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- "Isolt and James both lived to be over 100. They had seen the cottage of Ilvermorny become a granite castle, and they died in the knowledge that their school was now so famous that magical families all over North America were clamouring to educate their children there. "
- —James' and Isolt's life, death, and legacy[src]
James was born in England to Muggle Martha Steward and an unnamed Muggle father. He had travelled to the New World with the Plymouth settlement where he befriended a family which included two young boys, Chadwick and Webster Boot.
One day, the family went exploring and was attacked by a Hidebehind. When the family didn't return to the settlement, James went in search of them only to find the boys' parents dead. While he was digging them a grave, he met Isolt Sayre who had returned to bury the parents after saving their children. However, the family were wizards, and when James picked up a broken wand and gave it a wave, it rebelled and threw James across the clearing where he hit a tree and was knocked out cold.
Isolt took James to a small shelter and nursed him back to health. When he woke, he discovered Isolt was a witch. James was scared at first but while he recovered he often talked to Isolt and form a bond with Chadick and Webster. He helped build a stone house upon Mount Greylock and the group christened it Ilvermorny. Isolt had planned to Obliviate James and erase his memory, but by the time Ilvermorny was built, James and Isolt had fallen in love and decided to get married instead.
James and Isolt adopted Chadwick and Webster and raised them with magical traditions. Isolt told the boys stories she had heard about Hogwarts, and both boys wished to attend. Fearful of revealing her history with Gormlaith Gaunt, Isolt would not allow this nor explain why, but assure them that when they turned eleven, they would be given their own wands. However, not being trained in wandlore making these wand proved to be difficult. Shortly before Chadwick turned eleven, Isolt had a dream in which the Horned Serpent told her how to make one, giving her his horn. She then woke James and Chadwick and gave them wands carved from ash with the horn as its core.
When they came up with the idea of making Ilvermorny into a school, James got to choose what to name a house and he went with Pukwudgie in honour of a creature which had befriended his wife before he met her. She had told him stories about her friend which made him laugh.
By the time Webster turned eleven, Ilvermorny's reputation grew. The school now taught two other families who shared their knowledge of magic. James and Isolt also made them wands, but with different cores. Isolt and James learned to use a variety of other cores, including Wampus cat hair, Snallygaster heartstring and Jackalope antler.
However, one day, Isolt's aunt Gormlaith Gaunt found them. Isolt had fled Ireland to escape her wicked ways. Gormlaith returned to make her pay. She cast a spell over Ilvermorny which kept her and James in a deep sleep. Chadwick and Webster went to stop Gormlaith but James and Isolt were eventually woken by the cries of their daughters. They were eventually saved by William the Pukwudgie Isolt had befriended many years earlier.
In his official artwork, James was shown to be a No-Maj of average complexion, short and fair hair, and a long, lean, and handsome face with an earnest and kind smile. He is shown to be rather tall, and due to his occupation as a stone mason, he was also rather strong with a lean and athletic build and notably developed and muscular forearms.
Though much remains unknown, James Steward was known to be a loving father to his four children, biological and adopted, and was known to have been somewhat intimidated by Isolt's revelation to him that she was a witch. However, James quickly overcame this and fell deeply in love with Isolt, seeing her for the kind and loving woman that she was. He was an open-minded and caring man who encouraged his wife's drive to teach and educate their children and other students in the ways of magic, and used his skills in construction to help build their school with her, proving himself a supportive husband and eager to help others. James was also a man eager to explore and learn more, hence why he became the first known No-Maj wand maker, as he evidently discovered a method for a non-wizard to construct such powerful magical devices without catastrophe. He was known to be a wise and fair Headmaster alongside his wife and is immortalised in marble at the entryway to his school.
Abilities and Skills
James was known as a skilled craftsman, who specialised in stone masonry and had high degree of talent in it. He built the foundations of what would eventually become his and his wife's school, Ilvermorny. However, his talents were not limited to only working with stone. He has the great distinction of being the first and only known No-Maj to have crafted wands. In his case being those for his wife, his two adopted sons, and his only witch daughter. The wands he created were known to be quite powerful, and after the founding of his school he and his wife discovered the properties of several wandcores unique to North America. This marks him as an extremely intelligent man and wandmaker, despite him not being a wizard, and certainly ranks him as a cut above most No-Maj's to a significant degree. Due to his skills as a stone mason, he was likely extremely physically fit and powerful. This is supported by the fact that he managed to live to be over a hundred years old, roughly twice the life expectancy of a No-Maj of his era and background. Suffice it to say, between his keen mind and his tough body, James was certainly no ordinary man, regardless of magic.
Behind the scenes
- James Steward is the only known Muggle known to have helped to found a wizarding school, as well as to have been a headmaster of a wizarding school. He is also the first and so far only Muggle known to have made wands.
- Pottermore (First appearance)