STEWART, SIMON [SSNE 1644]

Surname
STEWART, STEWARDT, STYFVORT, STYVARTT, STYWERT, STUART
First name
SIMON
Title/rank
ADMIRAL
Nationality
SCOT
Region
AYRSHIRE AND ORKNEY
Social status
NOBILITY

Text source

Simon Stewart was born in the 1580s, son of the Scottish noble Robert Stewart of Touccars, Ayrshire and his wife Agnes Hiegait, the daughter of ‘befällningsmannen i Caucadans’ in the earldom of Lannark, William Hiegait and his wife Joneta Graham. His brother was Bernard, the laird of Barscube. In 1610 the two had beaten up Robert Stewart, the minister of Hoy and Braemsay in the course of his duties. Although this was taken as a private matter, Simon soon aroused the wrath of James VI again. An Orkney ship and its cargo belonging to Robert Scoula had been arrested in Bergen in 1611. The ship had been carrying hides, butter and oil and was the centre of complex litigation for many years to come, not least since many of the goods onboard belonged to James VI and I. Simon fled to Norway along with some Scottish associates where he was taken prisoner. The Norwegian Chancellery records show that Stewart was a pirate who in 1612 had taken a Norwegian’s ship and all its goods - including royal gold and toll money - whilst in the service of the Earl of Orkney. The mayor of Bergen, Søfren Søfrensen, repeatedly sought compensation from Christian IV in this case, and numerous letters from him dated between 1615-1620 survive complaining that Robert Scoula's goods were disposed of by the authorities who kept the proceeds. This occurred despite the fact that Scoula's ship and cargo were impounded to compensate for goods taken from Søfrensen by Simon Stewart. Attacks on Norwegian shipping and harbours by Orkney privateers were ongoing between 1612-1617 and Sir Robert Anstruther, the Scottish diplomat noted in 1612 that two of the skippers attacking Norway were named Stewart and were working off a commission from the Earl of Orkney. Patrick Stewart, the second Earl of Orkney and the son of the first Earl Robert, was in 1611 charged with tyranny and cruelty and imprisoned for it. It was not until 1618 that Christian IV of Denmark-Norway ordered that the complaint of the Scottish Privy Council be heard, presumably in an effort to end the attacks. 

Stewart in Swedish service

 Simon escaped from Norway and fled to Sweden in 1616 where he was noted as a pirate. This was no obstacle to his employment and by the 22nd of June he had been taken on as a captain in the Swedish navy. The following year he commanded the ship Mercurius on a reconnaissance mission to Königsberg. Already by 1618 he commanded two ships, Jupiter and Orfeus carrying Swedish soldiers to Reval in Livonia, and in 1620 he was an ensign on a Swedish admiral’s ship, called Svärdet. A captain Stewart is mentioned in Swedish naval records involved in a fatal argument between three Scottish naval officers. From 1624-26 he was a lieutenant in the Gothenburg ‘Hyresbåtskompani’. In 1627 he was a captain in both admiral Klas Fleming’s and Nils Stejernskjöld’s fleets at Danzig. His duties there that year included controlling the waterways around Danzig, although Chancellor Oxenstierna specifically instructed Stewart that his men were not allowed to undertake any privateering. However in May 1629 Oxenstierna noted that he had received complaints from skippers - for example that he had pressed 100 riksdaler from a Dutchman. In June the Chancellor specifically instructed Stewart to allow some English ships to deliver coal to Danzig, but he also emphasised that the ships were not to enter Polish service and that they return to Pillau. From July 1629 he was in admiral Hans Horn’s fleet at Pillau. He also patrolled the south of the Sound when king Gustav II Adolf left Stralsund to return to Stockholm. On 30th May 1630 he made the rank of vice-admiral, and the Swedish king ordered Stewart to undertake defensive crossings to protect the sailings of Swedish warships and Dutch cargo ships. Later that year served as under-admiral on the Swedish state admiral’s fleet. He was active in the Swedish king’s naval campaigns during the Thirty Years’ War and commanded Swedish fleets of two to fourteen ships crossing to the German coast. He obtained a royal patent from king Charles I dated 27 September 1633 proving his noble Scottish origins and was ennobled and introduced into the Swedish House of Nobility in 1634. He owned land in Hammarby, Upland, Sweden which he had partly received in royal donations in 1627 and 1630 and partly obtained in an exchange in 1637. In May 1634 he was admiral of a transport fleet of 6 ships to Pillau, and the following year he took another 4 vessels into Polish waters. He did this again in 1636 and led 5 ships in 1637. This is probably the same "vice-admiral" Stuart noted as engaged in troop-transportation on 10/11 ships in 1638 from Helsinki in Finland to Usedom; in 1639 14/15 (one source says 19) ships from Sweden to Pomerania; in 1640 he led 6 ships with troops; in 1641 he took another 6 ships from Finland; and in 1642 he accompanied admiral Ulfsparre on his 18 vessel transport. On 23 May 1644 he was made a lieutenant admiral, although another source notes him holding this rank in 1637 already, along with Hans Clerck [SSNE 4159]. That year he also took 6 ships to Bornholm and Stralsund in April. It was at this time that Robert Buchan de Portlethen tried to sell Stewart a warship he had privately built in Gothenburg. It is unknown when Stewart married his first wife, Margaret Buchanan [SSNE 6250] of Scottish noble origins, although she was still alive in 1643 and he appears not to have divorced her. His second wife was Anna Begnstdotter Svinhufvud, and she was still living in 1652. He had two children, one of whom was a son, Robert, who was a student at Uppsala university in 1636, but died in 1646 before his father. His daughter by his first wife was Margaretha Stewart [SSNE 6430]. Simon Stewart died in November 1646. 

