by Joyce Kohl
They bowed and bended their knees to her, proclaiming her to be the Queen of Scotland. With tears rolling down their cheeks, they assured her the royal crown was safely hidden and when the revolt was ended, she must be ready to take the throne.
When a story is handed down for generations and believed to have a historical basis, but no proof exists, it becomes a legend. The original source for this story came from a journal written by the great-great grandson of the subject of this article. Because of its possible connection to royalty, all the descendants keeping and researching family records have entered this into their own published genealogical records. Whether it’s truth or the imagination of a young man as he listened to stories at the knees of his grandmother, the story he told his descendants is still being related generation to generation.
Searching Our Roots
Genealogy, the recording of family history, the study of descent, is a long path of many rewards, deductive conclusions, dead-ends and clues for which there seems to be no supporting evidence, and family traditions which may or may not be supported by facts.
Within the branches of a family tree are events which carry shame; things which might be harmful to living descendants; things which have no proof other than story telling from one generation to the next. It is the genealogist who must make the final decision whether or not to include unproven stories in the final genealogical records.
A genealogist interviews living people, ancestors and descendants; searches archives for records of all types, visits cemeteries to see tombstone dates; compiles lists from family bibles; sends for certified certificates of vital statistics; reads other printed genealogical histories; does whatever it takes to collect facts. Sooner or later, any family history buff will hear stories of relationships to a famous personality, maybe even an unsavory runner of “white lightning” who was thought to have had a very lucrative mineral water delivery service, a military hero, a great love story, many tragic stories of survival, and even a direct connection to royalty.
It was 1745 in Amelia County, Virginia when Susannah was born to Robert Malone and Mary Harrison Malone. At around age 19, Susannah married John Stell. Many years later after raising her family, circumstances beyond her control forced her to live with one of her children. It is here where she began telling many stories to her young grandson. There were many tales about her early life and the Revolutionary War. Susannah also told a story which she claimed to have been told to her by her grandmother. Whether it was her paternal (father’s mother) grandmother or her maternal (mother’s mother) grandmother is unknown by me.
Susannah Malone Stell is my husband’s fifth great-grandmother. Therefore, Susannah’s grandmothers would be Clem’s seventh great-grandmothers. Susannah’s grandmother, so Susannah told the grandson who later wrote his memoirs, was a lineal descendant of the youngest daughter of “Robert The Bruce” of Scotland.
Robert The Bruce was commonly referred to as “Robert Bruce” as well as “The Bruce.” He is credited with having experienced numerous struggles including capture and near death adventures before he succeeded in delivering his country from the oppressions of England. Afterwards, he became King of Scotland. The people in Scotland were known to be enthusiastically warm sympathizers with the people of Ireland. In fact, a brother of Robert Bruce was King of Ireland.
Battle of Boyne Water
This celebrated battle was fought in 1690, and by some means or other, the grandmother of Susannah Malone Stell was near the battlefield. As a descendant of The Bruce, she was an object of great care and guarded closely.
During this particular battle the friends and descendants of The Bruce fought on the side of James II of Scotland, and were defeated. The losses were great. It ended the struggle at that time for many years. The attempts of 1715 and 1745 ended in like manner, and England and Scotland have remained united ever after.
Historical Background of the Legend
During all the confusion of the Boyne Water battle, the Laird of Glencoe, grabbed Susannah’s grandmother, then but a child, and took her to his castle where she was kept for a long time. All of the child’s family had been captured by the English and most of them had been put to death. It is not know exactly how long the child was kept within the protective custody of the castle, but when the opportunity arose, she was disguised and whisked away to the colonies of America by a Scotch Laird.
Once in America, the Scotch Laird settled in New Jersey and reared the child within his own family. Some sources of the search for truth say the family name was changed to Patterson. Family history relates she never revealed her maiden name to her granddaughter.
When the Scotch people gathered in the home where Susannah’s grandmother now lived, they would invite the young girl into the room. Upon her entrance, they would bow and bend their knees to her and hail her as the Queen of Scotland as they swore their renewed allegiance to her. She was, for them, the only rightful ruler of their beloved country.
As the tears flowed down their cheeks, they would tell her how they had concealed the royal crown which she, as the the only living descendant of the real ruler of Scotland, would soon wear. Their plans were to wait for the right moment during the still raging revolt, to regain the kingdom, and how she, their future queen, should be prepared at all times to be taken at a moment’s notice back to Scotland. Once there, she would take the throne and formally be crowned Queen of Scotland.
Having been raised almost from infancy in the colonies of America, the family history goes on to tell how she loved the Delaware River in Pennsylvania where she lived later. When she moved here is not known. It isn’t even known for sure where she lived. The actual place of residence is probably an assumption drawn from the known and proven residential places of her descendants.
The future queen of Scotland, as she was hailed, vehemently refused to leave her home in America. There were only vague memories of her prior life; her slaughtered family. She wanted no part of any royal obligations. Any other type of life beyond what she now knew was totally rejected. Having little or no memory of her birthplace, and certainly no obligatory feelings of the role of a royal leader of Scotland, the life to which was rightfully hers was unwanted. She lived in constant dread of such an event whereby she would become the ruler of a country which she did not remember.
The grandmother of Susannah Malone Stell lived out her life in America. Her real name was never revealed. She lived and died as a commoner – the life she preferred. Was she really of royal descent? Was she really the true Queen of Scotland?
It is here the story comes to an abrupt ending. The grandson writing down his memories later for purposes of genealogical records did not remember who his grandmother’s grandmother married or even if the information was related to him.
Two Genealogy Records: Susannah Malone Stell
Following are two screenshots from the genealogy records I have – all researching was done by others, so I take no credit for their authenticity nor any blame for any errors. I do believe they are factual as many excellent family genealogists working on this particular line are in full agreement.
I have no records past the names of Susannah’s parents. My genealogical searching and recording ended in 1989 when I compiled the data I had, published it, and then put away the tools of genealogy.
What utter delight we commoners take in fantasy thoughts about being a king, a queen, a princess or a prince! To hear of abdications or refusals of such honors is difficult to comprehend. Whether or not the story told in the genealogy of my husband is true or not is important only to a genealogist. The rest of us like hearing it; we’re totally fascinated by it. Until I personally researched Clem’s genealogy, none of his family had heard the legend. The condensed story was included in the book I wrote, Of Loved Ones Gone Before, which is a compilation of my research and most of the data which took over 25 years to collect.
Genealogists within the direct line of this legend believe that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” The legend of a little girl saved from death by loyal countrymen, remains a legend. But maybe it’s now confirmed by facts? Maybe continued research has uncovered the evidence needed for proof?
Nevertheless, the Incognito Queen reigns among her descendants forever.