Many families pass down rumors about connections to famous personalities. Usually these are untrue. In our case however, they are untrue as well. It is still interesting to learn about people who share our Voisin and Stewart names.

Voisin Family Legends

Voisin Aircraft and Automobiles

Gabriel and Charles Voisin were famous French aviators. There is no evidence they are related to the Voisins of Michigan.

Gabriel Voisin
Gabriel Voisin
Charles Voisin
Charles Voisin

Gabriel Voisin was born in 1880 in Belleville/Saùne and died in 1973 in Ozenay. His brother Charles Voisin was born in 1882 in Lyon and died in 1912 in Corcelles.

"In 1904 after expressing an interest in flight, the French architecture student Gabriel Voisin was hired by Ernest Archdeacon to pilot a Wright type glider that he was testing. In 1905 they formed the Syndicat d'Aviation with the intention of building aircraft. They built two gliders one of which was for Louis Bleriot. Later that year he joined Bleriot and started the Bleriot-Voisin Company. As well as working with Bleriot, Voisin also helped Alberto Santos-Dumont build the aeroplane "14bis" which Santos-Dumont successfully flew in 1906, being the first controlled, powered flight in Europe. After this event the partnership with Bleriot broke up.

"Voisin retained the factory and invited his brother, Charles to join him, forming "Voisin Frères" which became the world's first commercial aircraft manufacturer. They built an aeroplane for Henry Kpferer and then one for Léon Delegrange in which Gabriel Voisin achieved flight in 1907. They then built an aeroplane for Henry Farman which was the first to fly a kilometre circuit. Voisin then built another for Farman, but instead sold it to Moore-Brabazon. This infuriated Farman so much that he established his own company to compete with Voisin.

"In 1912 Charles Voisin was killed in a car crash, but Gabriel continued with the business, building bombers throughout W.W.I. After the war, when orders dried up, Voisin designed and built the world's first prefabricated houses. In 1919 he turned his attentions to Automobiles producing luxury cars which were amongst the most advanced in the world. During W.W.II. the German owned company, Gnome Rhone took-over Voisin's factory but required him to remain to supervise. After the war he was accused of collaboration with the Nazi's and the French government siezed the opportunity to take-over his company. He was later exonerated, but came close to bankruptcy."
--The Pioneers: Celebrating the Bi-Centennial of Aviation: 1804-20041

First Flight
First Flight of Gabriel Voisin
Berck Beach, Pas-de-Calais, France
April 3, 1904
(This is an Archdeacon Glider, not a Voisin plane)

Type 3
Voisin Type 3
A light bomber introduced in 1914
Type 8
Voisin Type 8
A bomber introduced in 1916

The famous magician Harry Houdini bought a Voisin biplane. He shipped it to Australia, where he became the first man to fly in controlled flight over Australia. He was airborne for over 7 minutes.

Houdini's Flight
First Powered Flight Over Austrailia
Harry Houdini Flies a Voisin Biplane
March 18, 1910
See a Movie of Houdini's Flight
See a Movie of
Houdini's Flight


Voisin Aircraft
Lapel pin "Avions Voisin" (Voisin Aircraft)

1923 C1
1923 Voisin, model C1
1924 C4
1924 Voisin, model C4

Stewart Family Legends


Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary, Queen of Scots
"Mary, Queen of Scots, who ascended to the throne scarcely a week after her birth, grew to be a Catholic monarch in a Protestant land. In 1565 she married the Scottish Catholic lord Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, father of the future James I of England. After his death, she married James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, but the resulting fury of the Scots nobles forced her to abdicate and escape to England. Kept as a virtual prisoner by Elizabeth I of England, she joined Catholic plots to topple her fellow queen, and in 1587 Elizabeth reluctantly agreed to her execution."2

James I of England
James I
"James I, son of Mary, Queen of Scots and cousin and successor of Elizabeth I, repressed both Catholics and Protestants alike and maintained the divine right of kings. James authorized a new translation of the Bible, generally called the King James Version."3

It is believed that our John Stewart (1752-1844) and his brother Charles came to America from Scotland. But are the Stewarts of Pennsylvania descendants of the royal Stewart lines of England and Scotland?

"...Generally, the name of Stewart is credited to Walter, the third High Steward of Scotland, who adopted the surname from the name of his office. He apparently was one of the first in the area to adopt a surname, a practise which soon became common across the country. Others quickly adopted the Stewart name in the family, including his brothers and their sons. Walter Stewart, the third High Steward of Scotland died in 1241 AD. Although this is generally accepted as the start of the Stewart name, there were others in the country that also adopted the name. These were mostly other Stewards or "keepers of the household" although many people with the occupation as tinkers also adopted the name. The name was originally Steward, but many think this migrated to Stewart from the Scottish pronunciation of the word, and the "t" replaced the "d" in the name very quickly.
"...The main line of the family however, continued to be the line from Walter Stewart, and all his descendants, as an educated group, continued to use the spelling Stewart. This continued when the first of the Stewart hereditary line of High Stewards became Robert II, King of Scotland.
"...The main variation in the name, the transition from Stewart to Stuart occurred later however. Mary Stewart (Stuart) (who later become Mary Queen of Scots) married the Dauphin of France and heir to the throne. The French do not pronounce the letter "w" in the same way that the English do however, and to keep her name pronounced correctly, she changed the spelling to Stuart. Soon afterwards, her husband became King Francis II of France. Later, after his death, she returned to England and retained the spelling with the "u". It is from her that the spelling as Stuart is originally credited to. From that time on, all the Royal members of the Stewart line spelled their name Stuart."
--The Evolution of the Stewart Name4

Scotish Tartans

The Scotish tartans, like the royal Stewart tartan pictured here, are not ancient emblems of the Scotish clans:

"...Tartans have been made and worn by many European and Asian peoples for 3000 years or more: they are so widespread simply because they are one of the easiest patterns to weave on a hand-operated loom. Clan tartans are primarily the 19th-century invention of entrepreneurial Lowland Scots textile manufacturers who realized their potential as a marketing device...."
--Atlas of the Celtic World5

Royal Stewart Tartan
Royal Stewart Tartan

Jimmy Stewart

Jimmy Stewart
Jimmy Stewart, moviestar

Are we related to the famous actor Jimmy Stewart? James Maitland "Jimmy" Stewart (1908-1997) was born and raised in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. Although our Stewart ancestors are from the same area, the families appear to be unrelated.

Jimmy is probably descended from William Stewart (?-?), John Kerr Stewart (1785-1870), his grandfather and namesake James Maitland Stewart (1839-1932), and his father Alexander M. Stewart (1872-1961).



  1. Naughton, Russell and Bird, John, Hargrave: The Pioneers: Celebrating the Bi-Centennial of Aviation: 1804-2004 Internet <http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/index.htm> (March, 2004)

  2. Giraudon/Bridgeman Art Library, London/New York, "Mary, Queen of Scots," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. © 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

  3. Deutsch, Hulton "James I of England," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. © 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

  4. BW, The Evolution of the Stewart Name (February 2000). Internet <www.tartans.com/articles/stewartstuart1.html>

  5. Haywood, John, Atlas of the Celtic World, (London: Thames & Hudson, 2001), p. 21.

Contact: Mike Voisin

Revised: November 03, 2012
Copyright © 2000-2012 Mike Voisin. All rights reserved.