Among the archives of this ancient family, there are preserved three charters by ROBERT III to SIR JOHN STEWART his son, of the lands of Ardgowan, Blackhall, and Auchindoun, Renfrewshire, dated 1390, 1396, and 1403.
These several lands have lineally descended in an uninterrupted course of male succession, from the said Sir John Stewart, son of ROBERT III, to successive Baronets.
JOHN STEWART, of Blackhall and Ardgowan, obtained from JAMES IV, in 1508, a confirmation of the charters granted by King Robert to his ancestor of the aforesaid lands.
JAMES STEWART, of Ardgowan, obtained a charter from JAMES VI, creating his lands of Ardgowan, Blackhall, and Auchindoun into a barony, 1576.
He married Margaret, daughter of William Wallace, of Johnston, and had issue,
JOHN STEWART, who wedded Margaret, daughter of Archibald Stewart, of Castlemilk, and had issue,
THE RT HON SIR ARCHIBALD STEWART, of Blackhall, MP for Renfrewshire, a person of consummate ability, who being chosen one of the commissioners to parliament for Renfrewshire, in the reign of CHARLES I, distinguished himself so greatly that His Majesty selected him to be one of his Privy Council, and advanced him to the dignity of knighthood.
He was also of the Privy Council to CHARLES II, when in Scotland, 1660, and a privy counsellor in the reigns of CHARLES I and CHARLES II.
Sir Archibald espoused Margaret, daughter of Bryce Blair of that ilk, and had issue,
John, father of ARCHIBALD;He died in 1658, and was succeeded by his grandson,
ARCHIBALD STEWART (c1635-c1722), of Blackhall, who was created a baronet in 1667.
Sir Archibald married firstly, Anne, daughter of Sir John Crawford, of Kilbirnie, by whom he had three sons and one daughter.
He espoused secondly, Dame Agnes Dalmahoy, who died without issue; and thirdly, Mary, daughter of Sir James Douglas, of Killhead, by whom he had two sons and two daughters.
Sir Archibald was succeeded by his eldest son,
SIR JOHN STEWART, 2nd Baronet, one of the commissioners for Renfrewshire to the union parliament.
This gentleman wedded Rebecca, daughter of Dr Michael Wallace, by whom he had two sons and four daughters; and was succeeded at his decease by his second and only surviving son,
SIR MICHAEL STEWART (c1712-96), 3rd Baronet, a member of the faculty of advocates, who married Helen, daughter of Sir John Houston of that ilk (by his wife, Margaret Shaw, only daughter of Sir John Shaw, of Greenock, and of Lady (Eleanor) Nicolson, daughter of Sir Thomas Nicolson, of Carnock), and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;Sir Michael was succeeded by his eldest son,
Houston, father of MICHAEL, 5th Baronet;
SIR JOHN SHAW-STEWART (c1740-1812), 4th Baronet, MP for Renfrewshire, who wedded, in 1786, Eleanor, relict of Sir John Maxwell Bt, of Pollock; but dying without issue, was succeeded by his nephew,
SIR MICHAEL SHAW-STEWART (1766-1825), 5th Baronet, who married and was succeeded by his son,
SIR MICHAEL SHAW-STEWART (1788-1836), 6th Baronet, MP for Lanarkshire, and subsequently for Renfrewshire, who married twice and was succeeded by his son,
SIR MICHAEL ROBERT SHAW-STEWART, 7th Baronet.
- Sir Michael Robert Shaw-Stewart, 7th Baronet (1826-1903);
- Sir Michael Hugh Shaw Stewart, 8th Baronet (1854-1942);
- Sir Walter Guy Shaw Stewart, 9th Baronet (1892-1976);
- Sir Euan Guy Shaw Stewart, 10th Baronet (1928-80);
- Sir Houston Mark Shaw Stewart, 11th Baronet (1931-2004);
- Sir Ludovic Houston Shaw Stewart, 12th Baronet (b 1986).
ARDGOWAN HOUSE, near Inverkip, Renfrewshire, has been the seat of the Shaw-Stewart Baronets for over six centuries.
The house is set in the middle of 400 acres of parkland on the south shores of the Firth of Clyde and is home to Lucinda, Lady Shaw-Stewart and her son Sir Ludovic, 12th Baronet.
In 2004, a newspaper reported that the 11th Baronet had bequeathed his £18 million estate to Lady Shaw-Stewart.The lands of Ardgowan were given to John Stewart by his natural father ROBERT III of Scotland in 1403.
ROBERT III was Robert the Bruce’s great-grandson and the estate has been passed down from father to son or uncle to nephew to the present day.
There was a castle at Ardgowan in the 11th Century but the present one dates from the 15th Century.
Its predecessor was much fought round in the Wars of Independence, and Robert the Bruce was present at battles here in 1303 and 1314.
Helenor Houston was Sir John Shaw’s granddaughter and her marriage to Sir Michael Stewart in 1736 greatly enriched the family and led to the building of Ardgowan House.
The name Shaw-Stewart was born and the estate increased in size as they inherited the western half of Greenock.
Ardgowan House was built between 1798 and 1801 by Sir John Shaw Stewart, 4th Baronet.
The house was designed by Hugh Cairncross, who was Robert Adam’s assistant when he designed and built Culzean Castle in Ayrshire.
The completed interior was furnished by the firm of Gillows of Lancaster and the walls were hung with paintings collected on successive Grand Tours.
To these were added a series of family portraits by Sir Henry Raeburn in 1816 and the portrait of Emperor Napoleon by Lefevre which hangs on the main staircase.
This was given to Sir Michael, 6th Baronet, by Napoleon’s mother Madame Mere, whom he had met in Elba.
Sir Michael also brought back to Ardgowan the hat which had been worn by Napoleon during the campaign of 1807.
Later generations altered the house.
William Burn was commissioned to alter the interior, especially the entrance and the staircase in 1835, returning to work here again in 1852.
The chapel, designed by Henderson, was added in 1854; and, in 1904, Sir Robert Lorimer restored the house and added the conservatory.
Ardgowan was used as a military hospital during the 1st and 2nd World Wars.
Over the years farming and forestry have been the traditional enterprises of the estate. However as times have changed the family has diversified into other businesses.
Lady Shaw-Stewart has developed Ardgowan Antiques, corporate entertaining and residential study tours in Ardgowan House.
The home farm at Bankfoot has been developed as Ardgowan Livery offering horse livery services.
First published in January, 2014.