Confession time, I have a deep and abiding love of old churches. The moment I gaze up at ancient soaring spires, something wakes up deep inside my heart and mind. That thing, that spark of old wonder, burns like a candle inside my ribs every moment I’m inside. I think it has to do with sensing so many prayers lingering in the air. It’s like the faith is baked into the very stones with hundreds of years of worship, need, and hope.
And that feeling is when I don’t have a prior connection. Paisley Abby was different. Studying genealogy has many perks, not the least of which is finding old connections to beautiful places – somehow making them your own.
So let me tell you a story about Marjorie Stewart (Bruce), niece of my 22x great-grandmother, and direct ancestor of my sister-in-law.
Marjorie was the eldest daughter of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots by his first wife, Isabella of Mar. Marjorie’s marriage to Walter, High Steward of Scotland gave rise to the house of Stewart, and her son was the first Stewart monarch, King Robert II of Scotland. However, her early connection to Scottish power at such a tumultuous time was difficult for her when she was young; she was taken prisoner by the English and imprisoned several different places, including seven years in a convent, though she had it better than one of her aunts, who was confined to a wooden cage, exposed to public view every day for four years.
She was set free after an imprisonment which lasted from 1306 to 1314, and was quickly given to Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland in marriage. She would have been only 17 years of age.
Two years later, she was riding in Gallowhill, Paisley while very, very pregnant. Her horse spooked, and she was thrown to the ground and her neck was dislocated. Marjorie went into premature labor, but her child was saved when he was delivered by Caesarean section at Paisley Abbey. Marjorie died within hours of the birth. Her son succeeded his childless uncle and became King Robert II, and her descendants were the house of Stewart who ruled on the thrones of Scotland and England.
She is buried at Paisley Abby.