Monday, April 12, 2010

Madness Monday: The Legend of William STEWART

Madness Monday: The Legend of William STEWART

Yesterday, I received an email from a fellow STEWART descendant that is typical of many of the questions about my ancestors that drive me mad! She asked, as several have done before, why we can't get back any further than Lieut. William Stewart, Sr.? This is the legend that is passed around the Web from a print publication of the 1920s. It's a charming story.

"Two British sailors who had been pressed onto service jumped ship along the New England coast in the 1660's and lived with the Indians for a time to avoid being caught. According to Frank Church of Petersburg, New York, the two sailors, Church and Stewart formed a bond of friendship and swore the two families would always be closely associated. No hard evidence but Frank's mother lived to a "ripe" old age and his grandmother lived to be 103 years old, so the stories may have been handed down. William may have been descended from Elizabeth Stewart, Mother of Oliver Cromwell. "He acquired the title of Lieutenant and was a man of prominence. It is said that he knew the line of his ancestry back to the Kings and a set of dishes bearing a coat-of-arms was later in possession of his descendents"

[Research of Mamie Ford Smail, WorldConnect] From the "Stewart Clan Magazine"; May, 1926 Vol IV, #11 p. 189

All we have is a baptism as an adult by Rev. James Noyes, First Church of Stonington, Connecticut  on 13 Feb 1710 when William was probably about 18 years old which makes his date of birth about 1692 {which doesn't work for the legend]. He married twice once to a Sarah CHURCH and had 8 children and when she died he married again to Mary Bellows. He did leave a will [but I don't have a copy of it yet]

Weak evidence, don't you think? We don't know that this man wasn't born in Stonington, CT. The vital records tell us only a little but they do have death dates and some marriages.

When people read this legend they can only focus on Oliver Cromwell's mother who supposedly was a Stewart. It doesn't make me feel like royalty. It drives me mad.

By the way, Google Books now holds the Stewart Clan Magazine. It is out of copyright so it can be downloaded.


Julie Cahill Tarr said...

I think you deserve the Ancestor Approve blog award. You can find out more here: Keep up the good work!!

Midge Frazel said...

Thank you, Julie.