Stuart or Stewart, royal family that ruled Scotland and England. The Stuart lineage began in a family of hereditary stewards of Scotland, the earliest of whom was Walter (d. 1177), grandson of a Norman adventurer. Several early Stuarts were regents of Scotland, and after Robert, seventh in the hereditary line of stewards, became king as Robert II (1371), the crown remained in the family succession. The marriage of James IV of Scotland to Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England, made his granddaughter Mary Queen of Scots a claimant to the English throne. Mary's claim was recognized when her son, James VI of Scotland, became James I of England in 1603. Charles I, son of James I, was beheaded (1649) at the end of the English civil war, but after the interregnum of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate, his son Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660. With the deposition (1688) of Charles II's brother and successor, James II, the crown passed to James's daughter Mary II and her husband, William III, and after them to Anne, also daughter of James II. In the reign of Anne, the last of the Stuarts to rule England, the crowns of Scotland and England, united personally by the Stuarts, were permanently joined by the Act of Union (1707). After the death of Anne the crown passed (by the Act of Settlement, 1701) to George I of the house of Hanover, son of the Electress Sophia, who was the granddaughter of James I of England; thus the Hanoverians also had a Stuart claim. The parliamentary rule of succession was adopted because the claim to the throne of the Roman Catholic James II and his descendants, James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender), Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender), and Henry Stuart (Cardinal York), was upheld by the Jacobites. After 1807 this claim passed to the descendants of Henrietta of England, daughter of Charles I. Stuart, the French form of the name, was popularized by Mary Queen of Scots.
See G. Donaldson, Scottish Kings (1967); A. C. Addington, The Royal House of Stuart (2 vol., 1969–71); E. Linklater, The Royal House (1970); G. Perry, The Golden Age Restor'd: The Culture of the Stuart Court (1981).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.