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The Scottish Nation

PITTENWEEM, Baron, a title (extinct) in the peerage of Scotland, conferred in 1606, on Frederick Stewart, son of Colonel William Stewart, captain of the king’s guard, who, on 31st July 1583, obtained a charter of the priory and lands of Pittenweem, and was thenceforth styled commendator thereof. This Colonel William Stewart, one of the unworthy favourites of James VI., was the second son of Thomas Stewart of Galston, in Ayrshire, third in descent from Alexander Stewart of Dreghorn, second son of Alan Stewart of Darnley. On obtaining favour at court he seems to have changed the spelling of his name to Stuart, as being of kin to his majesty. Calderwood (vol. iv. p. 448) says of him: “colonel Stuart was (as is constantlie reported) first a cloutter of old shoes. He went to the Low Countries, where he served in the warres, first as a souldiour, then as a captane, at last as a colonel. He returneth home, and was imployed by the king to apprehend anie subject, in anie corner of the kingdom, that the court had anie querrell at. He wanted not likewise his rewaird, for he was gifted with the pryorie of Pittinweme, and married the Ladie Pitfirrane, not without suspicioun of the murther of her former husband.” In October 1582 he and Mr. James Halyburton, provost of Dundee, were the king’s commissioners to the General Assembly. In January 1583, after the Raid of Ruthven, by Colonel Stuart’s interest, the king obtained permission from the confederated lords to visit the earl of March at St. Andrews, and on his entrance into the castle there, the colonel ordered the gates to be shut, and his followers excluded. The profligate earl of Arran soon regained his former place in the royal favour. In April, Colonel Stuart was sent ambassador to England. At a parliament held at Edinburgh, 4th December of the same year (1583), those who had been concerned in the Raid of Ruthven were declared guilty of high treason. At this parliament it was also, says Calderwood, (vol. iii. p. 761,) “statuted that the old placks, babees, three pennie peeces, and twelve pennie peeces, sould be brought in betwixt and Julie next, to be brokin; and that a new coine be stricken, foure pennie groats, eight pennie groats, sixteen pennie groats, and that they be three pennie fine. Yitt were they not so fine. This was done to get silver to Colonell Stewart to pay the waiged men of warre. The burrowes dissented from breaking of the old coin.” In Anderson’s Diplomata et Numismata Scotiae are engravings of 13 gold and 23 silver coins of James VI., some of which are here given:

[coins of James VI]

It was Col. Stewart, or Stuart, as he called himself, who apprehended the earl of Gowrie at Dundee, April 13, 1854. The earl was beheaded at Stirling on the 4th of the following month, and on the earls of Mar and Angus and the master of Glammis seizing the castle of that town, colonel Stuart hastened thither with 500 men. Hearing of the approach of James with 20,000 men, they fled to England, whence they returned in October 1585, with a large force, and having laid siege to Stirling castle, succeeded in obtaining possession of it and of the king’s person. On this occasion, Colonel Stuart, who had been directed to defend the street at the west port of the town, had a narrow escape. Being fiercely assaulted he fled to the castle, but was followed, and overtaken by James Haldane, brother of the laird of Gleneagles, who, as he was laying hands upon him, was shot by the colonel’s servant, Joshua Henderson. This led to the downfall and removal of the king’s favourites, and Colonel Stuart was deprived of the command of the king’s guard. In June 1589 he was sent to Denmark, with a full commission, to be present with the earl Marischal, James’ ambassador, at the ratification of the king’s marriage with the princess Anne, the youngest daughter of the Danish king, and having soon after returned to Scotland, he was again dispatched, on 28th March 1590, by the nobility with five ships, to bring home the king and queen. On 20th January 1592 he was warded in the castle of Edinburgh for taking part with the queen in her intrigues against the chancellor, but was soon released. On the 15th August following, having accused Lord Spynie of secret conference with the turbulent earl of Bothwell, who at this time was the torment of James’ life, Spynie challenged him to single combat, on which he was again imprisoned for a short time in the castle of Edinburgh, Spynie being warded in that of Stirling.

In 1606, the lands and baronies belonging to the priory of Pittenweem were by act of parliament erected into a temporal lordship, in favour of Colonel Stuart’s son, Frederick, to him and his heirs and assigns, and he had farther charters of the same in 1609 and 1618. Lord Pittenweem died without issue, and the title has never been claimed by any heir general or assignee. Previous to his death, he disponed the lordship to Thomas, earl of Kellie, who, with consent of his son, Alexander, Lord Fenton, surrendered the superiority of the same into the hands of the king.

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