John Stewart, last of Annat.




The fate of the last of the senior male line of the Stewarts of Annat, John Stewart of Annat, has long been shrouded in uncertainty, principally because no details in relation to his date of death, or what ever testamentary papers it resulted in, if any, are known to exist. On those points our Commissariot and other competent records are silent. For those as he who became compelled to sell their estates to satisfy creditors, this was not an uncommon occurrence and more often than not they simply blended back into normal society and faded into such a degree of obscurity that they fell from written record.

His parents having married soon after subscribing their contract for that purpose on 10 May 1708, as the eldest son, John Stewart’s birth, although not documented, occurred at some point after then and before February 1713, when his younger brother Francis was born. When still heir apparent to his father, he took an active role in the ’45 and served throughout that campaign as an officer in the Perthshire Horse. In the aftermath of the rising’s failure at Culloden in April 1746, he was included in lists drawn up by excise officers of those who either had taken up arms or else were under suspicion of having done so for transmission to the authorities for action, if warranted. These tell of his having “carried arms in the rebel army” but that his whereabouts were then “unknown”. As with many in those same circumstances, lying low or “skulking” from safe place to safe place until either a general amnesty was issued by the crown or else attitudes had calmed was a means to avoid arrest and prosecution, and his absence from any prison or trial records considered, it is probable that he too followed such a circumspect approach.

His next appearance in record is as cautioner to his father when executor qua creditor to the late Robert Stewart of Ardvorlich in August 1751. Then, on 16 June 1752, his father, advancing in years, conveyed Annat to him and for which he had Sasine on that date, but becoming heavily indebted, he was compelled to put up those lands as security on a loan from William Wilson, writer at Murrayshall, on 3 January 1763. The pressure from creditors not abating, he eventually sold out to his kinsman and neighbour, George Home Stewart of Ballachallan, who had a confirmation for Annat under the Great Seal on 3 July 1776. He disappears from record soon after that date.

The memorial above, then, penned in the early years of the 19th century and which is now contained within a remnant of the Stewart of Ballachulish papers, is the final word on John Stewart, last of Annat, from a time when he was still within living memory and records that he;

died unmarried & without issue having his nearest sisters surviving him, of whom only one was married – vi[delice]t Isabel who married alex. of Balachulish (see Balachulish) & she had issue John of Balachulish her eldest son who had issue Lilias his only child who has issue Charles now of Balachulish & Annat ; he being the representative of the ancient family of Annat as all the sisters of John last of Annat are dead & all his brothers died without issue male or female.

  The estate of Annat was sold by John last of Annat & is now the property of the Earl of Moray.

Of course, it may reasonably be said that the memorialist may have been somewhat economical with the facts as although all of the sisters and brothers were then dead and the latter extinguished of heirs by that time, the sister, Margaret Stewart, had married about 1740x45 to Robert Stewart of Ardvorlich and their eldest son, William Stewart of Ardvorlich, survived until March 1838, which fact its author would undoubtedly have been aware of. In any event, Charles Stewart of Balachuilish being in descent from the eldest sister, Isabel Stewart, representation - if such were open to succession via the female line in the first instance - would have been vested in that person.


The Stewart of Ballachulish arms as at 1827, incorporating those of Stewart of Annat.



Gordon MacGregor

January 2023.