Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan

How are you related to Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan?

Connect to the World Family Tree to find out

Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Alexander Stewart

Scots Gaelic: Alasdair Mór mac an Rígh
Also Known As: "“The Wolf of Badenoch", "” “Great Alexander", "son of the king"", "The Wolf Of Badenach", "Earl of Buchan & later Ross", "Wolf of Badenoch"
Birthplace: Dundonald, Ayrshire , Scotland (United Kingdom)
Death: March 25, 1406 (62-63)
Badenoch, Inverness-Shire, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Place of Burial: Dunkeld Cathedral, Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert II, King of Scots and Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan
Husband of NN NN, Many Mistresses; Mairead inghean Eachann and Euphemia I, Countess of Ross
Father of Margaret Stewart, of Buchan; Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar; Walter "The Red Knight" Stuart, 1st Baron of Kincardine; Robert Stewart; James Stewart, 1st of Fothergill and 1 other
Brother of Walter Stewart, Earl of Fife; Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany; Margaret Stewart, Princess of Scots; Marjory Stewart, Princess of Scots; Katherine Stewart, Princess of Scots and 4 others
Half brother of Maria Stewart; Sir John Stewart, Sheriff of Bute; Walter Stewart of Cardney and of Cluny; Alexander Stewart of Innerlunan; James Stewart of Abernethy and Kinfauns and 8 others

Occupation: Dominus de Badenoch
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan

Alexander Stewart, Alasdair Mór mac an Rígh, and called the Wolf of Badenoch (1343 – 20 June 1405), [date on memorial is 24 July 1394] was the fourth son of King Robert II of Scotland and also the youngest by his first wife, Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan. He was the first Earl of Buchan since John Comyn, from 1382 until his death. Alexander married the widowed Euphemia, Countess of Ross but they had no children although he did have a large family by his mistress, Mairead inghean Eachann. Alexander was Justiciar of Scotia for a time, but not an effective one. He held large territories in the north of Scotland before eventually losing a large part of them. Alexander is infamously remembered for his sacking of the royal burgh of Elgin and its cathedral. His nickname was earned due to his notorious cruelty and rapacity but there is no proof that it was used during his lifetime.

The Wolf of Badenoch

Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan, but more commonly known as the Wolf of Badenoch, lived from 1343 to 24 July 1394. He was the fourth illegitimate son of the future King Robert II of Scotland and of Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan, but became legitimated in 1349 upon his parents' marriage: he was also the younger brother of the future Robert III. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.

Scottish history has its fair share of deeply unpleasant characters, but Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan is a strong contender for the title of least pleasant of the lot, another contender being his brother Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany. But for very different reasons: while Robert Stewart managed to gain a grip on ultimate power in Scotland by devious or violent means during the reign of three different Scottish kings, Alexander Stewart simply abused his power on a systematic but more regional scale, maintaining a rule of terror across much of the Highlands by imprisoning and murdering those who offended him and pillaging the countryside. His behaviour led to him being censured by the King's Council in 1388, and to his being known to history as the Wolf of Badenoch, though he has also been called the Celtic Atilla.

Alexander was made Lord of Badenoch and granted large estates in the Highlands by his father Robert II on 30 March 1371. In 1382 he was made 1st Earl of Buchan (there had been earlier Earls of Buchan, but he was the 1st Earl of the title's second creation), and he also served as Justiciar, or the Crown's Chief Law Officer, in northern Scotland: in effect he exercised the full authority of the Scottish Crown throughout the Highlands. The Wolf of Badenoch had a number of lairs. The most notable was Lochindorb Castle on an island in Lochindorb, north of Grantown-on-Spey, but he was also associated with Drumin Castle near Glenlivet, Castle Garth near Glen Lyon, and Ruthven Castle near Kingussie, a site occupied since the early 1700s by Ruthven Barracks.

Alexander added considerably to his landholdings by marrying Eupheme de Ross, Countess of Ross in July 1382. They had no children: a fact that Alexander blamed on his wife (and, to be fair, as he was by then well on his way to fathering his total of around 40 illegitimate children by a large number of different women, he was probably right). In 1389 Alexander sought the intervention of the Bishop of Moray, Bishop Alexander Bur, to bring his marriage to an end. The Bishop came down on the side of Eupheme, and when Alexander then expelled her to make way for his mistress of the moment, Mariota Athyn, he was excommunicated by the Bishop of Moray.

