STEWART (“Stuart” in French documents), JAMES, of Killeith, fourth Lord OCHILTREE (or Ochiltrie), founder of a short-lived colony at Port de la Baleine, on Cape Breton; b. 1582? in Scotland; d. 1659.
He was the elder son of Capt. James Stewart of Bothwellmuir, the usurping Earl of Arran, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Stewart, eldest daughter of John, fourth Earl of Atholl. In 1615 he became fourth Lord Ochiltree as the result of a family arrangement among the members of the Ochiltree branch of the Stewarts. Perhaps lack of money turned his attention to colonial enterprise. In 1629, after Sir William Alexander the elder had joined with London merchant venturers in an Anglo-Scottish company, Charles I authorized £500 sterling to be borrowed for Ochiltree’s use in connection with the latter’s expedition to Cape Breton for planting a colony there. The fleet sent out by that company reached Port de la Baleine, not far from English Harbour, the site of the future Louisbourg, on 1 July. There Ochiltree, with about 60 Scots, including Capt. Constance Ferrar, began a settlement and built a small fort named “Rosemar,” while Sir William Alexander the younger proceeded to Port-Royal with other colonists. Within a few weeks, however, Capt. Charles Daniel of Dieppe, one of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés who had left France to relieve Champlain at Quebec, hearing of this nascent colony, overpowered it, captured its people, and carried them first to Cibou (St. Ann’s) on Cape Breton Island and then back across the Atlantic. A number of Ochiltree’s colonists were landed near Falmouth, but Ochiltree and 17 others were taken to France as prisoners. Released by the Conseil de la Marine, he petitioned Charles I in 1630 for compensation for his losses and denounced French “pretensions” to Canada and Acadia.
Ochiltree applied for a grant in Nova Scotia under Sir William Alexander’s scheme on 18 April 1630, and he and several other baronets made plans to plant a colony “near unto the river of Canada.” But a more serious misfortune now befell him. He had accused James, Marquis of Hamilton (and later first Duke of Hamilton) – who was a partner of Sir David Kirke in 1637 – of high treason; his charges were investigated and found to be baseless. He was thereupon condemned to perpetual imprisonment in Blackness Castle, and his patent for a barony in Nova Scotia was cancelled before being registered. He remained a prisoner for 20 years, until the English invaders set him at liberty in 1652 after the battle of Worcester.
Ochiltree married twice; his first wife was Margaret, daughter of Uchtred Macdowall of Garthland, and his second was Mary Livingstone. By his first marriage he had one son who predeceased him but whose son William became the fifth Lord Ochiltree before dying in his 16th year. By his second he had a son and three daughters. He died in 1659.
[For the contemporary French version of the capture of “Rosemar,” see Malapart.]
AE, Corr. pol., Angleterre, 43, 44, 45. AN, E1, 101A, 103A. PRO, C.O. 1/5, nos. 41, 46, 47. [Sir William Alexander], The Earl of Stirling’s register of royal letters, relative to the affairs of Scotland and Nova Scotia from 1615 to 1635, ed. C. Rogers (2v., Edinburgh, 1885). Champlain, Works (Biggar), VI, 153–61 contains the French version of the founding and destruction of Ochiltree’s fort. Mémoires des commissaires, I, 43; and Memorials of the English and French commissaries, I, 116. PRO, CSP, Col., 1574–1660, 104–6. Royal letters, charters, and tracts (Laing), 78, 120–3. William Anderson, The Scottish nation (3v., Edinburgh and London, 1880). Richard Brown, A history of the Island of Cape Breton (London, 1869), 74–83. Insh, Scottish colonial schemes. McGrail, Alexander. Although Insh and McGrail differ as to the date of Alexander’s and Ochiltree’s settlements, it seems clear from such records as BM, Egerton ms 2395, f.23, and Harley ms 1760; Nat. Library of Scotland, Hawthornden ms IX, ff.148–50; some of the documents in the Earl of Stirlings’s register; and Captain Daniel’s narrative of his voyage in 1629 that Insh’s view that the year was 1629 is correct.