Walter Fitzalan lived from about 1110 to June 1177. Of Breton descent he became the 1st hereditary High Steward of Scotland and his descendents eventually founded the Stewart dynasty. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Walter Fitzalan was described by contemporaries as Breton by descent and Norman by culture. He was the third son of a Breton knight, Alan Fitzflaad, who was the feudal lord of Oswestry in the years after the Norman conquest, by his wife Aveline.
During the war for succession in England between King Stephen and Empress Matilda, Walter supported the cause of the Empress. During this time he became a friend of another of her supporters, King David I of Scotland. He went on to become David's steward, fighting with the Scottish army at the Battle of the Standard at Northallerton in 1138. David then appointed Fitzalan to the post of High Steward of Scotland, a post that became hereditary in 1157.
David also granted Fitzalan estates which make up much of modern Renfrewshire. In 1163 Fitzalan signed a charter founding a Cluniac priory on part of his land. This later grew to become Paisley Abbey. In 1164 Walter Fitzalan led forces loyal to King Malcolm IV which defeated the 15,000 strong army of Somerled, King of the Isles en route to capture Renfrew. Somerled was killed and the very real possibility of a separate Gaelic kingdom in the Hebrides came to an end.
Walter, The Steward, as he became known (thus effectively founding the surname "Stewart"), died in 1177 and was buried in Paisley Abbey. It was another Walter, Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland who a century and a half later became the father of King Robert II of Scotland and founded the Stewart dynasty which went on to rule Scotland and, later, England.