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Hidden Manuscripts

BANQUO, thane of Lochaber, a highland district in Inverness shire, [Scotland], distinguished himself as a jarl, or captain, in King Duncan's army by repelling an invasion of a host of free-hooters from Norway and Denmark about the year 1033. He was a son of Kenneth, thane of Lochaber before him, and his wife Dunclina, daughter of King Kenneth III. King Kenneth III's wife was a daughter of WILLIAM LONGESPEE, "first of that name [William], and second duke of Normandy." Banquo had been a friend of MacBeth, and had shared with him the credit of having repulsed the Danes and Norwegians. MacBeth, thane of Angus, or Glamis, was a son of Finlath, thane of Angus before him, and his wife Dovada, daughter (illegitimate, some believed) of King Malcolm II. Dovada's sister, Beatrice, married Crynan, ard-thane of "Dul & the Western Isles, and was mother by him of Duncan, afterwards king." So you can see how the family stacked up, and the grounds for jealousies, which are typified in the human mind as meddling witches. MacBeth, himself, was not a bad egg, but he had a wife with ulterior motives. Banquo began to think that the murdered King Duncan's exiled son, Malcolm, should be their king; and when gossip in respect to this scheming got around to Lady MacBeth's big ears she hit the ceiling. Mr. Banquo and his progeny must "get it where the chicken got the ax." You know the story: Mr. Shakespeare has told you that part of it. [MACBETH by William Shakespeare] By the way, who can tell us something about the celebrated Lochaber ax? FLEANCE, the youngest son of Banquo, somehow escaped the destruction which overcame the family when MacBeth, pushed into it by Lady MacBeth, according to the popular belief, murdered the thane of Lochaber and his three elder sons–Malcolm, Ferquhard and Kenneth. Fleance had two sisters who were not molested–Beatrice, married to MacDuff, thane of Fife; and Castisa, married to Frederick, the ancestor of the Urquharts. At first the youth hid himself into Cumberland [now a part of northwestern England, but at that time considered to be territory of Wales] to the court of Malcolm, "surnamed Canmore, son of the late king: but not judging himself safe there, or that prince not daring to afford him an asylum, he retired that of Griffith ap Llewellin, prince of North Wales." He was welcomed there; and in time he was married to Nesta, a daughter of Griffith. But "the great favors bestowed upon a stranger [foreigner] procured him so many enemies, that he fell a victim to their jealousy, in the twenty-fifth year of his age, in 1045, surviving his father only two years." WALTER was Fleance's only son. He had a sister, Fleancha, who was born after her father's death: she became a nun in the same monastery with her mother Nesta. Walter "was no sooner grown to manhood than he determined to revenge his father's murder; the great seldom, at that period, appealed to the laws." He therefore killed a guy named Owen "the supposed culprit; but as this person had powerful friends, he judged it prudent to retire from their vengeance; especially because he could no longer be protected by Prince Griffith, his maternal grandfather, who died by violence in 1064." He went over to the English court, wherever that was, presided over by Harold, an earl, soon afterward to become king in succession to King Edward, 1065. It wasn't long before the unhappy youth picked a quarrel with one of Harold's favorite retainers, Oddo, and killed him. That infuriated the earl, and "not even the power of King Edward could have shielded him from the vengeance of Harold: he therefore was again obliged to seek safety by flight." He got across the English channel to France, where "he put himself under the care of Alan, the Red, duke of Brittany, a relation of the princess his mother. Alan received him not only with favor, but placed much confidence in him." In fact, Walter married the Red's daughter Christian. When William, duke of Normandy in France, generally known as "the Conqueror," led an army into England, in 1066, to claim the throne as assignee of Edward, "the Confessor," king of England, who died that year at the age of 24 without children, Alan, the Red, duke of Brittany, sent along a contingent of soldiers to help out, and he put our boy Walter in command of a portion of it. The trouble had been caused by Edward's loose tongue. A sissy chap, the son of Ethelfred, "the Readiless," king of the English, and his queen, Emma, daughter of Richard, duke of Normandy, he spent much of his childhood with his mother's folks in France, and became quite fluent in the use of the Norman-French lingo. His Uncle William, "the Bastard," scheming to ‘get' the Saxons over in England, worked on the kid to get him to agree that, when he died, William would inherit his crown, a proposition that was wholly invalid. William, the Conqueror, duke of Normandy at that time, claimed that Harold, the Saxon, son of Godwin, earl of Wessex [West Saxons], assented to that arrangement, although he had a prior claim to the crown. One version of the controversy was that "Harold's ship having been driven by adverse winds to the French coast, he was seized and forced to take an oath of support William's claim to the English throne." If that be true, he was justified in reneging, for the law is that a promise exacted by bending a fellow over a barrel–like Johnny in the wood-shed with Dad and his paddle–is illegal. Walter was, no doubt, glad enough "to attack Harold, whom he now beheld with the eye of an inveterate enemy. The Battle of Hastings in 1066, when a long-bowman in William's army shot Harold in the right eye, killing him, and Harold's English-Sachsen followers threw down their weapons and gave up, conveyed the crown from his head to that of William, who treated Walter with peculiar regard, until he discovered that he favored the interest of Edgar Atheling, the heir of the Anglo-Saxon kings." Sensing trouble, he took his family to Scotland, where he soon "espoused the cause of Edgar, whose sister Margaret was to become the queen of Malcolm, to which monarch he was personally known, and who received into his dominions all the English who forsook their country at the Norman conquest. The descendants of these exiles are amongst the highest of the Scottish nobility." MacBeth, who murdered Walter's grandfather, Banquo, thane of Lochaber, had been himself slain in battle in 1057 by King Duncan's son Malcolm, called Canmore, who took over the crown as King Malcolm III. "MacDuff, the husband of Walter's aunt, was high in the royal favor from having effected the restoration of Malcolm to the throne of his ancestors. Lochaber, the patrimony of Walter's ancestors, was probably in hands from which it might not be prudent to wrest it, but in lieu of it he received a grant of Kyle and Strathgrief; and his services were so meritorious to the state that he obtained also the isle of Bute and the lands of Cowal in the county of Argyle, and was raised by King Malcolm to the high office of steward of Scotland, who made it hereditary in his family; a post of great honor, as well as of power and emolument." WALTER(1) died in 1093, leaving by Christian, daughter of Alan, the Red, duke of Brittany, six sons and three daughters–ALAN, WILLIAM, EDGAR, MALCOLM, FLEANCE, WALTER, MARGARET, EMMA and HELEN. ALAN(2) (Walter(1)), "second high steward, went in his father's life-time to Palestine with Godfred of Boulogne, where in several campaigns he won great fame, and returned into Scotland in the reign of King Edgar. He is supposed to have died in 1153. By Margaret, daughter of Fergus, lord of Galloway, he had three sons–Walter(3), Adam and Simon." From these early stewards, or "prime ministers," have come all of us of Stewart blood, as well as did King Robert(6) III, the son of Walter(5) (James(4), Alexander(3), Alan(2), Walter(1). The spelling of the family surname was arbitrary: the Scandinavians evolved a th sound, related to d as in Thor and Goth and thunder, (something like donder und blitzen), while their kindred Teuton abhorred th and must pronounce steward a snappy stewart_! The letters j, k, u and double u (w) were not known by the Roman writers, who used only capital letters, and may have been designed by Geoffrey–why not Jeffrey?–Chaucer. Thus we get Stuart [French]. And so, my buckies, runs your lineage back to the thane of Lochaber. [Written by George Edson in the STEWART CLAN MAGAZINE, Tome J, Volume 47, Number 7, JANUARY, 1970, pp. 77-80]