Stewart - Stuart

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The names Stuart and Stewart are the same, in origin - although most users will insist jealously on the difference. It was originally a surname.

The original Scots name was usually written Stewart (in the Highlands, it has the Gaelic spelling Stiùbhairt). It is an occupational surname, coming from the duties of the steward of a particular house or estate; it is not unusual in Scots dialects for a voiced consonant to become unvoiced. Here '-d' becomes '-t'.

  • The surname became most important when Sir Walter Stewart, descended from Alan son of Walter (c.1150–1204), who received the office of hereditary steward to the royal household of Scotland, married Marjorie, the daughter and eldest child of Robert the Bruce. Insofar as any spelling was regular in the older Scottish writings, it was written Stewart when their son Robert inherited the throne from his uncle David as Robert II, and for all his descendants (see Stuart dynasty) until the time of Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587), when the normal spelling became Stuart. This was through French influence: Queen Mary, during her upbringing at the French court from 1548-1560 and marriage to Francois II of France (1544–1560), standardized the spelling in line with French practice.
  • Users of AWE are recommended to use the spelling Stuart in writing about British history - except for Scottish monarchs before the Union of the Crowns, who should be Stewart. When not writing about history, use the spelling that the person to whom you are referring prefers. Be aware that it may be a sensitive matter.
  • The name is also used as a male forename, in both spellings. Again, use the correct one (that preferred by the person himself) in your writing.
It is a curious fact that Alan son of Walter, the first hereditary steward of Scotland, was descended from the hereditary stewards of Dol in Brittany. Until the time of the grandsons of Alan son of Walter (first hereditary steward), patronymics had been the usual way of distinguishing between different bearers of the same forename, as in the first of the house of Stewart: Walter Fitzalan (c.1110–1177) (where Fitz- represents the modern French fils 'son [of]'; Alan son of Walter (c.1150–1204); Alan son of Walter (c.1150–1204). It was Walter Bulloch Stewart, earl of Menteith (1225x30–c.1293) that seems first to have the title as a surname.