But now a direct descendent of mediaeval Scottish King Robert III has been identified – in the form of Perthshire businessman Archie Shaw Stewart.
Mr Shaw Stewart did not know his family’s connection to the former ruler until he took part in a nationwide genealogy project.
The DNA test, undertaken as part of the Bannockburn Family History Project, proved that the entrepreneur is in the family line of King Robert III – who reigned from 1390 until his death in 1406 – and is directly descended from one of the king’s sons, Sir John Stewart of Blackhall & Ardgowan.
Sir John’s great-grandfather Walter Stewart, was one of the commanders for King Robert I – Robert the Bruce – at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and went on to marry his daughter.
Mr Shaw Stewart said a relative had investigated family history and had found a link to Robert III some years ago – but had not been able to confirm it.
He said: “This is wonderful to be able to discriminate with a high level of confidence between some branches of families by the ability to trace genetic mutations. My great uncle, Patrick Shaw Stewart, would be very satisfied to see this part of it – Stewart – verified by new technology.”
Mr Shaw Stewart was also found to be a carrier of a distinct genetic marker which has not been found in descendants of Robert III’s brothers. Another descendent, Donald Stewart, a retired mechanical engineering draughtsman from Lanark, also carries the marker, the study discovered.
Led by the University of Strathclyde’s Genealogical Studies Postgraduate Programme, the project also explores genetic connections between people living today and their ancestors who fought in the battle.
Graham Holton, principal tutor with the programme, said: “This is a fascinating discovery of a distinct marker for descendants of Robert III. The marker is not found in descendants of the king’s brothers, showing that a mutation in the DNA occurred in either Robert III himself or one of his descendants.
“We are delighted to have been able to confirm Archie Shaw Stewart’s place in medieval royal lineage, and acknowledge his contribution to furthering research into the branches of the Stewarts.”