John Erskine, 1st and 22nd Earl of Mar (17th Earl) d. 1572

Note: The numbering of the Earls of Mar causes confusion. There were two titles, the ancient earldom of Mar, which passed through the female line, and a title originally created for Lord James Stewart on his marriage. When Lord James became Earl of Moray, John Erskine received the new Mar Earldom, but it passed only […]

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 […]

Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange 1530-1573

Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange was the son of Sir James Kirkcaldy, Lord High Treasurer under James V. His mother was Janet Melville sister of the five Melville brother who played such a prominent part as civil servants and diplomats during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. He first came to notice in 1546 […]

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 […]

Map of the Battle of Langside 1567

The Battle of Langside – 13 May 1568

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On 2nd May 1568, Mary Queen of Scots escaped from Lochleven Castle, where she had been imprisoned for ten months after being arrested and deposed from the Crown by members of the Scottish nobility. With Mary determined to reclaim her crown,  her escape was a huge crisis for the Scottish Government headed by Lord James Stewart, Earl […]

Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox, 1516-1571

Matthew, 4th Earl of Lennox spent most of his early years in France. He left Scotland in 1526 at the age of ten after his father had been killed by James Hamilton of Finnart, the illegitimate son of the Earl of Arran. There was rivalry enough between the Hamiltons and the Lennox Stuarts, who competed […]

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 […]

James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton 1516-1581

David and James Douglas were a bit lucky. They were the sons of Sir George Douglas of Pittendreich, the younger brother of Archibald, 6th Earl of Angus. Sir George had been a loyal supporter of Angus, his brother, fighting on behalf of the English party in Scottish politics. Angus had married Princess Margaret Tudor, by […]

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, 1535-1578

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell was a ladies’ man, powerfully attractive to women; he had a string of mistresses, and was noted as an able and swash-buckling soldier. He was a person of strong language and sexual appetite, although by repute he was not averse to homosexual relationships and enjoyed anal sex. He was […]