It was Alexander's response to his excommunication that resulted in his label as the Wolf of Badenoch. First, the monk who came to Lochindorb castle with the news of Alexander's excommunication was consigned to the castle's bottle pit. Many Scottish castles had these deeply unpleasant dungeons accessible only by a trap door in the roof. Not many could also boast three feet of water covering the floor because of their island location.

Then, in May 1390, Alexander descended on Moray at the head of a large number of "wild, wykked Hieland-men." Alexander sacked the town of Forres, before heading east, destroying Pluscarden Abbey en route to Elgin where he arrived in 17 June 1390. Here he burned much of the town and destroyed Elgin Cathedral, the second largest cathedral in Scotland, widely known as the Lantern of the North.

Alexander's older brother, Robert III, who had only just succeeded to the throne and had yet to be crowned, called upon him to do penance for his crimes and pay significant reparations: then pardoned him. Whether the Wolf of Badenoch's attack on Moray had simply been a case of getting even with the Bishop: or whether it was in reality intended to be the start of a power play for Scotland more widely, immediately after the death of his father Robert II, is a matter of debate among historians. No-one for a moment, however, believes that he was truly repentant afterwards.

Alexander Stewart died in 1394 and he was then buried in Culross Cathedral. His tomb, topped by an effigy in armour, is one of the few Scottish royal monuments to have survived from the Middle Ages. The details of the death of the Wolf of Badenoch are unclear. Perhaps it is best to stick with the popular legend: that on 24 July 1394 a visitor dressed all in black arrived at Ruthven Castle and challenged the Wolf of Badenoch to a game of chess. That night the castle was beset by a terrible storm of thunder and lightning. The following morning there was no sign of the visitor, but the castle servants were discovered outside the castle walls, apparently killed by lightning. The Wolf of Badenoch himself was found in the banqueting hall: his body unmarked, though the nails in his boots had been torn out. Such, it would seem, are the perils of playing chess with the Devil.

“Historic memorials of the Stewarts of Forthergill Perthshire, and their male descendants. With an appendix containing title-deeds and various documents of interest in the history of the family.” by Stewart, Charles Poyntz. Publication date 1879. Page 5. Archive.Org

  • hic jacet dominus alexander senescallus
  • dominus de badenoch
  • bon/e memorise,
  • qui obiit 24 die mensis julii
  • Anno Domini 1394."

  • Name: Alexander "Wolf of Badenoch" Stewart 8 13 5 11 7
  • Name: Alexander Stewart Canon of Glasgow 4
  • Name: Alexander Stewart of Inverlunan 4
  • Name: Alexander The Wolf Stewart 1st Earl of Buchan
  • Wikipedia: Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan
  • Cawley’s Medlands: Kings of Scotland ALEXANDER Stewart of Badenoch (1342-[1405/06], bur Dunkeld). The Liber Pluscardensis names "Johannem…postea…rex…Robertum Albaniæ ducem, ac…Alexandrum comitem Buchaniæ qui…Lupus de Badzenoch vocabatur" as the three sons of "dominus Robertus rex secundus" and his first wife "Elizabeth filia domini Adam de Mure"[1269]. His cruel and rapacious character earned him the nickname "the Wolf of Badenoch"[1270]. Earl of Ross, de iure uxoris. He was recognised 25 Jul 1382 as Earl of Buchan. m ([24 Jul 1382], separated, divorced 1392) as her second husband, EUPHEME Ctss of Ross, widow of WALTER Leslie, daughter of WILLIAM Earl of Ross & his wife Mary Macdonald of the Isles (-after 5 Sep 1394). She possessed one half of the lands of the Earldom of Buchan, which she resigned before their regrant to her husband[1271]. Earl Alexander had seven illegitimate children by unknown mistresses: ....
  • Undiscovered Scotland
  • 40. Stewart, Charles Poyntz (1879). Historic memorials of the Stewarts of Forthergill Perthshire, and their male descendants. With an appendix containing title-deeds and various documents of interest in the history of the family (digital print). National Library of Scotland: W & A. K. Johnston Edinburgh (private printing). Page 5. Archive.Org
view all 15

Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan's Timeline

Dundonald, Ayrshire , Scotland (United Kingdom)
Badenoch, Inverness-shire, Scotland
July 1375
Dundonald, Ayrshire, Scotland
Dundonald, Ayrshire, Scotland
Dundonald, Ayrshire, Scotland
Dundonald, Ayrshire, Scotland
Age 39
First Earl of Buchan of the second creation of the title
Buchan, Aberdeenshire, Scotland