There is much confusion over King Robert III finally resting place in Paisley Abbey. The King died in 1406 and many alterations have taken place in the Abbey since.
Robert III was born in 1337, being christened with the name John Stewart of Carrick. His father, Robert II Stewart and mother, Elizabeth Mure. had John and his brothers out of wedlock. And this never left the king and always hung over his legitimacy as King.
Unknown artist, line engraving, early 17th century. © National Portrait Gallery, London
King Robert III was crowned at Scone Palace on August 14th, 1390 succeeding his father king Robert . Although Christened John, he chose to be known as King Robert III. Due to the premature fate of kings names John in England and France.
King Robert was a gentle and hesitant man, who lacked the ruthlessness of his devious and ambitious brothers. He was also an ill man, after being badly injured when he was kicked by a horse. Never fully recovered from this physically or mentally. He was in his 50s by the time he came to the throne. And It is said he was an ineffective ruler both down to being weakened. He also suffered from depression and poor mental health.
Due to his frailties, in 1399 he appointed his son David to be Lieutenant of the kingdom to rule in his place. Unfortunately, David made some unpopular decisions including failing to stop an English invasion. And he was captured by his uncle, Robert the III’s younger brother, Robert Duke of Albany, who instructed David to be starved to death.
Sidelined in his own Kingdom
By now Robert , who was now mainly sidelined in his own kingdom, decided he would need to protect his youngest son James Stewart ( who was to become James I of Scotland) from the hands of his corrupt brothers. He did this by sending the young James off to France. Though the ship that was carrying him was captured and young James was imprisoned. On hearing this it was the final straw for Roberts mental health and he lost the will to live and refused to eat. He died soon after.
Prior to his death, he stated that he was not worthy to be buried at Scone.
Robert in effect wrote his own epitaph stating
“Let those men who strive in this world for the pleasures of honour have shining monuments. I, on the other hand, should prefer to be buried at the bottom of a midden, so that my soul may be saved on the day of the lord. Bury me, therefore, I beg you, in a midden, and write for my epitaph: Here lies the worst of kings and the most wretched of men in the whole kingdom“
Robert III’s son went on to be crowned James I of Scotland on his release but this wasn’t until 1424, 18 years after his father’s death.
King Robert III is buried somewhere in Paisley Abbey, the whereabouts to this day are still unknown. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria paid for the construction of a memorial to the King.
Why not pay a visit to Paisley Abbey and help us look for it 😉
Source: Silver Threads author David Rowan
From the Heritage Centre collection @Paisley Central Library.
The Heritage Centre – “For all of your local and family history enquiries – we can help.”