Wednesday, 11 November 2009

More on Jackie Stewart, Famous Scot

Thanks to Pete Wadley at the NAS for the following:

Famous Scots exhibition – Sir Jackie Stewart
9 November - 31 December 2009

Sir Jackie Stewart’s ancestry: from horse tax to horsepower

From Monday 9 November a new exhibition uncovers the ancestry of Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, triple Formula One champion in and Scottish sporting legend. Sir Jackie is the final celebrity to be featured in the six-part ‘Famous Scots’ exhibition held in the ScotlandsPeople Centre, Edinburgh, to mark Homecoming Scotland 2009.

George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records at the National Archives of Scotland said: “We’re delighted and honoured that Sir Jackie Stewart has agreed to be featured as the sixth and final Famous Scot. This free exhibition gives people an insight into the family story of one of our most celebrated Scots, as well as into our shared past. I encourage as many people as possible to see the exhibition in the impressive setting of the ScotlandsPeople Centre. Those who cannot join us here in Edinburgh can of course investigate their own geneaology through the website. The final show marks a fitting end to our contribution to the year of Homecoming.”

Marie Christie, Project Director Homecoming Scotland 2009, said: “Homecoming Scotland is delighted to be working in partnership with the ScotlandsPeople Centre to stage the ‘Famous Scots’ exhibition in 2009. Ancestry has been a key theme for Homecoming Scotland and visitors to the exhibition can see not only Sir Jackie Stewart’s family history but learn how to undertake their own genealogical research.”

Sir Jackie may have been born in the house next to his father’s garage near Dumbarton, but his family roots are literally in the soil of Scotland, as he is descended from many generations of farmers on both sides of his family. As far back as the 1780s he only has one direct ancestor who was not involved in farming or working on the land: his own father, who began as a technical draughtsman at Lord Weir’s works at Cathcart, and in 1928 started his garage business.

Experts at the ScotlandsPeople Centre have delved into the lives of Sir Jackie’s farming ancestors, and their rise from labourers and ploughmen to tenant farmers and small landowners. On his father’s side they can be traced to Ayrshire at about the time Robert Burns farmed at Mossgiel, in Mauchline parish. In 1797 one Gilbert Clark, also a tenant farmer, whose farm was in the nearby parish of Sorn, was taxed two shillings for his farm horse. He was probably the Gilbert Clark who was Sir Jackie’s great great great grandfather.

Among rarely-seen original documents on show are old parish registers, a census return, an estate rental, and a book from an Inland Revenue survey of Scotland begun after 1910. Vintage films from the Scottish Screen Archive depict village life, farming and Dunbartonshire industries just before and after the Second World War.

Another Ayrshire ancestor (Sir Jackie’s great great grandfather), was a ploughman named Alexander Stewart. He died a pauper, but his son eventually became a small farmer, and his grandson, James Stewart, was a gamekeeper who moved to Renfrewshire. As head gamekeeper on Lord Weir’s Eaglesham estate in Renfrewshire, James helped his young grandson Jackie develop the skills which turned him into a clay pigeon-shooting champion while still a teenager.

James married Maggie Stewart Young, the daughter of a farmer at Castlehill, near Eaglesham, Renfrewshire. The Stewarts of Ayrshire, the Youngs of Eaglesham, and the Clarks of Mearns, also in Renfrewshire, make up the main branches of Jackie Stewart's family tree. James Young (born 1786) had two sons who were each to become a great grandfather of Sir Jackie’s, one on each side of his family.

With so many Clark forebears on both sides of the family, a mystery still remains unsolved. Was Sir Jackie related to another son of a Lowland farming family, his friend, the late great racing champion Jim Clark?

The exhibition is being staged in New Register House, part of the new ScotlandsPeople Centre, Edinburgh, surrounded by over half a million registers recording the lives of Scots going back more than 400 years. Monday-Friday, 9.00 - 4.30 – some evening openings (see website).

For people not able to visit the Centre, the key genealogical resources of ScotlandsPeople are available online at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

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