Throughout his adult life Robert Stedall has been fascinated by genealogy, researching in detail both his own family tree and that of his wife, Elizabeth Clay. It was in his wife’s ancestry, that he discovered a number of connections to the personalities surrounding Mary Queen of Scots and her son, James VI, in particular the Earls of Mar, her maternal grandmother’s family.
Mary Queen of Scots is a figure who has always fascinated him. As his research continued, he began an ambitious genealogical study of the principal Scottish families, focusing in particular on the inter-relationships surrounding Mary and James, to understand the complex networking between them.
What he discovered was a revelation – by looking at Mary’s story through the inter-marriages of the Scottish Nobility, he uncovered a complex web of switching allegiances that led to her downfall, arriving at a completely fresh assessment of this enigmatic period of Scottish history.
Based on over ten years of research, his groundbreaking two-volume history charts the decline of the Scottish monarchy under Mary Queen of Scots, and its recovery under James VI, culminating in his ascent to the English throne after Elizabeth I‘s death in 1603:
The Challenge to the Crown – Volume I: The Struggle for Influence in the Reign of Mary Queen of Scots 1542-1567
This covers the period until Mary’s enforced abdication at Lochleven in 1567. It was published by the Book Guild on 25 July 2012.
The Survival of the Crown – Volume II: The Return to Authority of the Scottish Crown following Mary Queen of Scots’ Deposition from the Throne 1567-1603
This deals with Mary’s imprisonment and execution in England, and James’s reign in Scotland, until he also became King of England in 1603. It is was published by the Book Guild on 27 February 2014.
Most recently Robert has produced Mary Queen of Scots’ Downfall – The Life and Murder of Henry Lord Darnley published by Pen and Sword Books Limited in November 2017. This engaging and well researched biography re-examines Darnley’s life and his murder. It is not to be missed;his investigation brings new light and compelling conclusions to a story surrounded by political betrayal, murder, falsified evidence and conspiracy.
Robert’s first book ‘Hunting from Hampstead‘ (Book Guild, 2002), came about after he inherited a bundle of pwhoerfectly preserved water colour sketch books in his mother’s estate. Each page was filled with beautiful, illustrated drawing of hunting and country life. Further research showed that they had been drawn at the turn of the century by Cecil Stedall, his great Uncle. ‘Hunting from Hampstead‘ tells the story of Cecil and his brothers, who hunted from the family home in Hampstead, and travelled to Palestine with their horses to fight in the First World War. It was illustrated throughout with Cecil’s drawings and photographs taken by his mother. The book was warmly received and offers a fascinating window into a family’s life at the turn of the 20th century.
Hunting from Hampstead – Robert Stedall (Book Guild 2002)
He later embarked on Men of Substance – The London Livery Companies’ Reluctant part in the Plantation of Ulster published by Austin Macauley in 2016. Having been Master of the Ironmongers’ Livery Company in 1989, he was well-placed to access the voluminous Livery Company records to provide an account of their estates in Co. Londonderry from about 1610 to c. 1900. The story is set withing the context of Irish history during the period of British settlement in Ireland with all its religious and political repercussions, which led to partition and the ‘troubles’ of more recent times.
Before retirement, Robert Stedall spent his professional career as a chartered accountant and finance director. He was educated at Marlborough College and graduated from McGill University in Montreal. He is a keen gardener, sailor and occasional poet.