2009-11-05 14:27:22 UTC
There was a distinct development in the latter half of 16th century when the gentry class of Shetland and Orkney received a veritable dose of blood royal - that of Robert the Bruce and in a smaller part, James V.
James V had reigned Scotland just in the first half of the 1500s - leaving several illegitimate sons, whose some granddaughters, and issue in general, was a part of this influx.
James V's illegitimate issue had (via him) Tudor, York, Norwegian-Danish, Gelderland, and Stewart royal and princely blood.
Particularly the royal Tudor blood is not as frequent among royal ancestries. But these had it, because James V's mother had been Margaret of England, Tudor, queen-consort of Scotland.
The other remarkable dose of royal blood was that descending from Matilda of Scotland, a younger daughter of Robert the Bruce - her descendantess had married her kinsman, heir of the illegitimate Bruce branch of Stenhouse, and their descendant was Iain Bruce, the wedded husband of the former royal mistress Eupheme Elphinstone, who had a sortiment of children bearing the surname Bruce.
This influx is explained by Robert Stewart, an illegitimate son of king James V by his onetime mistress Eupheme Elphinstoun, receiving property in Orkney, and a governance position there.
His method was to bring several of his close relatives to Orkney-Shetland, to help him to build local power base and be his auxiliary administrators in this new fiefdom of his.
These relatives in part were of blood of James V, and the other part being of the blood of his mother Eupheme's Bruce husband.
Both bunches had royal blood, although it was basically quite different blood in respective cases, as explained.
An example of the latter bunch (that of Bruce blood) was his half-brother, Laurence Bruce, whom Robert installed as administrator of Shetland. Several children and grandchildren of Laurence Brus married with local gentry.
Examples of the bunch with James V blood included also Robert's niece or nieces, apparently daughter(s) of his illegitimate other brothers.
It looks to me that Robert was in position to have one or several such nieces as his wards, their father(s) having deceased leaving non-adult daughters. For some reason, wardship in some of these cases passed in care of illegitimate half-brother Robert, in Orkney.
And then there were daughters of Robert himself, both his some legitimate daughters and illegitimate daughters.
These young women in Robert's care were seemingly married to leading local gentryfolk of Orkneys and Shetlands.
On one hand, it is obvious that it was Robert's way to 'purchase' support and tie local leaders to his personal family circle. His method resembles a lot the mafia-type building of family circle.
On the other hand, these young gentlemen seem to have not been *richest* in Scotland - apparently, the local upper class of Orkneys and Shetlands were of middle or lower ebbs of gentry. Robert had seemingly a big number of such female relations - and his resources could not have been extensive enough to provide big dowries to such a high number of girls. They landing to marriages with gentlemen who generally held one or a few local manors, but were not immensely rich, was obviously commensurate with Robert's resources to provide dowries.
Some of these girls were Robert's own illegitimates, but seemingly some of them were legitimate of his or his brothers.
For these leading islander families, such matches probably served several desires:
* such made a family tie to the powerful Robert and later his son, the powerful (and despicable) Patrick
* such brought some dowry, even some additional lands within the region where they resided
* such brough royal blood, the children born of such unions would be great-grandchildren (and so) of a late king of the entire Scotland
A crawl over genealogical data about such Orkney gentlemen shows that their families were usually of established gentry in Orkneys or Shetlands - but such was their general moderate nobility that usually, tracing their roots in the 1500s and in the 1400s, appears to lead to several peterings out. The Orkney high class was generally not so well documented that their roots were easily detectable in the 1400s, and wives in the 1500s are sometimes unknown.
This is apparently typical of so-called lower nobility.
This makes to appreciate how much a descent from royalty is phenomenon of one quirk.
Things could have gone much differently: if Robert had not received that property and position precisely in Shetland-Orkney, but somewhere else (or if his sister the queen and nephew the king had not granted him such a position anhywhere), then in high likelihood, Orkneys-Shetlands woould not have received that sort of veritable influx of blood royal.
Or, if Robert's method would have been totally different: if he had not attempted to make family alliances with the leading families of his newly-gotten fiefdom, but instead married his young women to totally other group of young men, for example in circles of the capital, Edinburgh....
However, the region received that influx.
and it's now some four centuries from that.
Several children were born in Orkneys-Shetlands in latest decades of 1500s and early 1600s who had either the Bruce royal blood or the James V royal blood. Many of them remained in their island, and their families continue there.
In four centuries, the blood has highly likely pervaded to almost all levels (and classes) of society in this region. There are bound to be some lineages where some bastards of these royal descendants are within a century or two (say, before the year 1800) in the lower commoner classes, such as servants and agricultural cottagers.
There are bound to be slow, generation-after-generation- social decline in some descendant lineages, something of the sort a great-grandfather having been manor-owner, a younger son of his a farmer, trader or shipper. His some children marrying with local middle class. And so forth.
Naturally, it is almost certain that within a few centuries (say, 1600-1800), practically all the gentry families in orkneys and shetlands would have received a descent from these. It would be inconceivable that in each generation some daughters and sons (and their issue and further progeny) of the families so numerously set up with blood royal by Robert of Orkney, would not have married within their own local social and property class, within these same islands. I gather the number of manor-owning gentry families of these islands at any given time was, at maximum, something like some hundred.
Orkney and Shetland families produced a number of emigrants to various places in colonies (Canada, other N Amer, Oceania...) and other countries (such as scandinavian countries).
All in all, this should be a fertile ground to find royal roots: and to have the relatively rare commodity among royal roots of commoners, a descent from royal Tudors.