Walter Stewart, Lord of Brechin

Walter Stewart, Lord of Brechin When Walter, Earl of Atholl married the daughter of Sir David Barclay he gained, on the latter's death, the title and lands of Lord of Brechin. Walter Stewart was a son of Robert II by his second wife and therefore uncle of James I. James had been a prisoner of the English court for eighteen years before his return to Scotland in 1424. He was intelligent and industrious, and he was determined to consolidate his power in Scotland where, as a result of his forced exile, the magnates had developed their individual spheres of influence. But at times he was too demanding in securing increased taxation and lands and, after so many years observing the belligerent, dominating style of Henry V of England, his was an aggressive government. He created enemies.

Possibly Walter Stewart was alienated by his king's acquisitive nature and aggression, or possibly he felt threatened by it - there was a recent history of murder and execution within the Stewart family and Walter's earldom of Atholl was held only tenuously and, along with his lands of Strathearn, could quite easily be taken by the monarch leaving him with little more than the lordship of Brechin - or perhaps he had ambitions for himself or for his grandson and heir, Robert Stewart. Whatever his reasons there is little doubt that Walter was the leading participant in a conspiracy that led to the king's assassination in Blackfriars, Perth in 1437. Robert Stewart, a trusted member of the king's household, made it easy for the assassins to gain entry to the royal chambers where they found James hiding in a sewer and, led by Sir Robert Graham, stabbed him sixteen times in the chest.

The killers bungled in failing to murder the queen who escaped to bear witness against them. Soon all were apprehended and met a grisly execution. Walter denied his implication in the crime but he and his grandson, who did confess, were also executed. So it was that within one hundred and twenty years a second Lord of Brechin was executed for treason.

© Copyright Brian Mitchell 2000

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The Battle of Mons Graupius.
Centre of Religion
Hugh de Brechin: The Amorous Priest
Royal Connection: Henry de Brechin
Battle of Stracathro
Brechin and the Scottish Wars of Independence
Sir Thomas Maule: Hero of the Castle
Treason at Brechin
Walter Stewart, Lord of Brechin