Is it Stewart or Stuart?

+6 votes

Prior to Mary, Queen of Scots the name Stewart should not be used for either LNAB or CLN.

(From Wikipedia) During the 16th century the French spelling Stuart was adopted by Mary, Queen of Scots when she was living in France. She sanctioned the change to ensure the correct pronunciation of the Scots version of the name Stewart, because retaining the letter 'w' would have made it difficult for French speakers, who usually render "w" as "v". The spellingStuart was also used by her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley; he was the father of James VI and I, so the spelling Stuart for the British royal family officially derives from him.

in Genealogy Help by Eugene Quigley G2G6 Mach 7 (75.8k points)

1 Answer

+6 votes
Recorded in the spellings of Stewart, Steuart, and Stuart, this famous royal Scottish surname is perhaps surprisingly, of pre 7th century Olde English origins. In ancient times it was widely used (in both England and Scotland) as an occupational name for a senior official. Derived from the word "stigweard", a compound of "stig" meaning house(hold), plus "weard", a guardian, it was the title used by an officer who controlled the domestic affairs of a royal or noble household. In Scotland after the 12th century it took on a meaning of even greater importance. The Scottish royal family surname of "Stuart or Stewart", the spellings have varied over the centuries, originated from holding the hereditary office of High Steward of Scotland over several centuries from about 1157. In so far that the family originally had a surname it was the French 'Dapifer', the family having come from Brittany! King Robert 11nd (1371 - 1392) was the first "Steward" to hold the crown of Scotland. The earliest recordings of the surname include Nicholas Staward of Somerset in 1273, and William le Fiz Stywarde of Berwick in 1296. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Rogere se Stiwerd. This was dated circa 1100, in the "Old English Byname Register". Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2013

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by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
reshown by Eugene Quigley
Thanks Frank but I wasn't trying to solicit an answer.

The purpose is to inform people working on the Stewart family that it is not appropriate to use the surname Stuart prior to the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots.
I would disagree with that Eugene.

She may have tried to standardise her own family name, but for everyone else it was whatever the clerks decided to spell it as.


interesting history of the names. thanks for educating me.

Just a few generations ago, my Stewarts spilt from other family members on the spelling of Stewart. I have brothers in the same family in the late 1800s who spelled it differently. My line kept Stewart, the other brother's line adopted Stuart.
My Stewart line daughterd out when Anne or Anna Stewart married James Skiff about 1745 in MA. She was born 1725 at Martha's Vineyand, Dukes, MA.

Anna was the daughter of Charles Stewart who was born in 1672 at Eastham, Barnstable, MA. His father was Daniel Stewart born in Scotland in 1636. Daniel Stewart's father, James, was born about 1605 in Scotland. James father, Alexander, was born in 1580. I have the location as Minnigaff, Kincardineshire, Scotland.

I have also seen Anne or Anna's last name spelled Stuart.
My great great grandfather and his brothers split their names between Stuart and Stewart also. I wonder if that was a common thing to do. I've never heard anyone else mention it before. The family information says they were born into a Scottish family living in Ireland, and I wonder if that has anything to do with it.
I have an ancestor who I decided to call Anne Stewart, although I have seen her first name as Anna and her last name as Stuart.

Anne Stewart, born March 31, 1725 Edgarton, Martha's Vineyard, Dukes, MA married James Skiff who was born in 1722.Her line traces back to Scotland and her ancestors seem to be predominantly spelled Stewart.
My great great great grandfather left Scottland and changed the name from Stuart to Stewart. My great grandmother claims that this side of the Stewarts was forced to leave because of what my great great great uncle did. Supposedly he was a duke and he got caught with a queen and was killed. That is why my side of the Stewarts left and changed their spelling of the name. This is all in the encyclopedia. I also have other famous Scot clans in my family like the Douglas's. My grandmother was a Douglas.
Hi Susan,

Same thing great grandfather's last name was Stewart when he married. Somewhere along the way, they both changed the last name to Stuart before having children. No explanation can be found. It became a middle name for my uncle and then a nickname for him (Stu) and also a first name for one of my cousins. When my grandmother was married to a Barnard, she adopted her maiden name as her middle ( Stuart ). I understand spelling versions had to do with record keepers spellings but this change was obviously intentional ( late 1800's).


My Great Great Great Grandmother was 'Wilhelmina Elnora Francis McDual Grant Stuart', & she claimed she was a 2nd cousin of Marie Queen of Scots, yet, I can not trace her any further back than her father John Stuart  born Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK 1792

One possibility could be to go to the upper right of this page and click on Help. Look down the menu until you get to Mentors. Read up on what they specialize in and consider contacting the one or ones that look to be a good resource for your interest in a connection to Mary Queen of Scots.

Hi Frank -- I descend from Charles' brother James, through James' son Daniel and that Daniel's daughter Hannah, who married William Sherman.  Do you have any sources or documentation you can share for the line from Charles and James' father Daniel back to Daniel's father James and from Daniel's father James to that James' father Alexander?  Also, I can't seem to locate a Minnigaff in Kincardineshire, but there is one in Kirkcudbrightshire.  Any information you can share would be appreciated.


Do you have birth, marriage and death years for your Stewarts? Would you also have locations, country, county and city, at time of birth, marriage and death?
I believe the spelling of the name Stuart, originating from France, associates with the Catholic Church thus could have caused possible family rifts especially around the time of Mary. At a time when declaring your religious leanings could be rather dangerous!

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