1605 he sought to marry a girl of eleven.[7] The same year there is a record granting him the benefit of recusancy though this is struck through as if cancelled.[8]

He clearly had money troubles which may be referred to as early as 1606.[9] A petition by Lord Lindores to the Earl of Salisbury the following year reveals that together with Lord Roxborough they had partially settled his debts to their own detriment.[10] In 1609 we find Sir Robert petitioning the King on behalf of the family of Lord Lindores who are suffering due to his burden of debt and seeking reimbursement for his loyalty.[11][12] It should perhaps be pointed out that Lord Lindores was Patrick Leslie who was married to Jean Stewart sister of Sir Robert.[13] He had died in 1608 leaving his family in poverty.

It seems that Sir Robert then embarked on an army career and his subsequent life is fairly well documented.[14] The whole is summed up well here[15] with extra information here.[16]


[1] Peter Anderson, The Stewart Earls of Orkney (2012), p. 36

[2] Helen Wilcox, 1611: Authority, Gender and the Word in Early Modern England (2014), p. xiv <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/9781118327647.fmatter>

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Stewart,_1st_Earl_of_Orkney

[4] ‘Parishes: Ribbesford with the borough of Bewdley’, in A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4, ed. William Page and J W Willis-Bund (London, 1924), pp. 297-317. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/worcs/vol4/pp297-317

[5] ‘Addenda, James 1 – Volume 38: September 1606’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Elizabeth, Addenda 1580-1625, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1872), pp. 488-489. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/edw-eliz/addenda/1580-1625/pp488-489

[6] ‘Cecil Papers: Miscellaneous 1604’, in Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 16, 1604, ed. M S Giuseppi (London, 1933), pp. 393-468. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers/vol16/pp393-468

[7] ‘Cecil Papers: April 1605, 16-30’, in Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 17, 1605, ed. M S Giuseppi (London, 1938), pp. 141-167. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers/vol17/pp141-167

[8] ‘Cecil Papers: Miscellaneous 1605’, in Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 17, 1605, ed. M S Giuseppi (London, 1938), pp. 570-649. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers/vol17/pp570-649

[9] ‘Cecil Papers: August 1606, 16-31’, in Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 18, 1606, ed. M S Giuseppi (London, 1940), pp. 235-269. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers/vol18/pp235-269

[10] ‘Cecil Papers: July 1607, 16-30’, in Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 19, 1607, ed. M S Giuseppi and D McN. Lockie (London, 1965), pp. 182-202. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers/vol19/pp182-202

[11] HMC, Calendar of the manuscripts of the Most Honourable the Marquess of Salisbury … preserved at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire (1883) http://www.archive.org/stream/calendarofmanusc21grea/calendarofmanusc21grea_djvu.txt

[12] ‘Cecil Papers: December 1609’, in Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 21, 1609-1612, ed. G Dyfnallt Owen (London, 1970), pp. 162-171. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers/vol21/pp162-171

[13] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Leslie,_1st_Lord_Lindores

[14] ‘STUART, ROBERT [SSNE 529]’, The Scotland, Scandinavia and Northern European Biographical Database, https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/ssne/item.php?id=529

[15] Kelly, W. P. “Stewart, Sir Robert (d. 1670?), royalist army officer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-26505

[16] DNB: https://www.ancestry.co.uk/interactive/1981/31205_Vol18-01248?pid=66389


This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, 1600-1625’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.