There is a reference to a captain Stewart in the navy in 1622 in Svenska Sjoofficerare vol II, p.256 an incident is related where Capt Alexander Forrat and James Muir were accused of the murder of one James Logan. Logan was a relative of Muirs and newly taken on in Swedish service as a Fanrik. On the 30th of April 1622, Logan arrived at the house of Admiral Richard Clerk, where he met in with Muir, Forrat and Captain Stewart. They went on to the house of Gerdt Spechts where they had a beer. There a dispute arose between Forrat and Logan over money. A fight broke out in which Forrat punched Logan, who promptly pulled a knife and put it to Captain Forrat's throat. Muir got involved and in the moments that followed, John Clerk was wounded and Logan killed. In the trial that followed Forrat was found guilty of starting the fight, fined and ordered to take any additional punishment imposed by the king. Muir was sentenced to death for killing a relative, though the text does not say whether the sentence was carried out. 

Sources: Riksarkivets ämnessamlingar. Personhistoria https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/A0073910_00282#?c=&m=&s=&cv=281&xywh=1974%2C563%2C5892%2C3230

Correspondence from his widow is found in https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/A0073910_00283#?c=&m=&s=&cv=282&xywh=2255%2C268%2C4909%2C2691

Norwegian Rigsarkiv: Danske Kanselli: Norske Kansellinnleg før 1660, 1121/50, II, pp.340-343; Svenska Flottans Historia Åren 1522-1630, A. Zettersten (Stockholm, 1890), pp.65-66; Svenska Flottans Historia Åren 1635-1680, A. Zettersten (Norrtälje, 1903), p.628; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Svenska Sjöofficerare vol. ii, Biografiska anteckningar om officerare anställda vid örlogsflottan åren 1600-1699, unpublished typescript, p.256; Svenska Adelns Ättartavlor, vol. 7, p.607; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Meritförteckningar (Flottan); Norske Kansellinnlegg fra tiden før 1660, part II Uekspederede Breve(henlagt sager), p.343; Norske Rigs Registranter, vol. v, p.662: Christian IV to Knut Urne, 9 September 1617; Public Records Office, State Papers 75 vol.4, f. 314: Anstruther to James VI and I, 8 June 1612; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol.11, 1616-1619, pp.629-630: letter from the Privy Council to Christian IV, 18 June 1618; A. Grosjean, ‘Scottish-Scandinavian Naval links: a case study for the SSNE database’, Northern Studies, vol. 32, 1997, pp.111-112; The Concise Dictionary of National Biography, vol. III, 1993, p.2862; H. Marryat, One Year in Sweden including a visit to the isle of Gotland (London, 1862), p.498; R.C. Anderson, Naval Wars in the Baltic 1522-1850, (London, 1969), 45; P. D. Anderson, Black Patie, the life and times of Patrick Stewart Earl of Orkney, Lord of Shetland(Edinburgh, 1992); S. Murdoch, 'Simon Stewart: Privateer, Admiral, Orcadian?', in The Orkney View, no. 82 (1999), 20-22; E. Wendt, Amiralitetskollegiets Historia Part 1 1634-1695 (Stockholm, 1950), p.63, 90, 91, 103; Rikskansleren Axel Oxenstiernas skrifter och brefvexling, first series, IV, pp.491-3, 494, 514, 541; Register till Sveriges Ridderskaps och Adels Riksdags-Protokoll (17 vols, Stockholm, 1910), vols. for 1634 and 1640.

Service record

SCOTLAND, BERGEN, EARL OF ORKNEY'S FLEET
Arrived 1611-01-01, as CAPTAIN
Departed 1615-12-31, as CAPTAIN
Capacity PRIVATEER, PRISONER, purpose NAVAL
SWEDEN, NAVY
Arrived 1616-06-22, as CAPTAIN
Departed 1646-11-30, as ADMIRAL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose NAVAL