Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury 1521-1608

Bess of Hardwick was one of five surviving children of a family of minor gentry, but was a lady of unfailing personal ambition and undoubted charisma. She had been brought up at Hardwick Hall, although her father died within a year of her birth, and the family were impoverished. In accordance with normal practice for […]

George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury 1528–1590

As a young man George Talbot saw military service under Protector Somerset in the ‘Rough Wooings’ in Scotland and he married Gertrude Manners, daughter of the 1st Earl of Rutland, by whom he had six children, although she died in 1566. In March 1568, he married Bess of Hardwick, the wealthy widow of Sir William […]

Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk 1536-1572

Thomas Howard was born at Kenninghall, the family home in Norfolk, on 10 March 1536, but his father was executed in 1547, after a paranoiac Henry VIII believed that he was trying to usurp the succession from Edward VI to maintain Catholicism. Thomas was brought up as a Protestant under the care of his aunt […]

Lord Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester 1532-1588

Lord Robert Dudley was one of thirteen children of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, later Duke of Northumberland. In 1550, at the age of eighteen, he married Amy Robsart, although they had no children. In 1553, his father, now acting as Protector for the consumptive Edward VI, attempted to avoid Mary Tudor, as a Catholic, […]

William Cecil, Lord Burghley 1520-1598

Note:  This article deals only with Cecil’s involvement with Scotland and Mary Queen of Scots. William Cecil was born on 13 September 1520 and was educated at Stamford School and St John’s College Cambridge. Although he gained a reputation as an academic, he did not sit his degree. On arriving in London, he joined the service […]

Elizabeth I, Queen of England 1533-1603

Note: This biography focusses on Elizabeth’s attitude to Scotland and both Mary Queen of Scots and James VI. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn, born at Greenwich on 7 March 1533. When her mother was executed in 1536, she was declared illegitimate, but was named in the order of succession in Henry VIII’s […]

Mary Queen of Scots 1542-1587

Mary Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow on 8 December 1542. Her father, James V survived her birth by only six days, dying of acute depression following the defeat of the Scots at the hands of the English at Solway Moss. The English were soon hoping to establish a Scottish alliance to prevent having […]

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley 1545-1567

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was the eldest son of Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox and Lady Margaret Douglas, niece of Henry VIII. He was born on 7 December 1546, and was four years younger than Mary Queen of Scots.  He and his brother Charles, nine years his junior, were the only two of the […]

Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox 1515-1578

On 8 October 1515, Princess Margaret Tudor, Queen Dowager of Scotland and sister of Henry VIII, gave birth to her daughter, Margaret, by her second husband, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. She had recently been forced to hand over the Scottish Regency to the Duke of Albany, who had arrived from France, and had […]

William Maitland of Lethington, 1525-1573

William Maitland of Lethington was a man of great wit and learning from a well-connected, but not noble, Scottish family. He had been educated at St. Andrews and the French Court. His loyalties were not based on any strong religious conviction, but Knox converted him to be a Reformer in 1556. Although his brilliance as […]